Tuesday, August 25, 2020

LAL#4: The One Where I Organized My Pantographs, Apprehended a Worn Eyelet Guide, and Discovered Anti-Vibration Pads

Outreach Tumbler Quilt, 40" x 54", Wild at Heart Pantograph

Hello and Happy Tuesday!  Welcome back to the Long Arm Learning linky party!  I have to say, I am learning so much from what you all have been linking up here each week.  Cheree of The Morning Latte and Katy of KatyQuilts both linked up posts with terrific tips for choosing beginner-friendly pantograph patterns.  Reading through their suggestions, I realized that my disappointing pantograph attempts when I first got my long arm machine three years ago owed a lot to the pantograph patterns I was trying to quilt.  I wanted a "breather" after the intensive custom quilting I'd just finished on my Sermon Scribbles quilt, and I had a small outreach tumbler quilt top waiting in my Quilt Purgatory closet that needed to get finished so it can be donated to the pediatric ward of one of our local hospitals to cheer up a child with a life-threatening illness.  I decided this was the perfect time to take another shot at following a pantograph pattern from the back of my machine.

Although I've only quilted pantographs on a couple of quilt tops before, I already had a collection of about 40 pantograph patterns that I'd purchased from another quilter who had moved to a computerized system.  I had been told that pantographs were the easiest way for a new long arm quilter to learn, so I purchased all of these in one big lot rather than selecting designs individually that appealed to me.  I didn't even know what all I had, they were jumbled in a cupboard, and I had to unroll them one at a time if I wanted to see what they looked like.  

So actually my biggest accomplishment this week is that I went through all of those pantographs, located images of all of them on the manufacturer's web sites, and also managed to locate photos of almost all of the designs stitched onto an actual quilt so I could get a better idea of what each one looked like.  I found that, especially with the "beginner-rated" patterns, a lot of the pantographs that look pretty lame as a line drawing actually look really effective sewn into a quilt, so in each of the clear page protectors I have the line drawing of a pantograph pattern on one side and a photo of that design quilted out on a quilt on the reverse side.  

Then I printed out all of those pictures in full color (my husband is still mad at me about the printer ink) and organized them into a binder by subject.  I also ordered a few more pantograph patterns to fill "holes" in my collection, making sure I have a nice assortment of versatile, mostly very forgiving, beginner friendly patterns that Cheree and Katy would approve of.  And Nancy from Grace and Peace quilting, who is also a computerized quilter these days, very graciously offered to send me even MORE beginner-friendly pantograph patterns to try, which just arrived in today's mail.  YIPPEE!!!  

Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm not turning my back on custom quilting and ruler work.  I just want to have other options in my "quilter's tool box" because not every quilt needs or can have 100 hours or more of quilting in it.  I want a speedier method for finishing charity quilts, everyday bed quilts, and quilts like Spirit Song Sermon Scribbles where the piecing design and prints were so strong, custom quilting wasn't going to show up much anyway.  

Also, although I read Cheree's and Katy's advice about picking beginner pantograph patterns and did take it to heart (pun!), I didn't end up choosing a very beginner friendly pattern for this quilt.  That's because, even though I'd gotten a lot of patterns from that other quilter, none of the other patterns seemed like it would enhance this quilt top as much as Wild at Heart.  The other patterns I had that seemed easier were either the wrong scale for my 4" tumbler blocks, or they were designs that looked too grownup for the playful novelty prints.  I know this would look so much better if a more experienced pantograph quilter (or a computerized quilter) stitched it out so the long curves would be smoother and the echo lines would be spaced more evenly and accurately -- but all in all, it came out better than I expected.  Which is a good thing, since that pale lavender Glide thread really stands out against the deep purple solid!  

Again, I knew that this highly contrasting thread wasn't going to be very forgiving of my wobbles and bobbles, but I like the way the pale quilting thread breaks up the solid, somber eggplant solid, softens the harsh geometry of the geometric piecing design, and adds some whimsy that complements the juvenile conversation prints.  The photo above shows the quilt after machine binding with a zigzag stitch (wish my machine binding looked neater!) and a tumble through the laundry machines.  I don't have a full size finish photo to share because it was already dark out by the time this came out of the dryer!

