1st quilt on a long arm… Lots of lessons learned.

Here I thought things were going to be easy after trying it out last week.  Boy was I wrong. lol I guess I’ll get the hang of it.  So this morning went over to a friend’s place to quilt my son’s birthday quilt on… I call it big game country and it was designed on EQ7. She has an HQ Avante.

I loaded the machine up by myself that was not the hard part but it was real crooked when I cut it cause minky stretches so I fixed that by cutting even with the floor.  1st lesson learned.  make sure your quilt is square.

I taped the pangogram to the back table this is the pattern i choose for my Willar’s quilt as it it made of mostly fabrics with leaves, grasses, firns, natural things.  Its called Autumn Wind by Medowlyon Designs.Capture

Capture 1.PNG

I had figured that I could quilt right over the basted edge that was done with a 1″ zig zag to bast my top on.. so that it would be totally edge to edge… Was I wrong there  the foot would slip under the top and sew itself around the top. Lesson #2 Do not start you pantograph above the basting lines or edge of the quilt.

Ok now I thought I was ready.. started going and then my thread breaks.. I try agin and it was going so well till I looked and had almost half the row finished but it didn’t sew. I had forgotten to thread the needle…by this point im getting a real memory for the pattern.  Lesson #3  Make sure you tread your needle.

Ok now I got going again and the tread broke again  so rethread it and again it breaks. and again by now I’m getting frustrated I asked my friend what she thinks is happening… Loosen you tension.  Lesson #4 if tread breaks and its treaded properly check tension.

So here now I’m on  a roll…. everything is going well until I have to roll up the sandwich to so that I can do row 2.  So I lined up the dots from the top of the pattern to the bottom of the pantograph.. That didn’t line up properly and I was sewing over my previous row… so I moved it so that laser was at  the bottom of the pantograph  and the needle was at the highest point of the sewn row.  yay that worked. Lesson #4  Line up the lowest edge of pantogram to the highest stitching of the previous row.

Now I’m really cruising till I run out of bobbin thread.  Ok now I’m going to put a bobbin with the thread that I brought… we played about 30 or more minutes trying to get the tension correct on the bobbin and it would refuse to sew. each time it was placed in the machine we could barely pull on the tread it was so tight.  Then I remembered a video I had watched that said when beginning use only one kind of tread in the bobbin and what would cause lots less of problems.  So we put one of my friends bobbins back in and voila  it worked like a charm. Lesson #5 Stick to one kind of tread in the bobbin.

The next 5 rows went real well until I got to the last row. It was the last row because the piece of backing material was not large enough cause I had dropped the top down thinking I could sew the right to the edge so I finished that row. Took it off the frame and I will add more backing fabric 3 inches… then finish quilting it on my domestic. Lesson 6 Leave at least 4″ on all sides of your quilt for the backing.

Once I looked at the quilting it looks good but if I was to do this again I would enlarge the pantograph cause it is very difficult to see the pattern on the quilt as it is too small in my opinion.  I like space between the quilting to really show off the pattern and this I feel is too crowded. Lesson 7 Enlarge pantograph.


Some of the border edges were sewed to the quilting so I will have to take some of those apart and fix the quilting.  Lesson 8 Make sure the backing does not roll under the quilt when quilting.

This has been a day of learing on the long arm for me. At least when I get one I will have some of these kinks worked out.  As I learn in this new form of quilting I will keep you all updated on my progress. The trials and errows of leaning to long arm in hopes i can save someone else some grief.





  1. What a story! I got a long arm (Handiquilter) about 3 years ago and have never looked back. Couldn’t get to grips with Fmq on domestic and still hopeless at it. But I have truly amazed myself with what I have achieved on the long arm. Stick with it. Go back to basics as far as quilting shapes go and build up your repertoire. I tried a couple of pantos and found them very tiring. I prefer to do my own freehand edge to edge. It can be relaxing and fun when you get into the flow. Much better to see what you’re stitching. Work your way through the technical things – threading/ loading etc. Somedays it just all goes wrong no matter what you try. Have patience and come back the next day. Enjoy!


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