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Monday, November 25, 2013

Training Videos...Not our cup of tea...

This topic has come up before...and we have watched some...90% of the time to no avail when it comes to longarming, our experience. So it has come up again on one of the Yahoo Groups we follow so here is our response that we posted on Yahoo. We thought it needed to be shared on the blog also. Will more than likely link on Facebook too. In our case just an opinion we want to share. I'm sure there are training videos on sword swallowing...not going to make me a sword swallowing guru. I'll bet it would take doing it to get efficient. 

Our Response:
We are going to be the devil's advocates here. More me, Les, than Elaine, because where she has quilted a dozen, I've quilted a 100. And being the male of the species, "I don't need no stinking instructions." 

I have tried to watch several training videos. And though I find the quality of the ABM videos to be good many others were found to be poorly done and incomplete. Seems like one or two things are always out of whack; poor lighting or poor sound for the lesson I was trying to learn. In my case, not being a quilter and having never sewed a stitch, they all miss the simple things. There was one on tension that was pretty good, but only provided general knowledge and not knowledge specific to Innova. I want to learn 'feathers/free motion.' I've watched a couple of videos and the 'instructor' says stuff like, "Just get the feel for the motion and go with it." If I had the feel for the motion I wouldn't need to be watching your video. I bought a book and will be lining up the practice quilts. 

Rene does some pretty good stuff...but if you can't figure out how to use Red Snappers you’re going to have a lot of trouble. Probably one of the greatest and simplest inventions ever associated with longarming. But hey that's just me. I'm sure for some zippers work good...I don't sew. i.longarm and you have to sew on zippers.

I'm afraid, even as frustrated as I have gotten, I find it best to learn via doing. Trial and error. Jack the Seam Ripper at hand. Practice Sandwiches at the ready. Adjust this, adjust that, use this, remove that, tilt this, lean that. It has been the mistakes that I have made that provided the lessons learned. 

I've had crooked patterns on the screen. I've had crooked patterns on the quilt. Patterns that load and patterns that don't. I've had the machine just stop. I've had neither the white button nor the green button operate in mid quilt. I've had PantoV freeze up in mid quilt. Do you know about "X" and "Y" Axis and the little black wheels? I certainly do as they have been a real pain in the butt since initial install. They are almost dependable now...not quit yet but almost. Have you ever adjusted yours...I have, several times. Have you ever calibrated your grid...don't ask...too complicated. 

My point...this is not what is covered in Training Videos...everything in Training Videos works well as the one being videoed. That's not reality. You want to learn about the PantoVision connected to your machine...load a practice sandwich and quilt and quilt and quilt. Feeling a little more some 'charity' quilts. 

You want some training...find a way to get to a hands on class. We drove for four hours and stayed overnight for our two day class. Hopefully with other users that have had problems and can share what they did do correct them. Start an Innova at your or another Innova owners house/studio and do hands on, sharing and learning. 

So I'm not a fan of training videos...with that said I am well aware we are all different. There may be some that can learn this way...neither of us can. We need to do to learn. I couldn't thread the machine when we started, or the bobbin winder. And the needle, well that's a whole other story. I threaded both at least a dozen times before I loaded a practice quilt or a bobbin. I couldn't follow a straight line on Panto to save my butt...I think my first 4 or 5 quilts were "Meander." I can't tell you how many times I heard 'Just follow the line." Well I'm here to tell you I never follow the line. I follow the pattern, the little red "+" may be in the vicinity of the line...but the moment I try to follow the line...well it appears I'm still meandering. 

Good luck with whatever learning process you choose. I just know this...I learned to drive by driving, shoot, by shooting, cook, by cooking and well...longarming by longarming. I finished what many would call a 'complex' pattern yesterday, on a 60" X 80" quilt. It took almost three hours, the seam ripper never came out, my transitions when changing bobbins were smooth and without a whole heck of a lot of effort; undetectable, there were no 'birds nests' and the piecer was extremely satisfied with the longarming and said something that makes my heart smile. "You complimented my quilt." 

There is an event coming to our area in February. Birds of a Feather ( I have been ask to preside over the class and provide some instruction on PantoVision. I was honored to say the least...more than is a hands on class with other Innova users. For all of those involved, including lucky me...another opportunity to learn about something we all do...longarm quilts using PantoVision...I'm excited to say the least for another opportunity to learn while doing. 

