When I tell people that I am a longarm quilter, I am usually greeted by a blank look and then they look at my arms!lol. A longarm quilter uses an industrial sized machine to sew together the quilt ‘sandwich’ (top, batting, backing). My Statler Stitcher/Gammill machine can be either hand- or computer-guided, as a result I can quilt thousands of designs with craftmanship, artistry, and creativity. I love combining creativity with the precision which computerized quilting can bring to a project. Statler allows me to both quilt a perfect traditional 8 pointed star and a wonky star in a whimsical style.
Have you named your sewing machines? My grandmother used to call her car Betsy, and several of my friends have named their sewing machines–Bernie, Ramon, Bob etc. I thought maybe I should name mine, my first thought was S.(tatler)Teal (because, in a fit of extravagance, I decided on the optional paint job–Statler is teal with sparkles), but then I spelled it out and realized it spelled ‘steal’. I wasn’t sure I wanted to name this beautiful machine something criminal. So in the meantime its name is Statler, not a bad name, but maybe not as exciting/exotic as it could be. My sons thought I should call it Sven. What do you think? I want to make a machine cover for it with its name appliqued on it.
Statler is my first longarm machine. I certainly stepped into the deep end of the pool, monetarily and skill-wise. Most people step up to computerized quilting after they have used a hand-guided machine for a while. I certainly faced a steep learning curve when I got my machine, but my dealer, At the Heart of Quilting, showed me how to use it. They have also been available to help me when I had a couple of minor mechanical issues (all resolved thankfully in a very quick time frame, mostly due to ‘pilot’ error). I’m fairly comfortable with some of the more common problems with longarms thanks to their training and support (I haven’t had to adjust the timing yet, but I know they will help me when my machine needs it).
The biggest problem I had with longarm quilting was my own frustration at not being able to do things perfectly the first time. I know in my head that no one does anything perfectly the first time, including me, but my heart wanted perfection. It was incredibly nerve-wracking to quilt a client’s quilt, because I wanted a happy client so badly, I had a hard time even starting the quilt. Once started, I then spent several all-nighters taking out stitching which didn’t conform to my expectations. It seemed like there was so much ‘stuff’ to remember. I am so thankful for the charity quilts (Mission Stitchers, a quilting group at our church, and Quilts of Valor) and quilts pieced by friends which I quilted during this time because they allowed me to gain confidence and increase my skill level. I’ve also quilted a lot of my own tops, now all waiting on binding, and just recently I picked up some fabric panels which I will quilt to increase my skills. If you are new to longarm quilting I encourage you to try any of these methods to increase your skill and confidence. Now, I am having fun with my quilting and (mostly) achieving the good results which I expect. Have a quilty day!