Sunday, July 11, 2021

Longarm Quilting for Charity AKA Park Place Quilting

Open studio day to welcome Thomas
The CCQ guild has a strong comfort quilt or charity quilt program. A member quilted about 500 quilts in two years to help the comfort group keep up with all the tops the members make! Unfortunately, he had cancer. He passed away earlier this year which left a huge hole in the comfort quilt program. He bequeathed his longarm to the guild. At first, the discussion was about selling the longarm; but, then a member stepped forward. Alvera G. not only offered to house the machine in her garage studio next to her longarm; but, she also offered to begin a longarm outreach program. 

The stitching design
Because there was no budget for the machine, Alvera asked for donations to move Thomas to his present location. In a couple of hours, guild members provided enough donations to move the machine as well as a give him a spa check up. There were even a few dollars left which will be used to purchase thread and other items to ensure the quilting continues.

To introduce us to Thomas, Alvera held an open studio day. In the open studio day photo, Alvera is wearing the blue vest. Bev W. is behind Alvera. Alvera and another guild member, Su H., are  training members how to use the longarm by quilting projects for the comfort group. There are about 20 guild members who are interested in participating in the longarm outreach program.

This week, I spent two days in training. Thomas is named after the man who donated the machine to the guild. The man's last name was Park. In his studio, he had the sign Park Place Quilting which Alvera also moved to her studio.  Thomas, the longarm, is an Innova paired with an AutoPilot computer software system. Alvera has the same longarm system. In fact, Alvera was the influence behind Thomas, the quilter, purchasing this particular package about eighteen months ago.

My first day was full of a lot of information! I practiced loading a quilt and setting up the parameters for quilting the quilt. I selected a quilt pattern and set it to the quilt parameters. I chose a thread. I practiced how to set the start and stop so the computer mirrored the project. With Alvera's help, I managed to almost quilt two small quilts. There was thread breakage. I "got" to learn how to stop and start when that happens. I also got to learn about rethreading the machine. Unfortunately, we weren't able to trouble shoot the tension issue that would happen about half way across the pass. At the end of the day, I didn't feel like l could remember the different processes. My body was tired and my brain was exhausted!

Thomas stitching the design
With any tool, it takes working with it to understand it so you get the most out of your efforts. I realize, I need time on the machine to get through the learning curve. Because of the technical issues, my brain focused more on the why the thread was breaking and why the mouse wouldn't work rather than on the process of the quilting.

Bev W. foreground and me quilting our projects
Day two was a much better experience. Bev and I carpooled. Riding together was a great opportunity to share our previous experiences. I wrote notes as I worked through the process. I'm a tactile learner. I have to experience the process and be immersed in it before I can learn it. I was pleasantly surprised at how much information I had retained from the previous day. I finished the quilt I had started the previous day and quilted a third quilt. (I didn't take a picture of the second quilt!) 

For the second quilt, I chose a different pattern but kept the same thread color. I still needed coaching; but, I was often able to follow Alvera's prompting when I got stuck with how to accomplish the next step. I can see that computerized longarm quilting would be fun. Day two was enjoyable. (Alvera purchased a new keyboard/mouse combination which solved the mouse issue I had encountered the previous day. She found rethreading the machine solved the thread breaking/tension issue.)

String piecing strips
My plan is to support the longarm outreach group one to two days per month for the next two years. It takes me about an hour to drive to the site and a little longer to return because of area traffic. When I asked Alvera how many quilts the longarm outreach group had quilted she said 24. This is an impressive number because the program is in its infancy. I think last week was the third week, Alvera and Su had been training operators. 

I'm curious how other guilds who have charity programs, get their tops quilted. I'm also curious if there are other guilds that have a longarm dedicated to charity work and that offer training. Please leave me a comment and share your knowledge!

While I would say I was an advanced domestic machine free motion quilter, I have had limited experience on a longarm. I quilted one quilt on Gerrie T.'s Gammill using a fan pantograph about 2007. Around that time, I basted three quilts on that same Gammill. The next time I quilted on a longarm was when I put out a plea for help to quilt my dad's star quilt. I also used a pantograph. I so appreciated Nancy P. lending time and expertise on her Gammill machine. (My dad's request came a few days after his doctors told him his illnesses would likely kill him in about 90 days. His quilt is the quickest I have completed a project. I started it in March 2015 and gifted it to my dad in May 2015. He used his "special request quilt" until he passed on December 24, 2016.)

