getting the Gammill ready to quilt

I spent some of this past weekend quilting a client’s quilt on my long-arm machine, and had the idea that you might like to see a little more of the machine. I have a Gammill Classic Plus long-arm quilting machine, and while it does look fairly big and intimidating when you first look at it, I’ve come around to thinking it is just like a big sewing machine after all.

Before I start every new quilt on it, there are some little jobs to do first. I always give it a good wipe-down to clear any dust – and not just because I’m not a great housekeeper!- but because the smooth movement of the machine requires dust-free tracks.
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I use an old pastry brush to dust along the tracks on the machine bed, as well as it’s own wheels. It’s best to get rid of any fluff or threads that might prevent the machine from moving in any direction that you’ll need while quilting.
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It then has to be oiled, so I use the provided oil to put a drop in all the recommended spots, including the bobbin race.
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I also change the needle after every big quilt or maybe two little quilts, because that needle does a lot of work.
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I have to check whether I have any loaded bobbins with the correct thread, and if not put an empty bobbin on the winder and thread it up.
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The needle thread also has to be threaded on the other side- I used to take a long time to thread the machine, checking the instructions at each step, but it’s like second nature now.
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If I haven’t yet done so, I now load the quilt on the machine, which is done in order of the top first, then the backing and the batting. This can also take awhile to make sure they are loaded straight and firm.
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Once that it is done, I usually do a little test run on some scrap that I pin to the side. This lets me check that the tension is correct and the stitches are being made correctly in the quilt- all threads work uniquely. Plus this is when I might test out a design- I do a lot of free-motion work so its good to test out a design I might have just practised with pen and paper. I try to avoid marking a quilt where possible.
This is a little sneak peek of the quilt I loaded on the weekend- it will have an all-over freehand design. Hope you are having fun with whatever stage of a quilt you are at!
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and not to forget my Dear Jane block: this is one of the very first I made, using the reverse-applique method. This is B1 “Bachelor Buttons”.
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