My Favorite Longarm Quilting Tools

My Favorite Longarm Quilting tools

Welcome to the last Main Crush Monday party of October. It’s hard to believe that November is only a couple days away – where has this year gone? Some days I wish there was a way to slow things down a bit, but since there isn’t let’s get on with this party!

My Dad always used to say that using the right tools makes any job easier. I grew up hearing that often and I have to say, Dad was right.

So today I thought I would share with you some of the tools that make my job as a longarm quilter easier and more efficient. These are my favorites.

Fine mist spray water bottle. Say what? When loading the backing fabric, I will drape the fabric over the frame and spray it with distilled water before rolling it. The water helps any wrinkles to practically fall out of the fabric, and rolling and smoothing the fabric finishes the job. Voila! No pressing needed! Some of the backings I receive from customers have been folded for a while and are wrinkled pretty badly. I don’t have the time or the space to press these large pieces of fabric, so water misting is a great alternative. If you try it you don’t need to soak the fabric with a lot of water. Just give it a spray with a really fine mist. This was a tip from the guys who set up Freddie, and I’m always impressed with how well it works.

HQ Zinger. This gizmo clips to your shirt and holds a small pair of scissors for trimming threads. The scissors are attached to a retractable string, so when I’m not using them, they stay put and don’t get in my way. This way I always have a pair of scissors when I need them. I’m sure there are other brands available, but I only have experience with the Handi Quilter brand.

Magnetic Pin Pal. When I quilt, I tie and bury a lot of threads. Having a self-threading needle at my fingertips is extremely helpful. Before I found the PinPal I was sticking the needle through my t-shirt to keep it close by. That works, but I’ve lost a needle or two because I forgot they were in my shirt. Uh-oh!  The PinPal has a magnet and fastens to my t-shirt like a magnetic name badge does. Then the needles just stick to the magnet and I have a  needle available whenever I need it. It also sticks to the belly bar of my frame, and to the side of my machine. So if I don’t want to wear the PinPal it can still close by when I’m quilting. It’s strong enough to hold a small pair of scissors but since I use the Zinger I don’t really need it to.

Magnetic Pin Pal

Masking/Painter’s tape. Sometimes when I’m quilting I’ll come across an area that needs attention (i.e. a broken thread or a seam that wasn’t sewn very well), but can’t be taken care of until after the quilt is removed from the frame. I will place a small piece of tape over the area as my way of marking it. The tape stays in place, doesn’t mess with the quilt top, and is easy to find when I unload the quilt and need to find the problem area.

Templates/Rulers. Almost every quilt I work on involves some kind of ruler work. It may be as simple as stitch in the ditch, or more complicated designs. I love my collection of templates and wouldn’t be able to quilt without them. My most favorite ones are the HQ Versa Tool (great for ditch stitching) and a 9″ straight line ruler from Green Fairy Quilts. I also have a few oval ones that I’ve been using a lot lately. HandiQuilter currently has a ruler of the month program and they are offering 6 (one each month for six months) special rulers. There is a larger ditch stitching one that I can’t wait to get my hands on. You can read more about the program by visiting the Handi Quilter website or visiting a participating dealer. (Not an affiliate link)

Some of my favorite rulers

Padded Floor Mat. I always wear shoes when I’m working at my machine. Standing for hours at a time kills my feet. I recently added a padded floor mat and it makes a world of difference. Hubby picked up mine from our local Tractor Supply store. It measured 4 ft x 3 ft. He cut it in half on the long side, making two mats 4 ft x 1-1/2 ft. It fits my workspace nicely, and the half inch of padding feels really good on my feet. I still wear my shoes, so now I have double the protection!

A cushion-y floor mat

So there’s my list of a few of the tools that make my job as a long arm quilter easier. And here’s a bonus tool – my playlist. Putting on some good music makes the time fly by, because I’m so busy wiggling and singing and stitching. It’s a good time, people!

What are the tools that you can’t sew/quilt without? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

Now it’s time for you to share what has you excited to be in your sewing space this week. What projects are you working on? You can link any blog post, Instagram or Flickr pic – here’s how:

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Posted in Longarm Quilting, Machine Quilting, Main Crush Monday | 21 Comments

Quilting in the Playground

Several of you have asked for more posts showing finished customer quilts, so I am trying to remember to snap some pics before the quilts go to their permanent homes. Sometimes I’m in such a hurry that I just pack up the quilt and move on to the next one without ever taking a photo. Hopefully I’ll get better.

