We love taking peeks into other people’s quilting studios during our Looky Loo Studio Tour! Each month during our Quilted Joy Clubhouse live meetings we tour the quilting studio of one of our QJ Clubhouse members. Today, let’s take a look back at our tour of Blaire Gagnon’s sewing and longarming creative space! Watch the video below to see Blaire’s Looky Loo Studio Tour!
We wanted to get to know Blaire a little more, so we asked her a few other questions before we recorded our tour.
Quilted Joy: How long have you been quilting with a longarm?
Blaire: I have only been quilting with my longarm for 5 months. It was delivered at the end of January 2022. I had not used a longarm before purchasing one – other than at the demo by my regional rep.
QJ: How have you grown your skills?
B: Good question. Slowly. I have had to start at step one and build my skills. For example, how to pull up the bobbin thread? I had to watch a video. And as we all know, to become familiar it takes repetition and practice. I practiced free motion quilting until my Intelliquilter system arrived June 1, 2022. I have completed 3 lap-size quilts using the IQ since June1st. It has been a busy month. But on each quilt, I try to add a new skill, a new pattern, or a new thread while not overwhelming myself.
QJ: What do you find to be the most challenging part of longarm quilting?
B: I need to be in the right frame of mind when I start a new quilt. Especially with IQ. I felt I had developed a comfort level with my Millie before installing IQ. She seems like a whole new beast. Therefore, I work through cleaning Millie (loading the quilt on the frame, threading, winding a bobbin, etc.) in chunks of time while accomplishing other sewing and life tasks. Then, I get the quilt set up on IQ and stitch either first thing in the morning or right after lunch. This helps me focus on what I am doing. While I am learning Millie & IQ, I am also preparing to take on work for customers so I am focusing on details.
QJ: Where is your quilting space? Is it a retail space?
B: My quilting space is in the basement of my home. I have a room for my sewing and a room for my longarm. It is not a retail space.
QJ: What do you love about your quilting space?
B: I love the size of it, and that it is dedicated to my quilting and nothing else.
QJ: If you could change anything about your quilting space, what would it be?
B: To make my space more functional and aesthetically pleasing, I would paint or remove the knotty pine walls and bring in tables for my sewing machines that would allow me to mount them into the table surface.
QJ: Why did you choose an APQS machine?
B: I liked the way it handled when I did free motion quilting. It had weight to it. I also wanted a machine I could assemble, learn, and repair myself.
QJ: Do you have a computer on your machine? If so, what do you love about it?
B: Yes, I have an Intelliquilter. I love that I can quilt without moving the machine myself! I want to be able to do free motion custom quilting, custom quilting using the IQ and pantographs. All of it. I am not a spring chicken and have back issues. The IQ will allow me to quilt more quilts.
QJ: What advice would you give to a new longarm quilter?
B: Breathe! And focus on both learning new things and completing quilts. I am not one to play on plain fabric. I want a quilt on the frame 99% of the time because for me it is real world. Be bold, not timid, especially when free motion quilting. For the IQ, watch videos, apply what you learn, then rinse and repeat.
QJ: What quilting project are you currently working on?
B: I usually have over 10 sewing projects in the works at any given time. The next 2 quilts to be long-armed using my IQ are a scrap Brick House quilt made from a free Fat Quarter Shop pattern and Corey Yoder’s 2021 Block of the Month Spring Brook Blossoms. I have been piecing tops from my stash specifically for practicing on the longarm and completing UFOs. Some are over 25 years old.
QJ: How would you describe your quilting style?
B: Eclectic. I’ve been quilting for over 30 years and owned a quilt store back in the 1990s. I have and do work with all types of fabrics though I have just gotten into batiks. I love scrap quilts, improv quilts, and art quilts. I am not one who buys fabric lines or precuts. I like to do my own thing. Lately, I have been trying to push my boundaries.
QJ: What is your favorite batting and thread?
B: Wool is my favorite batting, though I have yet to use it on the longarm. I also like Quilter’s Dream products and Hobbs 80/20. Depends on what I am doing and who it is for.
QJ: Do you quilt for others? If you have a business please share your website and/or social media links so we can share with the Quilted Joy audience.
B: For the past couple of years, I have done contract work and commissions, but I have not quilted on my longarm for a customer, yet, but very soon. My business name is A Link in a Chain Quilting. I do not have a website, but I have a Facebook page for the business where I post my work.
Thanks again to Blaire for letting us look around!