Free Motion Graffiti Quilting

Happy Hump Day! (yeah, I know, sounds kind of weird but I’m told that in the present day that’s what working people call Wednesday…getting over the hump for the week!)

I recently posted this short video on Youtube – sped up, of course – showing some playtime free motion quilting I did on a practice sandwich.  I had spent a bunch of time working on some techniques with digital stitching designs, and after all that the wide open space just called to me…

Advertisements

A Happy Accident

Burnt orange is supposedly a trending color for 2019.  I say “supposedly” because I find it difficult to keep track and often find myself at the mercy of outside sources when it comes to staying on top of these things!

So I thought I’d go with it, dive in, and make a quilt in this not-for-me shade, and I chose a cool star quilt pattern from Missouri Star Quilt Company, thinking it wold be a good way to use up some leftover black and white print.

Then I decided to pack up my sewing one day and actually go to a group sewing day, taking this project with me as I figured it would be mindless sewing that I could handle while chatting the day away.  Part way through adding the print to each solid block, it occurred to me that I should stop and actually measure it out and see if I had enough to put two strips on every remaining block before I got too far in, but instead of following the inner nudge I kept on talking, and sewing, and then it was too late.

IMG_7253

So I was left with several solid blocks and no more print.  And there was no more at home when I got there.  And there was no more at the store when I got there.  So I made a quick decision to grab another black and white print that was enough of a contrast and I went home to finish up the squares, thinking I would just go with whatever happened because I wasn’t really “into” this quilt anyway! LOL

Once I began to lay it out on the design wall, it was obvious to me that the best effect would be to have the blocks transition from one print to another, one corner to another, and voila!  It looks like I planned it all that way from the start!  (at least it does to me, so just let me have this moment…HAHA)

IMG_7256IMG_7251

In the end, I believe it looks even better than it would have if all that print had been the same.  So this was a happy accident as they say.  Something even better came from a mistake.  And while it’s still beyond my preferred color palette, now that it’s all quilted (with a cool triangle maze edge to edge pattern on my Gammill Statler Stitcher), washed, and cuddly, I no longer look at it with a neutral eye.  I kind of like it now!  Kind of…

IMG_7249

Copyright and Quilting

copyright-copyright-everywhere-vprv8i

I hesitated in writing this post because it can be a bit controversial, depending on who you’re talking to, but it’s also interesting and I’ve recently been learning a lot about it myself, so I thought I’d share my perspective here and point out some references for those of you who are inclined to look into this further.

We’ve all seen the notices on patterns and inside book covers that lay out the designer’s explicit rules for use; many of them use the words “for personal use only”, some include instructions for labelling items for display at shows, some prohibit any commercial use, and some say the user is free to do whatever they wish with items made from the patterns.

While the subject of copyright certainly encompasses a ton of different issues in the online and real world today, I’m only going to discuss this in terms of quilting.  And if you don’t sell your quilts or other handmade items, this likely won’t even apply to you, unless you’re part of a quilting/sewing group or you do classes for others.  Or you regularly ask others to photocopy patterns for you! LOL

Let me say a couple of things right off the bat so you know I do not encourage stealing (or “appropriating” as one of my favourite TV characters, Mary Richards, said in an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show, which many of you might not even remember, but I’ve seen them all SEVERAL TIMES and own all the DVDs LOL):

I know there are people out there who steal photos and repost them as their own, especially on social media – NOT COOL

I know there are people who photocopy books/patterns and share them freely in groups like guilds or classes or social media groups, some might even resell them for profit – NOT COOL

I know there are people who use patterns and then take credit for the finished quilts without ever mentioning the original designer – NOT COOL

I know there are people who will buy one pattern, mass produce items made from it and sell them for profit, possibly at the commercial company level and perhaps even overseas – NOT COOL

I GET THAT SOME COPYRIGHT NOTICES are born from bad experiences I know nothing about, just as the warning on an electrical appliance to not use it in the bath tub is likely the result of someone, well….. I think you follow me here.

