Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My New Machine - The Adventure Begins!

I began quilting around ten years ago, and at first, like most people, the part I enjoyed was making quilt tops - picking out colors/prints/textures, and then cutting and piecing those fabrics together into a quilt top. I completed several quilts by hand with needle and thread, and I loved (and still love) hand work.

But in my eagerness to dive deeper into my new hobby, I wanted to move faster, so I started using my sewing machine's walking foot to quilt simply with straight lines. For a while, that kept me sated, but then I decided to take a free-motion quilting class. I dropped the feed dogs, put on a darning foot, and went to work. I was terrible at it! The teacher gave us a template and encouraged us to "trace" it with our needle, and I was convinced that I would NEVER be able to make anything attractive out of that. But in the coming weeks, I gathered the bravery to start stippling. And for a time, that was actually enough for me. I stippled everything!

Then I met Craftsy. It's a website that hosts online classes for ALL types of crafts and hobbies, and boy howdy, I fell in love! My new role model was Angela Walters. She opened up my mind to a whole new world. Between Craftsy and Pinterest, I started developing a real passion for free motion quilting. For a long time, I was adamant that I could do everything I wanted on my domestic sewing machine. But five years later, I was faced with another new adventure - motherhood.

About a year-and-a-half ago, with two babies under two, and completely bewitched by video footage of my online heroes - Angela Walters, Judi Madsen, Natalia Bonner, Deloa Jones, Lisa Calle, Karen McTavish - I came to the realization that I would NOT be satisfied on my domestic machine any longer. The speed, the precision, the techniques available to a longarmer were a must-have for this naptime mommy-quilter. After a lot of soul searching, deep discussion with my husband, and analysis of our finances, we decided that I needed to be a longarmer and started to save.

I first test drove a longarm quilting machine at a craft expo (Creative Stitches) in Calgary in October 2014. There were several models there, and being an over-analyzer, my research began. By May 2015, I had made my decision about make and model, and a date was in sight when we would have funds available after we sold a load of cattle.

At the Heritage Park Festival of Quilts, I placed my order for an APQS Lenni with endearing and nurturing APQS rep, Joanne Flamand. APQS was a brand that I had come to respect through all the reviews I'd read and research I had done. And their Lenni was the most affordable way for me to get in the game, especially since they were having a sale on this smallest member of the APQS family. Lenni is pretty simple, and that suits me fine. I am strictly interested in free motion quilting - all hand-guided, self-propelled. I did not care for many of the fancier features of the higher-end models. And as a 5-ft-nothing girl, my arm span didn't really require the extra throat space of a bigger machine.

My order was placed with the APQS factory in Iowa on June 1, 2015, and the waiting began! Due to the Lenni sale, the factory got back-logged, and with the 4th of July holiday, they were additionally slowed down. Then one of their suppliers had a back-order on one/some of the parts needed for the Lenni tables.

Finally my machine was shipped on July 22 - via ABS on a tractor-trailer. By Sunday, the 26th it was in Calgary, being handed over to Rosenau Transport to deliver it to my house. But Rosenau failed to file the paperwork, and they sat on my shipment for three more days! The truck came on Thursday - two boxes short. Apparently ABS had accidentally left them on a dock, and because they had gotten separated from their original shipment, they ended up getting held up in customs for 7 more days! They finally cleared on Thursday, August 6, and ABF handed the last two boxes over to Rosenau. But their dock workers inadvertently loaded them on a truck bound for Red Deer - ACCKKKKK! They finally arrived the following day, and AT LAST I am a longarmer!

Eric was away for several days, but undaunted, I got to work setting up my new machine. Got Neighbor Joe to come help me move the 12-foot boxes down to the basement, and let the TV raise my children for the next several hours. By 1am that Saturday night, I was quilting! I probably would have sailed right on through the night, if I hadn't been signed up to play the piano at church the next day. Does the world really go on turning when I have a new longarm quilting machine to lose myself in?

Lenni and I are getting to know each other and figuring out our dance. I think this is going to be a beautiful relationship!

Truck pulling up! 

Notice the capable helper for unloading the pallet. 

I tried to start assembling without the missing two boxes, but they contained the parts needed for "Step One" in the assembly manual. I had to leave them just sitting there, waiting, for the next week+!

I loved the red bow that came on it, and the checklist with factory workers' initials on it.

Practice quilts and customer quilts just piling up and waiting!

FINALLY! The remaining two boxes. I was so excited to answer the door, I screamed at the top of my lungs and hugged the truck driver!

I had some really good help setting up the machine. 

Set it up all by myself - pretty proud of that!

Before I could start quilting, I fitted the leaders with a pocket to hold dowels for my homemade leader grips - I used rope light mounting channel. Watch for future blog tutorials!

I LOVE my handles. I agonized over my decision between the Lenni and the next bigger model, the Lucey, and one of the reasons was the handles. A few days in, and I LOVE these new Lenni handles with rocker switches. 


  1. Congratulations as a new Lenni owner! These photos are your first practice pieces????? You are already amazing! I can't wait to see what you do on a real quilt! Happy quilting! Bev

    1. Thanks! You are in Water Valley?? We spent an enjoyable evening there last fall, playing on the great playground by the old school building while my husband was out moose hunting. Love your business name... Almost like we match!

  2. Carrie, I don't think you have any idea how excited I am for you!! Welcome to the family!!!

    1. I don't think YOU have any idea how much I look up to you! Quilters. D church piano players... We are kindred spirits!

  3. I am very happy with my small stationary stool. I don't like though big office chairs and I would have to buy one to quilt on this. https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/86706718/thumbs/best-sewing-machine-for-quilting-choosing-the-quilting-sewing-machine

  4. What a story of getting your longarm delivered! My first one was brought to me by the owner and they set it up with my husband, gave me 30 minutes of instruction when I got home from school, and waved goodbye. I have to say your first day of quilting looks a lot better than mine did! Mine was 20 years earlier, though, and it wasn't a Lenni. I'm thinking of buying one now, though. =)