How to Choose a Longarm Quilter: What to Bring

Hey Quilters! 

Welcome back to Week 3! We are chatting about what you need to bring to the Longarmer this week! That means, what condition does your quilt top, batting and backing need to be in, PLUS any ideas for quilting you might have. 

Okay, I said short and sweet - but I guess I can't do that! :P

I hope you're enjoying these and getting some useful information, please let me know if you have any questions! Also, if you need that link to Sometimes Crafter again - here you go:  http://sometimescrafter.com/quilting/quilt-prep/

Happliy Quilting,

Enjoli :) 

How to Choose a Longarm Quilter - Quilting Choices

Hey All - 

We're back again for week two! Today we're chatting about Quilting options with a Longarm Quilter! We will talk about Edge-to-edge/pantograph quilting, Computerized quilting and Custom Quilting plus you choices for batting & thread! 

Whew - who knew there were so many decisions to make when taking a quilt to a Longarm Quilter! Hopefully this will help you make those decision and narrow down the choices! As always, once you've found a quilter you trust you can leave some of those decisions to their expertise! 

Please let me know if you have any questions or (longarmers out there) any more to add! 

Oh, also - the wonderful computerized quilting photos are thanks to Jonni Myrick of iQuilt Alaska! Thanks Jonni! :) 

Happily Quilting,

Enjoli :) 

How to Choose a Longarm Quilter - Vlog Series

Hey All!! 

Thanks for joining me here on the blog! I am excited to bring you this series on "How to Choose a Longarm Quilter". It is something we get asked A LOT at Seams Like Home - and something I've been trying to take measures to help folks figure out! 

Obviously, as much as I would LOVE to quilt for everyone, there just isn't enough time in the day. Plus, there are so many talented quilters out there, and even more of you all that are making tops faster than we can quilt them! 

In this first Vlog I'll give you a preview of topics we'll cover and then we'll chat a little about What exactly is a Longarm Quilter, why would you use one, how do you choose and what questions you should be asking. 

I hope I can bring you some good information and help you in your decision making process!

Let me know if you have any further questions. Leave a comment below or email me @ doodlequiltingstudio@gmail.com and I will answer questions in next week's Vlog post before we dive into the new stuff! 

:) Enjoli 

When Life Brings Change

(WARNING: This post has little to do with quilting, a bit to do with life - and whole lot of honesty!)

It's Saturday night, I'm sitting in bed excitedly thinking about Monday morning! On Monday, my life changes - A LOT! It is a day I have been waiting for, for many years! One that I have been excited for, and a bit nervous anticipating...it is going to be a big change.

On Monday our Twins, our youngest children, start Kindergarten!! 

For the last 7 1/2 years I have spent MOST of my time as a stay-at-home mom to our three daughters (our oldest is in second grade this year) - a job that I never really intended to have! When we had our first daughter, life worked out perfectly - I worked three days a week and was home with her the other two, and of course the weekend. I had the best of both worlds!

All of that changed when we found out that our "ideal number of children" would not be two, but three! When people tell me they wish they had twins, I always laugh and tell them they have no idea what they're wishing for! Don't get me wrong, I cannot imagine my life any other way - the girls complete our family and they bring such joy and diversity to it. But, OH MY GOODNESS are they a crazy pair. The craziness that ensues with twins could fill an entirely separate Blog Series, but know that no matter how well prepared you think you are - IT IS NOT ENOUGH! 

Most of you know how much motherhood changes you - not just who you think you are and what you believe, but the very core of YOU is different. There are now three people out walking around in this world that I would stop at nothing to protect, pieces of my heart out there subject to the craziness of the world we live in. SOMEONE should have warned me!! How can you love someone so much and at the same time wish that you could turn invisible so they could not find you?! 

At times I felt like I wasn't me anymore - the person I was, who I identified myself as. She was gone - lost to motherhood. The cleaning. The feeding. The worrying. The lack of sleep. The crying. The screaming. The constant noise. The insecurity. I wondered where the woman was that my husband married - the one who was confident in herself, knew what she wanted and went for it. At times I didn't know if I would EVER find her again - would I have a passion again?

I can't tell you the exact moment that it happened, but I found something I really enjoyed to do, something that I was willing to be SELFISH enough to MAKE time to do - to hide away and lock doors to do. 

I discovered that I really enjoyed Quilting, not the cutting and piecing part, but the end - the last step - the machine quilting! I LOVED it - and I was pretty good at it. This was something I could have for me - just me, I didn't have to share it with the kids! I would hide away in my sewing room (a converted walk-in closet) to quilt after the girls were in bed. I would run up there and lock multiple doors behind me when their fighting and whining became too much. I could de-stress during nap time by making a cup of coffee and dragging my ever growing stack of machine quilting books down to the couch for a mini escape.