The idea of intellectual property is often vague and confusing, and there seem to be differing opinions about it even within the law.  Whether or not it becomes a legal issue in any specific situation seems to be about the degree to which a designer will take possible action, and many people take chances and just hope to not get caught.

So I’m not here to address whether or not any particular designer should or should not allow certain things.  Each designer has the right to put whatever limitations they choose on their work and then take legal action if they want to pursue a violation.  Then it’s up to the courts to decide if they have a case or not.  From what I’ve learned, it isn’t cut and dried.

What I’ve been wrestling with, and then deciding to write about, is the subsequent response of crafters like myself to the various warnings and notices published on patterns and fabrics available for our use and what happens if we choose to sell something we make.

One of my biggest obstacles is that people don’t always know what they’re going to do with a quilt after it’s finished.  Some of us never sell, some intend to sell them from the start, some don’t intend to sell but later have opportunity to do so and then what?  Can we even sell the quilt for the price of the materials we put into it?  Can we add a bit for our time?  Or is everything off limits when we are talking “sale”?

Each designer has their own perspective and rules for us to follow and some of them leave me questioning the benefit of the stricter notices I’ve encountered because of the response they invite from people like myself.

I’m just going to share a few things I’ve learned and experienced along the way, from dealing directly with pattern designers, reading various notices, and listening to some online interviews and podcasts regarding this subject.  Perhaps you’ll find some of it helpful.  Maybe you’ll agree with me and maybe you won’t 🙂  But here we go…

I wasn’t actually using or even purchasing many patterns myself until more recently when I decided that piecing certain things once in a while wouldn’t drive me totally nuts!  Because most of my quilts are intended for sale, I decided to go through the few books and patterns I had on my shelf and keep only those that allowed me to sell a finished quilt.  Needless to say, most are now gone.

But here’s the thing: because of the way certain rules are presented, and because of personal encounters on the subject, I’ve not only removed specific books and patterns from my house, I also no longer follow the web sites, blogs, or facebook pages of those designers.  I don’t want to see anything they do.  I don’t want to buy any of their stuff. It’s NOT out of spite; it’s because I cannot prevent my brain from storing ideas, so I choose to avoid regularly seeing what these people post and share for fear that sometime down the road I’ll be inspired to make something and it might end up resembling theirs.  Their explicit warnings give me the impression that they will readily pursue any violations and might even be in the habit of watching for them among quilters who have an online presence.  In fact, I’ve seen it happen.  So yes, I’m on guard!

Now I might just be a little fish in a great big quilting sea and my unfollowing and not purchasing isn’t going to break anyone!  The point is that instead of encouraging me to buy their patterns, fabric, or whatever they’ve designed, I will now buy nothing with their name on it.  And in my little fish quilting world I will be chatting about and recommending other people’s stuff – not theirs – and if I’m asked by my own followers I’ll advise them of where they need to be careful because I’ve honestly seen situations where certain designers have pounced on others – not on me – for sharing something that too closely resembled their own pattern.

The thing I find a bit funny about all this is that, for the most part, anyone buying a quilt from me or any other quilt maker is most likely NOT a person who is going to make it themselves.  Therefore, they aren’t going to buy the pattern anyway.  My making and selling one quilt from a pattern I have paid them for isn’t really taking away their business at all.

BUT, if I make it, and sell it, and give credit to the designer as I always do, the quilt buyer who loves it enough to pay for it might just go looking for more of that designer’s work.  And because I often share the process of making my quilts in photos and videos, other makers might see a quilt they want to make, inquire about the pattern, and be off on a search for that designer so they can also purchase patterns.  I’ve done that a few times myself after seeing another quilter’s finished projects!  So that isn’t going to be happening at all in my corner when it comes to certain designers; based on their own limitations and concerns over me selling one quilt (in over 200 quilts, I’ve only made one quilt pattern more than once!) they won’t get my ongoing business or any publicity or references that could come from my sharing their work.  I’m not deliberately advertising that people should NOT use their patterns or fabric or publishing their names anywhere; I’m just not using their items at all which means I AM advertising things designed by other people instead.

