Category Archives: sewing machines

Part 2: APQS George review

I have been using the APQS George to free motion quilt my latest piece. Most sane quilters use the realistic idea that you should practice first on baby quilts or muslin sandwiches before you tackle a large piece. Well. as impatient as I am , I did give it a try for about maybe 10 hours. Boring. Very boring. And it is not very realistic as my work has lots of seams with little lines.

So, I basted a piece up and away I went. I was very careful to test on a sample before I jumped into a change of color or change in type of thread but I definitely just said to myself: get going and quit being a perfectionist.



In the process of spending about 25 slow hours of machine quilting on it, I bonded with this machine.  I learned the following tips and tricks which may make your journey a little easier:

1. Do test each and every bobbin and thread change for accurate tension on a muslin sample. He is FUSSY and likes to be pampered a bit as far as tension is concerned. He works beautifully if you have the top and bottom tension happy with each other. Otherwise , you are not in control and he is. The extra time to fiddle with the tension is worth the time you would spend ripping out bad stitching.

2. I tried various combinations of threads. I found that the combo of Superior Threads So Fine  on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin works well.  Also, I tried Masterpiece in the bobbin with Mettler Cotton on top and it was not a planned experiment but it worked well.  I did eventually get Aurofil to work as well but I needed lots of patience with this thread.

3. George wants to run fast and does better if I set my speed and let him work full speed at that speed .(Confusing sentence if you don’t have this machine …) But push your pedal down and fly on the speed. This is a big machine and when I finally got moving and got my rhythm, he was happy to oblige with nice stitching.

4. The bobbin winder that they send with the machine is really CHINYZY. The Simplicity bobbin winder gave me big headaches . I am not sure why this cheap piece of equipment is sent with this expensive machine. I started winding my bobbins on my domestic machine and since then the bobbin tension has been much easier to control. I am using a Bernina 430 to wind the bobbins which is one of my piecing machines. This is the only complaint I have at this time with my machine.

So ta-da: my first finish on my George!


Rooflines #14  which needs facing yet

Rooflines #14 which needs facing yet

Rooflines #14 is not a huge piece-39×58 at this point without the facing -but it was breeze to work with it on this machine. When I conquer a beast of q quilt, I will update you again!


Part One: My First Impressions of George


Snaazy packaging

     Not too long ago, a new machine named George came to live with me. This was a long researched sewing machine and I really wanted this one to be “it” and have it live with me for long happy life. Now, I have been known to be a bit fickle about sewing machine but I have been loyal to my recent machines.

     Why consider a long arm machine? Quite simply, I hated slugging a large quilt under the small harp of a domestic machine. And I knew that long term sewing would wreak havoc with my shoulders. They really hurt after the big quilts and , as a previous physical therapist, knew that the repetitive stress would lead to nasty shoulder syndrome. (“Arthuritis” would settle in. )

I visited my friend the lovely Terri Watson who let  me try her Gamill machine one day. I loved it. The ease with which I could finish a quilt was astounding and rewarding. But I couldn’t justify the high cost of a typical long arm if I wasn’t going into business to finish others quilts. And I wasn’t.  So, over the course of two years, I went to different shows and tried lots of sit down models.  And slyly enough, a George was at the Barn the last two times I went to workshops and the wonderful Beth Shillig, an APQS dealer,  was there to entice us to play with George.

I fell in love with him. I was smitten with him.


George set up and ready to go

The reasons why:

1. He was solid. He felt and looked like hefty machine that could handle the beasts of things to come. I like piecing large quilts. I don’t like quilting them.

2. He did not intimidate me as I could use my same skills that I had doing free motion quilting on my domestic machine.

3. And he could accommodate smaller needle.

4. He has a really decent sewing table that is included in the price.

5. He has a good reputation among other art quilters. I hadn’t heard negative things.

So, I took the plunge and made George a part of my studio not so long ago. I have been spending time with him and learning to adjust to him the past few weeks.


Changing a needle for the first time

I am in the learning curve portion of my adventure with George. More next post about the pros and cons I have found early on in this adventure.


     I really do admit -or should I say confess, I am crazy. I know that FOCUS was a word I wanted to embrace this year. But , I am realizing that it is not necessarily a lack of focus. I am very focused on this whole thing of wanting to be good at something. Obsessed would be a better word. I think the problem lies in my underestimating the amount of time I have in a given day. And overcommitting. When I say I am going to do something, I do . Even if it kills me.  Well, I have a little confession.  I might have done it now.

    I really, truly promised myself that I wouldn’t overcommit. But, I did. I signed up for two online courses.They just happened to be at the same time. One starts today and the other February 1st.  It truly could have worked  but I had this over the top exciting sale of a quilt.

    And then,  the quilt I am being paid to complete- my machine threw up oil all over the back of the quilt..  I have never had that happen. Maybe it was me being careless.  But then it continued to have problems. It will join other sick machines in the sewing machine hospital. Seems like it happens every time I need to complete  a project with a deadline. I will talk to the dealer about a more reliable machine.  It took me hours to rip out the stitching to get the back off, wash the back and be ready to begin again. Who ever thought that machine quilting could be traumatic? If this kind of thing continues, I will look at long arm machines. Never thought I would say that but…I am reaching the limit with domestic machines that just keep having problems. Oh the new one I bought in the fall-that’s in the shop already, too. I can’t even explain this to people so sorry to confuse you. One dealer told me it was because I sew too much. :). I thought that’s what they made them for, right?

   A little completed project to keep my sanity. I know I owe some friends postcards but since they waited so long they will get little quiltlets.

Morning Winter Sunrise
about 5×9

 Well-I’m off to the sewing machine store. Be creative, my friends!