Skip to main content

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I quilted! There is a lovely quilt shop near my mom's house that offers a Gammill longarm quilting machine for rent. So, I took my flimsy, quilt back and batting along when we went to visit her. Before you can use the machine, you have to take a one-on-one class where they teach you about the machine and different quilting patterns. After the instruction, you're left with some time to practice the patterns.

I went back another day to do my quilt. A very minimal amount of the class was about loading the quilt on the machine, so most of that was new on the second visit. I don't remember exactly how all the quilt parts are put in the machine, but I do know I thought it was quite genius. The quilt back and top are attached to separate rollers that keep the fabric straight and taut. The quilt sandwich gets rolled or unrolled in order to quilt certain parts.

Quilting on a Gammill longarm machine

You stand at the end of the machine and move it instead of the quilt. The speed that the machine stitches is regulated by how fast you move it. So the stitches are always uniform regardless of your speed. This is very different from home sewing machines and I really liked this feature! It might be tough to go back to free motion quilting on my own machine.

Quilting on a Gammill longarm machine

You work from left to right across a 20" (approximately - I think the machines come in different sizes) section of the quilt. My instructor suggested I work in 18" blocks - first from top to bottom, then bottom to top, still maintaining the left to right pattern as well. When that 20" section is complete, you roll it up and start on the next one.

Quilting on a Gammill longarm machine

For most of the class, I controlled the machine with the upright handles. Then we got into some finer, smaller work and my instructor introduced the smaller, lower handles. (They were turned up behind the machine initially). I found it so much easier to control the machine using these. I didn't go back to the larger handles after that.

Quilting on a Gammill longarm machine

I used this "water" pattern over the whole quilt. It was my favorite of the ones I learned in the class and it was also the same as what was used in the quilt pattern. You can also see in the picture above where some of the finished quilt is rolled up.

Quilting on a Gammill longarm machine

The only part of the experience that was less than ideal was the fact that the thread kept breaking. It was a bit of a puzzlement to my instructor, but she was very patient about fixing it each time. After awhile I was able to rethread the uncomplicated part of the machine myself and get going again a little quicker. I got pretty good at securing the thread and retracing my stitches to make sure it was secure (that's what I'm doing in the picture above).

I'm really happy with how it turned out. This afternoon I attached the binding, but I'm going to finish it by hand, so it might be awhile before I have a completed quilt to show you.


  1. The colors of your quilt are yummy! It's gorgeous!

  2. WOW it looks amazing! and it sounds like a much better and more fun way to finish such a big quilt. I like the pattern you used.

  3. I'm not a quilter but I love looking at them and yours is fantastic. Wonderful colors and lovely quilt design. A friend of mine bought one of these very machines for home (and eventually home business) use but what a clever idea to rent the time on one. I'm going to share your post with her.

  4. That is a pretty quilt! I have never heard of one of those machines before, it certainly sounds neat.

  5. What a neat experience to use this type of machine to finish your quilt!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Shopping Bags

Most stores in our town charge you a nickel for a plastic bag when you check out. I love this practice and the way that it encourages people to bring their own cloth bags or reuse their plastic ones. My habit of bringing along bags to the grocery store is well established, but I used to find myself stuck at places like the drug store or farmer's market or other impromptu stops. Then I picked up a bag at an upscale kitchen goods store that rolls up quite compactly. Now I keep that in my purse, so I always have a bag with me.

I like my bag so much that I wanted to replicate it for the art sale. The final result is a hybrid of the bag I purchased and these that I made last year.

The bag is a little bigger than the average plastic grocery bag. The velcro tab is used to keep the bag rolled up, but also can close the top of the bag when it is full.

Most of the bag is a single layer of cotton, but the handles are faced. There is a double row of top-stitching around both edges of the handl…

Grocery Bags

More gifts!

These are just like the still-all-too-ubiquitous plastic grocery bags, but they're fabric. 

I followed this tutorial and you actually use a plastic bag as a pattern.  The instructions are very good and include a pocket so that the bag can be folded up and is easy to keep in a purse or a car's glove box.

Mostly for the sake of the gift recipients, here's how to fold up the bag....

1.  Lay the bag pocket side down and fold it length-wise using the edges of the pocket as a guide.

2.  Fold it in half, aligning the top of the handles with the bottom of the bag.

3.  Fold in half again and then reach into pocket with your hand and turn the whole thing (pocket included) inside out.

Happy shopping!

Christmas Table Runner

S asked me to make a Christmas table runner for her shop. Her only suggestions about what it should look like were "not too fussy or busy."

I decided on a simple applique of three trees on a linen background. The runner is 60" long and 13" wide.

For the trees, I used a lightweight fusible product and then straight-stitched around the edges. I like the raw-edge applique look, but don't use it very often.

The border and backing is an apple green color that didn't photograph well. I was happy with the mitered corners, but they don't look so good (a little lumpy) in the pictures. I do really like the narrow folded border inside the green one. I only had a small amount of the striped fabric, but think this was a good way to use it.

I was so happy with this when I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but now that I'm looking at the pictures, I'm less than thrilled. I'm really hoping that it is just the pictures, but it looks wrinkly and rumpled to me…