Adventures in Longarm Quilting Research

I wish I could say my longarm quilting machine research has been a wonderful experience, but I can’t quite bring myself to say that.

Last weekend I did my longarm rental training. A few days later I rented a longarm machine for four hours. The entire process was a $*&# show beginning with the multiple attempts to book my training and rental time, right to the end of my rental time. But I DID get my quilt done. If I quilted it by hand, it would take me a year! Isn’t that pretty stitching?

I admit that I am not really too upset about all the things that went wrong with this rental process. I was able to load up on stories and ideas that I am fairly certain will make it into my new book.

Sorry…but as the saying goes “if you didn’t want me to write bad things about you, you should have behaved better”!

For example:

  • This company doesn’t answer their phone. I’m not sure why they advertise two different phone numbers, but they don’t answer either one. I think I discovered the reason when I spent FOUR HOURS in their studio and never once heard a phone ring. Perhaps they don’t know that you can turn the phone ringer on???
  • They also don’t return email messages and Facebook messaging is hit and miss. Mostly miss.
  • After being PROMISED at the training session that I didn’t need to purchase batting that day for my rental just a few days later, I showed up at my rental time to discover that they didn’t have any batting. Bad enough discovery…but several of the staff suggested I could just run down the road to another store. In fact, there were two within a 10 minute drive. No big deal in their eyes. I can’t even begin to tell you what a big deal it was to me…you’ll have to wait and read about it in the book when I get it written!

The experience could have been worse, because I WAS able to get my quilting completed. Really, it turned out to be exactly the research I needed! After all, a story is not much of a story if the hero/heroine just sails through their story.

I hope this company is able to solve their enormous communication and customer service problems. They have quite a cool business model that I believe has enormous potential. Unfortunately potential is useless without motivation.

I’m Renting a Long Arm Machine!

I’m renting a long arm quilting machine this month! I can hardly wait. First comes the workshop to learn how to use the machine. Then I have rental time booked, when I will be quilting the quilt I made last year for the trailer. Here is a picture of the top. You can hardly see my mistakes from this distance.

Why am I so excited? Well, partly because I really want to have the new quilt finished and in the trailer for us to use this year. But mostly because this is research for my new book!

In my new book, Elsie has been scrimping and saving to start her dream quilting business. Although she is an accomplished sewist and quilter, she has done all of her sewing with a domestic sewing machine and by hand. She needs to learn about long arm quilting machines so she knows what to buy for her new studio. She also needs to learn how to use one – and then get good enough to offer custom quilting to her potential customers.

So much to learn! What do you think I should be watching out for? What can you tell me about your experiences with a long arm? Please put it in the comments below this post.

Can you believe that a NEW long arm machine with bells and whistles is about the same price as a car? Wow. Elsie needs a second job. She goes to work for a quilt shop that offers long arm machine rentals. Elsie is a straight shooter, so she tells her new boss Joan what she’s up to.

Joan agrees to help Elsie in her quest to become self employed, if Elsie agrees to put her quilting and sewing skills to work. She puts Elsie to work in the store, and sets her up to teach sewing and quilting classes in the back of the store.

I’ll post an excerpt from the book soon. I’m still working on the story line and characters. And the research. Speaking of research, I think I need to buy more fabric. In fact, I’m pretty sure I need more fabric. Catch you later!

Quilting Novel – The Beginning

I am writing a novel about quilting. I won’t say much more than that for now, because the plot is still evolving. If you like quilting, or stories about quilting, I invite you to join me on this writing adventure.

I will be posting here often about my progress. My writing goal is 2500 each writing day – but I don’t write every day.  Right now most of what I am writing won’t even make it into the final version. Character sketches, descriptions, and research results all count toward my word goal.

I wrote this story the first time in 2013 during NaNoWriMo. I managed to write over 50,000 words – but it was done very badly! Now I am tackling the job of rewriting the story and hopefully finding some content in the first draft that can be salvaged.

It is possible that three stories will come out of that initial mess. If you’d like to ride along with me on this writing journey, please do! I will be posting questions here and/or on Facebook to help me as I research how and why people do what they do.

For example – this week I posted a poll on Facebook about how people would act in a B&B. If you stayed in a B&B and saw a squeegee when you stepped in to shower, would you use it? Or would you feel like the fee you paid to stay at the B&B covers the cost of cleaning? Feel free to put your answer in the comments, the Facebook poll is only open for a few days.

There is no right or wrong answer, unless the character I am writing about chooses the wrong thing. And sometimes a little mistake in character can ruin the flow of a good story.

So, please join me on this adventure! Hopefully at the end I will produce authentic characters who will entertain you well.