Again, they aren’t likely to notice the effect of that if it’s just little old me!  But is it just me?  As more and more people learn about the subject and start reading notices and sharing these things with their friends, will it still just be me?  I already know of one pretty famous quilter who chooses not to use a specific fabric line because of a publicized issue she became aware of (not involving herself) that made her decide to avoid using that designer’s products.  She talked openly about it herself so I’m safe mentioning it here 🙂

As I said above, designers have every right to make whatever rules they wish for how their stuff will be used.  I’m not trying to tell anyone what they should allow.  I’m just pointing out the possible responses and reactions that can come from making crafters fearful of some legal watchdog.

Let’s start with a positive notice you will see on the inside of a pattern or book from Missouri Star Quilt Company:

“Reproduction in whole or in part in any language without written permission from Missouri Star Quilt Company or BLOCK Idea Book is prohibited.  No one may copy, reprint, or distribute any of the patterns or materials in this magazine for commercial use without written permission of Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Anything you make using our patterns or ideas is your business, do whatever you want with the stuff you make, it’s yours!”

Doesn’t that last line just make you want to buy ALL their patterns?? LOL  Clearly, they don’t want people making copies and redistributing them for commercial use “without written permission”.  That makes sense and also gives the reader an opportunity to ask for permission if there is a special reason they need to make copies.  It doesn’t close the door completely, it just gives information about what to do if your situation warrants something different than what the book intends.  I will buy and use their patterns with confidence and peace of mind, and their reasonable and generous attitude makes me feel good about dealing with them.

I recently heard an interview with Tula Pink, fabric and pattern designer, on the subject of copyright.  She explained that once she sells a quilt pattern, she believes she has been fairly compensated for her design work, and that if a person wants to sell their finished quilt, it’s OK with her (she does appreciate being credited with the original design, which I would always do myself whether it was requested or not).  If a person wants to make more than one of a specific quilt to sell, she asks that they buy a copy of the pattern for every quilt they are going to sell, and said that if she sees that her pattern sales numbers are comparable to any quilts being sold using her patterns, she feels that is fair compensation for her, as the maker has done all the work of making the actual quilt.  I really appreciate her approach and I would be happy to purchase a second pattern from her for the same quilt if I decided to make and sell a second one.  Totally reasonable!

I also have a pattern book that limits commercial use but gives detailed instructions for labelling items for sale (or display at shows) in a way that gives credit to the designer and names the book the pattern came from.  Again, totally reasonable, as I believe we should always be giving credit to the designer of any work we use.  It’s just the right thing to do!

I have patterns for other quilted and handmade items that are protected from the usual things like photocopying and distribution without permission but allow for the completed items to be sold either in any quantity – one in fact encourages making multiples for markets etc. – or in limited quantities with the option of getting permission for anything over that amount (and it’s a generous limit that most wouldn’t exceed anyway!)  Both of these designers are very popular and have huge followings which continually share and spread their work, adding to their own fame in the crafting world.

And then I saw a notice that explicitly forbids the pattern buyer from selling any item made, in any quantity, in any venue.  And the door was closed, ie. no room for even asking.  Literally, there was a printed request that people not ask for an exception.  So that’s a big red flag stop sign with a flashing light on it (and maybe a siren!) for me.  Because those designers are apparently very worried about someone making an item and taking it to a farmer’s market in a rural community, even if it’s a fundraiser.  Some of you might be rolling your eyes here and thinking I’m being dramatic because which designer would seriously get their feathers ruffled by a farmer’s market?   But you know what?  As long as we’re a social media society where everything we share has the potential to go viral, I can’t take any chances.  If this person took the time to actually write those words, I’m going to assume they mean it.   And it’s too bad, because there are two patterns I would have bought that day!  (and I would have shared my work, custom quilting videos, recommended the patterns and the designer…) but I took them out of my cart.  Unless I can be absolutely certain that I will not sell the quilt, EVER, I can’t buy them.

I’ve seen a designer try to lay claim to something with a shape on it, a shape that is universally used, in infinite sizes, on all kinds of things, as if any person anywhere couldn’t have come up with a similar idea of how to use that shape.  It’s kind of difficult to even grasp this one, but maybe I am missing something!

