Longarm Quilting. This has been one of our most requested topic to talk about on our social media channels and we are finally doing it! We recently stocked a lot of new longarm quilting supplies and who better to give you a bit of insight than some of our longarm quilty friends!
We are continuing our blog series where we will be featuring one of our longarm quilter friends every month. They will be giving all of you their tips and tricks for longarm quilting, what materials they use, advice if you need to get a longarm quilter, and much more! This month, we are featuring our very good, longarm quilty friend, Gina Tell of Thread Graffiti!
We even did a longarm livestream with her earlier this year! Click HERE to check it out and be sure to stay tuned on our YouTube channel for another livestream we will be doing with Gina in November over free motion quilting!
Here is the interview we did with her about longarm quilting:
1. How long have you been longarm quilting?
I have had my Handi Quilter Avante long arm for a few years, although I have been practicing free motion quilting for around 8 years on my standard home machine. My long arm is not computerized. This means all the work I do on it is freehand. I do not use pantographs or digital designs.
2. What made you get into longarm quilting?
I started longarm quilting because our family moved from Texas to Iowa, and I was stuck in the frigid climate with a big empty basement and a lot of free time on my hands. I didn’t really know anyone in the new town, so my wonderful husband noticed I was feeling lost and contacted Handi Quilter. He surprised me with a huge delivery of boxes filled with a brand new long arm.
3. What is your favorite technique to use when longarm quilting?
My favorite technique is absolutely graffiti quilting! It is basically a ton of different designs that all blend together to form one big piece of quilty art. I probably love this because I am an art major, and I hate following the rules! This technique allows me creative freedom without having to “stay within the lines” – I usually put ear buds in and just zone out and go crazy!
4. Any tips for people who would like to start longarm quilting?
This leads me right into the next question, and the answer is practice! Practice is the biggest tip I would suggest for anyone who wants to learn free motion quilting. Despite the fact that I have only had a long arm for a few years, I started practicing long before it was actually delivered. You don’t have to have a long arm to learn! I practiced on my standard Juki 2010Q machine for several years, building my muscle memory while teaching myself free motion techniques through doodling and online classes.
5. What are your go-to longarm materials?
My go to materials as a long arm quilter all share one similarity, and that is quality. I try to use the best quality products to get great results. When I first started sewing I was on a very tight budget, so I couldn’t afford all the good stuff, I used scrap fabric and cheap thread and dull rotary blades, and it all makes a big difference. So I started learning to save for the important things so I got better results. Good thread and rulers are definitely on the must have list for longarm quilting!
6. What is the scariest/most exciting part of the process?
The scariest/most exciting part of longarm quilting process is trying to decide how to quilt each quilt. The quilting that I pick for each quilt all depends on a lot of different things. Sometimes the client wants something specific, sometimes I follow the movement of the quilt blocks, and sometimes I get to do some graffiti quilting. But regardless, it’s always exciting and a little scary all at once!
7. How would you describe your style of longarm quilting?
As I mentioned before, my style of longarm quilting is definitely free hand and each quilt is fun and unique. I love to see the ripples and puffs of a freshly quilted piece of fabric art!
8. What is your favorite motif to quilt?
My favorite motif to quilt is the swirl! There are many different ways to make a swirl, sometimes I add flower petals to my swirls, sometimes I connect them to pebbles and sometimes they dance on the quilts with some loops. They are fun to make and always looks so pretty!
9. How do you select your thread?
I select my threads based on colors. I usually try to blend the thread colors with the quilt top and sometimes that requires a couple thread changed. Oh, and I am so excited that The Fat Quarter Shop is now stocking my favorite thread too, they have all kinds of quality products designed for longarm quilting!
10. What advice would you give someone who is using a professional longarm quilter for the first time?
The first time I sent off one of my quilts to a longarm quilter was about 8 or 10 years ago. I had never seen a longarm machine in person, and I had no idea what to expect. I selected my quilting design and thread color, stuck it all in a box, and dropped it at the post office. A couple days later I got a phone call explaining that my backing fabric was too short. I honestly didn’t even know what that meant at the time. I ended up paying the longarm quilter extra to add some coordinating fabric to the backing so she could quilt it, and I never sent another quilt to a longarm quilter again. I felt like a complete idiot, and I decided that day that I was going to teach myself how to do my own quilting so I would never feel like that again. So my advice to you if you have never sent a quilt off to a longarm quilter is to ask lots of questions. Find a longarm quilter, like myself, that understands this can be confusing the first couple of times. Find someone that will take the time to call and talk you through the process so the quilt comes back to you looking exactly how you dreamed!
Big thanks to Gina for taking time out to do this interview and sending all the photos of her work! To see more of Gina’s work, be sure to check out her Instagram (@gina_tell_threadgraffiti) and Facebook page!