02 October 2010

Look mom, long arm!

I was originally scheduled to have my first long arm lesson at the end of August.  Because of my dog's illness, I wasn't able to attend on the scheduled day.  The folks at Monarch Quilts were very understanding and I took my lesson on Friday.

As it turns out, half of the lesson is spent  learning how to mount the quilt onto the frame.  I guess that makes sense, since you don't have to baste the thing!

In the above picture, I'm stitching using a pantograph.  Basically, after putting everything into position, you stand behind the machine, and look at a laser which is pointed at your pantograph (circled in red below).  You trace the design on the pantograph with the laser.

Once I've got the hang of using the machine with pantographs I will take a lesson on doing free-motion quilting on the machine.  When you free-motion quilt, you use the handles circled in green below and actually get to look at the needle and the quilt-top as you go.

This is what I really want to do, since (a) I usually prefer quilting that has a relationship to the patchwork, rather than an all-over design and (b) every pantograph I've seen is way too smooth and cute for my taste.  I can deal with it for the time being...maybe...or maybe I'll draw my own wabi sabi pantograph.

I will definitely be needing some practice.  Here's my progress so far:

You can see that I'm twitchy and tense!
I did 6 short rows in total, this is part of the 5th and 6th.  I improved a bit.

Monarch Quilts provided the fabric and let me take it home in order to get more pictures, then bind it.  It will be going to Project Linus or a similar charity.
I did not choose the fabric, but at least I got to pick a binding that makes it a little more cheerful.


  1. they are very fun to play with!! And that fabric is ...well.... interesting!

  2. what? you didn't pick that? and I thought it screamed "modern." he he

    Very cool to learn to long arm! I look forward to seeing how you like doing free-motion quilting on one.

  3. How great to see the improvement along the way with the pantograph. All skills you need if you are going to be a longarm quilter.

  4. oh fun! :) I can't imagine how intimidating that machine must be! :)

  5. I always wanted to know how a pantograph was done. Thanks
    It is amazing how each row got so much better!!

  6. Can you then rent time on the long-arm?

  7. Yes, once you have the lesson, you can rent time. And the shop owner is the teacher and her office is 10 feet from the machine, so you can always get a reminder if you forget something!

  8. It looks addicting! Thanks for explaining the pantograph - I was never sure exactly how that workded.

  9. yes, nice fabric choice :-) (sorry!). thanks for showing how it´s done, i always wondered how this long-arming works. it looks a bit like crane operating though..

  10. I had no idea how the pantograph worked. For some reason, I thought it was all automated.

    That is some god-awful fabric!

  11. I agree about the sweetness factor - stars and shamrocks are cute, but so not my taste. Good for you on learning to do this!


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