As an extra note, I question why designers who make and sell their own custom quilts as a large part of their business (I’ve seen them priced in the several thousands) would release the patterns for others to use.  Obviously, they don’t want people in direct competition for a finished quilt sale. and I get that. But – and maybe I’m naive – if I had an original design and was making money from the artwork I exclusively sell, I don’t think I would want to hand out the guidelines for others to simply make it the same way themselves, especially since a lot of people do not respect copyrights regardless of strict warnings.  But to each his own, and those patterns are gone from my shelf too.

So you see, this post isn’t about me telling people they are right or wrong to have rules.  It isn’t even about saying that I want to break the rules, because I choose to respect what a designer has laid out if I opt to buy their patterns, because I do have a choice about that purchase!  I would want the same respect.  For me, it’s about the spirit of what we’re doing and how we’re presenting ourselves to the public world we live in, and what happens when we try to share our work without really “sharing” it, if you get what I mean.

Nobody wants to have their original work stolen, misrepresented, or mass produced for profit that takes away from their own livelihood, and it’s just plain wrong to claim someone else’s work as your own.  And I certainly don’t want to be putting myself in a position of even unintentionally violating someone’s rules.  But I personally think that giving a bit of freedom is probably more beneficial than restricting everything right off the top.  I’m pretty sure that most of these designers – even with their printed warnings – aren’t really worried about me selling one quilt in my Etsy shop, especially if I give them credit for the design and direct people to their own web site for more information (FREE advertising!).  But in order to protect themselves from the thieving commercial reproduction that sometimes can happen, they have cut me out as well (throwing out the baby with the bathwater?) And in order to protect myself, I take them seriously.  I choose integrity.

Thankfully, I’ve found enough pattern designers who are happy to allow the sale of a finished quilt and grateful to be given design credit, and free publicity, so even though I like wide open spaces and whole cloth quilting, when I do want to use a pattern, I have lots to choose from!

If you’re interested in more information about this topic, I have a few good links to share with you. You will hear debates about whether or not a quilt pattern can actually be protected by copyright beyond the printed pattern itself.  You will hear differing opinions from designers and quilters alike.  It’s all good stuff and worthy of consideration from your own perspective.  It seems that copyright in the quilting world is a fairly new issue, brought more to light with the popularity of quilt shows and competitions, and fuelled by the internet’s vast possibilities for both sharing ideas and violating intellectual property rights.

Leah’s podcasts include personal crafting topics at the beginning, so if you want to get straight to the interviews, you need to go part way through to get there.

Leah Day Podcast #49 with Elizabeth Townsend Gard (law professor)

 Leah Day Podcast #57 with Heather Kubiak (copyright lawyer)

and there are a whole bunch of fun interviews in the podcast series led by Elizabeth Townsend Gard that you can read about and access from the web site: Just Wanna Quilt

Now I better go and make sure sharing that Toy Story meme at the top of the page isn’t going to get me into trouble…

 

 

 

 

Nostalgic meandering

I’m becoming one of those people.  You know, the ones who talk about the olden days, back when this or that was the norm.

This is not to take anything away from the younger set, of which I was once a member.  We do – as we should – go through different seasons in our lives, each one exposing us to new things and teaching us about the world and about ourselves.  They are necessary seasons.  I can value my own life experience from a my own time and still say “You go for it!  I remember when we could only imagine all the things available to you now.  Make new memories.  Find your own place in the world!”

I don’t ever want to become the old lady who thinks the younger people don’t know anything, that they can’t teach me anything, and that because I’m a certain age, none of them can understand or give me helpful ideas about life.  I’ve learned many things from my own adult children and from the changing world around me and I hope that I remain open so I don’t miss important lessons.

But please permit me this one observation: many things are just not made like they used to be.  I think I can safely say that as a fact without it being just another random generational comparison looking through bifocal lenses from my comfy recliner.

I recently brought my first sewing machine upstairs from the closet where it has been stored nearly four years now; it was carefully packed in its case at the age of 35+ years and moved aside after I bought my new one with all the bells and whistles and a nice big 10″ throat at the start of my free motion quilting journey.  I had no room or need for two machines set up all the time, so storing the old one was the obvious choice.

