Quilting with a longarm is loads of fun, but it's a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. I've played around with free-motion quilting and have had some success, but, oh my it's not easy. I'm finding that when I do free-motion, my stitches are a bit too close together, causing the quilt to be a bit stiff. I'll have to work on that.
But there's help for awkward stitchers like me: Groovy Boards!
Groovy boards are panels made of a plastic (PVC?) with a stitching pattern carved into one side.They are approx 24"x10". Here are a couple of the boards I purchased:
|Groovy board with "Baptist Fan" pattern.|
|The pattern on this one is called "Blustery Breeze"|
|The pattern on the above board is "Simply Stipple".|
|The stylus remains tightly held to the side of the machine.|
|Notice exactly where the stylus is sitting in the pattern. At the point|
this photo was taken, I was moving down and to the left with
|Here you can see the pattern on the groovy board is |
exactly replicated in the stitching.
Results? Well, I just finished a 50"x50" baby quilt with the board you see in these photos - and it took me 2 hours and 15 minutes. That's FAST!!!! And as I go along, I'm getting faster.
There's a bit of a learning curve here.
One of the things I've found is that the grooves are wider than the stylus point. That bit of "play" is a bit problematic, as giggling from side to side in the groove interrupts the smooth flow of the stitching. Gradually I'm learning to hug one side or the other of the groove as I go along. With the "Simply Stipple" pattern, it's not too noticeable, but those smooth lines in "Baptist Fan" will look horrible if I slip and end up with out-of-line stitches.
I'm finding it very difficult it is to advance the quilt and keep the spacing between the rows even. It's harder than you think. But, again, with the stippling board, the variations aren't horribly obvious. Clearly "Baptist Fan" will be more challenging.
I've had the thread break twice in mid-stream. Oh my - what a pain to reload and get back into the correct position. I've had the bobbin run out on me a few times, too - and again, not fun to reload and reposition. But I'm getting much better at estimating how far I can go on a single bobbin.
So, with a nod to Simon and Garfunkel - I'm lookin' for fun and feelin groovy!