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  1. #11
    Block Queen

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    Mar 2012
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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    My machine does have a stitch regulator.

  2. #12
    Missouri Star

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    Jan 2010
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    rural Missouri
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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    A stitch regulator helps keep even stitching, but doesn't address tension issues. Check your bobbin case before using bobbin washers. My Innova has a anti back lash spring that works even better than the washers. I do use the washers in my Janome. Also, some LAers take out this spring and use magnetic pre- wound bobbins. This helps with any bird nest issues. I use a Towa gauge and have finally set the bottom tension correctly, so now it is just some tweaking on the top tension for that perfect stitch. This tweaking happens with every new quilt and thread change. I keep a large muslin sandwich nearby to rub test stitching on or try out new designs. It comes in handy if someone wants to doodle with my quilt. I have some large clamps that allows me to pop that quilt sandwich on my frame quickly. Keep at it......it takes lots of practice.......

  3. #13
    Missouri Star

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    Apr 2015
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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    Make sure your needle is put in correctly. I had the problem once where I kept breaking needles. After the 4th one (yes, I'm stubborn and know that repeating the same process over and over does not change the results) I decided to look at my book and the needled was in backwards. Another time the needle was not all the way in. As for practice, I have used old sheets, muslin, etc. When trying to get the feel of the machine or trying new designs, I have also used a previous practice piece as my backing/batting and put a new practice top on it. After a while, just tossed that practice and started over. After using my LA for 2 years (hard to believe it's been that long) and using my TOWA guage for the bottom, I finally had a quilt where I loved the tension right off the bat. This means more practice does help to improve.

    I have the Tin Lizzie ESP, and my machine also allows for the presser foot to go up and down. As I understand most long-arms do not have this. Anyway, if you forget to put it down, you will have a huge birdsnest on the bottom and it eventually breaks the thread. There is also a free beginner LA class on Craftsy as well as many other online videos. One of my problems was first not believing in myself. Once I watched the videos and kept repeating "I CAN do this" instead of " I will never get this", things went a lot better. Now, I can't wait to finish a top, just so I can quilt it.

  4. #14
    Block Queen

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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    I know there are classes online - but some seem so "general". I wish there was one specifically for my machine. It did come with a video, but again, very general.
    It's that tweaking the top tension that I just can't wrap my head around!!!

  5. #15
    Missouri Star

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    Apr 2015
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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    Quote Originally Posted by lulu View Post
    I know there are classes online - but some seem so "general". I wish there was one specifically for my machine. It did come with a video, but again, very general.
    It's that tweaking the top tension that I just can't wrap my head around!!!
    That part will get better. I know what you mean. Just once the bottom is what you want, just adjust the top. My dealer also told me to don't be afraid to adjust the top a lot. I wish your dealer provided on site classes for you where you could even use your own machine. I went to a 3 day hands on retreat with Linda Taylor in Montana that was awesome, although it was pricey too. Don't know if that is an option for you. If it is, PM me and I can give you more details.

  6. #16
    Missouri Star

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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    One way to save fabric and batting while you are learning and practicing is to change color of threads and quilt back over what you have already done. It will be messy looking and thick........but if you use contrasting threads you can see where you are, where you have been, and your improvement over time. I have done up to 4 different colors before I had to get rid of it......messy!

  7. #17
    Missouri Star

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    Jun 2016
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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    Quote Originally Posted by SuzyQue View Post
    One way to save fabric and batting while you are learning and practicing is to change color of threads and quilt back over what you have already done. It will be messy looking and thick........but if you use contrasting threads you can see where you are, where you have been, and your improvement over time. I have done up to 4 different colors before I had to get rid of it......messy!
    I've been doing that with my FMQ practice. So far all my practice sandwiches are small, so I told DH no waste here. These will be used as pot holders in our camping gear. And when I go bigger (lap size) the dog gets a new blanket, and even bigger...car quilts or for when we go camping, or picnic blankets.

    So yes, they may be messy, but they still can have a lot of character, color, and uses.

  8. #18
    Missouri Star

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    Aug 2012
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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    Take a picture of your top tension apparatus and post here. I have the same machine. There is a small wire loop that broke on my machine after a few quilts and it was easy to replace. My dealer (Quiltfrog in Spring TX) figured it out. They have 2-5 day retreats on longarm and will set up the same model of machine that you have at home for you to use while on your retreat.
    Happy Quilting!

  9. #19
    Applique Angel

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    Aug 2012
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    Katy, TX
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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    Quilts done on a domestic or a longarm will usually have extra batting in odd shapes and sizes that are cut off, so I use those when I want to practice. I can lay a 15" x 60" piece of batting across whatever backing I am using and then lay some similar cotton pieces on top of it. Might need a little spray adhesive since they are floating, but it's cheaper to practice on than buying something just for the practice work. It also helps reduce the size of the scrap pile.

    You could also consider getting cuts of clearance fabrics and making dog blankets with them - the dogs in the shelter won't be looking at your stitching, so it can be haphazard wandering with no real goal. They might get chewed, they might get soiled, or they might be the best and most comforting piece of softness that homeless dog has ever been able to sleep on.

  10. #20
    Missouri Star

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    Jan 2012
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    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    I guess I am lucky that I have never broken a needle, shhhh, I'll probably jinx myself! My machine has a foot lifter like a domestic machine, I think some machines don't have this. That is what caused birds nests on my machine. After ripping out a huge row of birds set quilting, I must say I don't forget to put that lever down, as that is what engages the top tension.

    Good luck figuring things out!

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