Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Behold: A Southern Blizzard! "Snowed In" With the Best Beginner Longarm Quilting Tutorials

Okay, Wisconsin and Minnesnowta readers -- get ready to laugh yourselves silly.  School is canceled today in Charlotte, North Carolina -- in the middle of exam week -- because of treacherous weather conditions that they are calling Storm Three:


Storm Three Pounds My Neighborhood with a Sprinkling of Snow Dandruff
Not only is school closed today, but businesses are closing as well.  My in-box is full of emails from the eye doctor, interior design showrooms, etc., notifying me that they are all closed due to the "storm."  All of my appointments today have been canceled, even tonight's church choir rehearsal, and I have no reason to leave the house at all.  This is clearly a message from the Universe telling me to spend the day with Thoroughly Modern Millie, my APQS longarm quilting machine.

Although I've had Millie since late March of last year, I've only actually loaded quilts onto the frame twice.  The first one was a huge King-sized practice quilt that I loaded in May, and the second one was a printed cheater cloth practice quilt that I loaded back in October, three months ago.  I've spent a lot more time getting a feel for driving the quilting machine around to "draw" quilting designs than I have with the basic process of getting started with a quilt, so now that I'm ready for my first real quilt I've been procrastinating, apprehensive and unsure about how to begin.  I'd walk into my studio and sort of circle around the longarm frame, like she and I were sizing one another up for a bullfight.


The Look My Longarm Machine Has Been Giving Me
But I'm not even the matador in this scenario -- I'm the BULL, y'all!  And I've been like, "You know what?  I'm just going to leave the ring and find a nice cork tree where I can lie down and smell the flowers!  Or cut up the flowered fabric into triangles, or pick out flowers for a new applique project...  You get the idea.


...And I Am Ferdinand the Bull, Who Would Rather Go Smell the Flowers
Ferdinand and I have the same bangs now, by the way.  They look way cuter on him than they do on me.

But no; this is NOT going to be a bull fight!  Longarm quilting is not a violent, barbaric "sport."  No one has to die, the only bloodshed is going to be if I stab myself with a pin, and Millie and I are going to work TOGETHER to create quilty goodness and not as mortal combatants.  I just need to refresh my memory on some basics, boost my confidence, and get over it already! 


"Bullfight: Death of the Toreador," by Pablo Picasso, 1933
So last night I spent some time on YouTube, hunting down the best beginner longarm quilting tutorials.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video demonstration has got to be worth a million words!  YouTube is great, but I wish it was organized better so I didn't have to scroll through so many videos to find what I'm looking for.  There are TONS of videos showing how to quilt various freehand designs, but what I need right now are the basics that a seasoned longarm quilter takes for granted and could do in his or her sleep.  That's why I'm posting these links here, so that I can quickly find them again whenever I need to refresh my memory.  If other beginning longarm quilters find these resources through this post, well, that's all the better!  I watched all of these videos last night and I feel MUCH more confident again.  I plan to rewatch these videos in my studio today as I finish loading my Math quilt today (partial float, I think), thread the machine (variegated thread or invisible?), adjust tension for beautiful stitches on the top AND back side of the quilt, and quilt it with a simple, allover pantograph design.  


Best Beginner Longarm Quilting Tutorials on YouTube:

  • ·       How to Load a Quilt on an APQS Frame, Full or Partial Float Methods:



  •  How to Thread an APQS Longarm Machine:

  • How to Fill a Bobbin With the APQS Turbo Bobbin Winder: 


  • Manual Versus Regulated Stitch Mode on an APQS Machine: 
  • How to Adjust Top Tension on an APQS Longarm Machine: 
  •  How to Adjust & Troubleshoot Bobbin Tension, APQS:
  • How to Use a TOWA Bobbin Tension Gauge, from Superior Threads: 
  • Easy Perfect Tension On Any Model Longarm Machine, from Jamie Wallen: 
  • Using Invisible Thread on an APQS Longarm Machine, Top and/or Bottom: 
  • How to Calibrate the APQS Low Bobbin Indicator: 
  • How to Bury Thread Tails:
  • How to Assemble the APQS Laser:
  •  APQS Pantograph Quilting Tutorial:
  • Sparrow Quilt Co./APQS How to Load (Full Float), Baste, & Quilt a Pantograph: 
  • Sparrow Quilt Co./APQS How to Align an Edge to Edge Pantograph Pattern: 
  • APQS Beginner Tips for Quilting With Longarm Rulers:
  • Angela Walters' Longarm Ruler Tips:




I plan to update this blog post with additional longarm tutorials as I find them, so please send me links to any great video tutorials that I've missed!  And of course, free to bookmark this post if there's information here that you find useful.

And now, let the quilting games begin!

Today I'm linking up with:




10 comments:

Ramona said...

We are having snow here in Richmond again, and like Charlotte, everything is closed. Being from upstate NY where there is REAL snow... it always makes me chuckle. That is until I'm out driving in it and the crazies nearly run me off the road. Then I understand why things are closed. :) Have fun taming that bull!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

have fun with your machine! same happens here with a tad of snow - everything gets closed - too many mountain roads for the school buses to drive safely and if the school is closed a lot of other places close - warmer weather tomorrow! so glad and up to 30 today although it is still working on that.

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca,
Don't EVER not listen to the Universe when it is telling you to stay in with your long-arm! (sorry for the double-negative!) As someone from Wisconsin, I really did laugh right out loud. I even called others over to look at your photo, and we all giggled again. But seriously, ice is nothing to mess with. I would truly want schools to be canceled and all people to stay safely at home so that first responders and hospital staff can do their jobs without nuts being out on the streets. Without the proper equipment and salt, it is dangerous! So, the Universe is correct - stay home! Stay safe, and get to work on that quilt. Stop reading this reply and get busy. HAHA ~smile~ Roseanne

Karen @runsewfun said...

I got a serger for Christmas and finally had a minute (4 hours!) yesterday to learn how to thread it. Definitely sharing your love/hate relationship with YouTube this week! I hope you get another snow day soon and can get to the actual quilting part.

Mary Bolton said...

Feeling your anxiety! I have a mid-arm, purchased 5 years ago. I dove in, full of nerves, but try I as might, I still don't manage to keep something loaded on it to
sew frequently for short times. Months go bye between tops, not the best way to become confident!

Lynette said...

Wow!! This is the best post with all those videos gathered together! Thank you for doing that. I sure hope you're in there working at your Millie today. You better be! I like the partial float. Has worked well for me so far. When you finish this quilt, make it a label that includes the fact that it's the first real quilt you did on your longarm. You'll love looking at that down the line, and it's imperfections will be charming.

Susan said...

You've got a great list of videos going - definitely confidence boosters! Now, just get in there and start stitching! The more you do, the easier it is - have fun!

Debbie Huber said...

You should be an instructor with all your new found information which you have presented so well. GOOD luck! And I hope it inspires you to do more. Snowed in! I live in Wisconsin and can only wish. It has been SOOOOO cold here.

Kate said...

A long arm has been on my want list for a while now. After looking through those tutorials, now I'm not sure I'm up for all the finer points to get great quilts. Hope you got lots done during your snow day.

piseth san said...

I really likes your blog! You have shared the whole concept really well and very beautifully soulful read!
Thanks for sharing
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