Monday, October 26, 2015

Tools of the Trade...

I have been asked on several, frequent really, occasions how I do this and how I do that and what do you use for this and what for that? I have now been longarming for over three years and seem to be in a routine that is working. I'm going to make an attempt to share what this rookie does to do this and that and what I use along the way to reach a viable and accepted result of my efforts.

I use an Innova 22" Longarm on what I would call an industrial table that is 12' long. I call it industrial because I frequently longarm bare footed and if you happen to stub your toe on one of its legs...it doesn't move one iota. I only do hand guided quilting using the pantograph system named Panto Vision. I've done some free motion as well but being about as artistic as a martini stir stick I follow patterns created by those that do have artistic abilities. Over the last several years I have made numerous changes as I progressed. So the tools I will be sharing is what is being used currently based on experience, saves time and two basic systems of reasoning. If it ain't broke, don't fix it and Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). Both are personal references I acquired from my father and grandfather. Often enforced with a little physical aptitude system to emphasis the point. I will admit that both systems were enhanced by Marine Corps Drill Instructors with an emphasis on Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. All of which were great attributes when it came to working with tension.


It starts here. I will say one of the best things I have made for our quilting needs. Long before a top or back makes it to the longarm it has spent some time on this ironing sufrace, pressing seams, removing loose threads (Irish pennants) and just getting the wrinkles out.


I've said this on other posts...a good steam iron is a gift from the Gods.We use regular water and Best Press when needed. Our home version of Best Press is the standard 8 ounces of water to 1 ounce of vodka. I have seen no difference...it appears starch is starch. Currently the thread removal tool, the pink item with the handle and it's sticky surface works well. The window cleaner is for the mirror which is upcoming. Yes the Corgi, Nikee, is a fixture...naturally right where you need to stand.


The table surface is kept as clean and free of everything but the bare essentials. The two clamps, which found their way in from the garage, are used to lock the longarm's movement on the X and or Y axis when needed. The mirror is one of those KISS items I use to view the stitching and check for any wrinkles in the back. I've never used a paper panto but glad this is something that has stayed with the frame. It really does come in hand.



On the right side of the frame is where I locate one of the Red Snapper side clamps, my batting scissors and the small Red Snappers. Also where the tool belt hangs when not in use. Something else that came in from the garage. I don't use it as often as I have in the past, but when I am away from my machine whether working on another machine or teaching it gets filled up with what I consider to be my essentials. You'll notice a small piece of batting lying on the table. I have one at each end where I deposit cut threads and Irish pennants that are trimmed if they were missed on the ironing table. There is also a small trash container (orange) on the right side. Larger debris is deposited here and emptied between quilts. I tried using them for thread at one time. But as you will see I have a fan in the Longarm Room. The circulating air and loose threads were not a good combo



The left side is where I do most of my work. The magnifying glass and mirror are used for checking tension along with the black exceptionally high lumen flashlight that is hooked to the green holder. The holder also has some measuring devices, brush, screwdrivers and pointed hook. I try not to use the pointed hook. It only comes out with the seam ripper and that is never any fun. I also store my 'airbrush' air compressor, magnets, the longer Red Snappers, battery operated rotary cutter and my regular scissors on the left side of the frame. When quilting I clean and oil my hook assembly and reload my bobbins on this side. The gray mats are from Five Below, two for $5. I can assure you they are just what my old knees need. They add several hours a day to the time I can spend quilting.



The left side as we all know from a previous post is where this cabinet ended up. Of course as previously stated it only made sense. Here's where the bobbin winder, Towa Gauge, Sharpies, bobbins, Tru-Cut rotary blade sharpener, oil, some manuals, radio/CD player, miscellaneous tools and items call home. The drawers are full of CD's. Yes I got rid of the eight track.



Yes I have a helper. Animal is there to remind me to measure twice, cut once. He throws a fit if I forget.


Okay...I know this is not where the additional handles are suppose to be mounted. And when Elaine does longarm I have to move them. But for me a perfect place for my tablets touch pen, a Sharpie and "Jack" the seam ripper.

There are tools that I haven't pictured. Steel rulers, a T Square, some miscellaneous clamps for when I need three hands, a laser unit, extra parts and accessories. We each have developed the use for different tools and whether we think about them or not they are a part of what we do.



I mentioned the fan earlier. I'm one of those that need air circulating. It doesn't make any difference if it's Winter or Summer...the fan is on.

So there is a peek at some of the things I use as I go about my longarming days. Not all inclusive, some you may use, some you may not. Like you I am in a constant state of learning, experimenting, tweaking this and tweaking that. For me I am just striving to 'compliment the piecer's work.' I know there is a saying..."it isn't a quilt until it's quilted." I just feel it's my job to see it as the finished product before it's even loaded on the longarm. To me it's a quilt before I put in one stitch. I've even surprised myself and had them come off the longarm looking better than I imagined.

and like the sign says...


and like we say...
Quilt till you wilt...we do.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this Les. I am a topper for Quilts of Valor and am old enough to know what I do best and 'what gets me up in the morning'. It isn't he quilting part. So I am ever so thankful and curious about what you valuable longarmers do for us. I read with interest and then sigh and say "thank God for people like Les", who love to do this part and save me from mountains of unfinished tops!!
    I'm telling you, but it goes out to all those dedicated long arm blessings we have in this group!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jo...thank you so much. We are so grateful for the time you take to honor our service members and veterans. Without you I don't have a part to play. Topper's Rule!!!

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing Les, nice to have a peek into a fellow Innovian's process and tools of the trade. Helpful for that constant tweaking :0)
    And to know of another quilter with the same name! Hi Jo!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Les, you're A HOOT !! I've so enjoyed reading your blog. Just found you today.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love your dog! He is so nice, red, and reminds me a cute little fox!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I liked your post. It's really instructive. It looks like "How it made" :)

    ReplyDelete