I had found my PASSION again! The funny thing was, I don't think I even realized that's what I had found until last year. Last summer, the summer before the twins started preschool we were on our annual Strait Family Kenai Trip. We go every summer! But last year I worked up the courage on the drive down to tell my husband that I wanted to start a Longarm Quilting Business - actually, what I told him was, "I want something for me, something that is my own, something that I care about again that has nothing to do with you or the kids"! 

Sounds a bit harsh now that I reflect on it - lucky for me I am married to a wonderful, understanding man who knew what I was trying to say - one that saw what parts of motherhood had done to my sense of self. I think somewhere along the line, he saw the spark in my eyes when I would say "I'm going up to the sewing room!" and knew that I had found "me" again! 

Looking back over the last year and the changes that life has brought, I realize that there will be phases where we are lost, and phases where we're found. Life has a funny way of changing just when you think it won't. There will times where we don't get to pursue our passion like we want to but then things change.

When the stars align, the school doors open and you wave goodbye to your children while driving toward the coffee shop and many blissful hours of quilting - you know you've come out the other end of the tunnel, and there's no looking back! 

Here's to embracing change and pursing your passion! If you need me, I'll be blissfully quilting!

:) Enjoli 

18bc30c3a63580b67fc240253c2e6919.jpg

The Joy of Quilting (for my five year old twins!)

The other day I was at the shop working on a quilt while waiting to meet a client - I had laid out a quilt I've been working on for one of my five year old daughters. Some gals wandered over to the longarm area where I was and noticed the quilt, which I had thrown onto a chair. I let them know they could open it up and look at it - after a minute I heard some nice compliments on the quilt and my quilting (which always feels good!), so I told them it was a gift for one of my five year olds. This was their response: 

"Wow, thats a really nice quilt for a five year old - I don't think I would give this to a child!" 

For a minute I was a little taken aback, wondering why they thought that. And then it hit me - maybe they haven't experience the "joy of quilting". I know many of you will know exactly what I mean - the feeling of excitement when you give a quilt that you know the person will love!

Here is the thing - while they may look at the quilt and think it was too nice to give to a child, I knew that my daughters have spent the last few years waiting for me to gift them a quilt (bigger than their baby blankets - which were the last Quilty item I made them). And I knew that they would see their quilts, notice the color of minkee on the back and know that I thought about them when I put the quilts together. I chose thread colors for the quilting I knew they would like and bright fun fabrics they would think were awesome. 

Maybe those ladies have been in situations (we all have) where we have gifted a quilt and the reaction was less than enthusiastic. I get how you would feel after a few of those - I've experienced situations like that and remember the disappointment well. 

When we make a quilt with a specific person in mind, it is the whole process that makes giving it special. We thought about the person when we picked out the fabrics. We thought about the person when we chose the pattern. We thought about the person during the hours we spent cutting, sewing and pressing the quilt together. When we watch the person open that quilt, we are hoping they see it and realize the love we've poured into it! And if they don't, it can be heart breaking.

There are still people out there (not sure how it's possible) that don't quite understand the value of a quilt, or any handmade item for that matter, but lucky for me my 5 year olds are not those people! One of their favorite gifts at the party was their own loaf of banana bread. Special made for each of them by Grandpa Genius (yes, there is a story behind it - for a later day, but this is what they call my dad) in five year old size tins!

The quilts I made them were their last gifts, but they did not disappoint! Their shrieks of glee and "ohhh it's so soft" made my mommy heart swell! I had some fun asking them about their quilts at bedtime:

They sure are silly girls! 

I hope that the quilts you make go to those who will appreciate your time and effort and "never want to get out" of their quilt! 

Happy Quilting (and Happy Birthday!),

Enjoli (and Avalyn and Ascher) :) 

Longarm Machine Comparison

Hey Quilters! Sometimes I wonder if I will ever have my schedule under control! Anyone else there too? We got back from Quilt Market and then had Angela Walters teaching at the shop for a week, which was a blast but kept me busy! And of course life always seems to have a different plan than my brain does! Last week I finally had chance to get back to my machine!

So, as promised, I have some notes on the machines I played with at Quilt Market!! The Brands I was able to get my hands on were:

  • Gammill
  • Innova
  • Grace Q'nique
  • HandiQuilter (Sweet Sixteen & Avante)
  • Baby Lock (Coronet)

Hopefully you will find this information helpful - of course these are all my opinions on the machines, and my experience completing quilts is of course all on my wonderful Bernina Q24. (And no, I will not be switching machines! I know someone was thinking about asking!)

