I get a lot of emails that ask questions that I don’t always know the helpful answer to and I thought I’d start a new feature called “A Reader Asks”. I’ll post the question, give my own little answer and then let you, all the real experts, give your answers too. I know when I have a question I find that some people’s answers don’t fit my need but usually if I put something out here on the blog, someone’s answer will be just the answer that was needed.
This question comes from Donna:
“I wanted to ask you about your beginning years as a quilter. I see you have an actual quilting machine but what did you do in the beginning? How did you manage to quilt large quilts without one? I have a small Brother and have struggled for years with large quilts. It’s been suggested I quilt on the go and actually tried that once. It was successful and looked nice but not quite the finish I wanted.
I had a friend suggest I sell my machine for one with a larger opening at the neck.
The main reason I ask is that we will be downsizing in a year to an RV full time – of course on the condition that I can bring my machine and stash. 😉”
My beginning years as a quilter happened in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Back then I tied my quilts. Longarm machines weren’t available and even if they were, there was no way I could have afforded them. This was one of the first quilts I made….
At the time, I made it for Kelli, she was 3. It was her “big girl quilt” for her “big bed”. My mom “stitched in the ditch for me. That was all the quilting we did on it.
Shortly after this quilt was made, my mom died. I was feeling pretty blue and was pretty depressed. One of the last times I saw my mom before she passed away, she told me she had a grocery list and “why don’t I run to town and get those while she watched the kids”. My mom was so smart. She knew that having the three kids 3 and under was a bit much and I needed some time away. So I went to town and when I was there I bought a quilting magazine.
In the month or so after she passed, I remembered that quilting magazine and decided I was going to make one of the quilts in it. I did….this quilt.I was so broke for a background I used an old sheet. Can you believe these curved fans were my first pieced quilt? I was a garment sewer before so the curves were no big deal.
I still have it….still not quilted.
After that I took some time off quilting. Then in the late 90’s I took a quilting class. We made this….
This was small and I stitched in the ditch.
The quilting bug hit then. If the quilt was small some stitching in the ditch was what I did…if it was big, I tied it. I had no other means as I was not at all patient enough to do a large quilt on a domestic machine…I admire people that do…but not me.
…so I took a few quilts to a longarmer….but that was more than I could afford with five children and me a stay at home mom.
So, I couldn’t get the look I wanted so I quit quilting….
The kids all were in school, I started childcare and made enough money so I was back to quilting. Then I bought my Pfaff Grand Quilter with the next generation frame…. Here’s a picture of Kelli using it.
I quilted about 15 quilts on it and loved it…then the thing just went bad. I HATED that set up. I cried ALL THE TIME. It NEVER worked right. UGH. I’d have deadlines and I couldn’t get the thing to work. I was miserable. Hubby finally told me that I needed to just buy a new one.
That’s when I bought my APQS Millennium.
It was love at first sight. Truly, this was the machine I needed. I don’t have problems with this…NONE!
So Donna…that was how I got to where I am today. I don’t know that I have suggestions for you. I didn’t sell my Pfaff Grand Quilter. It’s the machine I piece with now days. I LOVE it for piecing. Kelli loves it for piecing too. It’s a workhorse of a machine and SUPER speedy. If I had to machine quilt things on my own and if I didn’t have the space or means to get a longarm, I would have a Pfaff Grand Quilter and use the machine only with no frame. It has a pretty long throat….
…but to be honest, machine quilting is my LEAST favorite part of quilting. If I were Donna and I knew of a reliable longarmer who was good, quick and reasonable, I’d take my quilts to her. I’d hire that part out. I’ve told Hubby if something ever happened to my long arm, I don’t know that I’d buy one again. Carla from Longarm Quilting Inspirations is close. She’s reliable and does good work.
That’s the synopsis of my quilting life and how my finishing of quilt tops has evolved.
So readers…..It’s your turn. What advice to have for Donna?