Hi Guest, Welcome to the quilting forums, register now —or—

Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 32
  1. #1
    Block Queen

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    131
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Practicing on longarm

    What do you use exactly to practice on your longarm? Do you use sheets from yard sales? Do you always have to buy batting? Can you use an old blanket instead of batting? Do you have to have some type of batting at all? Who can afford batting and fabric to keep practicing?
    I have a Babylock crown jewel. Heck of a time getting tension right - huge nests underneath and then there's this other issue of breaking needles!?!?!
    HELP!

  2. #2
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    rural Missouri
    Posts
    5,037
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    Yes, it can be frustrating and expensive to keep practicing. I have found it best to use fabric similar to what I will be quilting on in the future and batting. I buy extra wide backing or good quality muslin to practice on, but old sheets would work. Newer sheets are very tightly woven and once you get your tension right, it will not be the same for good quilting cottons. I have found getting the long arm mastered was an uphill battle for me. I have done tons of practicing. Most of these pieces go to the doghouse for winter warmth or they are donation quilts. I know some people learn it quicker and are not as perfectionistic as I, thus requiring much less practice.

    Breaking needles sounds like you are not moving with the machine. I have never broke a needle on the quilt machine. Are you hitting pins or edges of rulers?What size needle are you using? Some threads require different sizes. I generally use a 18. As far as the tension goes, it does vary with different fabrics and especially with different weights of threads. It is something you have to learn to mess with and not fear. Once you get it right it only takes small adjustments to perfect it. I don't have the same machine, so hopefully someone will answer more specifically. I typically tighten til the top thread is too tight, then back it off. The ideal is to have the tension meet in the batting.

  3. #3
    Block Queen

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    In the boonies of Ohio
    Posts
    147
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    I purchased a bolt of muslin and batting from Joanns using a coupon and watched lots of YouTube videos and then I took the plung and took a 3 day class from Longarm university and it was beyond worth it, she also has online classes too. Do you have any local dealer support that you can reach out to? That would be my first step! It takes time to learn a new machine, don't get frustrated, you'll learn to love it !!

  4. #4
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    West Viriginia
    Posts
    4,192
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    If I recall, the first thing I put on my frame for practice was a piece around 40x 50 and it was a cut sheet for backing and top and then a piece of a piece of a cheap polyester blanket I had around the house. I just did meandering. I just wanted to get a feel for how the machine moved and what speed I had to go. My movements were quite erratic in the beginning. I think I did about three of these before I tried my first real quilt. I still do the occasional "practice quilts" when I'm trying some new quilting pattern. At the moment I use them for practicing feathers which I'm rotten at. I've got a system where I try out new blocks to see how they'll look and do them the size for cat cage matts and donate them to the cat shelter when they are finished.

    SuzyQue is right, getting the right tension is a never ending process. It changes usually with each quilt you do depending on materials used. I check the tensioning with each bobbin change and that can be two or three per quilt. Tension adjustments continued to be a problem with me until I got the Towa Bottom Bobbin Gauge. For the first three months I did use Jamie Wallin(?)'s method for tensioning but it was always an uphill battle and I'd literally have to take an hour or so with each quilt I put on. The Towa Bobbin Gauge is pricey (around $50) but well well worth it and I believe they have a model for the Babylock also. Once I got one I swear I felt that it was the secret that long arm quilters didn't want to share with others LOL. I've never needed the Towa Top Bobbin Gauge just the Bottom one. (cheaper that way. Superior Threads sells the different models)

    I've never had much of a problem with needle breakage. It's just an occasional thing. When it's happened to me it was generally when my bobbin would get stuck in the quilt and I tried to force the machine to pull out of it.....not a good idea and I'll tell you it didn't take much of a "forcing" motion. It tended to either just bend the needle slightly or throw the timing off to one degree or another. It can be just a tiny fraction of being off but just enough for the needle not to easily go into the bobbin plate hole.