ABM has researched, developed and manufactured what we feel is the absolute best machine available to a longarm quilter...the best. They have provided some good quality videos to cover the basics and when you pick up the phone, 24/7 you get a human response, something disappearing in customer service worldwide. We feel they have put the ball in our court and it is time for us to make the effort to move forward. In this case forward involves longarming and if we are watching another training video we aren't longarming. But hey that's just us. 

Les and Elaine Page
Virginia Beach, VA
We Quilt on Facebook
Quilt of Valor State and Guild Coordinators

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Betsy Ross...A Quilter???

I have been accused of being 'a half bubble off.' And it has been said it shows up frequently when I transfer to paper (screen) the stuff that passes through my head. Well being only half off explains why I don't write for a living. Think about one is going to accuse Stephen King of being a half off. He is a full bubble off if not more. But yesterday while ironing a back to load another Quilt of Valor to be longarmed the bubble shifted off center...again. So here we are in the late 1700's and George gives Betsy a call. Well how else is this going to work.

One ringy dingy, two ringy dingy.
"This is Betsy."
"Betsy, George here."
"George it's good to hear your voice. I heard you had a pretty bad winter."
"Well you could say that. You know what they say about New Jersey, nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. As a matter of fact the whole winter was a tad chilly now that I think about it. Betsy let me get right to the point. I'm gonna need a flag."
"My goodness George what for? I thought that snake thing was working out well."
"Betsy I need to be honest here...that was Ben's idea and lately some of his ideas are causing people to wonder." First it was the kite thing and some of his theory's I mean come now. Now he's forced me to make him the Ambassador to France...something about a new girlfriend. Anyway the snake has to go."
"Well did you have anything in mind?"
"Not really. You know I'm not real creative with this sort of thing. We need to keep in mind of the 13 Colonies...but other than that I would kind of like to see what you can come up with. You know Martha says you have the best ideas."
"Martha is so kind."
"Well she says you quilters all must stick together."
"She has a point."
"So Betsy what do you think?"
"Well I don't know, but I have some ideas but I'm going to need to talk with some of the girls. Is Martha there."
"Yes I'll get her for you."
"This is Martha, how are you Betsy."
"Martha doing great...I do miss John, but I've met someone new and he seems to be a very nice man. He's a mariner so gone a lot."
"George says he has ask you to make a flag. I ask him why the snake thing wasn't working. He just grunted something about Ben."
"Yea he did the same with me. Ben gets a lot of criticism. Have to say he does come up with some silly ideas. I've heard he is working on something called a catheter for his brother John."
"Who knows what next. Betsy how can I help and what for sake are you thinking?"
"Martha, he didn't say but I know he is in a hurry. So I do have an idea. I just started a red and white jelly roll but I'm out of red and white material. As it turns out I have enough to make 13 stripes, well almost anyway some of the rows will come up short if I don't get my hands on some more material. I thought you might have some. I know the girls in the Bee are out I've already ask."
"Betsy I don't. But I do have a pretty good size of blue and you are more than welcome to it."
"Well I don't know, but can you send it over and I'll see what I can do. Oh, remember those little stars you made on that quilt you made for that astronomer from France, what was his name?"
"Charles Messier."
"Yea, that's him. Well can you send with the fabric your stitching pattern for the stars. I know it is six pointed, but if you don't mind I would like to change it a little and make a five pointed star."
"Oh not at all, wish I would have thought of it, sure will be simpler to make."
"Martha thank you so much. Tell George I'll have something for him in a couple of weeks. Joesph is at sea and I have quite a bit of time on my hands."
"Betsy it has been good talking with you. Thanks again for all you do. Some day this will all be history and I'm sure you will be remembered. Talk with you later...bye."
"Good-bye Martha and please say hi to Jacky, Nelly and the children for me. See you soon I hope."
"Thanks Betsy, I will and thanks for handling this flag thing I told George I just wasn't up to it. Bye."

and so Betsy Ross was a quilter with a UFO Jelly Roll...prove me wrong.

Friday, November 15, 2013


That's the miles we put on the last two days. We traveled to Lynchburg Virginia for a Quilt of Valor Award for a three time recipient of the Bronze Star while serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. We had a packed house. He is the former Youth Director at his church and the event was attended by them and his family and friends. Well over a hundred in attendance. Yes it got a little emotional. The wusses used real men, we just used our sleeves.

Then after the overnight stay in Lynchburg we were off to Farmville where the following morning we made a family only Award to a Korea War and Vietnam War (three tours) retired United States Army Sergeant Major. Very special event for two reasons...the Award and his wife is a quilter and been looking for a cause to quilt for. Well, have you come to the right place. Or is that I came to the right place. Either case QOV may have just picked up another volunteer. And her work...well what we saw could be entered in shows and would judge very well.