Learning how to quilt on a longarm is a whole different skill set. I'm willing to put in the time to learn that skill! I'll spend some time over the next couple of weeks reviewing the notes that I wrote. Thank you again to Alvera for opening her studio to Thomas and for providing great training sessions! This was goal number seven of my July goals.

Since my last post, I also pieced some strings to make progress on my One Monthly Goal (OMG). I'm linking to Oh Scrap/Quilting is More Fun Than Housework. Please check out the link and enjoy viewing the scrappy projects people are stitching!

Regarding COVID:

Worldwide: 185M cases; 4M deaths

United States: 33.8M cases; 607K deaths

Oregon: 210K cases; 28,222 deaths

My library has extended the hours it is open. When I visited last Friday, patrons and staff were maskless. Children under 12 were also maskless. In Oregon, the percentage of fully vaccinated adults is 54.6 percent and the percentage of partially vaccinated adults is 59.3 percent. The delta variant of COVID continues to wreck havoc with the unvaccinated. 


The Joyful Quilter said...

What a wonderful gift to your guild, Terry. Both Thomas's donation of the longarm and your participation in the Charity Quilting program are SEW generous!

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

What a fun new toy to play with. You will become a pro quickly. But it can be daunting at first.

Thanks for linking up with Oh Scrap! said...

Joy, It takes me a l o n g time to get a quilt quilted on my domestic machine. Knowing how long it takes me to quilt, I've donated finished quilts. I don't donate many quilts and since I like the quilting process, I thought that I might be able to provide more help if I got trained. Who knows, maybe I'll finally figure out a way to fit a longarm in my space. . . .after all!!! said...

Cynthia, it is a FUN toy. It is amazing at how straightforward it is to program a pattern for the computer to stitch. I think I'm a long way from being a pro. . .I'm thinking I'd like to get "there" one day though!

Rebecca Grace said...

That is so cool, Terry! I love the story behind this new long arm outreach program, and I love that not only is your guild finishing more charity quilts this way but also that guild members are able to have this opportunity to learn long arm quilting on such a fantastic machine.

In answer to your question about how other guilds get their charity tops quilted: The Charlotte Quilters Guild has a number of members who are long arm quilters. Our Outreach committee puts kits together that members can sign out and then choose to piece the top only, piece and quilt only, or do the entire quilt including the binding. Some members enjoy making charity quilts themselves from start to finish, either quilting with their walking foot or free motion on their domestic machines. Others enjoy just piecing the tops. Other members sign out someone else's finished quilt top to do the quilting, and it's not only long arm quilters like me who do that, but domestic machine quilters in our guild also enjoy honing their free motion or ruler skills on charity tops that have been pieced by someone else. Finally, amazing as it is to me, we do have some members who actually enjoy BINDING quilts (?!!) and they will sign out a quilt that has been pieced and quilted, just needing the binding. Somehow it all works out for us.

Janice Smith said...

What a generous man Thomas must have been, and how happy he would be to see his work continue. How generous, too, is the member who is instructing guild members in its use and housing it in her garage. One can only imagine how many charity quilts will get quilted by the trained volunteers. This sounds like a wonderful guild.

In the guilds to which I belong, members usually quilt the quilts that they put together on their own domestic machines.

One sad correction: the horrific Covid death toll in the US stands at 607,000. said...

Thank you, Rebecca for letting me know how your Outreach committee does the charity process. It sounds similar to ours. I don't know; but, I think that the longarm quilters weren't reimbursed for thread or needles. I know that Thomas donated the supplies he used when he quilted. Not all long armers are able to continue to donate everything all of the time. I know how you feel about the binding. I have a friend who takes quilts to bind. I'm grateful; but, you won't likely see me taking that project on either!

I hope that the longarm outreach group will continue for many years to come! said...

Janice, thank you for the correction about the U.S. death toll from COVID. I wonder how many deaths would have been prevented had the people been vaccinated. I wish more people in the guild would make a quilt or top for charity. . .or take some to bind or be like me. . .quilt some on the longarm. There is a huge need for quilts!