    In the beginning it can be quite frustrating since you don't know if it is all occurring because of something you did or an anomaly with the machine. Once you start playing with the bobbin bottom tension and then also the top tension you're not sure which really was the problem in the first place. So it then usually takes longer to fix. Once I spent two days playing with tensioning only to discover it was never the initial tension anyway. Turned out that while everything looked threaded properly the problem was that the thread had not set properly into the top tension guide wheel. You have to make sure that the thread actually did "click" into that guide.

    I "feel" your pain :-) but I can assure you that it does get better and soon you'll be just zipping along with your quilting. I IS so much fun!

    Women are Angels.
    When someone
    break's our wings
    we will continue to
    fly...usually on a
    broomstick.
    We're flexible like that.
    - embroitique

  5. #5
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Newport, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    4,590
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    As you can see - it's not as easy as some quilters seem to make it look like. I don't have your model of machine, I have a Juki on a grace frame and still practicing. I have not heard of the Towa Top Bobbin Guage - I will have to look in to that. I did purchase some Magic Genie bobbin washers that you supposedly put under your bobbin and it is to help with the birds nests on the back while free motion quilting. They make them for regular sewing and also some for longarm machines. My girlfriend bought the set for a regular machine and was so happy was yelling when she said it worked. I got the set for the longarm machine and haven't tried it yet.
    You have to also get your hands and machine moving at the right speeds - especially doing corners and circles so good luck!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/quiltsbytrish
    http://quiltdreaming.blogspot.com
    http://pinterest.com/TrishLapp


    What if you woke up today and the only things you had were the things you thanked God for yesterday? quilting trish

  6. #6
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    West Viriginia
    Posts
    4,192
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    Quilting Irish, it's the Bottom Towa Bobbin Gauge not so much the Top Bobbin Towa Gauge that you need. As long as your bottom bobbin is set properly it's rare or only very slight adjustments that you need for the top gauge and that is pretty easy to do on your own :-)

    Women are Angels.
    When someone
    break's our wings
    we will continue to
    fly...usually on a
    broomstick.
    We're flexible like that.
    - embroitique

  7. #7
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    The Woodlands, Texas
    Posts
    2,672
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    I have that same machine and have never had the issues you are having. Sounds like your bobbins are not wound correct or something wrong with your bobbin case. Can you go back to your dealer for advice?
    Happy Quilting!

  8. #8
    Block Queen

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    131
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    Thanks So much!

    I don't use pins or rulers, I wonder if I'm moving too fast sometimes and breaking needles.
    I do use the Towa bobbing gauge. It's the top tension I have nightmares over. I thought the top tension may be whats causing those bird nests????
    I use needles that came with the machine. And got good quality thread from a quilt show. Also good quality batting.
    The dealer here sells and repairs, but no classes. I actually hauled that big thing into him one day and when he looked and tried it - it was fine (of course!).
    I've heard of the bobbin washers, but don't know if they'd work for mine, as the bobbin is not a drop in, but upright where you push it in.
    I've done about 5-6 quilts, and usually do meander - which gets boring.
    Thank you all for your knowledge, any comments are helpful!!!
    Linda

  9. #9
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    The Woodlands, Texas
    Posts
    2,672
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    My dealer said the crown jewel does not need the bobbin washer/saver.
    There is a small wire that is the weak link in the top tension apparatus that I have had to replace before. Easy to do. Post a picture of your top tension apparatus.

    The crown jewel has built in speed controls. Therefore you needle breakage should not be from going to fast in any direction. I go super fast and have never broken a needle with mine. If your bobbins are good and you use the Towa to check them, it is likely the top tension apparatus.
    Last edited by bhaggerty; July 29th, 2016 at 01:00 PM.
    Happy Quilting!

  10. #10
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Orange County, CA and Baarn, Netherlands temporarily
    Posts
    9,685
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Practicing on longarm

    Does it help to have a stitch regulator? Hearing this kind of thing is what puts me off from buying one of these longarm machines. I hate the idea of spending thousands of dollars only to have headaches trying to use the darn thing.
    Goodbye Europe! Hello California! Home sweet home.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •