Several months ago I set out to learn longarm quilting. My motivation–I’m terrible at quilting on my domestic machine! I haven’t gotten much past straight-line quilting and after many struggles with free motion I managed to put my machine in the repair shop.
My first experience using a longarm came about when a friend offered to let me use her machine. It was all play and loopty-loops, but it was fun! I loved steering the giant machine over my quilt top, watching with pleasant surprise as my quilt became whole in a matter of hours. And even though it was not sophisticated, I loved the end result because I made the whole quilt myself.
I was hooked! But how to keep on longarm quilting? Borrowing a machine every time wasn’t going to be realistic. And while I hope to invest in my own machine someday, buying a longarm isn’t in my immediate future either.
With a little research I found a few options in the Bay Area for renting time on a longarm. I ended up checking out Hello Stitch in Berkeley, and I loved it immediately. Hello Stitch is a quilter’s dream studio complete with gorgeous light, open design walls, huge cutting tables, a variety domestic machines, and of course—a longarm quilting machine. Check out their website at: www.hellostitchstudio.com
In order to use the longarm there, you need to take a class and successfully quilt a whole quilt. The class covers the basics of operating their big, beautiful Innova Longarm including how to load the quilt and the basics of free-motion quilting. The cost of the class also includes 2 hours of quilting time to complete that first quilt. Once the course and the quilt are complete and approved, you’re certified to use the longarm.
Since my certification, I’ve used the longarm for several quilts, every time still learning, still playing, still ending up with something I love because of the experience of making it. I know I’m only at the beginning of my longer journey to develop my skills as a quilter, and I’m excited to keep going, enjoying it every step of the way.
I encourage anyone curious about using a longarm to get out there and try it; it’s fun!