The Gammill

the gammill

the gammill

The Gammill booth just so happened to be run by some friends of ours, who also sell the Bernina Q24. I was able to have a good conversation with them about how the machines compare.

Pros: The overall feel of the machine was good, it was consistent and smooth. The one thing I thought was very cool about it was a mode called "Coast Regulate". Here is the direct definition from Gammill: "Coast Regulate: Control stitch length during faster movement. However, during fine detailed work, the machine automatically switches to constant speed to let you complete micro work with smaller stitches without stopping to change settings." 

Cons: The threading is more complicated than the Bernina, you start the threading all the way at the back of the machine working up to the front, which means walking around the machine halfway through threading. The Bernina is threaded from the very front of the machine making it quick and accessible.

Overall the dealer I chatted with agreed that on a basic level (hand guided operation only) the Bernina was a strong competitor to the Gammill machine!

The Innova

The Innova has a very industrial feel, from the frame to the machine. The set up had an amazing light bar, which is an accessory you can add onto the frame.

Pros: The frame felt very sturdy, there was little vibration in the handles. You can run the machine up to 3000 spm - that is some fast quilting! From the few others I talked to at Market, those who had the Innova said it was a workhorse.

Cons: The handles on the machine were not adjustable, though it seems you can buy additional handles that are. The screen was a bit small and I had a hard time with their spinning "mode" icon. And of course, their machine threads starting at the back, up to the front, which we know I'm not a fan of!

Overall the machine had a good feel, but for me I was a bit turned off by the "in your face" industrial look. Of course you want something that will perform, but maybe not look like it should be in a warehouse!

The Grace Q'nique

Q'nique

Q'nique

The Grace machine were interesting, I mainly focused on their Q'nique 14 on their smaller frame (they had a demo 5' set up). This machine surprised me - at face value it doesn't look like much, and honestly looks a bit cheap. However, there were some things that impressed me.

Pros: Of all the other longarms I looked at, the Q'nique was the only one where I felt no handle vibration. The 14" machine was small enough that you could reach back to thread it, and the spool rack is off to one side instead of the back. Also, this little frame was a traditional loading system, no "hooping" your quilt!

Cons: The screen size is definitely not great, and the buttons on the handles have no indication of what they do, either on them or the screen. I felt like 14" was pretty small, so you would be limited to smaller projects with this set up.

Apparently in all my fun I had playing at the Grace booth I forgot to take actual photos! This one shows a quick comparison between the Q'nique 14+ and the Q'nique 21!

The HandiQuilter

I spent some time looking at two models of the HandiQuilter, since people seem to be looking for either a small footprint machine or a full size longarm. The first was the Simply Sixteen. This set up is the Simply Sixteen on their Little Foot frame.

Pros: This set up has a very small footprint, so if you are tight on space, you could probably make this set up work. HQ recommends a 6-8ft by 8-10ft space for this machine, however, the actual footprint is only 4ft by 5ft.

The Little Foot frame is actually pretty solid little frame, plus it is height adjustable from 33"-44".

Cons: Unlike a traditional longarm, where you load your pieces on poles - this set up requires you to pre-baste your quilt sandwich together and then "hoop" it onto the frame.

Side note: While I like the ability to skip the "hooping" step with my machine, it does allow you to have a smaller machine, but still complete larger quilts - definitely something to consider for those with smaller spaces.

The second model I played with was the Avante, which seems to be one of their most popular machines, plus it is the machine Angela Walters uses and we all know how much I adore her!

Pros: The Avante comes standard with two sets of handles/screens plus laser so if you want run a pantograph with it there are no additional purchases needed, well except for the pantograph itself! I did like the buttons on the handles, they're mostly flush, but you can feel them with your fingertip - so less chance of accidentally pushing the wrong button - if it's me, it will still probably happen but for most people maybe not!

Cons: Threading.. of course, you know I'm not a huge fan of having to walk around the machine to thread it - if I had to do that on the quilt I'm working on now, I would get some extra exercising in I suppose!

The BabyLock Coronet

So, here's the thing.. I walked up to this machine the first time, no one was around and the machine was not threaded - no joke I stood there for a minute trying to figure out how to thread it myself, and then walked away. I came back the next day and it was threaded so I did get to play on it.

(I only tell you this because, as a consumer it's nice to be able to go up and try something out without having to "find" a salesperson to help you - because then you have to talk to them! And some of us can't walk away in the middle of "the spiel" - I think you know what I mean!)

Their set up is the Coronet is on a smaller frame, similar to the Little Foot from HandiQuilter.

