A Longarm Story

Quilting became my passion in 2011. If you are interested in reading about the start of my quilting journey, you can do so here. Needless to say, I’ve wanted a longarm ever since I knew such a thing existed. But as you know, they are expensive and require A LOT of space. This has not kept me from test driving them, I do so any and every chance I get. At stores, shows, retreats, friend’s homes, etc. And the more I drive, the more I want one.

After moving to Liberty Missouri in 2018 and frequenting Angela Walter’s Quilting Is My Therapy shop, I set my sites on the HQ Amara and started thinking of ways to get one sooner than later.

The two immediate things I could do are 1. stop spending money unnecessarily and 2. apply that extra money towards my car payment.

But then I started thinking where would I put it? I have a good size sewing room in the basement but a longarm would not fit in there, even if I moved the guest bed out…and I’m not giving up my cutting table.

However, I do have an extra garage that is currently being used as storage and my pets’ poop room. It would make an awesome sewing/quilting studio with some remodeling and I believe I could fit everything in it. So now I’d need to pay off my car AND remodel a garage before I can get a longarm!

Fine. I can do this. Stop the unnecessary spending and start applying the money to the principal on my car loan and in about 5 years or so, I should be ready to buy a longarm. And this means no more paying to have my quilts quilted. For the last year I was taking them to Angela’s shop to be quilted but I would have to start doing my own quilting on my domestic machine. Fine. Another sacrifice I’m willing to make to hit my goal sooner….until I decided to make a king size quilt.

The more progress I made on the king size quilt, the more I wondered how in the world was I going to quilt it on a domestic machine! And then I remembered a good friend telling me back in November that she was planning on selling her longarm. At the time, it went in one ear and out the other. I had my mind on Amara and Amara on my mind. And hers was not an Amara. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

  1. She would probably give me a great deal on it.
  2. With minimal rearranging it would fit perfectly in my office/spare bedroom.
  3. I could become really proficient on the longarm whilst I pay off my car, get my garage remodeled, and save to buy my dream machine.

So I reached out to her. And guess what?! She GAVE it to me! For FREE! I just had to get it from AZ to MO.

And so it was! Meet Esperanza (hope in Spanish), the newest addition to my family!

She arrived on March 10, 2020 in those big boxes in the garage pic. I put her together mostly by myself. My son helped a little. What was once a spare bedroom/office, is now what I call the Finishing Room. It’s where I quilt and bind my quilts.

I put the twin bed in storage and moved the office into my bedroom.

Before Esperanza arrived I started researching Tin Lizzie and more about longarm quilting in general. It is not a very popular brand and there isn’t a whole lot of information about it but I found a couple of helpful videos on the TL and watched several How To vids on Sparrow Quilt Co. They are actually an APQS distributor but they have great How-To videos on YouTube.

I ordered a roll of Warm & White batting from Joann because I had recently used it for the first time on a smaller quilt and I really liked it! I also ordered a couple of pantographs from Urban Elementz.

I started practicing on the longarm on March 20, 2020. Here are a few of pics of pantograph and FMQ practice. Not all done in one day.

Panto called Bauhaus Baby

I really had plans to become the Panto Queen. I thought it would be a perfect gateway to FMQ. And it may very well be for some people, but not for me and definitely not on this machine. The main reason is because the machine only has one set of handles which means I have to disconnect from the back and move to the front each time I advance the quilt to baste the edges. Let me tell you, this got old very quickly. But I’m not mad about it. It is forcing me to practice FMQ.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned lately, is that batting has a right and a wrong side! It comes w/the right side facing out just like fabric does and the right side has “dimples” and the wrong side has “pimples”. I cannot believe I’ve been quilting for almost 9 years and didn’t know this!

So now you know. I have a longarm! And I am so grateful and ecstatic! Thank you Lord! It’s not Amara but it will serve it’s purpose well. I still plan to upgrade to the Amara someday and I am continuing with my goal to pay my car off sooner BUT I don’t necessarily have to remodel the garage at all. My current set up works really well.

AND!!! I didn’t have to quilt my king size Everything Goes Scrappy Trips on my domestic! Some of you have already seen pics on Instagram, and I’ll be sharing more pics here on the blog, but here are a couple in closing.

Thanks for stopping by! God bless and happy stitchin’!

A Thread for Life

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound Or healthy teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions – 2 Timothy 4:2-3 ESV

Linking up at:

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Finished or Not Finished Friday

Beauties Pegeant

18 thoughts on “A Longarm Story

  1. I am SO happy for you!!! What a blessing to have a generous friend and the place to put a longarm without renos on top of everything else! Looking forward to seeing more pics of your progress!

  2. Thatโ€™s a great long arm story! The perfect solution! Saving your quilting $$ to apply to your car loan…gets you to your dream machine sooner. Have fun, learning and getting proficient!

  3. Congratulations! In a world full of uncertainty, it’s good to know there are always people willing to do something amazingly kind. I know nothing about longarm machines so I always assumed pantographs must be a really convenient way to accomplish complex patterns. It never occurred to me that they would be a nuisance to use. Enjoy your new journey quilting on your own longarm.

  4. Yea for a new long arm. I have friends who absolutely swear by their Tin Lizzies and have quilted a huge number of quilts on them as they have quilting businesses. Hum, I’ve been quilting for a ridiculous number of years and I’ve always heard “bump it up” meaning the bumpy side goes up. I’ve been using Pellon 80/20 with excellent results plus buying at a great price at a show. Buying at a roll at a time is absolutely the correct way to go. Have fun with your new “toy.”

  5. YAY YOU! So many blessings come from planning and patience (and a little boldness, too). I look forward to seeing many more creations.

    ps–I rent time on a longarm machine at a local quilt shop. It isn’t the same as owning, but much more cost and space efficient for me.

  6. Oh my goodness – look at you go! I’m so happy for you, and how fun is it that you got it for free. This is the best post I’ve read all day, it’s leaving me smiling from ear to ear. Have fun! Enjoy!

  7. Congrats!! You are entering the world of soooo much fun!! I have never liked doing panto’s. My reason, I like to see the stitches forming, each and everyone of them..Freehand and ruler work is my desire.

  8. You are so lucky!!! I too dreamed of a long arm but I got a Sweet 16 sit down. I am enjoying it all the same and getting my quilts quilted myself. I buy my warm and white batting at Hobby Lobby by the roll and use a 40% off coupon. It’s all I use anymore.

  9. Congratulations! Lucky you, to be gifted a long arm AND be able to find space to set it up. Have fun learning to quilt with it. I can’t wait to see your finished Scrappy Trips all quilted and finished.

  10. Congratulations. That’s awesome news. That is definitely a great friend. Have fun playing around.

  11. I really admire you working towards a goal, and doing all the set up yourself… that looks like a gigantic and intimidating jigsaw puzzle to build… with moving parts… yikes! Great job! Enjoy!

  12. I loved your story. So glad you were given a long arm…such a generous friend! I too have a long arm (Innova) …. what great therapy to quilt whenever you want. Happy Quilting ๐Ÿ˜Š

  13. This is a great Long Arm Story!!! And I am so glad it all fits in your house…. The Quilting house!! haha! Well that is what I feel like mine it too – I keep taking over more space ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love the quilt you showed at the end – can’t wait to see more!

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