Three More Finishes and Rambling About Long Arm Quilting

I have a week an a half left to get done as many more UFOs as I can.  My goal is to have nine items from the list I turned in to my guild completed.  Right now I have five completely finished (some of the things I listed several pieces as one item--what was I thinking?!) and one more that needs the binding sewn down.  I also am quilting one, but ran into a snag and need to rip out some before progressing.

I finished this Civil War mini.  This was a kit that I bought in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, six or seven years ago.  I did the quilting on my domestic sewing machine, so the free motion quilting leaves much to be desired.  

I also finished these two minis.  These were projects in a class I took at a local quilt shop that one of my friends used to own.  The pattern is by Kari Carr.  Fabrics are Tula Pink, Moda Bella, and an unknown background print.  The print fabric was one where you can actually see the paint on the fabric and it made a mess all over the long arm during quilting.  The oil hole in the stitch plate was actually solidly filled with paint dust!  

I decided to try something new on each of these.  I did some dot-to-dot ruler work, stitch in the ditch ruler work, outlining ruler work, and a few free motion filler designs.  I was inspired by Angela Walters, Teresa Silva, Natalia Bonner, and Vicki from Orchid Owl Quilts.  While there are definitely imperfections (especially evident on the backs!), I feel like I did a pretty good job for a first attempt at these patterns.  

Some things I learned:  

1.  Doing ruler work with a very slow (5%) motor speed on the cruise mode works a lot better than using the precise mode that we were taught to use in the Juki users class.

2.  I need to pull up the bobbin thread before starting stitching every time.  In other words, don't be lazy.  Of course I already knew this, but was lazy anyway and it really shows.  The backs are a mess.

3.  I'm getting better at adjusting the tension, but I'm not quite there yet.  Make time to make it better before starting the quilting.

4.  I should probably use a ruler when doing continuous curve so that it is more even.

5.  It's okay to try something new that may not be perfect.  I'm still trying to let go of perfection.  It's hard.  Most other people probably won't notice how imperfect a job I did. It's so easy to tear apart and judge yourself.

After quilting these two minis, which took me the better part of a day, I decided to do an easy project after that.  I did a pantograph on this Fig Tree sampler.  Call me crazy, but I really love stitching out pantographs.  I find it relaxing to just stand there and follow a line.  It's just a little more complex than that, but I find it much easier than I do stitching from the front.  I particularly enjoyed stitching out the pantograph I chose for this quilt.  It might be my new favorite--Spiral Feather by Jodi Beamish.  This sampler has appliqués, so I wasn't sure how it would go, but overall I think it's good.  I love the glide foot for doing pantographs.  It's so smooth.  I just need to hand stitch down the binding to finish this quilt.  It's around 60 x 80.

I currently have this very large quilt on the long arm.  I made it 13 or 14 years ago for my daughter's bed.  Obviously I never finished it and she has zero interest in it these days.  I though this one was pretty flat and square, but I currently have a fold/ripple in the border to address, which includes ripping out part of a row of quilting.  That is NEVER a fun thing.  I cannot stress enough the importance of measuring out the borders correctly.  Don't just sew the border on to each side and cut off the extra.  (I am so guilty of this on so many quilts.  I didn't start doing it correctly until I saw what a mess it can become on the long arm.) It pretty much guarantees a quilting problem if your quilt is long arm finished with a pantograph (all over pattern). Take the extra few minutes to do the measuring and averaging to ensure flat borders.  Your quilter will love you.

I had a backing put away with this top that had a vertical 1/4" seam and approximately an inch and a half of extra backing at the top and bottom.  Since there wasn't enough extra fabric to attach it to the frame, I basted eight inch strips of fabric to the top and bottom. I think this is going to work out okay, but I won't know until I get to the end!  Also, vertical seams aren't ideal for my long arm. I can do it, but I feel I get a much better finished project if the backing seams run horizontally. Sometimes it is possible to turn the quilt sideways to mount it, but in this case the length of the quilt is greater than the width of my frame.  Also, 1/4" isn't a great seam for the backing.  1/2" is better.  And pressed open.  And backstitched on the ends.  

I will be spending the next few hours ripping out quilting stitches.

Oh, we got in the new camera lens we ordered from Amazon--not from Amazon, but sold through them.  It arrived in a plastic padded envelope with one layer of bubble wrap around it.  No box.  It did not match the picture on the listing (missing features) and some of the pictures I took with it are really blotchy, which I found weird for a digital picture.  I'm sending it back for a refund and I'm back to only cell phone pictures, which all of the pictures on today's post are.  Sigh.


  1. Well, I think you did a great job! All who longarm amaze me. Thanks for your tips. My longarmer will not accept a backing that is less than 4 inches larger on all sides. Since I can’t do it myself, I follow her rules!

    1. Thanks! I am amazed by people who can quilt on their domestics!