Thursday, 16 August 2012

Hutterite Hobbies - Long Arm Quilting

Gammil Optimum
By Guest Blogger, Selma Maendel

Earlier this year, teacher and quilter, Anna Maendel of Fairholme Colony experienced the realization of her long-time dream when her colony became the excited owners of a 30 inch by 12 foot, top of the line, computer guided, Gammill Optimum Longarm Quilting machine. "Now I can concentrate on the fun part of quilting, which is piecing the tops,” Maendel comments. This is possible with the Longarm Quilting Machine: after stitching together the top, fill and backing all that is left to finish the quilt is to do the binding.

 A longarm quilting machine is similar to a regular domestic sewing machine, but the quilting is easier on the shoulders.  The longer neck area means quilts don't have to be pushed through a five inch by ten inch opening to stitch the top. No more crawling around on the floor to pin the three layers together!

 Since the backing, batting and top fabric are attached to rollers, everything stays flat and taut, resulting in reduced chances of the fabric bunching up.

 The large stitching area allows for creating gorgeous stitching designs, with a large variety of patterns. Maendel concedes that her favourite is Anne Bright’s “Bending in the Wind”, a nature theme featuring bulrushes. “If it wasn’t absurd I would use it on all my quilts.” she chuckles. Hundreds of stitching patterns are available, including juvenile designs featuring animals, flowers, butterflies, toys and even flip flops!

 For anyone with completed tops lying around waiting to be quilted, Fairholme Colony offers very reasonable prices, depending on the density of the chosen stitching pattern. Contact Anna or Selma for more information on prices and how to prepare a quilt for quilting. The generous machine size allows them to do any size quilt, including wall art quilts, place mats, table runners, small baby quilts and oversize, King size quilts.

The density of the stitching pattern, together with the type of fill, determines how soft or firm the quilt will be. For a cuddly quilt, it is best to use a soft Dacron fill and a stitching pattern that isn’t very dense. For a firmer quilt, a pressed fill and a dense pattern work better. Flatness or puffiness is determined mostly by the type of fill, with a Dacron fill resulting in a puffier look than a pressed fill.

For people wishing to donate a quilt to a charity, the quilting can be done at Fairholme Colony free of charge.

Thank you, Selma. This looks like an incredible machine! I've seen Anna's gorgeous quilts and am well aware of the amount of work it takes to finish one, so I fully understand her excitement. I rejoice with her!


  1. My mother pieced several quilt tops that she then had pieced by a machine like this. I'm of the opposite frame of mind - I find piecing the top to be the tedious part, and I can't wait to get to the hand-quilting. I find hand-sewing to be very soothing and relaxing. I am hoping to piece another top soon so that I can have a winter project to quilt it...

  2. That machine looks great! Quilting is the one craft that seems to intimidate me. I like to sew and cross stitch, but quilting seems like such a daunting task. Our church has a quilting group but I know they're always working on something and I'm not sure they want to stop what they were doing to just teach it. At least I can enjoy them when they're finished! :) Thanks for sharing ~

  3. This was very interesting. On one hand I do like a nice hand quilting project to stitch away at during the winter, but having access to something like this close by could really knock out some projects. Piecing IS the fun part, and sometimes the hardest. I love that they will put it together for free for charity.


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