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,