Pros: The small footprint is definitely a plus for those with limited space. Comes with build in stitch regulation, which is not the case with some of the other more entry level mid-arm machines.

Cons: The frame had a lot of vibration, which could be felt in the handles while running the machine. This system is set up to "hoop" the quilt, so again you would have to baste your quilt together and then load it onto the frame as one pieces.

Honestly, I would say if you are looking for a smaller foot print like this - the HandiQuilter seems to have a more solid set up. (In my opinion! ;P)

Now how do you choose?

WHEW!! So many choices - and of course this is not an exhaustive list of machines or even the pros/cons, this is just what I could get my hands on!

Like shopping for any larger purchase my advice would ALWAYS be go try it out, use it, abuse it (not in a mean way - but make it work to be sure it will perform how you want), and ask as many questions as you can think of!

Definitely think about what you will be quilting. Are you doing mostly baby quilts/art quilts (smaller items) or do you have a stack of unfinished Queen or King size quilts? And are you planning to quilt for others - this is such a loaded question isn't it?! All of these questions will impact the type of machine that will be able to meet your needs.

I know for me, there is no way I could make the Little Foot frame work because I am doing mostly large quilts and as a business. I need a machine that makes loading quick, painless and doesn't have me crawling around on the floor to baste a king size quilt!

(Check out my "Why Bernina" article here for why I LOVE my machine so much!)

Hopefully this information has helped a little bit, even maybe to narrow down choices. If you have ANY questions about machines please feel free to email me, or stop by Seams Like Home (in Anchorage, AK) to chat. By now you know I am partial to the Bernina set up, but ultimately you are the one that is going to be using the machine and you need to be happy with it.

Happy Quilting,

Enjoli :)

P.S: If you have one of these set ups, leave a comment and tell us what you LOVE about it!

 

Sew Many Colors Contest

One day I was browsing Pinterest...(you're scared already, aren't you?) and I stumbled across an AMAZING mini quilt.

I hunted and searched for a pattern - only to find out there wasn't one.

And then about a month ago, THE MOST MIRACULOUS THING HAPPENED!!!! There was finally a pattern AND it was a contest AND it combined two of my favorite things: Aurifil threads and Kona Cottons! (Ahh, and then my life was complete!)

I dug out ALL my Kona and ALL my Aurifil, and got to work!

I had such a hard time choosing my Kona colors (and then choosing my Aurifil colors), so I ended up with the teal family, plus a grey and chartreuse green because why not?! I decided that I wanted to represent a few of the different weights of thread Aurifil makes because they are all so wonderful.

In my interpretation of Sew Many Colors, you can see I have two each of Aurifil 12wt., 28wt., 40wt., 50wt., and 80wt. I tried to match the corresponding thread color and weight, but in my excitement I may not have paid attention to thread colors I could get my hands on quickly! In the end the quilting was done in a variety of 28 to 80 wt. Aurifil threads.

I love Aurifil in every weight!

I love Aurifil in every weight!

Threads I used to Quilt My mini

Threads I used to Quilt My mini

If you want to vote in the contest, make a mini for yourself or just want to check out the other entries head over to the Aurifil blog to check them out: Sew Many Colors Contest.

And if you think mine is "not too shabby" please give me a vote! Part of the prize is having your mini quilt hanging in the Aurifil booth at Spring Quilt Market, which would be SO COOL!

One day I will make the "270 colors" quilt, and it will be magical!

Happy Quilting,

Enjoli :)

Life & Broken Toys

Isn't it amazing how on top of the world you feel when things are going your way?! The sun is brighter, the kids are better behaved (ha-well it seems like it anyway) and life is pretty dandy!

But what happens when things don't go our way - Armageddon, melt-down city (me and the kids), I drop more things and spill more milk; or that's how it feels anyway!

Going into February I had grand visions of getting settled into our new (new rental-while we build our house) place, having a lovely romantic valentines day and quilting my heart out every week! I know you're all starting to get nervous about where this is headed...and rightly so.

My February turned into a mad scramble to get moved, settled and unpacked (still working on that), spending Valentines day dragging kids between houses to move things, and not  getting much quilting done. Turns out my machine needed some TLC - which lucky for me, she got, but couldn't be played with during that time.

Yep, I was wallowing in self pity!

And then I get the most glorious text ever, "Come play with your machine, I fixed her!". Picture me, giddy as my kids when I give them cookies! (And yes I did say "her", she even has a name!)

And, as life does - house things got put away (aka pushed aside), life settled down and I snuck away for a few glorious hours of bonding with my machine!

I could go deep here and say that things always find a way of working out, or that you have to ride out the storm to appreciate the sun, but to be totally honest - I'm just a much happier person when I get my quilting time!

