Sunday, March 11, 2018

Lessons Learned from a New Longarm Owner....

I've learned a lot during the first week as a proud new longarm owner. So I thought I would share a few things with you including the good, the bad and the ugly. It's mostly been good, but I like to keep it real, so here goes...

1. Watch every video/tutorial/youtube/online lesson you can find. Check out the manufacturer's website and follow every link on every social media group you join.

2. Speaking of social media, look up every variation of the name of your brand, make and model of longarm and join every group that will accept you. These are a gold mine of information and suggestions as well as trouble shooting tips.

3. Take a lesson at your local shop. Hand's on experience is invaluable. There's nothing like getting the 'feel' of the machine before your own arrives. I'm so glad I did this (even though I had no idea at the time that I might be getting one in the future!)

4. Practice, practice, practice. From threading the machine, to simple stitching. Make a quilt sandwich from fabric and batting that you don't mind using up, and just practice. I played with free motion stitching as well as trying the free designs offered with the program. Try repeating designs, resizing them and combining them. Try anything you think you will need to do on your first quilt. You won't know everything you will need to learn, but practice as much as you can!

5. There are going to be problems. There are going to be frustrations, knowing that ahead of time helps prepare you mentally. I only cried twice the first week. I know that may sound crazy to you but I was so proud of myself for that. I really expected it to be much worse. I get frustrated easily and I cry when I'm frustrated.

6. Know when to step away. The problems with the longarm won't solve themselves but stepping away will give you time to calm down. I have been know to smash a printer on a concrete floor. That's how my relationship with technology is. Give me a screaming baby any day and I can handle it will all the patience in the world, give me a machine and let it malfunction then watch me come completely unglued. Acknowledging a problem is the first step in solving it. :)

7. Order the printed manual. Read every page. Then read it again. Add tabs and sticky  notes and underline and circle stuff. Trust me this is going to be your best friend.

8. Speaking of friends, do you know someone who has a longarm? I am so fortunate to have a local friend (Shawn is my angel) who came over and spent HOURS with me that first weekend. She is the reason I have finished not one but four quilts in as many days. Truly, a friend that is willing to help you is worth more than 1-7 combined.

Coming Soon: How to choose the right longarm for you, what NOT to do with your new longarm, and Resources for longarm owners.

Now if you need me, you can probably guess where I'll be.

Enjoy every stitch,


  1. how fun for you !!! really!! regardless of frustrations!! and it looks like you are doing well. thank you for all the advice, I want to get one to supplement my income eventually and many around me have stopped or are not taking new customers. Happy Sewing from Iowa

  2. Well, I feel the same way about my new Bernina 570. Spent time with the shop on the phone as the company has not sent the manuals. But a longarm would be a BIG learning curve. Have fun.

  3. Thanks for sharing your long-arm learning experiences. Getting a LA machine has always been a "maybe someday" thing for me, but even thinking about making a choice is intimidating. I look forward to hearing more of what you have to say! Oh - and I can completely relate to smashing a printer. I once came very close to throwing a (work!) laptop out a 7-story window!

  4. Sounds like wn interning, challenging and fun journey.

  5. One thing when practicing, load up your machine with cheap muslin. Quilt the whole top. Roll it back to the beginning, lay a second layer of muslin on top of the already quilted piece. Re quilt it. This gives you two rounds out of one back and batting. It's going to be a dog bed/garbage, so use it twice. It's only for practice. Oh, and load up a fresh muslin quilt if you go away and take a workshop. Then when you come home, you are ready to "play" and repeat all that you learned at the workshop! Most of all, breathe, and have fun!

  6. Such a great post! I've been toying with the idea of a long arm so I can hardly wait for your upcoming posts about how to choose the right one! Thanks so much!!!


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