I have two little tidbits to share with y'all today.  First, even thought I was using 40 weight Glide thread that my long arm machine adores, it started shredding and snapping on me with this quilt, worse and worse.  This was driving me crazy and really slowing me down, until I finally stopped to check my thread path.  Check out this groove that had worn into the eyelet thread guide just above my needle:

This groove must have been worn into the thread guide gradually over time.  I'd heard that this can happen, but never seen it on my own machine before.  That little eyelet guide costs all of $1.50 from APQS and I've ordered a replacement as well as a spare.  In the meantime, to keep me quilting and happy, my husband had the idea to just rotate that thread guide 180 degrees so the thread rubs on the opposite side of the eyelet, away from the groove that was shredding my thread.  Brilliant!

I also experimented successfully with adding anti-vibration pads under the legs of my long arm frame to reduce the vibration I was feeling from my machine at higher speeds.  My husband thinks this has less to do with my long arm machine than it does with the way the ceiling of our garage/floor of my "bonus room" studio was framed out when our house was built, and he thinks that I might experience less vibration if my machine wasn't set up perpendicular to the floor joists.  Well, I'm not ready to rearrange the whole studio on that hunch, but I did some online research about and ran across an Innova dealer who was selling industrial anti-vibration pads on her web site.  So we went out to Home Depot and bought a set of four of these things for less than $20.  The ones I got are made of rubber and MDF and are sold for use on air compressors that can vibrate to the extreme that they go bouncing away from you when you turn them on.  Anyway, I slipped one of these under each leg of my frame about midway through this quilt, and OH MY GOSH, what a huge difference!!  Definitely a noticeable reduction of the vibration at higher speeds, which translated into me instantly getting better at following a curve smoothly now that my machine wasn't bouncing!!  Wish I'd discovered these little magic squares AGES ago!  The pads I bought at Home Depot are Husky Heavy-Duty Vibration Pads for Air Compressors and my local store had them in stock, but you can find similar products on Amazon here.  

And Now, Let's Party!

I'm linking up today's post with my favorite linky parties:


·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

·       Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

·       Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

·       Finished Or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

·       Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

·       TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here: http://tgiffriday.blogspot.ca/p/hosting-tgiff.html

That's enough from me for today!  I want to hear what all of YOU have been up to with your quilting this week!  If you're linking up on Instagram, please use hashtag #longarmlearning! 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Great job jumping in with the heart panto! Great idea on not only having a folder of all your panto pictures, but also printing out photos of the panto on quilts. Interesting tip on the anti-vibration pads.

Kathleen said...

Love your folder and the anti-vibration pads and the solution for the thread guide. All genius!

Angela said...

Great quilt!

chrisknits said...

Thank you for having this link up! I am learning so much that I hope translates to when I purchase a mid arm.

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

What a great linky! I'm learning tons and I don't even own a longarm yet. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss

Roseanne said...

Hi Rebecca! What fabulous tips you've passed along. Who even knew that Home Depot had anti-vibration pads. DH saved the day again with his suggestion of rotating the thread guide. Brilliant but I'm glad you ordered a new one plus a spare. I think you are way too critical over your quilting. You're not a computer and those wobbles show that a human put thought and effort into making the whole piece. They won't find a "Made in Japan" label either - that's what makes it so special and unique just like you. {{Hugs}} I'm off to read the link ups! ~smile~ Roseanne

The Joyful Quilter said...

Great tip about those anti-vibration pads, Rebecca!! Did you have to re-level your machine after installing the pads?

Susan said...

I really like that pantograph on your quilt - I'll have to order that one for my collection.

Kathleen said...

I love these tips. Sometimes, in Bloglovin' yours won't let me comment, so I will subscribe so I can end the silliness. I tried to comment sooner on this and I do love the vibration pad suggestion. Thanks for linking up to #TTot22!

Quiltpiecer said...

Love the tumbler quilt. Great I-spy quilt for a child. And thanks for the great tip on the anti-vibration pads. I FMQ on a short-arm Mega Quilter but would love to advance my skill. Practice, practice, practice! Thanks for sharing.

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

I am impressed that your organized your pantos like that!!! I still have the pull and search method - but I like your better!

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Your folder is a nice way to store, and select all the designs. A great organization!
Lovely quilt too!
Thanks for sharing this pretty 2020 finish!