The quilt was done by the Wabi Sabi Group out of Colorado

A little 'quilty' hug and Peace...well for us anyway.

Then it was time to head home...well not directly. Elaine was quizzing everyone as to where there might be quilt shops...not to mention the iPad was in full search mode. Three promising shops were suggested and discovered lurking within the iPad.

The first was Lib's Place in Rice, VA on Prince Edward Highway (US 460) ( & Facebook).  If you sew, if you quilt, if you scrapebook, craft whatever and your passing through or you live in the need to stop by. This is a shop worth your time. Excellent selections of material, patterns, yarns, notions and supplies. Louisa and Linda are terrific hostesses and we felt like old friends within minutes. If you're going East or West through Rice this is a must stop.

While at Lib's Place we saw a quilt that was 'free motion' quilted by the owner of a shop in Crewe, VA. Sadly the shop was closed but we were able to leave some business cards and brochures (QOVF) with the business owner next door, her sister, who said she would pass them on. We have the shop hours now and won't miss her next time.

Then the iPad kicked in and lo and behold just 12 miles north of Petersburg, a town we were passing through on our way home, a quilt shop was listed in Chester, VA. I had actually heard of Chester. So it is off to Chester we go...and let me tell you we are glad we did. The shop is called The Busy Bea, LLC. Same thing here if you passing through, it's just off I-95 between Richmond and Peterburg, it is a must stop. And just like Louisa and Linda, Bea and Catherine made us feel like hometown friends in minutes. Great shop, huge selection of material, heavily catering to quilting. Some fabrics we had never seen before and Bea has been a fabric line rep for more thirty years. She has been around and having traveled a five state region for years not only knows the business but the people in it. Again we left some QOVF information and hope we will get some quilts from the many that utilize their shop for classes, sew ins and just quilt related socializing.

So we had a great two days on the road, had some cool but clear and sunny weather, met some great people, awarded a couple of quilts to some very deserving veterans and maybe even picked up a quilt or two in the future. To say we are enjoying the moments...well let's just say we not going to trade what we do for all the money in the world...of course if we won one of those lottery things it would help.

So we're home for a week or so then back on the road a couple of times later this month and in early December for other Awards. Speaking of which we have one today in Norfolk. This time a Navy Veteran...30 year military career and then another 16 with the Navy as a civilian employee...I guess 46 years and serving in two wars is deserving of our recognition. Duh.

Quilt till you wilt...we do...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Change is good...Elaine says so!!!

Okay I space was becoming a problem...fabric, longarm, 15 sewing machines, batting, quilts, more fabric, thread...more every week, longarm supplies, did I mention fabric. Have you heard the $4.29 Wall at Fabric hut is 30% off...Elaine did.

So the research began...last week. Shelving, tubs, cases, closed or open, big or small, more of what we have or something new? Aesthetically pleasing, functional or both? How much do we want to spend, how much can we spend? It took a week and several trips to Home Depot.

But alas all has been conquered. Can't say I'm not happy. I got the Hutch in the Longarm Room...look at all of the enclosed storage area I'm going to have for thread...the glass doors, shelving and mirrored background is gonna make my thread inventory really stand out. Hello Superior.

The new storage shelving in the sewing room. Industrial grade, extremely easy to assemble, disassemble and configure to your storage needs. We highly recommend it. So here are a few photo's of the new storage shelving and room arrangements.

Quilt till you wilt...we do...

Lighting...well MORE lighting...

Recently our longarm manufacturer came out with a new lighting assembly. A very good one I might add. Which brought to the longarming process 'LED' lighting. Something I'm very familiar with having at least four or five LED flashlignts in the 1200+ Lumen Range laying the house, motorcycle, quilting tool belt, car...well you get the picture. Well with the manufacturer coming out with this light let's just say a light went off in my head...intended. Now don't get me wrong...the light that came with the unit and the additional lighting we added to the room is really sufficient...more than sufficient in our case...but there are times when I would like to have a little extra light on the work area. Unfortunately the work area is not always 'under or near' the needle...which is where this new light is directed. Sometimes you just might have to move the head out of the way and take out threads.

So I'm thinking...more light, LED light...what a great idea. Wish I'd thought of that. So although it would be nice on occasion to have extra lighting on the work area, and sometimes away from the needle the $189 price tag...well it freaked me out.

Hello Amazon. Flashlight, adjustable holder, batteries (four) and charger. All under $40.