The one I’m showing you today is an adorable  twin size quilt for a little boy. I think he’s going to love it, especially with all those dirt moving trucks traveling all over his quilt.

Sandbox Quilt

My customer was up against a deadline, so she asked for an easy meander for the quilting design. I had this one loaded, quilted, and unloaded in just a few hours. Even though I love to create a custom design for a quilt, sometimes these ‘fast and dirty’ quilt jobs are just what the doctor ordered. There’s something so satisfying about unloading and trimming up a finished quilt.

I really like the truck fabric she used in her borders. I can just imagine those trucks driving along the meandering ‘road’ that is stitched all over!

Many thanks to Connie for allowing me to quilt this top for her. I hope her grandson loves it!

Posted in Customer Quilts | Tagged | 6 Comments

MCM #93 – Gravity Quilt

Now that the latest version of Floating is finished, it’s time to move on to the next project on my To Do list. I was excited to see that my next project will be ‘Gravity’ by Jaybird Quilts.

You may remember that earlier this year I was asked to make ‘Cookie Cutter’ and a pillow using the Alphabet Soup pattern. I also used the Alphabet Soup pattern to make Jenny’s wall hanging.  I have to be honest, before I made those I wasn’t thrilled about Jaybird’s patterns. All those angular shapes! And having to purchase special rulers to make their patterns griped me. (Disclosure: I’ve since found that templates can be used, but no way I was doing that!)

But when I was at the AQS show in the spring, I bought the SideKick ruler. And you know what, it didn’t hurt much at all! 🙂 I have also added the Hex n’ More ruler to my collection and I’m happy to have both of them. Now I can whip up those Jaybird patterns and I love making them.

In 2018, I’ll be teaching Gravity as a block of the month program at the local quilt shop. So it is time for me to get the quilt made so people can see what the finished quilt will look like.

Yesterday I started cutting pieces for three of the blocks. There are nine colorful blocks, with each block made in two different colors. Here are the pieces for Block 1:

Gravity Quilt Block 1I am cutting two of each colorway for each block. One block will be pieced so I can make the quilt. The second block will be used when I start teaching the BOM program. Look at this – I’m feeling so organized right now!

Precutting Gravity Quilt BlocksHere is Block 1 and Block 7 hanging on the design wall:

Gravity Block 1 and 7

Block 1 and Block 7

I had a good time playing in my sewing room yesterday.  These blocks go together faster than one would think. The most time consuming part of the process is pressing out the fabric I’m using, and then making decisions on which six colors to use in each block. Once that decision is made, cutting and assembly goes quickly.

I just have to share with you a shot of the wastebasket in my sewing room. Nothing is better than playing with fabric and nibbling on some chocolate – right??

Scraps and ChocolateToday it’s back to work with lots of customer quilts to work on. I’m up against a couple of deadlines, so I’m working hard to make the best use of my available time. Tuesday night starts a new Beginning Quilting class; I’m excited to introduce more people to this fun craft!

These wonderful things are what I’m crushing on this week – what about you? What has you excited to be in your sewing space on this Main Crush Monday? You can link any blog post, Instagram or Flickr pic – here’s how:

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Posted in Main Crush Monday, New Project | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Look at this – Two in a Row!

Bet you didn’t expect to see another Friday Finish from me so soon, but surprise! – here it is!

Floating in Alison Glass

Isn’t it lovely? I’m soooo happy with this quilt. I love everything about it.

You guys know I was struggling to make a decision on how to quilt it. I’m always inspired by Angela Walters and thought I wanted to do something like she would do. But time constraints and a heavy workload meant I really needed to be a bit more concise.  After much sketching, deliberating, and waffling about I decided to keep the quilting simple and quilted straight lines about an inch apart. My longarming friend Liz encouraged me to do what felt right for me and her words were just what I needed to make a decision.

I’m glad I went with my gut. Straight line quilting gives a quilt such a modern feel, and when combined with these fabrics and this pattern it all works together fantastically (is that even a word??)

Floating Quilt in AG Fabrics

I have wanted to use metallic thread on one of my quilts for a while now, and I found the perfect Superior variegated metallic silver. Guess where? In my thread stash!! All of us have a thread stash, right? I think it’s a natural extension of my fabric stash….

