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Help For Long-Arm Quilters posted: 6/8/2003
by Hallye Bone Printable Page
Category: Specialty Method: Machine
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Following America's acceptance of machine quilting, long-arm quilting is growing by leaps and bounds. But long-armers have special needs and concerns. Terry Kanyuck (pictured at right) of Labadie, MO., started the Gateway Area Long Armers, known as GALA. Twenty members meet quarterly in homes for encouragement and support, to develop and learn new skills, and to share new ideas and techniques for St. Louis area long-arm quilters and their machines. The group also has a website on Yahoo where the members can pose a question, a message, or a suggestion.

Terry explains that long-arm quilting differs from hand quilting and also from conventional sewing machine quilting in many ways, though it is hand guided. The big advantage is that the quilter has a larger space to work and a flat surface, too—no bunched up quilt stuffed under your sewing machine. There are two kinds of quilting machines—on some; the quilter sets a dial for the stitching speed. The speed must be reduced to turn corners or maneuver curves. A newer, more expensive machine stitches at the speed you move the needle. All long-arm machines have trouble with some fabrics—they just skip over slippery fabric. There are problems of thread breakage from burrs on the bobbin. Dust or lint can cause skipped stitches. The GALA girls can suggest solutions.

Like any guild, these girls share gadgets and creative ideas. One great suggestion to hold the long-arm machines' larger thread spools was to use a flea market find—a slanted magazine holder. Recently, Terry was puzzled about an appropriate pattern for a "tough" quilt. She posed the problem on the web site. The unanimous responses indicated that "Feathers" would look best. So, she quilted it with feathered plumes.

These long-armers are helping to dispel misconceptions about their craft. Many people think that the quilting designs are computer programmed. In reality, the machines are hand-guided and the operator has control over every stitch in a pattern. The "motel bedspread look" is out, too. Long-armers prefer poly-core cotton thread or 100% cotton thread instead of monofilament nylon thread that can get brittle and break or scratch. In the new age of long arm quilting, there are "no limits except your own imagination" as to how much quilting or what design or combination of designs that can be stitched on any quilt.

Terry's motto is "The four p's: practice, practice, practice. . . .and patience." As in many things, practice and patience are the keys to mastering the art of the long-arm quilting. Her brainstorm, the GALA l ong-armer group, is going a long way to encourage the members to practice. And, they teach patience as the members share their concerns and seek solutions. If you are a long-arm quilter, think about gathering others in your area to collectively learn about the versatility and capabilities of your long-arm machine.

2003 Hallye Bone

Pictured Above:
Terry Kanyuck, GALA Leader
"Braid" by Joyce O'Connell, quilted by Terry Kanyuck
"Pennsylvania Dutch" Pieced by Loretta Hunt, quilted by Terry Kanyuck
Gateway Long-Arm Group - Sandi Wagner, Ruth Geuers, Mary Camenite
"Pennyslvania Dutch" Detail by Loretta Hunt, quilted by Terry Kanyuck

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