Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Another Learning Curve

Learning Curve.   As I try to become social media relevant, I encounter those two words many times.  I shudder when I  hear those words.  What do they mean to me?  They mean many hours of frustration.  Times when I want to throw my computer across the room.  Times when I want to rip every hair out of my head or just sit and cry.  My husband shakes his head as I mutter every curse word that I know.

Unfortunately, using the computer to share my quilting via the Internet has cause me many,many, many hours of frustration.  Over the years I  have had to learn to edit photos, create and write a blog, create and edit videos, upload those videos to Youtube, write a newsletter, maintain a mailing list, edit and organize photos, e-mail huge files, learn how to use Dropbox, create and maintain a website.  The list goes on and on.

My next learning curve was to tackle my longarm quilting machine.  I purchased it over a year ago.  It has sat in my extended studio (aka my living room) gathering dust and as a very expensive shelf for storage. 

My goal this Winter is to start to master that longarm learning curve.  Well, maybe not master it, but at least be able to use it.  For those of you that are not familiar with a longarm, it's kind of the opposite of a sewing machine.  Instead of the  machine being stationary and the quilt moving. the longarm head moves on rails and the quilt stays stationary.  As a newbie, there are 3 steps to learn:
                                               1.  Loading the quilt
                                               2.  Achieving proper tension
                                               3.  Moving the machine to achieve a pleasing quilting pattern

I had spent lots of time practicing on a plain piece of fabric after the longarm was first delivered.  It was unrewarding and boring.  It did not inspire me to practice.  So that was last year.  I decided that I needed to quilt an actual quilt. I thought that would hold my attention and I would focus on steps 1 & 2.  I made a simple but adorable baby quilt.

A friend came over to help with the loading process. 

The ugh! came the tension issues.  I really didn't think that birds nests (thread tangles on the back side of a quilt) and  thread breakage were going to be an issue - but they were.  Telephone calls, emails and rethreading helped me a bit with the tension. 

To avoid dealing with the quilt pattern, I just did straight line quilting. This was part of my original plan.  Learn to load, then straight line quilt.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Then I would tackle the quilting designs.

My finished quilt:
More practice to come, including some tension adjustments.

In the process of making this quilt, I ended up with big triangle scraps.   On my long bucket list of quilts to make is a NICU graduation quilt.  Only 20"x30", an Instagram friend has a goal of donating 100 to the NICU where here child had a temporary home.
I sewed the triangles together and trimmed the squares to 10".

and then cut each HST  in quarters and rearranged them. 

 I added some of the nursery print also left over from the original quilt to make the graduation quilt.

The end of my learning experience is 2 quilts, both to be used for good causes.  A friend said to me once, no one has ever returned a charitable quilt because the quilting wasn't perfect.  I'm sticking with that and will continue and will improve. 

Do you grow from attacking a new technique, whether it is physical or mental?  It certainly can  be painful, but I feel it keeps our brain young.  Plus when you achieve success, it is so rewarding.  
Go challenge yourself today. I'm going to laod another quilt on my longarm!

Follow on Bloglovin


  1. Cheryl, I totally relate to all your struggles in the first two paragraphs. Which is probably why I don't take the plunge and do what you did in the third paragraph, get a longarm! Buying a midarm was as far as I could dare myself. Your quilts did turn out wonderfully, and of course with time, time, and more time, I know you will master it, like you did everything else!!!

  2. I'm learning to long arm myself & thankfully I've had no tension or thread issues so far but I certainly feel your pain in the "improving" sector. I have quilted 2 full sized quilts & although they aren't perfect, which is hard for me to admit since I am a perfectionist, they are finished & are going to great charities. Thanks for helping me realize there are others struggling with their LA techniques also. BTW, love the quilts & your quilting looked pretty darned good to me. :)


Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear from you.