Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Machine Quilting Progress

Hello Everyone,
Here are some images of my machine quilting progress on Prairie Flower.

I quilted my way across the top of three borders.

I was glad to finish the first set of borders and then moved on to the setting triangles.  So far I'm sticking with my plan.  You can see my very scrappy back rolled up on the uptake bar.  I only had scraps left from all of the fabrics Marcus Fabrics sent me, so I cut them all up and put them to work on the back.

The Prairie Flower blocks go fairly quickly.  I am also quilting in the center section of the flower to nail that down.

In the comments section, some of you asked some very good questions, and I'll answer them all collectively.  I have a Handi Quilter (HQ 16) which I purchased new in 2006 directly from the manufacturing plant in Salt Lake City. I was in the market for a machine, and HQ fit my price point which was under $10,000.

I signed up for HQ's beginning machine quilting class before I purchased a machine.  I wanted to take the class first to see if I had an aptitude for machine quilting.  With airfare and all it cost me around $1,000 to attend the class.  I figured that was an inexpensive investment to make before I plunked down the big bucks for a machine.

The class was wonderful! Even though I was the only person in the class of 15 who didn't own a machine, the staff made me feel completely comfortable.  Each of us had our own machine to use during the 3-day class.  The instructors were incredible and the food even more incredible.  By day two of the class, I purchased my HQ and I immediately named it Arthur.  As in Arthur Murray.  Because I learned how to dance with my machine.

HQ sent a distributor to my home and completely set up my machine and I was up and running.....and terrified.  I loaded on large pieces of fabric and started practicing.  Our two dogs had the nicest dog beds you've ever seen! 

I really worked at machine quilting for 6 months, then returned to HQ for the Intermediate class. Then I felt confident that I could quilt for others. Would I recommend that....probably not.  It was the hardest job I ever had in my life.  I was so afraid that customers wouldn't like what I quilted, but they loved how I quilted! I did have one problem person who I found out later was never happy with anything.  I was devastated.   What I thought was absolutely stunning, she didn't. (Insert sourpuss face here!)

Sue asked if the machine was easy to maintain.  The answer to that is yes it is.  I oil it and clean out the lint after every two bobbins. I've only had to call for technical support once in 11 years when something got out of whack.  Now I hope I haven't jinxed myself. It is a good, quality machine that doesn't require taking out a second mortgage.  My entire set up at the time was $8,000.  It has paid for itself over and over again.

Have I quilted something and didn't like the results?  Yes to that!  I quilted an entire row of Baptist Fans across a 103" quilt using a groovy board.  What took 20 minutes to quilt, took 8 hours to pick out.  I was not a happy camper. 

I think deciding what to quilt is the hardest thing to figure out.  There are many resources available on line, and you can spend hours scouring Pinterest and the Internet for ideas. If you can't draw it, you can't quilt it.   I repeat, practice drawing first before you begin stitching.

Once I started designing and running the pattern business, I became so busy I only have time to quilt my own things.  Now Arthur collects dust between quilting sessions.  But he's just like an old friend, and we get reacquainted with each new project.

I'm off to the shop today to spend the day with my Sew'n Wild Oaks girls.  I'll spend the day with Arthur tomorrow.



  1. Thanks so much for this post. It is very helpful to someone like me who has been a hand quilter for over 50 years and from time to time has contemplated buying a longarm. I'm still petrified, but you have helped considerably.

  2. This is such an interesting post. I too, have considered purchasing a longarm machine time and again, but have never quite made the leap. Thanks for sharing your experience and wealth of information - it's certainly something to consider....

  3. How kind of you to write such an informative post, especially when I know you are so busy trying to get your quilt done!! I really appreciate the info you gave us. I bought a HQ table rail system about 13 yrs ago, before they even came out with their own machines, and was so frustrated with it because the rails that the machine rode on were in 3 pieces, and every time the machine went over the junction it would jump. So I don't use it! But I'm glad to know that the system has been so improved! And your quilting is just stunning!!! Just perfect for your quilt!! You really are a very talented designer and quilter! Love your longarm's name and the reason it's got it's name!! You are just too funny!! Have fun dancing tomorrow!! Hugs, H

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts. I'm looking at getting a longarm this year. I've signed up for one brand's class, and intend to also hit something from this brand as well.

  5. Your quilting is beautiful. I have never been gifted with the ability to draw, so all of my quilts are mostly done in the ditch. I love quilting with my walking foot, and I do brave curves now and then ;-) Keep up the beautiful work.

  6. Thanks for the information Lynn. I guess I just need to go down and look at machines and see if they will let me take a turn on a machine.

  7. I love that you have a 16. I traded mine up for an avante recently and really like it. Your quilting is wonderful and I also spend a lot of time make doll quilts and cat beds to practice. Thank you for sharing your talents. I wish I was closer to take classes but I really enjoy your blog.