Thursday, May 29, 2014

Suggestions/Comments Are Welcome!

I could use your expertise, fellow quilters!  Lately I have become very interested in the idea of having a machine quilting frame here at the house.  I have been bitten by the bug and can not stop itching.  Clearly I need a reality check.

I had a brief look at commercially available frames, like the Grace Company products, and they seem very expensive for what you get.  That's without the headache/tax burden of shipping that frame from the US or UK to Ireland.  It just will not work.

I also had a look online for a used frame within Ireland, but they do not seem to be currently available.  I will keep looking, though.

So then I started looking for websites to build our own frame.  I found Richard's site that provides a plan for do it yourself-ers.  The plans seem generally do-able, are well explained and are PACKED full of photos which (as we all know) makes life a whole lot easier.  

One of Richard's happy customers.

I am hoping you can help me answer a few questions that are bouncing around in my head before I go any further:

1. Do you have a quilting frame in your house?  If so, do you use it regularly or is it taking up space?  What do you like/dislike about it?

2. What length is your frame?  I was thinking of 80-90 inches - does that seem reasonable or insane?  

3. Do you need access to get to either side of your frame?  Do you quilt from the middle to one edge, then from the middle to the other edge?

4. What machine are you using on your frame and what is it's harp depth?  I'm thinking of using an old 1956 Singer 201K with an 8 inch harp.  Does that sound OK?

5. Is there anything you'd change or modify on your frame?  If we're going to make it ourselves, we can adapt the plans to improve with your suggestions? 

I sincerely thank you for your help and suggestions.  Anything you want to volunteer to help me make this decision is appreciated!


Strawberry Patch said...

Don't get a grace frame, they flex too much. New England quilters are wonderful.....but if you are looking to build your own then get as solid poles as you can, you don't want them flexing when you put the quilt under tension.
I have a 100ish inch frame, good for quilts upto 90" as you want some acess either side. Incorporating leaders onto the poles really helps with loading the quilt.
As far as machines go, get the largest throat space you can and the fastest machine, you may find the 201k is too slow and you'll finding your quilting quite artificial in terms of movement, you want it to be able to flow out if you and not be restricted by the speed of the machine. You'll also need to be able to drop the feed dogs to Fmq. I work from edge to edge and back again on my frame. Remember as you progress down the quilt it will start taking up room in the throat of the machine as it gets rolled onto the take up rail. So you may start with 8" but end with as little as 1" if it's a large quilt.
Hope this all helps! If you want to know anything else just let me know :-)

Betsy Grey Crafts said...

I think it's a great idea and I'll be following you with interest. I'd love a frame myself so no chance of a reality check from me :-). Thanks for the link to the build it yourself website... I might show it to the Mr!!

Judith, Belfast said...

Have you spoken with Janette/River Fabrics? I know she's interested in selling her Gammel.Jxo

Leanne said...

Make that call Judith suggested and just get a long arm. I love my Millenium, I bet they would ship to Ireland. The tricks with the frames, at least as I see it are first that it is sturdy, like Emily says. And easy to level. Mine is on a hydraulic lift so I can adjust the height, which is a great bonus as different parts of your body are tired. You will want to be able to get at three sides of the frame, mine had one end flush with the wall and that works fine. You need room to work on both sides standing up, it does not have to be a lot more than that. I use up 10 feet (length of frame) by 6 feet from the wall and then about 2.5 feet on the front side.

kathy said...

I had the opportunity to try out an Innova long arm quilting machine in a class last fall. For me, there is like a thousand people nearby who do long arm quilting. I tried it, loved it but I don't think its for me.

However for you, it doesn't sound like there are many long arm quilters in Ireland so you could be creating a good business for yourself.
Try out the different machines so you know what things are important.

kathy said...

I had the opportunity to try out an Innova long arm quilting machine in a class last fall. For me, there is like a thousand people nearby who do long arm quilting. I tried it, loved it but I don't think its for me.

However for you, it doesn't sound like there are many long arm quilters in Ireland so you could be creating a good business for yourself.
Try out the different machines so you know what things are important.

Trudi said...

I agree with everything Emily said, but if you can make that call that Judith suggested do it. When I get to work I'll email you too :)

Canadian Abroad said...

I'm just going to sit here, watch, listen and learn.

Unknown said...

I'm with Canadian Abroad - sit, watch & listen. I have been investigating the same thing. Not quite ready to buy yet but good luck with your search.

Terri said...

I have a New English Quilter frame too & I love it :-)

I have the 10' foot version but if I had the space I would def have bought the 12' foot as I tend to make large bed quilts.

I use my Janome 1600PQC on the frame. This is a straight stitch semi industrial super fast machine with a 9"throat… perfect for frame quilting. I work from edge to edge & then back again ( although I am a bit one sided & prefer to work from the left to the right!)
I have access on all four sides when I'm quilting which is useful especially when loading the quilt on the frame & checking the floating wadding layer …when I'm not quilting I push the (table) + frame back against the wall (small sewing room!) but you can dismantle it quickly & easily. I chose to buy the frame + the purpose built table from NEQ but you can just buy the frame if you prefer.
I have to admit if I had the pennies I'd rush out tomorrow & buy a longarm… my little hearts desire… but I haven't so I won't. In the meantime (haha!) I have my NEQ frame which I am Extremely Happy with :-)

Sasha said...

