Learning How to Use a Longarm Quilting Machine

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.

My first longarm quilting (1)
My First Longarm Quilting
First longarm quilting up close & personal 2
Closeup of my beginner loopty-loops



Hello Stitch

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.

Longarm at Hello Stitch 1
The beautiful Innova at Hello Stitch
Longarm at Hello Stitch 2
More longarm practice on a jelly roll race quilt

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!

Happy Quilting!

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