Getting Started with Quilter's Creative Touch with Juki Long Arm

A useful way to try out quilting software is to make and quilt charity quilts.  I decided to make some for Quilts for Kids.  While you can request kits, I chose to use my own fabrics this time because I wanted to get started right away.  They offer many free patterns on their website and I picked Alternate Squares and Rail Fence this time. The quilts finish at around 38 x 44 and each top takes me about an hour to sew.

For the first quilt, Alternate Squares, I decided to try out a free pattern, Lisa's Raindrops, that I got from Urban Elementz. It took me a lot of time to try to figure out how to use the software and make a layout that I thought would work.  While Juki does not offer any tutorials (shocking, right?), I watched several APQS videos on YouTube and also found this video from Quilted Angel extremely helpful in walking me through how to set up a quilt. Other places to help get started with the software are videos by dfgeorge (using a Grace machine) on YouTube and tutorials by Thread Waggle Quilting (APQS).  There is also a Facebook group for the software that is loaded with information.  I recommend watching the videos and taking step by step notes to help you.

Anyway, it took me forever to figure out how to baste my layers together to get started.  In order to use the Juki long arm without the software, you turn on the machine but not the tablet.  Then you can baste the layers.  Alternately, if the tablet is on, you click on the red toolbox in the software and hit the release carriage and release machine buttons to baste (don't click the ok button until after you are done basting).

After I got the basting figured out, it took me forever to figure out how to get the design into the safe area. Once we figured out that you can click on the quilt measurement buttons and type in your quilt dimensions, it was quite easy.  The recommended overage is adding two inches to each measurement, but I am finding that an inch is more than enough for me so far.  Another tip:  make sure you ALWAYS optimize each row!

So we finally got the design into the safe area and started stitching out the first row.  It took like 20 minutes. For a 38 inch wide quilt.  I wanted to cry.  I thought this was supposed to speed things up for me.  For all the time I'd spent trying to figure out the software and setting everything up and then the 20 minute stitch out, I could have custom quilted the thing four or five times over.  Then the software completely froze.  And I didn't know what to do and was near meltdown.  We just shut everything off and I walked away for the day.

In the morning I watched the APQS video about restarting after an unplanned shutdown.  I went through the steps and found out that my pattern had somehow corrupted because when I reloaded the pattern, instead of five inch high rows spread over the entire top, I had two .8" high rows for my entire quilt.  Maybe that's why it was so slow the first time?  So I had to start completely over.  I enlisted my daughter's help to rip out the row of stitching.  Even thought that was frustrating, I was okay with it because some of the stitches were super long in our first stitch out and I didn't quite have it placed correctly to start.

I reprogrammed the design, started over, and the entire quilt was stitched out in under an hour.  That included changing a bobbin and figuring out how to advance the quilt and line up the pattern correctly.  I didn't have weird, random long stitches either.  Each row only took a few minutes, not 20.  

I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, though I would make the pattern a bit smaller and not so spaced out if I quilted it again.

For my second quilt I used another of the Quilts for Kids patterns, Rail Fence.  I decided to purchase a pattern, Malachite, from Urban Elementz for this one.  Malachite is such a great pattern.  It was super easy for me to lay out in the software.  I think it took under five minutes and just nested together so nicely.  It stitched out really well.  I need to be super careful when advancing the rows to ensure even spacing. While I love how this looks, I could perhaps make the pattern a bit larger, especially for a kids' quilt. This one had 704 inches of stitching for each row of the pattern.  There were six rows of pattern.  That's a lot of stitching!

I still need to bind these.  Quilts for Kids requires that the tops are machine quilted and machine bound because they need to stand up to heavy washing.  I'm hoping that my math was correct when I was trying to figure out yardage.  Oh, and they do need to be washed in scent-free detergent before shipping as well.  No problems there since I use scent-free anyway.  

Now that I've figured out the software, I'm ready to quilt for you.  I can quilt virtually any digital pantograph you find online.  Good places to find digital designs are Urban Elementz, Intelligent Quilting, My Creative Stitches, Quilts Complete, and Willow Leaf Studio. Check out my long arm quilting service tab for more details.  I'm waiting to hear from you!  :)

In other news, we are enjoying the heavy blooms of the iris and clematis this spring.
Caesar's Brother Iris
Clematis--can you see all the buds?
Another Clematis.  It's so pretty!
I can't remember what this purple plant is, maybe a Penstemon, but it looks outstanding this year!
Some of our vegetables are coming along nicely.  The lettuce is still really struggling.  I'm sad about that because there is nothing better than fresh lettuce from the garden.

We are nearing the end of our school year, just a few days left now.  I am just done with this year and looking forward to the official end.  Our summer is going to be a busy one with lots of appointments, three different weeks of camp for the kids, and three different trips to Michigan since we couldn't work out the timing any better.  I'm still looking forward to it.

I'll leave this today with a funny paper my son brought home from school.  He made a note on the paper about what they were supposed to wear.  I think he needs to pay better attention!!
In case you're wondering, it was supposed to say clothes for the woods.  Big difference!

Linking with My Quilt Infatuation.

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