This is Lola. She is a Gammil 24" Longarm, meaning the throat has 24" of space in which to quilt. This side has the top thread located at the back and threaded up to the needle at the front.
Now on this far side I am able to wind bobbins while I am stitching. Very handy as I always have a full bobbin ready to go when I need one. (This only works if I have 2 spools of thread that I am using.)
Lola is not "computerized" meaning it only moves if I move the machine. I bought a longarm so that I could control the artistic aspect of the quilting. There are 2 handles and on the top of each are the power buttons. The left handle has the button that just takes one stitch at a time and the right is the GO button. However I am also able to control what GO means via the touch pad at the front. I have an option that when I hit the GO button the needle starts going up and down and I better get moving or I can change it to only take a stitch when I move the machine. I use both functions for different applications.
Here is a close up of the touch pad. It gives me lots of options. Not only can I control when it takes a stitch but I can also decide on the stitch length. Upper left corner SPI:15 is 15 stitches per inch. I am able to lock the rails that the machine rides on into only moving vertical or horizontal. I can decide to have the needle stop with the needle down into the quilt or not. Also, lower right corner gives me my stitch count as well has how long the machine has actually stitched onto the quilt. This is somewhat handy as it only counts as the machine moves so it doesn't account for all the other things you do with the top that isn't actual stitching.
The first step to quilting on Lola is to load the backing. I do this by pinning the backing onto two rollers. The one on the top of the machine will eventually hold the entire quilt as I work my way down the quilt top. The other roller holds the backing flat under the table.
Next I need to load on the batting. For this quilt I am using a 100% wool batting. The batting just lays in between the layers. No need to pin it down as I will be stitching it along the top.
I then place the quilt top on to the backing and batting just to get it lined up.
I need to find the center of the top and bottom. I then have a roller that the bottom of the top gets pined onto. Having the top and the back pined onto rollers keeps the top taught while I am quilting.
Once I get everything pinned on and ready to go its time to get some stitching done. Look for Part 2.