Thursday, 23 August 2012

Front or Back

Being able to see what you're doing is a big deal! There was so much to post about this 4th reason that I needed to break it up into 3 posts. This post deals with which side of the frame is best to work from and why. That's why it's called Front or Back?

Our smaller 4 and 6 foot Art Quilter frames are designed to work from the back. There are good reasons for this. Long arm quilting machines work from the front. This is because the longer arm positions the needle closer to that end of the frame. Long Arm quilting machines can have arms that range from 18 to 30 inches. That's a long arm! They have better visibility working from the front because their eye-to-needle distance is much closer from that end of the frame.. This eye-to-needle measurement is really important because the closer your eye is to the needle the better you'll see what you're stitching.

On this APQS long arm called Lenni the girls using it can see better working from the front or needle side of the sewing machine.That's because this machine has a whopping 20 inch long by 8 inch tall arm.

Sue Schmieden and Angie Gibbs working from the front 
Choose the side of the frame that puts your eye closer to the needle. It's the length of the sewing machine arm that determines which side of the frame you should work from. If you have a long arm sewing machine, that's an arm between 18 to 30 inches, then work from the front. If you are quilting with an ordinary domestic sewing machine your eye is much closer to the needle working from the back.

Martha working the JUKI TL98P from the back at the Petwood Retreat
My ancient and much beloved Bernina 808 (a great starter machine for FMQ on a frame BTW) has a 7 inch or 17.5 cm arm. My current favourite piecing machine, the JUKI Exceed HZL600, gives me 8 inches or 20cm of under arm space. My straight stitch JUKI TL98 P gives nearly 9 inches or 22 cm of space under the arm. All these machines will operate better from the back, because the distance between your eye and the needle is shorter from that side of the frame. Once your sewing machine arm is more than 15 inches then it becomes better to work from the front.

Emily working from the back on her Uni quilt
Our larger 8 and 10 foot 7 inch NEQ2 frames can work from either the front or the back depending on the size of your sewing machine. The closer your eye is to the needle, the easier it is to see what you're doing. The rule of thumb is as follows: if your arm is less than 15 inches work from the back. If it's more than 15 inches then work from the front.

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