A few months ago, I purchased a Juki TL 2200 Virtuoso Pro, 18″ long arm quilting machine and with it came a free reality check. After teaching free motion quilting on domestic sewing machines for the last several years, my confidence was running high. How difficult could this be?
The first thing that I noticed when trying to long arm quilt is the sensation of having the grace of a pig trying to ice skate. Yikes! I was wobbly. My expectations were, after quilting a few small charity quilts, I would be quickly back to the top of my quilting game. Then reality set in.
I found it very difficult to follow the advice I give my students when teaching free motion quilting. Slow down and practice, practice, practice. Start out with small projects like place mats and charity quilts. Be patient. Nope, not me. Soon after quilting a few small projects, I loaded a mostly black, double size bed quilt on to the frame, quilting black on black and going half blind in the process. How quickly I had forgotten the difficulty and time it took to learn a new skill. It was so unrealistic for me to believe that guiding a 350 pound sewing machine on a quilt top was a similar quilting skill as pushing and pulling fabric under a needle. That said, I am still happy I purchased it. I am bonding with my new machine named Zelma Lou, after my maternal grandmother. One thing for sure, in the art of quilting there is always something new to learn. Perseverance and patience will eventually pay off. Practice, practice, practice.