Earlier that day I had packed up my new machine to leave my house and spend time sewing with a group of ladies – an actual first for me! – and one of them brought an old machine along.  I listened to it hum as she sewed and I found myself missing the way my old one sounded.  When I got home, I felt compelled to take it out, oil it up, and stitch something on it.

Once the case came off, I was actually feeling nostalgic looking at it. I bought it when I was 13 years old, about 4 years after mom taught me how to sew my own clothes.  Because mom had the top of the line Pfaff and I was used to sewing on that, I didn’t want to settle for anything less!  My dad – a banker who taught us to work and pay for things we wanted outside the scope of  basic needs – advised me to apply for a bank loan so I could start working on my credit rating (LOL) and because he knew that even if I saved for months, the price might go up and I wouldn’t catch up.  He co-signed for me, I got my loan, and by working part time in a fabric store owned by my parents I paid off my loan early.

So for me this machine represents various practical and sentimental things and holds many memories. It still works, it still hums, and I love it.  And they DON’T make them like they used to.

Sure, my new one  is all computerized and does a ton of fancy things (many of which I don’t use or need but that 10″ throat got me…! LOL) and it’s a pretty color and all that.  But it’s just not the same.

It’s nobody’s fault; things change, technology advances, manufacturing moves forward, parts get farmed out to keep prices down etc. etc. etc. Sometimes that makes things better, sometimes it doesn’t.  And I guess it all depends on what you want the “thing” – whatever it is – to do for you.

Obviously, my new machine does a lot my old one doesn’t do.  But it doesn’t hum along without vibrating, and it doesn’t have the same stitch quality, and it doesn’t have the power to move me back to my childhood and teen years of sewing all my own clothes and through my married life of sewing for my husband, my children, and my home, and into my first attempt at free motion quilting that opened up a new world to me.

So I’m going to find a place in my world for using this old friend of mine, even if it’s just going to become my take-along-when-I-leave-the-house-to-sew machine.  Yes, it’s heavy.  Yes there are lighter and smaller ones I could get for this purpose.  Yes, maybe one day I will need to consider that if my arms and back get too sore from carrying it.  But for today, in the present moment, I think it will work 🙂

Like me, it has a lot of years left in it to be productive!  And if it could speak, I’m sure it would look at my new one and say something like “Hey there, you’re pretty nice looking and you do a lot of cool stuff and I remember in the olden days when we could only imagine all the features you have now! So you go girl, you shine, make new memories.  I will always have my own place in time.”

Do you have an old machine that you love?  I’d enjoy hearing about it in the comments below!

Just Stitching – free motion fun

After several days of working on cementing some of the basics of edge to edge computerized quilting in my brain, I was feeling the need to get in some of my favourite hand guided free motion quilting.

I loaded up a practice quilt sandwich, lowered the belts, and spent some time playing on my new Gammill, did a bit of ruler work and, of course, some spirals!  It brought me a lot of enjoyment and peace to just go with the flow and stitch randomly whatever came to mind 🙂

Longarm Quilting: easing in fullness

While I was working on a client quilt this week, I recorded a short video showing how I used my hands while my Gammill Statler was stitching out a digital design, to manipulate the quilt top and ease in any bits of fullness to avoid getting unwanted pleats and tucks.  I got the idea from a video Linda Taylor did for the Best of Both Worlds series for Gammill Quilting (look for that great set of tutorials on Youtube!) and it was definitely beneficial for me, and in the end for my client who ended up with a lovely finish on her quilt.

There is soooooooo much to learn in this computerized quilting arena!  But I just try to focus on a little bit at a time so my brain won’t explode! LOL  Of course, I want to try ALL THE THINGS!

First a few photos, then the video at the bottom.  All are posted with permission 🙂

Have a great weekend!

IMG_7016IMG_7022IMG_7015

Custom Computerized Quilting on my Gammill

img_6879

After practicing some edge to edge designs on a few quilts this past week, I went ahead and tried some custom work using computerized patterns.

