Sonntag, 7. August 2011

Britta's Adventures in Logarmland

I have done it! I mustered enough spunk to dare quilt my first quilt on a longarm machine this week. A couple of quilters from my local quilt guild bought a used longarm machine (actually a Pfaff Grand Quilter on a frame) some year and a half ago. We all share expenses and every purchasing member can use it for her own quilting.

I was working on a summer quilt, which began with a bundle of whimsical bright squares I had gotten at a quilter's retreat, which I combined with coral colored material into a thousand pyramid "medallion," which I then combined with the border design from the coral background fabric.

Boy, although I hadn't planned it exactly like this, it turned out really big, too big, I fathomed, to be quilted either by and or even on my brandnew Bernina. So, I deceided to use the Longarm on this project, hoping that, once I'm done, I'd have enough experience on it to do longarm quilting on a more regular basis.

And experience I did gain... LOL. Here's the piece before quilting:

It is round about 2m by 1,60m.

Now, once it was on the machine, I broke the needle twice (!), then I realized, after rolling on to do more quilting, that the quilting I already had done, was okay on top, but on the bottom I had long ugly loops. I had to take it all out again. I decided (with the help of Margit, at whose house the machine "lives" and who, by now, is more experienced) that the thread I had chosen (Aurifil) was too hefty for the bobbin and we switched to Bottom Line by Libby Lehman. Still, the top thread kept on breaking, so we switched to King Tut thread. Finally, after several more attempts and several more stitches to be taken out, I had a fairly good stitching result. Although the thread kept breaking on a fairly regular basis, whenever I was going too fast (I think the needle's eye was maybe a bit rough and hurt the thread), I managed to quilt a fair piece. I quilted for four hours on Wednesday afternoon, another five on Friday and Saturday morning was all set to finish the piece, when on the last Pyramid row, the thread was gone... So, with roughly 45 cm to go, I decided to take it off the frame and to do the rest on my Bernina...

So, as soon as the thread arrives, I'll finish it and bind my summer quilt 2011...

Greetings from the Rhine,


  1. I had a Pfaff Grand Quilter for several years before moving up to a larger machine. I quilted over 100 quilts on it and really had some fun with it. As with any new machine it really does take lots and lots of practice to feel really comfortable. I didn't experience the same tension issues on it but do struggle with them on my new machine so I understand your frustration but your quilt looks great. Good luck and have fun!

  2. Hi Heather,

    thanks for the comment! I hope you have a larger space to quilt on your bigger longarm, too. The approx. 6 inch manoeuverable space on the Grand Quilter are really not very much to work on... But, heck, its a beginning! Do you do pantographs or strictly freemotion quilt? I'm somewhat scared of patographs and I think they would distract me. I saw that Bernina offers pantograph-like plates to use with a longarm. Wonder if they work...


  3. Hi Britta,
    I started out using pantographs but found them pretty time consuming and cumbersome especially when working such a small area. And since most of my quilts have applique somewhere on them I just started doing free hand patterns. Of course everyone has their own comfort zone and now with my 23" machine things go much faster. I am still learning and trying to improve and you can look at some recent posts on my blog, "Happy Appliquer" to see some of my practicing. The more you do the more fun it is!

  4. Hi Heather,

    yes, I also feel that they will just add complication... Freehanding is more fun anyway. 23"... Envy! I'll go take a look at your post right now....