Longer arms = quicker quilts

A local fabric store has a long arm quilting machine. The machine can be rented for the day. Yesterday I rented the machine to work on a quilt that I started three years ago, which I admit to my chagrin. It sat in my sewing desk for years, just a few squares from complete. I finally finished the “strippy” quilt top a few months ago, and the quilt bottom just a few days ago.

Using the long arm quilting machine requires some gumption. The needle moves up and down very rapidly. I did a practice piece first using the freehand technique, but switched to following a pantagraph for the actual quilt. A pantagraph is a long scroll with a design on it. One follows the design, tracing it, with a laser on the long arm. By following the template, the needle, which is in front of the laser about a foot, sews the pattern into the fabric. The first few rows were slightly terrifying. I didn’t want to mess up the design on several hundred dollars worth of fabric and a lot of time spent sewing that fabric together. But it got the hang of it after a while. That being said, the design I picked is fairly intricate (three different vining leaves) and it’s going to take a while. I’ll need to go back and use the machine at least once more to finish quilting.

There is quilting on the lighter fabric, but it’s hard to see here.

Doing the quilting using the long arm is so much faster than trying to do it at home on my sewing machine. Once finished, this will be the first quilt I’ve made entirely on my own. I’m excited to put it on our bed!

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