Monday, April 10, 2017

Longarm Quilting With Linda Taylor

Since I was getting serious about a longarm, I figured this is a good time to actually take some classes. If longarming is definitely wrong for me, I would want to know before I spend such a heavy chunk of money on a machine! So last Saturday, I attended a whole day of longarm classes with Linda Taylor (whom Angela Walters called the "godmother of machine quilting") during the International Quilt Festival.

Both classes were for beginners, although I quickly realized I was one of the few people in the class who did't have a longarm at home, and hence was more beginner than most. The first class taught pantographs, and although I don't see myself doing a lot of pantographs (because I like custom quilting), I've always been curious how they worked. Here is my first attempt:

I must admit, it was really fun and mindless to just trace a pantograph. I enjoyed it more than I expected, because there's no stress here. This might be the way to go for charity quilts, baby quilts, or very busy quilts where it's not worth it to do custom quilting. My second pantograph attempt was a ballerina, which was a bit more difficult, but not too badly so. After that, I worked some freehand quilting to embellish her.

The afternoon class was all freehand quilting. This is where I realized that just because I know how to do these designs on a sit-down machine, it doesn't mean the skill translates very well to a longarm. Sure I know in my head how it's supposed to look ... but I don't have very good control over the machine, and it doesn't really end up looking like it does in my head. In particular, any design with traveling was really, really tough. Here's my class sample:

I didn't do the frames or the pretty outer border design, as that was already done for us. I just had to fill in all of the spaces with filler designs. It was very fun to do, and since I didn't intend for this sample to actually become something, I allowed myself to be pretty sloppy ... and it was pretty sloppy. Some designs are definitely easier on a longarm (such as wavy lines) than on a sit-down, and some designs are much harder (anything with traveling, or really small designs).

I think I'm officially addicted to longarming. After I got home, all I wanted to do was to longarm some more, but I don't have a machine yet. In conclusion, I think longarming is almost certainly in my future. (But what machine to get? That's a dilemma for another blog post.)


  1. Agree--pantos are stress-free, and there are a lot of neat, modern choices out there. Your freehand looks great--doesn't look sloppy at all. It looks natural and organic, as opposed to computerized. More human.

  2. What a great day you must have had. Your work is fantastic for a beginner - like you I did a beginner's course before I had a machine and was certainly the only true beginner in the class. It was that class that cemented my decision to buy my longarm. Have fun doing the research!

  3. You did great! I am impressed. While you were in your longarm class, I was looking at a mid-arm machine. I was tempted but I really don't have the room. My husband said I could buy one as long as I can bring it home on his brand new Harley. I can't wait to see what you buy. Are your arms still shaking?

  4. Taking a class was what sealed the deal for me too Liz. But there is definitely a learning curve. I feel like I have much better control of the design on my sit-down. I ordered a longarm but it hasn't been delivered yet. I added the micro-handles because I feel like they give me more control. I've been putting aside charity and practice quilts for when the machine actually arrives! :) I even bought a pantograph to try. It was interesting to read your thoughts on pantographs - thanks so much for sharing!


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