Following America's acceptance of machine quilting, long-arm quilting is growing
by leaps and bounds. But long-armers have special needs and concerns. Terry
Kanyuck (pictured at right) of Labadie, MO., started the Gateway Area Long Armers, known as GALA.
Twenty members meet quarterly in homes for encouragement and support, to develop
and learn new skills, and to share new ideas and techniques for St. Louis area
long-arm quilters and their machines. The group also has a website on Yahoo
where the members can pose a question, a message, or a suggestion.
Terry explains that long-arm quilting differs from hand
quilting and also from conventional sewing machine quilting in many ways, though
it is hand guided. The big advantage is that the quilter has a larger space to
work and a flat surface, too—no bunched up quilt stuffed under your sewing machine.
There are two kinds of quilting machines—on some; the quilter sets a dial for the
stitching speed. The speed must be reduced to turn corners or maneuver curves.
A newer, more expensive machine stitches at the speed you move the needle. All
long-arm machines have trouble with some fabrics—they just skip over slippery
fabric. There are problems of thread breakage from burrs on the bobbin. Dust or
lint can cause skipped stitches. The GALA girls can suggest solutions.
Like any guild, these girls share gadgets and creative
ideas. One great suggestion to hold the long-arm machines' larger thread spools
was to use a flea market find—a slanted magazine holder. Recently, Terry was
puzzled about an appropriate pattern for a "tough" quilt. She posed the problem
on the web site. The unanimous responses indicated that "Feathers" would look
best. So, she quilted it with feathered plumes.
These long-armers are helping to dispel misconceptions
about their craft. Many people think that the quilting designs are computer
programmed. In reality, the machines are hand-guided and the operator has control
over every stitch in a pattern. The "motel bedspread look" is out, too. Long-armers
prefer poly-core cotton thread or 100% cotton thread instead of monofilament nylon
thread that can get brittle and break or scratch. In the new age of long arm
quilting, there are "no limits except your own imagination" as to how much quilting
or what design or combination of designs that can be stitched on any quilt.
Terry's motto is "The four p's: practice, practice,
practice. . . .and patience." As in many things, practice and patience are the
keys to mastering the art of the long-arm quilting. Her brainstorm, the GALA l
ong-armer group, is going a long way to encourage the members to practice. And,
they teach patience as the members share their concerns and seek solutions. If
you are a long-arm quilter, think about gathering others in your area to collectively
learn about the versatility and capabilities of your long-arm machine.
©2003 Hallye Bone
Terry Kanyuck, GALA Leader
"Braid" by Joyce O'Connell, quilted by Terry Kanyuck
"Pennsylvania Dutch" Pieced by Loretta Hunt, quilted by Terry Kanyuck
Gateway Long-Arm Group - Sandi Wagner, Ruth Geuers, Mary Camenite
"Pennyslvania Dutch" Detail by Loretta Hunt, quilted by Terry Kanyuck