Thursday, May 7, 2020

For Want of a Magnet (My Favorite Longarm Tools)

I prepared this blog post several years ago but then totally forgot about it. Due to our season of quarantine and having two little kids stuck at home, I've been very slow on projects and have nothing to show. I thought it'd be a good time to post this instead! Despite this post being old and the links probably not all working, in a way this post is more valid than ever because I've been using these tools for the last few years to know they're holding up well.

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I've been quilting on a longarm for less than a year, which doesn't make me an expert, but I feel it's a respectable amount of time for me to finally share my favorite longarm tools. A lot of these are total game-changers for me!

Disclaimer: I provided some links to the sites that sell some of this stuff, but I have no affiliation with any of these parties and these links are not affiliate links.

Stapler

But then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll, I'll, I'll set the building on fire ...

Milton - Office Space

Before I got a longarm, I've researched lots of methods about loading quilts quickly and with as much control as possible. While there are methods I haven't tried, when I found one I liked I stuck with it. And that's staples.

I first saw this method demonstrated by Mandy Lyons, and I admit, I was initially skeptical. But I was so tired of pinning that I decided to invest in a stapler and give it a shot. Immediately, I loved it! It's much quicker than pinning, I have as much control as pins, and I never prick myself or risk bleeding over the quilt.

Spray Bottle

I picked up this tip from Beth of Cooking Up Quilts. While stapling made actually loading a quilt easier, I still had to iron the backing and I haaaated that. But after reading Beth's tip about using a spray bottle to de-wrinkle as I load, I was so tempted that I bought a spray bottle immediately. And it has worked great!

I've loaded a few quilts now with Beth's tip about using the spray bottle, and it was wonderful. I can skip that pesky ironing of the backing stage entirely now. It has made loading so much more pleasant!

Handi Grip

What's just slightly less annoying than a ruler that slides in rotary cutting? A ruler that slides in longarm quilting. I always have to pick those stitches out, and it's not fun. I use quite a bit of rulers in my quilting, so this handy (no pun intended) little Handi Grip tape has really come in handy. It is like a sticky tape on the back of the ruler that pretty much prevents slippage. I have some on the back of each of my rulers.

Needle Alignment Magnet

And I save the best for the last. I hated changing needles on the longarm because I'm never completely sure the needle is pointed toward the right position. In fact, several times when I was sure it was correct, I realized that when I tighten the screw, it likes to shift just a tad. And that tad seems to make quite a difference in how happy my quilting experience is!

Finally I figured somebody has to have solved this problem. I looked for quite awhile before I found these. I couldn't believe they're not more widely available! With this little magnet, now I can see whether my needle is pointed in the exact right position I need it to, and I can easily calibrate to compensate for the shift that usually happens when I tighten the screw. I love it, and changing a needle is no longer guesswork!

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So these are some of my favorite, not-as-widely-known tools. What's yours?

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