Top 10 Resources for New Longarm Quilters
Hello Quilty Friends! Here is a list of my most favorite helpful resources for learning longarm quilting!
It can be overwhelming to try to figure out how to work the machine and make it run like you dreamed it would.
I’ve heard many new longarmers say they’ve had their machine set up for months and are too intimidated to try it. Don’t be!! It’s so much fun, and as soon as you get past the initial anxiety of turning on a $15K machine, you’re gonna love it!!
Top 10 resources and tips
1. Jump right in!
I’m perfectly serious on this one. The best thing you can do to learn how to longarm is to actually start. It’s amazing how much you can learn and figure out just by trial and error and your own intuition.
Because I got my machine passed down to me and not through a conventional way (dealer in a quilt store), I didn’t have a person to call with questions or a store that was offering classes to take. This leads to…
So much of what I picked up I was able to find on YouTube. It really is an amazing place to learn new skills! #youtubeuniversity!
Some of my favorite videos that are super helpful:
• Loading Lori’s Way – a very easy method to load your quilts straight on the frame every time. The video is a bit long, but worth it! I took a lot of notes the first time I watched it so I didn’t have to keep rewatching.
•Whirls N Swirls Quilting – she has A LOT of great videos for free motion quilting!! Lots of different ways to quilt individual blocks as well.
• HandiQuilter – this video helped me learn how to load a quilt on my new-to-me machine. You can type in the Make and Model of your own longarm and get soo many videos to help out!
3. Product Websites
My absolute *favorite* thread to use on my longarm is Superior Threads. They have a lot of different lines of thread for different purposes. But the really cool thing is the reference materials under the “Education” section.
There is a Longarm Thread Reference Guide that tells you what size of needle you should use for which type of thread! AMAZING!!
4. Facebook Group Pages
If you haven’t looked at these already, you are missing out!! You are sitting on a virtual goldmine of information!! When you join one of these groups you can use the search bar at the top of the group page to look up whatever issues you’re having.
“Thread Tension”? Search it!! You will find hundreds of conversation threads with tons of ideas how to troubleshoot thread tension.
There are sooo many people asking all the same questions as you, and you can benefit from their curiosity! You can also ask your own questions and just find an amazing support network of other longarm quilters!
Try Beginner Longarm Quilters on Facebook. You will need to submit a request to join.
Longarm Quilting World is another good group. You will also need to request to join this group. Most of these groups require a request to join, but you just have to answer a few quilting questions to prove you’re not a robot. Both of these are very supportive groups!
When I’m stuck and looking for ideas on how to custom quilt a specific block or border, I go to Pinterest for inspiration!
Look at these gorgeous pics that come up just from searching “longarm quilting border”. Give it a try!
6. Red Snappers!
I don’t know if this is a resource so much as a GAME CHANGER!!
Renae’s Red snappers are a way to load your quilt backing fabric without having to pin every inch of it to the leader fabric on the frame. Which is a bore. And a pain. Literally, if you’re like me and stab yourself multiple times with pins.
Some people prefer pinning, some use zipper leaders, and some even staple their fabric to the leader! It’s totally a personal preference.
But I would STRONGLY suggest you give these puppies a try! They come in different sizes depending on the length of your table. They can also be cut down to size too!
7. Find a Quilt Guild Near You!
What is a quilt guild? It’s a group of quilters that get together to talk about quilting! And you can sometimes even find a Longarm Quilt Guild!
A quilt guild is different from a quilt group because a Guild has bylaws and usually requires membership. But most Quilt Guilds are excited to have new members and love to share their knowledge!
Just google the name of your city/state and “quilt guild near me” and you should be able to find a group!
8. Find a Longarm Educator
There are so many wonderful quilting teachers out there, and tons of them offer online classes!
I really struggle to pay money for something I could try to figure out myself… but sometimes it’s totally worth it if I’m just struggling or if they have a skill set I can’t learn on my own.
One of my absolute favorite educators is Natalia Bonner from Piece N Quilt. She is extremely talented and a very sweet gal! I met her a few years ago at UQSM and was totally fangirling, and she was so kind to me and even let me take a selfie!
Meeting Natalia Bonner at UQSM 2018
She has a few books out and I love perusing her books when I need ideas for quilt designs. She also offers a couple different online classes. See her list here.
Other educators include Angela Walters of Quilting is My Therapy (and the Midnight Quilt Show on YouTube).
And Longarm Classroom.
9. Marking Tools Are Your Best Friend
Quilts are big. And there is a lot of space to cover when quilting. And sometimes you can lose your place, or you want to make sure that you’re stitch design stays consistent. This is where marking tools come in!
My favorite tool is called the Frixion Pen. It’s dark enough to show up on almost all fabrics and it comes right out with an iron!
You can find them all over the internet and I have seen them on the check out counter at most quilt shops too. You can go to Jessica Long Embroidery to buy them as well.
Chalk pens – there are multiple types of chalk pens. You can even use slivers of old soap to mark up the fabric, but I have never tried that. I’m always worried I won’t be able to get the soap markings out.
I got a chalk pen similar to this on Amazon and I have loved it!
Water soluble markers – these tend to be for projects that are short term. Because they are water and air soluble, they often disappear as soon as 20 minutes after marking, simply from the moisture in the air.
It depends on your location for how well they work. Here in Utah we have almost no humidity, so some quilters are able to use them with a lot of success. I used a water soluble pen on this project:
Custom quilting in the negative space on this customer quilt.
I bought long bar magnets to use as clamps to hold down my quilt tops when I’m floating the quilt top and needed extra stability.
I got some cheap extendable curtain rods to use with my side clamps on my frame. Sometimes when doing ruler work, the ruler base bumps into the clamps at the edge of the quilt. Using the curtain rods hooked over your pole frames can elevate the side clamps just enough that you don’t bump into them when quilting!
And the *best* tool I found at Home Depot? A magnetized tool tray used for mechanic tools. What do I use it for? My plethora of pins and small tools that I don’t want to roll away!
Do you have a good quilting resource you want to share? Drop a comment! And happy quilting!