Update on the Longarm – First Stitches

My longarm has been sitting in my house for a week now. After the guys delivered her and got her set up we discovered the Velcro strips used to hold the leaders on the bars were the wrong size. The frame is 12′ long, the strips sent were only ten feet. Knowing that I was leaving for quilt market on Wednesday and had so much to do on Tuesday, we decided to leave it until HQ could send new strips.

Fusion set-up

Boxes everywhere, and the set up has started. My excitement was over the top!

So when the guys left this is what my room looked like:

Felicia - My HQ FusionShe looks nice hanging in the sunroom, right? I think so…

I have to admit I was bit relieved that I was going to have to wait to try her out. I mean, I’ve got this big machine in my sunroom and I am scared to death that my quilting projects will look like I’ve never quilted a top in my life. Just like starting over…

Then I left town for five days. After the excitement that is Quilt Market, I was so pumped and ready to quilt some quilts when I got home. It was time to turn on that monster of a machine! But I needed those darn strips.


I decided I could get creative and rig something up and, like Tim Gunn says, “make it work.”

I ended up taping the backing and top to the roller bars using a wide blue painters tape. Not too sticky, just enough to hold the fabric in place until I got it rolled onto the bar.

Top loaded on longarmAnd guess what? It worked!

For my first practice piece I decided to try a simple stipple. I adjusted the tension, cruise speed, and stitches per inch until I was satisfied with the results. With all the adjustments there was only one thread break and that was the bobbin thread. It was my fault because I was stitching way too fast for the settings I had dialed in.

I worked on a piece of fabric that was 1-1/2 yards long x WOF (the green piece.) By the time I reached the halfway point I started feeling a little more comfortable using the machine. It’s a lot different moving the machine head instead of the fabric, and I know it will take me a while to become more confident. But in just the few hours I stitched today I saw huge improvement.

I’m really excited that I can now take what I call “roller bar pictures”. Silly I know but sometimes it’s the little things… 🙂

first attempt long arm

There are a few puckers toward the top right of the pic. Hopefully I can fix that issue once the leaders are in place and I’ve had a lesson on loading a quilt.

I’m going to trim and bind this practice piece – it’s a great size for a lap quilt. The reverse is a green/white stripe so at least there is a bit of a design to it. I’ll show you the back when I get the binding finished.

I would call my first attempt on the longarm mostly a success. Yay! It only took me a couple of hours in the afternoon to quilt this piece – I can’t believe how quickly an edge to edge design can be stitched. This would have taken me much longer on my sit down machine. Gosh, it would have taken me almost as long just to baste it!

Fusion HQ quilting

Oh, and I’m trying out the name Felicia. I’m not sure that’s her name – I’m sure she’ll tell me if she likes it or wants something different.



About Beth

I’m a wife, mother of two, and lover of all things crafty. I love to cook up new things in the kitchen and in my craft room, and sometimes get “licking the spoon” mixed up with “licking the fabric”!!

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13 Responses to Update on the Longarm – First Stitches

  1. SarahZ says:

    So excited for you Beth! I took my first spin on a longarm at a show last month…it was giddy-ing!!!! Have fun getting acquainted!!

  2. Sounds like a very successful maiden run. Congrats on your new skill set.

  3. Your first practice looks fantastic!! You are going to have so much fun, it will be hard to keep up with piecing to keep the new one fed, LOL!!

  4. Neat! I’m excited for you to have this big adventure ahead 🙂

  5. Andrea H says:

    It’s always fun to play with new toys. Glad you decided to just go for it and start. Life is too short to wait. We learn by doing…and you did a fantastic job.

  6. Liz W. says:

    Congratulations! What a great addition to your sewing space. Your first practice quilt looks great already! I don’t think you’re starting over, and in no time you’ll be stitching even better than on your midarm. Isn’t stitching on a longarm totally amazing??

  7. Looking good!!!! That is so awesome!

  8. Vicki in MN says:

    So excited for you and it reminds me of starting out in the frame quilting world. I was not afraid to use mine at all, I jumped right in. But you are so right in that it is so very different than sit down quilting. For me it was definitely the way to go. I think it is for you too. Your stipple looks great already!! Oh yes it is like 20 times faster(at least for me)!!

  9. I’m so glad you improvised something and gave it a try. It really is a learning curve, but one I think you will adjust to pretty quickly. I look forward to more roller bar pictures from you! 🙂

  10. I bought my Avante at Bolts and Quarters….having only an hour of instruction with the guys. My machine sat for 2 months after I got it home….I was just frozen. Then I made myself re-watch a video on loading the quilt (youtube Quilting Lizzy Loads a Quilt) and took it from there. I’ve been quilting ever since. I haven’t used the ProStitcher at all, nor pantographs, preferring freehand and ruler work. All fear is gone…lol. I’m having too much fun free-handing to engage the ProStitcher and wish now I didn’t get it. Interested in a ProStitcher?

  11. Tish says:

    Look at you go!! This is awesome!

  12. Woo-hoo! Great job making it work! Love your roller bar photos!

  13. Cindy says:

    WOW look at you go , no stopping you now!

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