A few weeks ago at Quilt!Knit!Stitch! in Portland, OR, I bought the Bernina Q20 Sit-Down Long Arm Quilting Machine.
This is how it looks without the two extension tables--this is how it will look most of the time, until I start doing large quilts. The wonderful Bernina Ergonomic sewing chair is coming soon, from Switzerland.
It's a big investment and my friends probably think I'm nuts, but I did it. It arrived yesterday.
Five large, heavy boxes on a pallet, delivered by UPS Freight. The woman who called me the day before to set up the delivery appointment scared me. She said the driver was only "required" to unload the pallet off the truck and put it down--not to deliver it to my garage. Yikes! She did say most of the drivers were "nice" and would "probably" help me get the 343 lb. pallet into the garage. Double yikes! No worries, however--the driver lowered the pallet with the truck lift gate, the small lift was already in the pallet bottom and he happily followed me to the garage, no questions asked. Relief! And the rain that was forecast held off for a few more hours.
My beloved husband had come home early to help with this. We unpacked the pallet in the garage, five large, heavy boxes had to be hauled into the house. It was hot and humid and we were quickly soaked and dripping. Water and Gatorade kept us going. The bottom box, of course, held the main part of the cabinet, which opens to provide storage under the two extension tables--that's where the cabinet assembly instructions were. Once the boxes were in the house, in 3 rooms, he started the cabinet. He's very handy and the instructions were good so it went together pretty easily. I stayed out of the way until he needed more hands. In just under 3 hours, I was stitching. He said he felt like he'd done a full day's work and we were really sweaty but it got done.
My first stitching--still need lots of practice but the machine makes lovely stitches without much effort. No gloves or anything other than my hands on the fabric.
Right side extension area open--this is the storage area, left side has the same amount of storage.
Both extensions are in here, the table is now 78" wide x 36" deep, throat space is 20".
Here's the plan--I have a bunch of quilt sandwiches prepared and stacked, some are pieced, some are pre-printed, most are solid fabric on top, print on bottom. Each day I'll start the day with 20 minutes of practice--focusing on one design each day for those 20 minutes. Some days I'll be able to spend more time but each day, the first 20 minutes in the studio will be for machine quilting practice.
Here's the 20 minutes I played around with this morning, in addition to older stitching already done on this practice piece.
I have a bunch of quilt tops that need to be quilted so I need to get to those, AFTER the guild Quilt Show October 9-11, and AFTER Houston, October 21-November 2. I am taking two free motion classes there, one with Sue Nickels, one with Helen Godden--I know I'll benefit greatly from both of those.
Do I have buyer's remorse? A little, especially as it took more than 3 weeks to arrive. But I just have to make time to use it to finish quilts. And I can always rent time on it, right? It's a terrific machine that is very easy to use. Stay tuned for progress reports.
Now I have a little more to do to prepare for tonight's presentation to the Madison Station Quilters guild, on "The Hard Stuff".