This particular light is 1600 Lumens. It utilizes two Panasonic 18650 batteries (protected), will burn up to 4+ hours. I always have two in the charger and swap out regularly. Which in reality is like once or twice a week. I don't use it for all work...not necessary. 

But when you need some extra lighting...this is it. You will hear 'without' shadows. Well don't be fooled by that. If there is any other light source in the room, left of you, right of you even in front, behind or above you, there will be shadows. In the case of the pictures below the LED enhances the shadow...I'm working left to right, the shadow is not a problem...if I were going right to left...I'd move the flashlight to the other side if I needed enhanced lighting. 

Work area without LED lighting...I'm wondering how much lighting do we need???

Work area with LED lighting...and in this case it can be directed to where ever I need the extra lighting...and it is not always in the vicinity of the needle...unfortunately. 

So as well made and as much as it may enhance the work area around the needle I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass on the $189 light system. But I am grateful for it's creation. I would have never searched for a holder to attach to our longarm otherwise. 

Let there be light!!!

Quilt till you wilt...we do...

Outside the Box & Censorship

It happened again...and I swear I didn't say anything negative or mean. I just stated what worked for us. Well the yahoo group monitor apparently, and not what I would call infrequently, must have misplaced my post. So here goes. In our case we have an Innova Longarm system and that is what is being reference. The question regarding thread tension came up again. I made reference to 'search' the group and numerous ideas and suggestions would be related. I went on to say...this is what worked for us and although not recommended by the manufacturer our methods utilize 'industry standard' equipment and methods learned from other Innova owners. Briefly...thread tension is a can win the battles but not the war.

Our battles have been won by using 'M' Standard Steel bobbins, manufacturer recommended bobbin cases and industry standard bobbin cases manufactured by Haya, available through numerous internet sources at less than one third the cost of those recommended. DUH...We have tried all 'metal' and plastic tension inserts (bobbin washers)  in both cases and found our best results without any inserts at all. We are liberal with oil, clean out the hook assembly at every bobbin change with brush and canned air and oil the felt washer (Rotary Tension Assembly) once for every quilt. Each customer quilt gets a new needle and normally a volunteer quilting needle is changed after the second quilt.  We have also followed the procedure published by the manufacturer and reset to the factory settings the Rotary Tension Assembly.

We use a Towa Bobbin Case Tension Gauge, religiously and always run a test strip off to the side of the quilt top loaded on the machine. We view the bottom with a mirror and flashlight. Apparently many go to the extra expense and effort to install a camera and lighting so they can view the 'bottom' thread on a screen. We have found if you run a check before starting the quilt, checking the bottom when in becomes 'clearly' visible after each advance and you know the nuances of your machines sounds and have a feel for what's right and wrong during the process in conjunction with using quality products like those produced by Superior Threads, well your tension battles will be few.

So here it is one more time...on our blog...for a few to see...and the many on the group not to see. We do think outside the box, we try different ideas, devices, techniques and apply what we find that works to produce what we feel is a quality product. We believe we have the best made longarm on the market, have gone through hundreds of trials and tribulations to get to this stage. Knowing full well it is a long journey and one we have only just begun.

No we don't do exactly like someone else wants us to do...number one...for us it's not affordable. We'll talk about that in another post. But we stay within industry standards, maintain our equipment above and beyond what is called for and search out the best quality products to use in our quilting that fits within our budget.

So quilt till you wilt...we do...
(Left) Haya Case and Steel Bobbins / (Right) Manufacturer Suggested  was not a good combo
for us. We still use the manufacturer suggested Bobbin Case.

The Haya on the right has a different throat (opening) we have found no
other differences except the $15 compared to the $49
The most accurate and least expensive bottom thread tension checking unit on the market. Or you could explain to your three year old what to look for and have him/her just walk under and check.
I think I mentioned Superior Thread...well this chart is on their web site. The simplest explanation I've ever seen.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ask Why I QOV

That is what the button says on my Guild ID Lanyard

Well  let me give you a couple of reasons...

Do I really need to say anything else? I don't think so.

Adding the recipients name to the Award

Commander Constance & Guild Member with a recipient

Guild Members l to r...Lee, Constance, me blocked out by Elaine, that's normal, Davis and Gussie
CVMA Members that escorted QOV's to Cedar Grove and presented check.

Gussie adding name

Elaine and Constance adding recipients name to QOV

Davis adding name
I did a few myself...
So that's why!!!

Quilt till you wilt...we do...