Adjusting the Hopping Foot on the TinLizzie18

Posted by on March 24, 2017



There are a variety of presser feet to choose from for the TinLizzie18 long arm.   The original presser foot is used for general quilting and comes with each TinLizzie18.  In addition to the original foot there is a template foot that has a higher fence and a consistent clearance around the entire foot for even stitching around any template.  Also available is a minimal open toe applique presser foot that is small and allows the quilter to easily view the quilting area.

It is important that the feet are attached and adjusted properly.  If a presser foot is too high, it may cause skipped stitches or broken thread.  If it is placed too low it may cause the machine to become out of time.  To adjust the presser feet properly follow this procedure.

Place the foot so the needle will clear it when lowered and so the screw for securing the foot is loosely connecting the foot.  You should not tighten the screw at this time.  Move the machine away from any quilt that may be on the frame.  Lower the needle to its lowest point.  You may use the needle down option.  With the needle at its lowest point, place a dime under the edge of the presser foot to make sure the foot is at the proper height and tighten the screw.  Remove the dime and raise the needle. The presser foot should be at the optimal height.  This procedure should be followed any time a presser foot is placed on the TinLizzie18.

Please note that if there is a quilt with thick seams and the presser foot is having a difficult time clearing them you may raise the presser foot temporarily to avoid the thicker seams.  Then follow the adjustments above to return the presser foot to the optimal height.

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Basic Laser Light Positioning

Posted by on November 3, 2014

Tools you might want to have handy are a long ruler, chalk, sticky dots for markers and tape to hold the pattern flat. You might have a plastic panto protector, and that will hold the pattern instead as some machines are equipped with that.

Laser light positioning is one of the first things students want to learn. Most new owners of long arm machines will try an edge to edge pantograph first.


To center a block:

We must line up the center and all four corners of the paper with the actual patchwork block so these are the steps to do that.

  1. Mark with ruler and chalk an X across the patchwork  block to find the center of the patchwork block
  2. Place the needle over center of the X. Put the needle in down position if you wish to hold the position.
  3. Go to the back of the machine and place the paper pattern on frame of the machine. Line up the laser light dot with the center of the pattern. Stick some tape to the pattern for a temporary hold as we are going to check corners next and we might have to move the paper a little.
  4. Raise the needle.
  5. Roll the machine so that needle is now in one of the corners. Look down at the laser light and paper pattern and check if the corner is lining up with the pattern. You can tell which way you might have to rotate the block to match the corner.
  6. Check all four corners the same. Move the paper as needed.
  7. Re check the middle and then press the tape down for a more secure hold so that the paper block cannot move during the stitching.

To line up a panto: stacking the rows

We are going to mark some locations and then we will adjust the paper pattern once. After we adjust the paper we never have to move the paper again. We will make all the other adjustments by moving the laser light only. Never roll the fabric with the needle down.

  1. Roll the machine to the center of the frame and mark with a sticky dot on the table so that you can come back to that same center position and measure from that same point every time. Mark the sticky dot number 1.
  2. From that center point roll the machine needle over to the closest point you wish the pattern to stitch near the pick up roller. I call it the lowest point you wish the panto to stitch but some refer to it as closest to the pick up roller.
  3. Put the needle in the down position to hold that spot while you adjust the laser light for the pattern by putting the laser on the lowest point of the pattern. This is your one and only chance to adjust that pantograph paper. If you wish a certain part of the design to go right down the center, then move the pattern so that part is centered and a the lowest point of  the laser light. If you are trying to get something specific to go right down the borders this is where you adjust the paper for that also. Now tape the paper down.
  4. Center the machine on the sticky dot number 1
  5. Move the laser light to the lowest point of the pattern design (not the paper—the design). Then place another sticky dot under the laser light spot and mark it with a number 2.

Every time you wish to run a row you will go through the process of centering the machine on sticky dot 1, placing the needle on the fabric where you want the edge of the row to run and then placing the laser light spot on the sticky dot marked 2.

If you wish a certain amount of spacing between rows you can cut a paper spacer. Typically rows of pantos have 3//4 inch spacing between them. Some patterns like diamonds touch or nearly touch. For some patterns you will want a large amount of spacing between. For instance objects like deer and tractors.

