Tuesday, September 29, 2020

LAL#9: The One About Computer Assisted Long Arm Quilting

 Hello, my lovelies, and welcome to yet another Long Arm Learning!  My feature from last week is Julie of Pink Doxies, who linked up a post about the challenges of computer assisted custom quilting and if you missed it you should definitely check it out here.

I just spent at least 45 minutes ransacking the Internet in a fruitless effort to locate a ridiculous magazine ad that I remember from a few years ago.  I couldn't find it, and I don't remember which brand long arm machine or what quilting system it was, but the ad showed a young mom wrangling at least two or three small children, and in the photo you could see a computerized quilting machine behind her in the other room, stitching away.  The headline said something like "Mommy is working now!"  The idea being that this amazing computerized long arm machine would be stitching away, quilting a customer quilt while the stay-home-quilter-mom was free to give her undivided attention to caring for her children.  You know, like putting a quilt in a crock pot all day and then when you pull it out at dinner time, it's perfect!

Julie's Computer Assisted Custom Quilting Layout

Of course this is a fantasy land depiction of what computer assisted long arm quilting is REALLY like.  You can't just walk out of the room and let the computer do its thing unsupervised, as all sorts of things could go disastrously wrong if you weren't there to stop the machine.  Especially with custom quilting, the quilter needs to be there to tell the computer where the boundaries of every block are, since real piecing varies from one block to the next, and to tell the computer which design goes where.  But the perception persists among many quilters that computerized machines are just totally automatic, that the quilter just presses a button and walks away.

In real life, computer robotics adds a whole new dimension to long arm learning.  There is still creativity involved, as the quilter selects combinations of designs to complement the quilt top, and because the quilter isn't limited to only the designs she or he has practiced to perfection, there are vastly more design possibilities to choose from.  There is time spent planning the entire quilt, and often there are challenges in programming border and sashing designs that are very similar to the challenges hand quilters and hand guided machine quilters face in adjusting stencil designs to fit borders and turn corners nicely.  

Anne-Marie's Computer Assisted Edge-to-Edge Quilting

Anne-Marie of Stories From the Sewing Room also linked up some terrific computer assisted long arm quilting. With the edge-to-edge type designs shown above, the challenge is ensuring that the rows of interlocking patterns match up precisely with each advance of the quilt on the frame.

Does this mean I've fallen out of love with hand guided quilting?  Definitely not!  My absolute favorite quilts are the ones that combine a variety of techniques, with some elaborate computerized designs that would be impossible for most quilters to execute freehand, combined with ruler work and free motion fills.  The more tools in your tool box, the better!  In fact, instead of quilting anything this past week, I've been piecing a baby quilt top for which I have grand ruler work plans...

What quilting have YOU been up to this week?  Remember that any and all machine quilting is welcome here.  This linky party is like one of our local radio stations whose tag line is "We Play Anything!"

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Jayne said...

Honestly I have no clue how long arm machines work! I love seeing what quilters come up with, which always fills my eyes with happiness and inspiration!

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

I don't have the quilting to show yet, but I linked up with the *pre quilted* one - I hope that is okay - I look forward to seeing everyone's projects this week!

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, that was really interesting. I do know that the lady who got first prize for her quilt at Quilt Canada last year used a computerized long arm. It was absolutely incredible and there is no doubt that it required a lot of planning and work. I love FMQ on my domestic but I can appreciate all of these other tools (or toys). I hope that you'll join Muv and I this week as we celebrate the 300 post of Free Motion Mavericks. It should be lots of fun. See you there! Take care.