This quilt has a lot of wide open space, but it is pieced together in rows so, for the most part, I chose designs for each row.  When I got to the blocks with text, I fit the designs around them.

img_6862

img_6865

img_6880

This was so much fun!  LOTS to learn and every day there’s something I have to tripe check as I go, but it’s gradually getting more comfortable.  Check out the video below for an idea of how it all came together 🙂

My Gammill is Here!

I would like to introduce you to my new Gammill Statler Stitcher (fondly referred to for now as my “personal assistant” until I can come up with just the right name for it! LOL)  It arrived a week ago, has upped the decor level in my quilting room by several points, and is performing like a rock star.

I’m spending time right now getting used to the process of computerized quilting; it is a huge learning curve, but I’m gradually getting the hang of it, and since I was without a machine for just over a month after the old one sold, I had time to piece together a few quilt tops to have ready for practice.  I’m testing out different ways of getting the patterns onto the quilt, some edge to edge as well as some customized work, choosing different patterns to fill specific spaces.

This machine purrs like a kitten and is a pleasure to drive (“She’s got a competition clutch with the four on the floor and she purrs like a kitten ’till the lake pipes roar, and if that ain’t enough to make you flip your lid…” OK I’ll stop!)

Everything here is solid as a rock and it’s clear this is no lightweight piece of equipment.  I was slightly intimidated the first time I turned it on myself the day after Mr. Bentley, my dealer/delivery man left.  I had to stand back a minute, take it all in, and show some respect.  Even moving the rollers – smoothly as a hot knife through butter – gives me pause to be grateful.

I wanted to share with you some of the things I’m working on, just to keep you posted and stay in touch while I’m learning 🙂  I have three completed quilts with edge to edge patterns on them and am currently working on a custom one – mostly computerized, some ruler work – and all will be available in my Etsy Shop in the next couple of weeks or so.

Once I’m confident with the basics, I’ll be opening up my computerized quilting services to clients in addition to the hand guided work I’ve been doing thus far and continue to enjoy very much!  For now, here are a few peeks into the fun I’ve been having.  I’m trying a new techie system of embedding these from my Instagram feed, so be sure to follow me over there – annwalshquilting – to see regular day to day updates that don’t always make it into a longer post here 🙂  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Instagram, the notations you see under these photos go along with the Instagram posts, and it’s all about the hashtags over there!

Longarm machine comparison

I’ll bet from the title of this post that you’re expecting me to give you a chart of some kind, with various brands and features, and present myself as an expert on the subject!  That’s not happening.

First of all, I’m no expert on anything other than my own opinion. Secondly, writers of blogs choose post titles carefully so they can easily be found, and calling this “If you’re in the market for a longarm you might want to check out some of these suggestions” would register as TOO LONG AND BORING! LOL

However, if you ARE in the market for a longarm you might want to check out some of these suggestions:

  1. Don’t be hasty.
  2. Do your research and make comparisons very carefully.
  3. Try various brands even if you have to travel a bit of distance.

DON’T BE HASTY

If you’re looking at buying a longarm machine, you could potentially be investing as much money as you would to buy a new car, or perhaps a small house, depending on where you live!  Now, not everyone is buying the biggest, fanciest machine with all the expensive technology, but the point is that this is no minor purchase and just as you would weigh the pros and cons of buying an economy vehicle next to those of buying a luxury sedan, based on your needs and your budget, you need to consider a lot of different things in order to make the best decision FOR YOU.

If you’re an impulsive shopper – STOP IT! This isn’t something you want to buy in a hurry, or on a whim like when you’re at a big quilt show and you want All. The. Things. This is one of those items to go gather information about and then go home and think about, not one to load up in your truck alongside all the bags of fabric and kits and gadgets you don’t really need but just had to have…)

“But there’s a special deal on today!” Come on, we’ve all been around the block (quilt pun intended) enough times to know that there will always be some kind of deal if we are just patient and wait for it.  Getting a special deal on something you will later regret buying is NOT a special deal.  And next month’s special deal might be even more special anyway, so just stop and think.  There should be a mantra for this, like stop, drop and roll.  Maybe “stitch, stop, and sleep on it.”

