Monday, April 5

Our Machine Quilting Adventure!

I promised that when Easter was over, I would share about our machine quilting adventure at Heidi Kaisand's Spring Retreat and here it is......

When my friend Sue and I signed up for Heidi's retreat, we knew there would be an APQS Millennium long-arm quilting machine available but it didn't really register with either one of us, just what a treat that was going to be! There was also going to be an instructor, Dawn Cavanaugh and we did not realize what a talented teacher Dawn Cavanaugh is. She is a Quilting Artist at APQS!! Just go here and you will see what I mean. Here is Dawn at the Millennium working on a quilt for retreat guest, Melissa.

Sue and I agreed that we might have been very intimated had we known beforehand that Dawn was named "2008 Machine Quilting Teacher of the Year" at the 2009 Machine Quilters Exposition. As she showed each retreat guest how to use the machine and then worked individually with us, it was obvious that she is an excellent teacher. She is very patient and explains things in clear terms. I don't think I'm alone in saying that with her encouragement, I never doubted that I could actually machine quilt!
Many of you probably recognise Heidi from her years as Editor of American Patchwork Quilting. She is now the National Sales Manager for APQS. I think her idea to host a retreat and have a Millennium and an instructor available for guests is fantastic! I came away from the retreat knowing that I really need a long-arm quilting machine!!
So let's get to the action and find out what made me know I need a long-arm quilting machine. I took photos of Sue as she went through the steps of the machine quilting process. Dawn makes this all look so easy but she also stresses the importance of every step of the process. Here she is rolling the quilt onto the rollers. Sue may be watching now but a few minutes after this, Dawn had Sue helping her smooth and adjust the quilt for stitching.

Bobbins and threading the machine were covered. Heidi was the "official bobbin winder" and she wound a lot of bobbins during the three day weekend! Dawn instructed Sue in threading the machine ................. and then she began pinning the quilt layers with flat head pins. Each "student" helped with the pinning and unpinning during the quilting process.

Sue was a bit unsure of just how to stitch her top , so Dawn said "just think of how you doodle". If I remember correctly Sue said she's not really a "doodler". :-) So Dawn shared a little lesson on how to "doodle" so that Sue could stitch some leaves into her top. With a little "practice doodling"..............

Sue was soon stitching leaves and swirls into her quilt top. And in no time at all, it was complete!

The quilt top pattern she used is "Sweet Pea" by Celine Perkins of PerkinsDryGoods.

Next, it was my turn and this time, Sue took pictures of my quilt top being quilted. In the top half of this photo, Dawn is instructing me in how to start the machine and begin stitching. When all the right buttons are pressed and you hear the "little birdie" sound, then you are "good to go stitching!"
At first, I was a little bit nervous..........and my first "loops and swirls" are tight and not very good. But then............it was like I "learned to drive".......and I began stitching loops and swirls and I was soooooooooo excited!
It felt very "natural" to stitch on the Millennium and I felt just like I was "drawing" on a giant surface. I even stitched some words into my quilt top. Right about this point in the picture above, I got so excited that I started stitching too fast and my thread broke. Dawn came to the rescue and then in under an hour...............

my quilt top was finished!! The design is by Dana of OldRedBarnCo. . I was so pleased with this project. I loved the fabric colors I chose but to know I had also quilted it was just too much!! When I got home and showed it to my husband, his first words were "oh, she quilted it for you". And I said "no, I did it!" He was impressed. And here's where I have to tell you that I could have impressed him even more and made points toward getting a long-arm quilting machine if I had quilted that NASCAR quilt top I made for him a few years ago. I took it along but this was my weekend and I was going to do a quilt just for me. There's still an opportunity for impressing him, though, as Dawn and I discussed the project and she will be quilting that NASCAR quilt (not for free, folks - I'm a customer on this one). So there you have it...........Our Machine Quilting Adventure..........thanks to Heidi's "Spring into Action Retreat". I can sum this up by saying........."I always thought that when I retired, I would love to have a Lincoln but I am thinking I would rather drive a Lenni" and it would be a lot more fun!!
This week, I'm going to add the binding to my quilt and when I post the finished picture, I'll also share the finished picture of Sue's quilt. Time to "hop to it" and get stitching!
Have a good Monday!
Sandi
P.S. I enjoy Pat Sloan's radio show and learned yesterday that her guest today is Heidi so you can hear more about machine quilting just by clicking here for Pat's Creative Talk Radio show. :-)

12 comments:

Pat said...

I don't have room for any kind of long-arm, so I envy that you do. Heck...when you get the NASCAR quilt back, tell hubby you could have saved money by quilting it yourself. (Of course, he may remind you how much you will have to SPEND to get Lenni.....so you may not have a good case here! LOL) I'm sure that was great to do your own quilt. I'd love the chance to do that, too.

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Wow Sandi, you look like a natural. That machine looks so big!

Kaye said...

Wow, you are lucky. It must have been soooo exciting to do. Its a shame they are so expensive

Barb said...

How fun for you...I loved evey minute of your post...so awesome!! I do hope you get that long arm, I want one and my husband promises me one when we get back to the states...we will see...thanks so much for the long arm inspiration.

Mary Grace McNamara said...

Wow, Sandi, that is so super cool. I have one quilt top that I would love to pop onto a long arm and get it done. I just need to find someone local who has one that I could use. I have a feeling I would find a need where one did not previously exist though! What an experience it would be! Fun!

MGM

Ida13 said...

Red suits to you.:)
You are very talented Sandi!I couldn't imagine how big is that quilt is, but it's really big. Can you show us a photo closer picture about your quilting? Have you binded it yet?

Needled Mom said...

I have played on a Gammil and I have to agree that I would take one of those over a fancy car too. Wouldn't it be fun to crank out quilts so quickly?

Yvette said...

Thank you so much for the detailed post. I am so jealous of your adventure. I would love to try one of those machines and what a dream to be able to use it for an entire quilt!

Owl Lady said...

I, too, would like to machine quilt on a longarm. I have done some simple projects on my regular sewing machine but nothing fancy. I am sure that I can make room for it; almost everywhere I look I can see some stuff that my DH doesn't need anymore! Oh, well, it's nice to dream. Maybe some day. And I'll keep my 10-year-old Malibu. I don't care how old it looks so long as it runs all right and gets decent gas mileage.

Beth said...

I took a class on a gammel andit was so much fun. I sure would drive my little Toyota forever for a longarm. I might be buying a mid-arm from a friend very soon.
Thaks for all the great photos and for sharing your experience.

Debbie said...

You look great behind the wheel, Sandi! Glad you had a good time. It so funny, while reading your blog I was also listening to Pat Sloan and Heidi Keisand! How cool is that.

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

Well I am extremely impressed. I think it is the artist in you that helped you catch on so fast. I've tried it and really it doesn't come that natural to me. I've done ok on my sewing machine after TONS of practice but there is a different feel to those big machines. Of course you can do it!

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