Several months ago I set out to learn longarm quilting. My motivation-I'm terrible at quilting on my domestic machine! I have not gotten much past straight-line quilting and after many struggles with free motion I managed to put my machine in the repair shop.
My first opportunity to us a longarm came about when a friend offered to let me use her machine. It was all play and loopty-loops, but it was fun! I loved steering the giant machine over my quilt top, watching with pleasant surprise as my quilt became whole in a matter of hours. And even though it was not sophisticated, I loved the end result because I made the whole quilt myself.
I was hooked! But how to keep on longarm quilting? Borrowing a machine every time was not going to be realistic. And while I hope to invest in my own machine someday, buying a longarm is not in my immediate future either.
With a little research I found a few options in the my area for renting time on a longarm. And I loved it immediately. It is a quilter's dream studio complete with gorgeous light, open design walls, huge cutting tables, a variety of domestic machines, and of course-a longarm quilting machine.
In order to use the longarm there, like many places, you need to take a class and successfully quilt a whole quilt. The class covers the basics of operating their big, beautiful longarm including how to load the quilt and the basics of free-motion quilting. The cost of the class also includes 2 hours of quilting time to complete that first quilt. Once the course and the quilt are complete and approved, you're certified to use the longarm.
Since my certification, I've used the longarm for several quilts, every time still learning, still playing, still ending up with something I love because of the experience of making it. I know I'm only at the beginning of my longer journey to develop my skills as a quilter, and I'm excited to keep going, enjoying it every step of the way. One of my favorite parts of using the longarm is the experience of finishing my own quilt from start to finish.
I encourage anyone curious about using a longarm to get out there and try it. There are many quilt stores and businesses that offer training on longarm machines and allow you to rent the machine to finish your quilts.