I am now the proud owner of a brand new Juki QVP2200 longarm quilting machine on a 12 foot frame.  Also Quilt Motion Software.

LA One

Why, yes.  That is my garage.  Who wouldn’t choose scraping ice and snow off their car in favor of a longarm quilting machine?

Pay no attention to my setup, there.  The very nice man who installed her forgot my leaders, so I’ve got a weird arrangement with plastic tubing jammed into those grooves you see and badly rolled batting.  I’ve redone it since, but I’ve decided to go utterly honest with my learning process.  Don’t let anyone kid you, this is not for the faint of heart, but it’s also an absolute blast.

Learning to use a longarm reminds me, more than anything else, of learning a musical instrument.  It takes time and practice and maintenance, just like a piano or a woodwind.  You don’t start out playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, but if you practice a great deal (and have large hands), you may eventually have the skills to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.  Right now, I’m at Mary Had a Little Lamb.

I’m perfectly ok with being new at this, and even prepared to show you my crappy squared swirls (squirrels?) like this:

Here are my little orange-peel shapes (is there a word for this?) made from a continuous line formed with the aid of a stencil and chalk:

template and chalk

loops and stuff

Loopy fun on a not-so-ironed top because I was anxious to make stitches and practice, not iron!  This means I’m learning even more stuff because my edges are weird and there are creases in the fabric.  Bonus!


I’m liking paisleys, but they’re not overly difficult.  I have a tendency to square things off a bit, but I think that’s due to the momentum of the machine and getting used to the way it feels.  Or perhaps I’ve got something set weird and my machine isn’t level.  No, it was level when the extremely nice guy set it up and apologized profusely about not having my leaders with him.

I’m also learning that the feel of the stitch regulator is very different than without it, and tension is a major thing.  I think I might have my top tension a little too tight in these photos, but my biggest goal was to NOT wind up with weird loops on the back of the quilt.  I’ve gone behind the machine, put my phone underneath the sandwich and taken pictures to make sure of that.  I didn’t save any of them, foolishly.

Longarm quilting is a lot of standing with a side of crawling around on the floor (of my garage “studio”) to put everything on the frame.  Guiding the machine is pretty intense work for your lower back if you’re in lousy shape like I am.

I haven’t messed with the ruler table and rulers or the robotics yet, to there are many adventures to come.  I think I might make myself a YouTube channel this week and post short videos of my learning process.  If I can get something to hold my phone.  I’d better put some thought into this.





13 thoughts on “SHE’S HERE! MY LONGARM!

  1. Congratulations. The key to success is practice and more practice. I have a Juki (mine is on a 10′ frame) without the computer. I have had mine almost 5 years now and after I got the bugs worked out it has been great. I purchased it when they first came out and it had a few issues then.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! Your curves will be curvier soon. I still get a squared off one here and there, usually if I’m tired and pushing myself too hard. Isn’t it fun? I couldn’t stand using practice fabric for long – too much wasted time, and then what do I do with it? I threw tops on there almost immediately. Lots of baby panels got finished off and sold, donated, or gifted. I’m a few months away from getting sent to the garage myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve got a great big quilt with a whole cloth design pre-printed on it. The blue printed lines wash out afterwards. I’m half terrified to start it, but also excited. Maybe I should wait for real leaders, though.


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