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Talk to dealers about everything you can think of with regard to their machines.

Ask about warranties, what they cover, what they don’t, and which circumstances have limitations.

Ask about service and regular maintenance:

  • Who does it, you or the dealer?
  • Where is it done, in your home or somewhere you have to take your machine?
  • How often does it need to be done and how much does it cost?
  • Does the price include training?  Where will that happen?

Find out if the people selling the machines are also USING the machines.  Are the dealers/owners actually longarm quilters themselves or are they sales people?  Do they have hands on personal experience and insight to share with you and help you make your decision?  If not, think about whether or not that difference matters to you.

MAKE COMPARISONS CAREFULLY

This is a very tricky area.  You won’t be comparing apples with apples while comparing longarm machine brands.  You’ll be comparing apples, oranges, bananas and passion fruit.  I threw that last one in there because there’s a little part of each of us that is enticed by the “extras” we might or might not actually need to do the job we want to do.  But they might be fun, or allow us to grow more in our skills, or make something easier.

Because direct comparison can rarely be made, you need to look at various things on each machine to find out what the features do, why they’re helpful (or not really), if they’re things you need to have or not, things you will grow into, things you want to afford or things you don’t.  Notice I said “want to afford”.  Sometimes we’re looking at items we CAN afford but choose not to.  Each person must decide for themselves which features and prices suit them, but having said that, again I stress that your comparisons should be CAREFUL ones.

I would suggest not using price alone to determine your final choice, unless all other things have first been considered and price is the only significant difference.  Budget is important of course, but keeping in mind that you aren’t comparing apples with apples, sometimes the price can be deceiving.  A machine that appears to be cheaper, might in the long run end up costing nearly the same as another once you decide to accessorize it – either at the time of purchase of later on – with features that already come standard on the initially more expensive option.

Sometimes what you think is a convenience ends up being a sacrifice.  For example, if you like the idea of portability, you’ll likely be sacrificing weight and sturdiness, whether we’re talking about longarm machines, sewing machines, or other bigger items you use around the house.  Lighter weight versions might have more vibration causing louder volume during use.  If the DIY setup/install appeals to you (it’s usually cheaper), you might be sacrificing quality and materials that would be heavier and more difficult to break down in the item that must be delivered and assembled by a professional.  It is, of course, our own choice to sacrifice or not according to our own situations.  The important thing is to consider the possible trade offs in both directions and not ignore them.

If there are features available that you aren’t familiar with, watch some videos on YouTube to find out how others are using them and why they might be advantageous to you, remembering that until you actually have a machine in your house and use it regularly, you can’t always be certain what you will and will not use.

TRY VARIOUS BRANDS

Unless you have owned a longarm before or used one extensively you won’t necessarily know which one is a good fit for you.  Depending on were you live, it might be difficult to access a variety of brands and try them out, unless you can get to a trade show or quilt show where dealers will be demonstrating their machines.  If this is the case, I do suggest giving yourself a chance to try a few different ones.  Even if you already know of a couple you do not want, give them a try at a show where you can also try others on the same day so you can make some direct comparisons as to the weight, the smoothness of operation, the sound, vibrations etc.

Don’t rule out a particular brand because it’s hard to get to a demo.  It might be the right one for you, and Murphy’s Law states that you will find that out precisely two months later when you do get to a show after you’ve purchased the one you thought was a good idea for valid reasons at the time, and end up kicking yourself for it.  Especially when some people who know you pretty well suggested you should wait and get the other one.  And one of them even offered to drive you four hours away to see it in person but you still didn’t go. But I digress…

My point is that when you are new to anything, there’s a lot of stuff you don’t know.  There’s a lot of stuff you don’t even know you don’t know.  So ask questions, read reviews, find out why prices are what they are, what’s included and why, and make an informed decision, not a hasty one, not an impulsive one.  All we can do is make the best possible decision at the time with what we know.  Make sure you know as much as you can, about the machines you’re looking at, and about yourself!

In the words of a smart guy I know, “It’s cheaper to buy one longarm machine than to buy two.”