Hope your February has a lot more LOVE than Broken Toys!

Happy Quilting,

Enjoli :)

 

Putting the Binding on 2016

Phew.. I can't believe that 2016 is almost over! It has been such an exciting last few months, that they have just flown by. I think I blinked and November was gone. I've had my long arm for almost a month now (and have yet to name her - yikes!), and have been squeezing quilting time out of every spare moment I have! Between three kids, a husband and a few work-related (quilt-shop) responsibilities, my quilting time has been limited. However, 2017 brings big goals and come August, much more quilting time, as my two youngest start Kindergarten! Whoo-hoo!

It's funny how optimistic I am at the beginning of December that I can make all of these amazing Christmas gifts, and then as the weeks go by I start to panic a bit more each week. So, this year I set small goals for myself, only a few hand-made items and of course those customer quilts that I had to finish. Yet, here I was Christmas Eve, sewing away on the last item - which made it in, just under the wire. I think we finished wrapping gifts around 10:30pm last night - gotta hold up the Santa tradition a little longer!

In all the craziness that goes into Christmas with three little girls, I am reminded that it is a blessing to have them to keep the magic of Christmas alive. They remind me that small things can be the what makes you feel like "this is the best day of my life" (a direct quote from my 6 year old today!) and that there is immense joy in giving!

I hope that as we close out 2016 you can look forward to 2017 with excitement and joy at the many things you can make and do to bring joy to others. My hope for Doodle Quilting Studio is not just to help you finish projects, but to help you bring joy to those you love!

Thank you for the love and support you have shown me in the last few months, I can't wait quilt my way through 2017!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! :) Enjoli

The Strait Family 

The Strait Family 

It. Is. Happening!

I guess it is time to admit that this is happening - my Bernina Q24, 13 foot longarm machine has arrived at the shop! This week hubby and I will be getting her set up in my studio space! This has been something I've been dreaming up for the last couple years and it feels scary and amazing that it is all coming together. l already have a few beautiful quilts in queue and I can't wait to get them loaded! Thank you to the folks who have already believed in me and my quilting!

Before I get too far into this adventure, I need to thank a few people for helping me get started -

My mom, who this would not have been possible without her generosity with her business space and the shop long arm. She has been unrelentingly supportive and is always the first one to like my Doodle page Facebook posts! How did I get so lucky to have such an amazing woman to encourage and support me!

Angela Walters, who inspired me to first start quilting, who I admired from afar through her books and online classes and finally had the pleasure to become friends with. Thanks for the final push, and your support despite your own busy schedule!

Thank you to my hubby for supporting me and my big ideas, for being willing to let me step out on this adventure and always really looking at my quilting!

I look forward to helping you finish your projects!

Happy Quilting,

Enjoli

Quilters I Follow!

Like any person striving to better themselves at their craft, I obsessively follow a few quilters that I think are amazing! I read what they have to say, drool of their beautiful work and in general just try to soak up any ounce of information I can from them! Here is a list of a few of my favorite machine quilters!

Angela Walters

Angela Walters

Angela Walters - I always tell people that Angela is my girl crush - and in fact, she is a large part of the reason that I went from doing machine quilting as a necessity to doing machine quilting as a passion! I have had the immense pleasure of meeting her and even getting a chance to get to know her a little bit, she is one of the most generous, wonderful people I know! Her teaching technique gives instruction and encouragement while breaking designs down into easy to follow steps. You can check out her awesomeness over at www.quiltingismytherapy.com!

Natalia Bonner

Natalia Bonner

Natalia Bonner - While Angela's books have helped me teach FMQ, it was actually Natalia's "Beginners Guide to Free-Motion Quilting" book that was my first ever Quilting book purchase! Her books go through the steps of the designs with illustrations showing travel directions, which can be very helpful if you are just learning how to quilt, or trying a new design. You can find Natalia at www.pieceandquilt.com! P.S: She has a great post titled "10 Things you should know before having a quilt machine quilted on a longarm."

Kathleen Quilts

Kathleen Quilts

Kathleen Quilts - OMG, I just discovered Kathleen and I am a bit smitten! She definitely favors dense quilting, which is fine with me, as I do love the look of it!  I've just started to "admire from afar" and would likely be a bit intimated to be in her studio, but WOW is she inspiring! You can find her at www.kathleenquilts.com

Ok, these are just a few of the amazing quilters I follow - but believe me, drooling over these ladies' beautiful work will keep you busy for awhile! In the mean time, feel free to let me know who your favorite quilters are, so I can add them to my "must follow" list. And stay tuned for my next round of favorites!

Happy Quilting,

Enjoli :)