Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Another UFO Off of the Pile

I love making crazy log cabin "kid quilts." They're fun, a great way to use up scraps, and they make bright, cheerful quilts. I've made a bunch of these for the local charity I support, the Valley of the Moon Children's Center.

On Monday, I was scheduled for my second lesson on my friend Veronica's Gammill Long Arm Quilting Machine. (She has not yet named hers, unlike those odd ladies on the tv commercial who are apparently better friends with their machines than with their human friends.) I'd practiced on a scrap hunk of muslin last time, and decided that this time I'd work on an actual quilt top.

So, I pulled out one of the crazy quilt tops I'd put together last fall. Yep, another one from that same batch of Halloween fabrics. (Funny, how far that pack of Halloween half-yards will stretch--and I've got enough left to make another quilt like this, probably.) Anyway, here it is, completed:

I just did a looping meander all over the quilt. I figured I'd start with something easy and get fancier from there. I apologize for the less-than-sharp pictures, but maybe you can see a bit of the quilting here:

Or, maybe not. Anyway, trust me, it's a looping meander that looks fine. I did get brave enough to write "Boo" a few times in the border, but that was as brave as I got.

This took me probably three hours to do on her machine...You have to bear in mind that changing the bobbin and stopping and starting and burying threads as I go is all new to me, so that probably slowed me way down...Still, I was delighted to have this done in one morning.

My view of the long arm quilting so far? It's a heck of a lot of fun. Threading the machine isn't as hard or tricky as I thought it would fact, it's very much like threading your typical industrial type machine. The loading process isn't a fast one, but then again, neither is the basting process when you're going to quilt on a regular machine. I can see that if you take the time to make sure it's all straight when you put all the layers on the rollers, then all goes smoothly as you quilt sections and roll it up.

Also, it's clear to me that if you've done a fair amount of free-motion quilting, then the long-arm won't be that hard. I think a lot of what people have a hard time with is figuring out how to get an overall continuous line pattern to cover the area uniformly, and how not to get backed into a corner as you're quilting. Those are the same issues you deal with regardless of what machine you're on, so if you've gotten good at that stuff, then the long arm stuff will be easier. Veronica, who had done no free-motion quilting before she got this, said that she found that the hardest part, and she's amazed that it's not hard at all for me. Another one of those practice issues, I believe.

Am I eager to rush out and buy one? No. This is suiting me fine to be able to use one from time to time. I'm not sure if it's a function of Veronica's particular machine or my novice status or what, but I find the machine hard to control when you move it at certain angles, so precision quilting right now wouldn't come out well. But maybe that's a matter of getting a feel for the machine and getting a lot of practice. We'll see. I have another donation quilt I'll take next Monday for my next practice session.

By the way, I was thinking to give this one away. But Caroline has pointed out that the crazy quilt I made for her some years ago is getting very worn and she needs THIS one to snuggle with on the couch. So, it looks like it's staying here.


  1. Good for you! Just keep with it and you will be great in no time! Two things: I don't bury my threads on an everyday quilt. It's too time consuming and in a busy quilt like this you really can't tell the difference. I just worked on my starts and stops, and I use thread that matches my fabric. Also, I always float my top and batting. This eliminates the need for pinning onto a third roller. Can't wait to see how you evolve!

  2. I love this quilt - I can completely understand your daughter wanting to keep it. I have a Halloween lap quilt that I use year round. Check out my blog for some of my bright Halloween quilts.

  3. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Thanks for sharing your long arm lesson. I have been curious as to how these machines handle, I like the Pros and Con approach presented.

    The Halloween quilt is so fun, I like the log pattern, works with the fabric.

  4. Anonymous6:39 PM

    This is a great halloween quilt! So much fun... Glad it will be staying around!

  5. Hello,
    I love the little quilt. Is there a pattern or at least a starting set of measurements that you can tell me about on how to accomplish something that lively for my kids? Thanks :)