Hooked on Needles

Friday, June 10, 2011

Long Arm Quilting ~ Perfect Swirlies

It's time to come clean about those lovely swirlies I quilted on my Postage Stamp Quilt that I showed the other day. For those of you who have been doing long arm quilting for some time, you probably are aware of these neat little accessories, but for those of you not familiar with a long arm machine and all the fun things you can do with it, keep reading and discover that I really am not all that good at it...it's all in the accessories!

Long Arm Quilting ~ Perfect SwirliesThere they are...the plastic templates my long arm mentor Kathryn purchased for her renters to use if they wish. Well, I wished! And I loved using them! See the little black circles? Those are little rubber rings that keep the templates together. Kathryn purchased 4 of these templates to fit across the bed of her smaller machine so we could do one whole pass without having to stop and reposition the templates.

Long Arm Quilting ~ Perfect SwirliesHere you can see almost the whole length of the templates together.

Long Arm Quilting ~ Perfect SwirliesThere is a metal stylus that sits in an arm coming off the back of the sewing machine part of the long arm, and it drops down into the groove on the template. As long as you keep the stylus in the groove as you move the machine over your quilt, the design that is stitched into the quilt will match the design on the templates. Pretty cool, huh?

I had such fun stitching these swirly designs into my postage stamp quilt using these templates. There is no way in the world that I could have done these free hand and have them turn out looking like anything nice. And I don't have the time, money or the inclination to invest in a machine of my own so I could practice enough to get good at it. So these templates are the perfect answer for someone like me who wants nice even designs for quilting.

The only thing I do not like about using the templates is the same thing I did not like about quilting the pantograph design in my log cabin quilt. That is the fact that you have to run the machine from the back side, away from the quilt, and you have to look at the design in order to keep the laser light or the stylus on track instead of looking at the quilt. If I had never done any free hand quilting on the long arm, I would not have known any different. But there is just something so satisfying about watching the stitches going into your quilt while you guide the machine over it in your own design. I was able to do that on the I Spy quilts I long armed, and also on the Eat Play Sleep Repeat quilt that I did lots of small free hand loops on.

I have just finished piecing all my red and aqua blocks that I received in a swap quite some time ago, so once that is bordered and the backing is pieced, I'll be able to spend some more time on Kathryn's machine. Will I use the templates again? Or will I choose to stitch a pantograph design into this next quilt? I don't know. I might just decide to free hand it and see what happens! You can be sure I'll let you know!

Happy Stitching!

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