I have the grace Majestic steel frame, it doesn't look as pretty as some wooden frames but it won't warp!
It's set up at 10ft, it is also a few foot deep, but I use it a lot and it's not in the way. I imagine it is the same with all frames, a pain and tedious to set up, but now it's done I just get to enjoy it.
Frame size - the bigger the better, but don't forget you can do smaller ones sideways to give more quilting space. Or even load up more than one at a time.
I have access to all but the back of my machine.
8" would be a good start, but i think you'll run out of space pretty quickly on anything other than baby/crib size.
It's worth keeping an eye on ebay, I got a fantastic deal there, lots of people get them and then don't use them as much as they thought they might.

I would say though at the price of making one of Richards frame it would be a quick easy and cheap option to have a go and see what you think of it. If you like it and have the co-ordination then you could upgrade.

Erin @ Billy Button Design said...

I'm on the bench with you... Fancy a chocolate biscuit with that cuppa?

Erin @ Billy Button Design said...

I'm coming over when you get one.... Because I know the thought of getting one won't go away.

pennydog said...

I haven't got anything to say because I honestly don't know the answers but would love to know what you find out. And if you get one, add me to the list of customers!

Sharon J. Hughson said...

I have a stretched Juki (industrial machine) on a John Watts Frame which is made in Austrailia and was the least expensive in metal I found at the time at NQA in Columbus OH. I have a 10' frame, but you can't use all 10'feet. I don't like the short harp on my machine and the platform runs out before my 12" blocks and I have to roll to finish the blocks. I didn't have much money and my set up is probably under $4,000. I'm happy with it and yes, I can get to both sides. Good luck and do use the sturdiest poles you can.

Mrs.Giggles (Anna) said...

No reality check from me either; I'm moving to a bigger house so I get a sewing space for myself... My husband has an inkling of this reasoning but I've not confirmed or denied lol!

I will watch with bated breath and look forward to my turn ;)

the yellowhouse gardener said...

Hello there. I have a 30+ year old kenquilt mid arm with an 11 in throat. It came new-to-me with a 12 foot table. There have been a few comments so far that I can confirm and expand upon. First is to get the largest throat area you can on a machine. I have done one king size quilt on my machine and had almost no wiggle room to quilt in by the end. Just keep that in mind before purchasing a machine. Since the frame is independent of the machine I would recommend looking at each as a separate problem. For the machine others will likely have better advice. I love my old clunker and it does the trick for me. I make quilts to be loved not shown, so a little messy stitching doesn't bother me much. The table is something I can discuss in depth. First thing is the room size. Figure at least 4 to 8 feet larger than the finished length of your machine. I have a 12 foot table with one side against a wall. It is aggravating to walk all the way around and back when something isn't cooperating. Since quilting is my main hobby and I live alone mine takes up the entire living room and I use a spare bedroom as a sitting area. Next is the depth. Again you want at least 4 feet on each side (front and back) to give yourself room to adjust the quilt, load it, etc. Cramming the frame in a smaller area just makes it aggravating and that will lead to it not being used. The front and back space can be lessened if the table can be easily shifted. But make certain it will stay stationary unless you want it to move. My frame is on felt moving pads so it can be slid around. My frame is old and made of very heavy and sturdy angle iron. The bed is particle board so the thing weighs a ton. It is easy to have a lighter set up become top heavy and prone to tipping over, so be careful of that. I looked at Richards designs when I was researching getting a frame (before I happened on my kenquilt on craigslist) and found his designs very interesting. I am still looking at them and will likely use them to modify my table. The last piece I can think of is the conduit. I had a horrible time finding adequate pipe after I moved. Since 12 foot pipe is hard to transport it stayed behind. I tried the home improvement stores, but traditional conduit bends too easily. I finally found a pipe and steel place that has what I need and can cut it too size. Be aware of that issue when looking at the length of your table. Hope this helps.

Catrin Lewis said...

I was really lucky and somehow managed to source a second hand New Englsh Quilter complete with Juki. All I can really do is repeat what's been said above - make sure you have as large a throat space as possible and it is nice to have as much space as possible around the frame.

I haven't used mine half as much as I would like but there are many reasons for this - mainly that I have two young children and work full time. The other reason is space constraints. I only have space to set the frame up in the attic. It's quite tight up there and is unbelievably cold in the winter - I didn't touch the frame from oct last year till last weekend!

One thing that I don't like though is that the sewing machine faces away from you (if that makes any sense?) I don't think that this is the case with the Gracie.

prsd4tim2 said...

I enjoyed reading this discussion. I would love a long arm, but the only place in my house to put one is the living room, and husband says it doesn't go with the decor. LOL. Guess it'll have to wait until I move (which won't be any time soon.)

Camille said...

I just got a Handi Quilter II but haven't had a chance to really get it set up and going. I have a Brother PQ1500 and so far I've used the hell out of it!

Katy Cameron said...

Looking forward to seeing what you end up with :o)

Tina Short said...

Interesting reading all the comments. I have a sweet 16 - mainly because I dont have space for anything larger. I love it but obviously there is no frame involved and the quilt still has to be manhandled around the table.
Have you read Tia Curtis's blog? She went from quilting on a domestic machine to 2 (or even 3) longarms in a very short space of time - she does fab work but she did have an empty garage and now has a basement. She might be able to offer tips.

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