If you are using a paper spacer you will lay that piece of paper on the quilt top on the edge of the previous row that you just ran. Then you will place the needle on the far side of it so that spacing will occur in your placement of the laser light.


Notice the uneven spacing between these rows. It is very important that you measure correctly and use a paper spacer to gauge spacing.

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Buying and Exploring Threads

Posted by on October 6, 2014

From denim-weight threads to the skinny slippery lingerie threads, we thought you’d like to have a little bit of knowledge of the differences and benefits so that you could purchase the threads that will work best for your long arm and your project.

Strength—Take the end of the thread and break it. It should have at least the same standard strength as the regular piecing thread that you buy on the dressmakers spools at the local fabric store.

Ribbed or not ribbed— Run you fingers down the thread and feel for ribs, on the metallic threads especially. Threads that are man made often have a core and then a second winding around the core. The smoother the thread the less breakage you will have.

Shape of the thread cone— If there is no spool or cone for the thread to stand on then the spool was meant to feed off of a horizontal spool holder (you know, the kind with just a little tiny cardboard core.) You would have trouble at the bottom of the cone if it were on a stand without a cone because the thread pulls out from under the thread where it rests and sometimes snags. Some spools or cones are tapered and the thread jumps off the spool in hopping motion. You can take the jump out of the thread at the first 3 hole thread guide on your machine just by using all 3 holes. The cone shape or the way the thread is wound around the cone can sometimes cause this jumping. Also, be aware of the cones with the cut slots for holding the tail of your thread for storage or the coined edges. These rough edges can snag the thread and yank the spool right off of the thread tree. The cure for this is the spool caps. The spool caps fit right on the top of the spool pin on the thread tree and angle the thread away from the spool.

Colorfast—The reds, oranges and deep rich colors have been treated heavily to absorb the dye. Sometimes there is excess. If you hold the thread like dental floss and rub it across a light colored fabric scrap you can see if any color comes off.  If it does, don’t buy it.

Fuzz— Fuzz that you build up on your long arm sometimes has to do with the thread. Sometimes it has to do with the way the thread travels up and down as it sews. Some threads like Gutermann are run over a flame before it is spooled up and that burns off the fuzziness. It is one of the reasons that Guterman is a little more expensive, but sometimes worth it. Keep a paint brush or sewing machine lint brush handy and every time that you change the bobbin brush out the hook. Brush, brush, brush, until no more fuzzies are falling out of the hook.

Stretch— Threads like monofilament and metallic are stretchy; you can see it and feel it just by pulling the thread. You can loosen up on your tensions enough and use less thread guides to keep the thread from stretching. The stretch threads are usually a little weaker but can run on a long arm with the proper adjustments.

Storage and thread aging— Stores are told to rotate their thread stock every 4 months by the thread representative. If they are doing that then the thread that you purchase will be fresh and new. On the other hand we are told by the thread representative that the quality threads will last 200 years in a quilt. Store your thread out of the daylight. Don’t believe all those rumors about rejuvenating your thread after it is all dried out—get rid of the old stuff.

Price— You get what you pay for. If the thread brand as a whole costs a little more then it is probably a really good thread. Of course the industrial threads are made to last also and they are a little better buy.

Brand— The TinLizzie18 accessory box that comes with a TinLizzie18 product will have Superior Thread products in it. This is a quality thread. We also wanted you to know that just because we have just one brand in the box doesn’t mean that is the only brand it will run. The TinLizzie18s run a wide range of threads including fussy metallics.

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27 Steps to a Successful Long Arm Business

Posted by on September 26, 2014

Have you been thinking about starting a long arm business.

Maybe you are still working another job, and have no idea how to launch a long arm business. Yes, you will have to work a bit harder for six months or more in order to continue working AND start your business, but after approximately six months, your income could be enough to allow you to quit your old job. But you must be dedicated to setting the time aside for this new business venture. You must accomplish something important every week in order to move forward.

The list below has helped many people to launch their quilting business. We thought we would share it with you.

