It’s been about a month since the Innova long arm came to live with me. It’s been a romance of the worst sort. Wonderful from day one yet full of learning. Some of it frustrating. I’m sure a long armer with experience would know the things I have put upon myself by just jumping in and seeing what happens. I’ll have to take some pics of some awfulness that I self created.
The short list also known as the “slap myself in the head DUH!” List
Don’t move the sew head w the needle down.
It’s easiest to set tension if you have the same kind of thread in the top and in the bobbin.
Thin bobbin thread and thick top thread is very hard for a beginner to set the tension for.
Cheapi fabric is cheapi fabric. You get what you pay for.
It takes LOTS longer to quilt blocks than an all over edge to edge.
I hate ripping out stitches!
Husband likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner!
You can’t practice destroying quilts if you are out of town.
The Learning List a.k.a. Stuff I Figured out but could probably have learned by reading a manual or paying better attention in class
When quilting crosshatching with the autopilot don’t do the whole outlined hollow diamond shape, do half of it at a time. If you do it all at once you will get a royal mess and dense run stitching that isn’t very pretty. It ends up stiff thick and butt ugly!
Change your needle when things look crappy. For example, if the tension is right, and everything is right but for some reason it just all looks lackluster as if the stitches have wilted. CHANGE the needle.
Did I say BASTE?
The crosshatching tool in ABM Autopilot is really neat. But it doesn’t do a good job on areas that are shaped kinda like a C. It makes insane amounts of run stitching around the edges. I ended up with 1/4 inch wide dense stitching around a shape. The shape was three side of a four sided diamond that was hollow in the middle.
OMG! My first experience doing a Minky backed lap quilt was awful. I didn’t mind the fuzz or the fact that I had to pin the heck out of to prevent stretching and distorting. I was frustrated with the weight of it, how my machine reacted to it, with all the thread breaks (and I was using strong stuff, full polyester trilobal dragon strength thread). It was NOT fun. And I have this firm belief that quilting should be fun above all else.
This past weekend, it was a totally different experience. I love minky now. Actually I love my Innova longarm even more now! I used the same thread as last time, same minky brand just a different color, same batik fabric and same batting. But this time I used the Innova. Talk about night and day. Only thread problem was when my bobbin ran out. There are no “pills” of thread on the sharp point in the design, the stitching just simply rocks!
I also love love love the serrated edged Teflon coated scissors I got from Havel’s. They are my goto scissors for all big things not rotary cutter possible. And they make minky cut like butter.
Last week my long awaited longarm finally arrived. After a year of searching and trying out different brands at quilt shows, after months of lurking on such places as the quilt forum, yahoo groups dedicated to the different brands, after calling support phone numbers posing as a customer with a problem to see how I would be treated, I finally decided on an Innova. I also found that there are three other Innovas in my area, so I wouldn’t be alone. Laurie Shook of Kingsbury, TX (commercial longarmer for hire) referred me to the Texas distributor for Innova, Joanne Gemill. I spent a half day with Joanne at Jo’s Quilt Studio in Richmond, Texas, and was convinced my choice was correct. So, I ordered it.
I have been nothing but pleased! I quilted up some el cheapo discount store fabric, just to play, test, and goof up. I tried different thread brands, I played w tension. (Thank goodness I have had tension issues on my other machines, so it wasn’t too hard to get it back to where it needed to be.) I learned the hard way to disconnect the bands that are attached to the computerized motors so I can freehand. If you don’t disconnect them, you can do fabulous horizontal and vertical lines… But curves… Lets say you would have to be Hercules. Once I disconnected the bands, free motion quilting was a dream.
I also learned that they really meant it when they say baste your quilt sandwich. I have to admit, I have done so many smaller art things and its been over a year since I basted anything. I have been saving up my bigger tops until I got the BIG longarm. I put the quilt back on, I laid out and smoothed the batting, I floated the quilt top (small quilt, so didn’t think it needed putting on the roller. ) and I decided to to a digitized pantograph. So it would look nice after binding, I decided to quilt some off the edge. WELL, if you don’t baste… Bad things happen! The all great and powerful Innova Sewing machine head and longarm motors are so strong, that if you are lucky, the only thing that will happen is the machine foot catches the edge of the quilt top and rips your quilt off the leaders. If you are unlucky, and you attached to the leaders in a really strong way, the you rip the quilt top. I was lucky. And I was lucky I decided to use the Red Snappers, for attaching to the leaders. They hold well, but were forgiving enough to let go before my top ripped.
Here is a link to the lady who invented the red snappers, Renae Haddadin, showing how they work.
I’m drinking home-made cabernet sauvignon wine and thinking…
Funny thing happened today in my store. A nice lady came in and brought her daughter. I knew the nice lady was a potter and after much chatting I had the opportunity to ask the daughter what she did. She said she had a studio. She told me she was a textile mixed media artist. I thought that was a cool way to say “I like to make things and I don’t limit myself to just one kind of thing”. I do too. My computer geekazoid cum sewing room with surround sound and an easy chair with shakers mounted on it serves as my World of Warcraft throne.
The wine has made me mellow and reflective. Three months ago, I got a new sewing machine. “The Husband” says I bought a new car and it looks like a sewing machine. Probably cause I bought the best. Best doesn’t come cheap you know! But what is a 40 something, no kids, good income, compulsive multitasker personality supposed to do? Why give some to charity and also give some to myself of course! I gave myself a Bernina 830 LE with all the bells and whistles to go with it.
I’ve been playing with all the cool gidgets and features. I took a class to get to know my new baby inside and out. Then I made two hawaiian shirts for me and my husband. I made a couple of little passport size purses for quickie outings where you don’t want a big heavy purse (like going to the bars or dancing).
The Bernina “car” embroiders, so I embroidered the employees names onto their Saturday shirts. I made photo frames for a baby shower coming up. I made a present for the bride for a wedding coming up (won’t post the pics of those until I give them away). I started a quilt.
And, I bought a LOT of fabric for a lot of things I want to make along with sewing accessories, patterns, notions and frew-de-fraws.
A “frew-de-fraw” is what my grandmother called the neat interesting stuff that you don’t really need but you want cause you just know you will be able to use it somehow and so it fills the draws.. and lo and behold you sometimes really use it. Once in a blue moon.
But my total justification for having bought this fine useful peice of high tech equipment for my tech toy geek room is… practical! useful! and need I say beautiful! I fixed, nay made, a hamper. I’m so dang proud of myself.
This was a fun useful project. The old store bought hamper liner blew out (literally clothing went pffft and popped out the side when the side seam blew out). Instead of making a boring old muslin replacement. I decided to dress this up a bit. Upholstery fabric in a great jacobean pattern fit the pattern. Now I won’t mind leaving this out when company drops in unexpectedly.