I’ve been working on a top-secret project that I’m hoping to finish soon. Actually, I’d be pretty psyched if I just finished it! It’s a ginormous project and it’s been really hard to work on it in my tiny apartment. It’s so big that there’s no way that I could fit it through my sewing machine for quilting and I’m pretty sure that it would take forever and I’d totally lose my mind in the process. I looked at hiring someone to do the quilting for me and was flabbergasted at the cost. A few people in my quilt guild suggested that I learn how to do my own quilting on a longarm quilting machine at Laurena’s Longarm Quilting. I took an intro class a few months ago and it kind of blew my mind. I’d actually never even seen a longarm quilting machine before! We went through the basics in the class and I went home and promptly threw together two quilts with which I could practice using the longarm so when it came time to quilt the secret project, I wouldn’t be a total novice.
The first quilt I made was from a “charm pack” from IKEA. I think it cost me $5 :-) True charm packs are 5″ squares but these squares were closer to 8″. The fabric is lightweight canvas and I’m pretty sure they’re scraps from yardage that they couldn’t sell (some of the fabrics are a little weird). I traded some squares with my mom and mixed in a few cuts from some random stuff that I bought in IKEA’s discontinued area. It’s kind of a weird looking quilt (look at those faces!) but it was perfect for my first attempt at the longarm.
This was a perfect quilt for the longarm. Because of the canvas fabric, it was tough to sew through, tough to iron and tough to work with. I used an old white sheet of my parents’ for the background and chose a swirly pantograph for the background. It took way longer to get the quilt set up on the longarm than it did for me to do the first few rows! Eventually, I managed to get into a rhythm, where I did the set up, sewed a couple of rows, rolled the quilt to the next blank section, did more set up and then sewed more rows. It was ridiculously fun! One of the things that I like about sewing/quilting is that there are always opportunities to learn something new and after spending close to four hours (I did two quilts) at the longarm quilter, my brain was overloaded with new information and I was totally pumped about the day.
It’s a little tough to see the quilt pattern on the white backing but I think you can see the swirls better on the close-ups. My swirls are far from perfect, but as Laurena said this is my “artistic interpretation” of the pattern. I chose this pattern because I thought a lot of squares need circles for balance.
I absolutely love how it came out. And like all of my other ugly duckling quilts, I love this quilt :-) The quilt is so dense and thick with the canvas fabric and all the thread used in the quilting! It will be perfect for a cold fall day when I refuse to turn on the heat – a day that will be here too soon I’m afraid. And I love that I have a new skill in my sewing toolbox. I never really thought about the quilting process while I was making a quilt but I can really see how quilting like this can really compliment a quilt pattern. I’ll share the other quilt I finished at the longarm in my next post.