All the colors in the quilt are in this thread. It’s as if it was made specifically for the AG version of Floating! I wish I could capture the way the thread shines.

Closeup of Quilting

There’s just the tiniest glint of sparkle when the quilt is moved. I was worried it might be too loud, but the look is very subtle.

Quilting with metallic thread on the longarm was a bit of a learning curve. The top tension needs to be lowered, and I had to stitch a lot slower than I’m used to. I’ve used metallic thread in my Sweet Sixteen and didn’t have nearly the tension issues as I did on my Fusion. I didn’t get a picture, but there were about 1-1/2 rows where the tension was so loopy on the back. Because of all the loops it was easy to unpick those rows and re-stitch them. It was a bit of a pain, but I would do it all again because I love the look.

In order to include as much AG fabric in the quilt as I could, I used the golden fabric from the Diving Board line for the back. It looks, and feels, so scrumptious. I almost caved and bought a generic wide-back from the quilt shop, but common sense immediately prevailed. Alison deserves better than generic backing!! The binding is the same gray fabric as the background.


As you can see from the two pics below, fabric choice really dictates the look of Floating.

See how different?

It feels almost like bragging to say how much I like this pattern. But then again, it’s my pattern and no one should love it more than me, right? 🙂 I am working on having printed copies in booklet form soon – I can’t wait!

I hope you have a great weekend. I’m linking up this week to Myra’s Finished or Not party, and Amana Jean’s Finish It Up Friday. Check out all the other great finishes!



Posted in 2017 Quilts, Friday Finish | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

MCM #92 – Baby Quilts and Clearing the Clutter

I’ve been  in a ‘get it done, move it out’ kind of mood lately. This sounds bad, but I have so many projects started, and have so much fabric thrown all over the sewing room that I can’t stand it. Projects and stacks of fabric have started creeping into Anthony’s bedroom and are even making their way into my living room. It’s driving me crazy and it has to stop!

(Did that sound like the rant of a crazy woman?? Probably more like a very overwhelmed woman…)

I finally decided to take control of the situation, start finishing some things and move them out of my house.

I started with a stack of baby-size quilt tops that I promised our local Quilts for Kids group I would quilt. They’ve been piled in Anthony’s closet for a while now. Why? Who knows. They got put in there and I forgot about them until I needed room in the closet. It’s time to get them done and to the kids where they belong.

So I loaded them on the frame and quilted them up. It was a good opportunity to practice a few quilting motifs like loopy flowers and big swirls.

FMQ Swirls

Big swirls – love the texture!

FMQ Swirls quilting detail

Those swirls still need some work but they’re getting better.

Speaking of big swirls, do you follow @rubybluequilts on Instagram? If you like to see pics of beautiful free motion quilting you might want to check her out. She does all her quilting freehand and her work is amazing. She makes the prettiest swirls.

I’d love for you to follow me on Instagram too. I’m almost to 600 followers – when I get there I’m having a giveaway, you know, to move out more fabric!

For now, back to the baby quilts:

Baby Quilts

I finished this stack of quilts and they are ready for delivery. There’s another one that somehow didn’t make it into the picture.  Only one has binding, but there is a lady in the group who loves to bind quilts and so she gets to do them. I love that! Quilt them up and send them on their way!

I’m also delivering a stack of flannel I bought from JoAnn’s one Black Friday a couple years ago, and a bolt of Minky my friend Julie found for me. These fabrics will be perfect for the group to use on more quilts. So everyone wins! The kids get quilts, the group gets fabric, and I get a little less clutter.

I still have a few of these baby tops to quilt, but I feel good about the progress I’ve made. Hopefully, this mood I’m in continues for awhile and I’ll get more projects finished!

In other news, I was hoping to show you progress on my Alison quilt but there is none. None! Sigh. Life jumps in sometimes and redirects my plans and that is exactly what happened on Friday. But the good news is that it is loaded on the machine and I’m ready to start quilting. And, I have a quilting plan! 🙂

Clearing out some of these projects and fabric is my crush for this week’s Main Crush Monday. What’s yours? I’d love to hear about what you’re working on and what has you excited to be in your sewing room this week – here’s how you can link up:

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Posted in Baby Quilts, Main Crush Monday | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments