Does it hurt when you’re quilting? Let’s check your set-up!

Posted by on June 5, 2017


Many of us get into our quilting ‘zone’ and forget about everything else until the quilt is completed or we begin to hurt.  Let’s take a look at some of the things to check that may be causing you to ‘hurt’.

What height is my machine frame set at?  What should it be set at?  There are ergonomic guidelines (ergonomics is the study of the human body and its interaction with work activities) for a work station height that minimizes the stress on the body.

  • For precision work; work station height should be above elbow height (37”-43”)

For light work; work station height should be just below elbow height (34”-37”)

Because our machines sit on the frame we need to look at the height of the frame with the machine on it and how we are moving the machine.  Stand at your machine and see how your elbows are bent.  Are they at a 90-degree angle or slightly above or below 90 degrees? 90-degree bend on the elbow is a more neutral position and when our bodies are in a neutral position we aren’t stressing our muscles and joints – keeping the hurt away. Try adjusting your machine/frame height to have your elbows at a more neutral position for you.

How do you normally hold your hands when you quilt?  If your handles adjust, do you adjust them throughout your quilting?

  • When we keep our muscles locked in one position for extended periods of time they begin to hurt.  Changing our hand positions frequently during quilting will help.

If your machine handles are adjustable, pick a quilting motif that you frequently use and quilt it on a practice piece changing your hand position on each pass.  This will help you with muscle memory at various hand positions.

If your machine handles are not adjustable, try to see what other positions you can have your hands on the handles and practice to have the confidence to adjust your stance while quilting.

Do you stand throughout the quilting?  What type of surface are you standing on?

  • Is the surface hard; hardwood flooring, ceramic tile, concrete?
  • Is the surface covered; carpeting – with/without padding?
  • What type of footwear are you wearing?

When looking at our standing surface we want it to have some cushion.  This gives your body the ability to naturally sway and the cushion provides some shock absorption. Ergonomic rated mats are available at many retailers.  You may want to get one to try and then determine if it helps you or not.  Also, wearing footwear with support can help give this same cushion effect.  You may find that a combination of footwear and mats may work best for you.

Have you tried alternating between standing and sitting while you quilt?  There are adjustable height stools with castors that can get your arms and hands into the neutral position, and that you can move/roll back and forth as you quilt.

These suggestions are guidelines to help you set up your quilting process to keep you quilting happy and healthy for many years to come!


Filed under: Blog,Lizzie Support,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Muscle Memory: What is it?

Posted by on May 19, 2017


Muscle memory is the ability to become competent completing an action or movement without conscious thought.  This is accomplished because of frequent and deliberate repetition of that movement.  We all have much of our daily activity that has become muscle memory.  Most of us don’t think much about brushing our teeth, buckling our seat belt or even typing our name.

“Your muscles don’t actually have brains, but rather your brains have learned to quickly call upon these quick procedure lists to get certain tasks done as quickly and efficiently as possible.  The more often you complete these tasks, the less “processing power” your brain needs to complete the task, the more automatic it becomes. Think of it sort of like a cache…We are creatures of habit.  The things that we do on a daily basis, the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we sleep (or not sleep), the things that make us happy or sad, are all results of hundreds and hundreds of repetitions of these activities. “

So, how does that effect how I quilt with my Longarm quilting machine?  My piano teacher would always say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.”  Any time we repeat an activity our brain remembers to repeat it more efficiently next time.  It is important to practice a lot and with the best method possible so our muscle memory will be as accurate as possible.

1-Practice quilting elements using a white board, holding your wrist rigid similar to the way you hold the handles on your quilting machine.

2-Repeat the element over and over improving its accuracy moving left, right, up, down and diagonally.  You will learn which way to move to create the element in all directions without much thought.

3-Go to the machine and move it in the same manner without stitching.

4-Now you are ready to turn the machine on and practice the elements while the machine is stitching!

The beauty of repetition in quilting is that each element that becomes part of your muscle memory makes each succeeding element a bit easier to accomplish.  It takes time and effort, but isn’t that how we learn?  Learn, practice and become an accomplished quilter!




Filed under: Blog,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , , ,

Finding Confidence for Longarm Quilting

Posted by on May 9, 2017


We Learn By: Observation, Imitation, Repetition

—Denis Waitley

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.
Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

—Helen Keller

Here’s some inspiration to help you along your quilting journey!

Attend quilt shows.

Volunteer at shows.

Take pictures.

Take classes including internet subscriptions.

Sketch what you see.


Make an inspiration notebook.

Do charity quilts.

Join quilting groups.

Join the longarm group on Facebook.

Pinterest is a great resource.

Subscribe to magazines that teach about quilting skills, not only piecing skills (be selective).

Be patient with yourself.

Teach what you have learned.

Save your practice pieces (you will feel encouraged about your progress when you see how far you’ve come).

Go away from your work when you are tired. It always looks better when you are rested.

Use positive self-talk. Shun negative self-talk (I am capable. I am confident. I know with time and effort I can achieve. Each step is taking me to where I want to be.)

Practice. Practice. Practice!


Filed under: Blog,Lizzie Support,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Filed under: Blog,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , , , , , ,

Loading the Quilt onto the Table

Posted by on October 10, 2016


We will be using three of the rails.  Each bar has a ratchet-type action that keeps the quilt taut.  The rail at the back of the table is called the Take up Bar.  Eventually, most of the quilt will be rolled up onto this rail as it is finished.  There are two rails in the front of the machine.  The rail closest to you is called the “Belly Bar” because it is at your belly.  The quilt back will be pinned to both the Take up bar and the Belly bar.   The bottom of the quilt top is pinned to the other rail. Mark the Centers of your rails. (The lowest rail is used to keep the batting off of the ground and doesn’t have any tension to it.)

Leaders are pieces of fabric that are attached to the ends of the quilt to enable the machine to reach the entire quilt.  The quilt may be basted, pinned or zipped onto the leaders.  Leaders are attached to the rails in various manners.  At TinLizzie18 we attach them with Velcro. The leaders should hang off of the rail in the opposite direction than the rail rolls when the ratchets are engaged.

After assuring that the quilt back and batting are 6-inches longer and 6-inches wider than the quilt top, mark the center of both the quilt back top and bottom.

Mark the Center of both the top and bottom of your quit top.  Mark the center of the batting top.

  1. Load the quilt back first.  We will begin with the bottom of the quilt back.  Lay the quilt back across the Longarm table with the right side of the fabric facing the floor and the top draped over the take up rail.  Match the center of the quilt back to the center of the leader on the Belly Bar.  (Remember: Quilt Back Bottom on the Belly Bar.)  Using T-pins or florist pins and beginning in the center, pin the quilt to the leader with the pins on the canvas side.  The sharp end of the pins should point out towards the outside of the table.  Carefully, roll the quilt back onto the rail, smoothing out any wrinkles and keeping it straight.   Continue until the top of the Quilt back is touching the take up bar.  Starting at the center pin the top of the quilt back onto the take up bar leader.  (Make sure that the quit back is under the third rail, not over it.)   Always pin from the center out.  The Quilt Bottom should be coming off of the bottom of the Take up bar and over the top of the Belly Bar.
  2. Next the quilt top will be pinned to the remaining leader.  Lay the quilt top (right side up) over the table with the majority of the top towards the back of the table.  Starting in the center pin the bottom of the Quilt Top to the remaining leader.  (This rail rolls in the opposite direction from the others and is able to be raised out of the way.)  Carefully roll the quilt top onto the bar, smoothing and making sure it is going on straight.  Roll it until the top edge of the quilt falls off of the Take up bar.
  3. Drape the unpinned edge of the quilt over the rail you just pinned the top onto.  This rail is able to be lifted out of the way to place the batting.  Lift it now.
  4. Mark the center of the batting and lay it over the quilt back and placing the top of the batting just along the take up railing and even with the pinned edge of the quilt backing.  Place the rest of the batting between the rails in the front of the machine using the lowest rail to keep the batting off of the floor.   Make sure the batting lays flat and smoothly across the quilt back.
  5. Baste the “quilt sandwich” at the top of the quilt just below the take up rail starting at the center marking.   Using the Longarm machine baste from the center marking to the right edge of the quilt, then down along the right side of the quilt.  Go back to the center mark and baste towards the left side of the quilt and down the left side of the quilt.  It may be necessary to smooth the quilt with your free hand as you stitch.  Baste as close to the edge of the fabric as possible or about ¼ inch.  Every time the quilt is rolled baste the edge before quilting.
  6. Tighten all of the rails for a taut quilt.  Remember, rolling too tight will misshape the quilt.  Taut, not tight.
  7. You are ready to quilt.  The batting and backing of the quilt are cut larger than the top because quilting takes up more of the backing than the top.  You may take advantage of the larger backing to use as a test area to assure that the tensions are correct.
  8. When you need to roll the quilt, release the rails in the front of the machine and carefully roll the take up rail until it is positioned correctly for your next quilting area.  Replace the ratchets on the rails and roll the rails for a taut quilt.  Each time you roll check the layers of the quilt to ensure the wrinkles are smoothed and the batting is flat.
  9. The Take up rail is able to be raised as the quilt becomes more bulky on the rail.  Keep enough room for your finger tips under the quilt.  If the rail is too low the quilt will drag on the machine bed.  If it is too high there may be thread breakage or skipped stitches.
  10. When the quilting is finished, carefully remove the quilt from the leaders.

Filed under: Blog,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , , , , , , ,

How to Put Borders on a Quilt

Posted by on April 14, 2016

Here’s a quick tutorial for those who want step by step instructions on perfect borders. 

Determine the width of your border or borders. It is generally best to increase the width of each succeeding border. An example would be the first border could be 3” wide the second 5” and the third 8” wide. Of course you may choose any width you wish.

Measure the quilt in three places to determine the length to cut the border. Once near the center and on each side.

Let’s say the center measured 45 ½” and the right measured 45 ¼” and the left measured 45”. Now add these together. 45 + 45.5 + 45.25= 135.75. Now divide it by three. 135.75 ÷ 3= 45.25 45 ¼” is the length you will cut the first two sides of border. (♥Only cut two sides since the third and fourth sides will be longer to accommodate the added borders.♥) Since one side actually measured only 45” you will need to ease it to fit.


Mark the center of the border strip. Mark the center of the side of the quilt where you are going to sew the border. Pin the border, right sides together, on the quilt at the center marks. Now pin each end of the border to the end of that side. Ease the rest to fit and pin frequently enough to help you sew the border on evenly. Sew the opposing side border on in the same fashion. Press the seam out.

Now measure the quilt across the width in the same manner as the first measurements. Let’s say the center now measures 51 ½”, the top measures 51 1/4” and the bottom 51 ½ inches. Add them 51.5 + 51 + 51.5 = 154. Now divide it by 3 and you get 51 1/3 inches for the next border measurement. Cut the next two border strips 51 1/3 inches long.


Mark the center of the border strip. Mark the center of the side of the quilt where you are going to sew the border. Pin the border, right sides together, on the quilt at the center marks. Now pin each end of the border to the end of that side. Ease the rest to fit and pin frequently enough to help you sew the border on evenly. Sew the opposing side border on in the same fashion. Press the seams out.

Repeat for each additional border. ♥Note: It is best to use the same method of matching centers and ends to pin pieced borders on as well.

Some people like to cut their borders in one continuous strip and some don’t mind piecing shorter strips to get the required length. It is a personal preference.

Happy Quilting!

Filed under: Blog,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , , , , ,

<< View all posts

© 2018 TinLizzie18. All Rights Reserved.   |   Site Map   |   Legal Disclaimer   |   Privacy Policy