  1. Be dedicated and set  time aside for the new business
  2. Choose a unique name for your business
  3. Create a logo
  4. Get a tax i.d. number
  5. Print business cards
  6. Open a bank account for your business
  7. Call for service invoices and forms
  8. Call and ask about bookkeeping systems
  9. Create a flyer
  10. Set your pricing so you can give a phone quote
  11. Create a brochure
  12. Decide what your hours will be and stick to them
  13. Organize your sewing space to receive customers
  14. Make a 3 ring binder of pictures of work you have done
  15. Make a binder of the patterns you offer
  16. Decide on your target market—which town—which guilds
  17. Leave your cards on bulletin boards and with shop owners
  18. Join all the local guilds to get an address list
  19. Talk to the local patchwork teachers and leave flyers
  20. Talk to  interior designers, upholstery shops, and drapery shops
  21. Ask shop owners to display your work
  22. Work out a deal for shop owners to take in quilts for you
  23. Decide how you might handle a bad customer
  24. Decide how you might educate your customer in batting choices
  25. Decide how you are going to say no politely in a business situation that requires a no
  26. Decide how to organize your time for family and yourself
  27. Get a Crockpot, occasional cleaning lady, and pre decide your vacation times

Ready? Set. GO!

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Choose Your Batting Wisely

Posted by on April 30, 2014

battingDid you know there’s batting made especially for long arm quilting machines?

Two American made products just for long arms have arrived from Fairfield Batting Company of Connecticut, and been sent to TinLizzie18 Retail & Learning Centers for distribution.

One is pure poly batting, double folded onto a 20 yard roll.

The second is a 60/40 blend of cotton and poly on a double folded 20 yard roll. TinLizzie18 has  an exclusive partnership to distribute this specialized batting from our training facilities in:

  • Janesville, Wisconsin
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Diego, Ca
  • Atlanta, Georgia

To order just call 1-888-QUILT-18.  CLICK HERE to read more!

Following are just some of the reasons quilters want these two products:

  1. The thickness is perfect for getting two different color threads (top and bottom) to lock the stitch in the batting and not show the other color of thread on the opposite side. This batting is flat yet just thick enough to get quality stitching and easily set your tensions.
  2. The poly batting doesn’t shrink and pucker up a quilt—so you can have that fresh pressed look to the quilt. This poly is tough and has some body to it so it handles easy on the machine and will withstand many, many washings.
  3. The poly also doesn’t retain germs for long as a germ will die on dry poly within 10 hours. Therefore this is the best batting for baby quilts, college dorm rooms, hospitals and elderly.
  4. The poly and the 60/40 hold together well and doesn’t break down and work through the fabric.
  5. The poly doesn’t built heat in the needle like some other battings do so this is the batting you would put into your quilt if you are using threads that are heat sensitive like gold metallic. Any thread that is fussy would stitch into this poly better in my opinion because of less resistance. I use this batting for competition.
  6.  The 60/40 has enough poly blended in so that when you fold your quilts and store them they wont retain a crease like 100 percent cotton does,
  7. The 60/40 is flat and soft and pure white. It has very little shrinkage and is very comfortable to sleep under.
  8. Shipping can sometimes be expensive with rolls this size, but TinLizzie18 has packaged the rolls in easy to ship boxes. They protect the batting in shipping and the shipping expense is less with a box than without a box.
  9. The length of these rolls is perfect also so that you can place both rolls on the batting bar at the same time if your machine is extended to 12 feet. This is very handy to have the rolls off of the floor and easy to pull off as much as you need and place it directly from the roller and into the quilt on the machine.
  10. The price is excellent and you are getting top quality batting that will last for years and years and years in your quilted project. 



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Double Your Pleasure: Another Time Saving Tip from TL18!

Posted by on April 17, 2013

OK. So some of you grandmothers out there… this is for you!

Are you torn between sewing sweet dresses for that beautiful grand daughter or quilting on your TinLizzie18? With this time-saving tip, you can do both!

Start by buying pre-made, pleated clothing. It makes smocking a breeze! Then simply change the buttons to something more fancy and voila! You’ve got beautiful, heirloom-style dresses in a fraction of the time.

PLUS… it leaves more time to quilt on your TinLizzie18 long arm machine! Double pleasure!

What time saving tips do have for us?

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