This post is for my Aunts who just bought their very own longarm quilting machine. The take away message is You Can Do It! One of the reasons we ohhh and ahhhh over beautiful quilting is because we know it took hours and hours of practice to create.
All machine quilters start at the same place. The learning curve is steep, but the rewards are worth it.
When we moved from Valdez to Anchorage in the spring of 2006, I had been quilting on a longarm quilting machince for about a year. Back at the Calico Whale, I’d had the opportunity to purchase 1/3 of an older Gammill Classic. This was a great way for me to see if I liked stitching with a larger machine–and I did.
Our new home had space for a large studio and a longarm quilting machine. At the time, Gammill had just come out with colored machines. Through a special package deal, I was able to buy the first purple longarm in Alaska. Her name is Priscilla after the movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. She is a Gammill Classic Plus. This purchase was also justified by the fact that I was now going to quilt for other people.
Quilting for hire is one way to advance your longarm quilting skills, and I did learn a lot by doing this, but I also about killed myself in the process. Most of my clients wanted custom work. This kind of work is creatively very rewarding, but financially not so much. And stitching other people’s work meant I had less time to stitch my own.
I can’t remember exactly when I quit quilting for others. At one point, I had 80 quilts in my queue to be quilted. Ozzy and Tripp were still very young, and I struggled to balance quilting with parenting.
The long hours behind the machine were starting to bother my arms and back. So I quit except for a few dear ladies who knew when to ask and were okay with waiting for months to get their quilts back.
And finally, this fall–to make way for the sweater experiment, I really, truly quit quilting for others. All in all, It was a good experience. My skills advanced very rapidly because of the long hours I spent on my machine. If you would like to see more of my work from that time period, you can visit my website.
This summer, one of my students asked me if I still quilted for others. I shook my head no, and she said, “You must have paid off your machine.” And I said, “You’ve got that right!”
To all the long arm quilters who quilt for hire out there. Thank you. Thank you. You work very hard to make our quilt tops look beautiful. And if you use a long arm quilter to quilt your tops, know that they are doing their very best to make your work look good, and you probably are not paying them enough.
In future posts, I will share some of the show quilts I did for clients. I hope you will join me.