So I began quilting my daughter’s pinwheel quilt, using the Pfaff GrandQuilter Hobby 1200, and the Handiquilter II fram.

Here’s a picture of it set up:

1981867_10152300198344854_4890780438178564550_nThis set up works OK. There’s not a lot of throat space, so you end up rolling the  quilt every couple of minutes to finish the blocks.  Also, there are little rails that you tape to the table, they have seams in them, which you hit and that causes bumps in your quilting lines. Talk about frustrating.  Oh here’s the whole quilt top before:

1897763_10152299413279854_3388219386853177767_nI chose a couple of heart quilting patterns, which look beautiful when I can do them well, which is more rare than I would like.  But here’s a couple close up shots of my quilting:

10330355_10152320878164854_1391625882755657191_nAnd

10172836_10152300243609854_6111191558902601459_nI went back and put in tighter meandering (stipple) quilting, to try to make the hearts pop a bit more.  Anyway, all of this quilting brought me back to about 10 years ago when I bought the Pfaff…I had been considering a long arm quilting machine, but couldn’t justify the expense or the room it would take up.  Good thing I didn’t buy it, I’ve moved a dozen times in the intervening years…what a pain that would have been to haul around.

But now I’m settled in the new place, I plan on being here for 8 years at least.  And I have the dedicated sewing palace…and I can afford it.  And I just so happen to have a friend who let me come over and test drive hers. OMG it was fantastic.

Like the HandiQuilter II frame, a great deal of effort goes into preparing the quilt to be quilted.  You don’t just throw it up on the frame and go to town.

You spend a good deal of time ironing the top and back, then pinning them to the leaders, making sure the leaders are on straight, etc, etc.  There is a lot of precision that goes into it simply because if you are crooked, your quilt will roll up uneven, you will get wrinkles, and then puckers, or you’ll end up with a top that goes off the backing.  So yeah, it’s better than spending an evening on the floor with safety pins, but it’s still a lot of effort.

Wow, though. The difference in control and execution, soooooo huge.  I immediately fell in love with long arm quilting machines all over again.

Then I began the research for the one I would buy.

I’m cheap (have I mentioned that before?), so I immediately started out at the low end of the spectrum. But before I knew it I was eying $15K machines and thinking “that’s a good deal!”  GAH!  I went round and round and I keep coming back to A-1 quilting machines.  I have yet to try them out, hoping to do that in June after the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo, which I’ll be attending.  Gonna take a class on pant-making.  😀  Looking forward to that.

Well, just as I had resigned myself to waiting a month, trying all the machines, and THEN picking the one I wanted, a used A-1 came to my attention…for a really decent price. Omgosh, I might not be able to hold off until the show!  Everything keeps pointing back to the A-1, but I know I should test drive all the machines before I buy one.  Unfortunately the machine is 10 hours away, so I won’t be able to test drive that one before machine a decision about it.  Once I leave the house with the Uhaul, I’m kinda all in, ya know?

Anyway – during the process of this, it dawned on me that should I get good enough, yes, like many others before me, I could start finishing tops for others.  This would be interesting, since I’m pretty nervous to take on work for other people.  But more to the point, starting a small business doing this in the evenings would help me pay off the machine faster!  So…Quilting the Carolinas was born!  I have my business plan, and the social media phase is pretty well under foot.  Have the website, have the facebook page, have the twitter account, have the email account.  I’m pretty good to go. Oh, got the EIN and registered the name with the gov’t.  Just have to finish the paperwork with the state (Tuesday).  I’m pretty excited.

I will give myself 6 months of practicing on the machine before I start taking on clients work, and if I’m not doing top of the line quality work, I won’t take anyone’s money.  I’m struggling with my perfectionism with the quilt on the HandiQuilter II right now, so I can’t imagine how out of control I’ll be if I’m working for other people.

Anyway, that’s my huge news.  I’ve started a business doing something I love, part time, on the side.  Still have my day job, which I adore and won’t be quitting any time soon.  Wish me luck! I’ll need it!

Donna

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