The Free Motion Quilting Project: Sew Darn Cute Longarm Quilting with April Wells

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sew Darn Cute Longarm Quilting with April Wells

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today I have a great interview with April Wells, the longarm quilter behind Sew Darn Cute Quilting.

April is a professional longarm quilter and can cover quilts of all shapes and sizes with beautiful quilting. She offers multiple levels of quilting to fit any budget. Check out April's longarm pricing here.

However, April didn't start out as a longarm quilter. She wanted to make a quilt for her son and learned the basics making that baby quilt. She was a stay at home mom and quilting made her feel good and was something she could do while taking care of her children.

The turning point for machine quilting came with Cindy Needham's Design It Quilt It class on Craftsy which helped her master free motion quilting. She had lots of quilt tops to quilt so she bought her first frame, a small Grace wooden quilting frame from Craig's List and a Brother 1500.

She quilted on this small frame for quite awhile and even began quilting customer quilts on this setup before investing in a used Gammill 22 inch machine with steel frame.

April did feel the need to create a successful business once she purchased the Gammill simply because of the size and expense of the machine and frame. April loves quilting for others because she doesn't have to piece the quilt tops.

If you decide to try a quilting frame with a home machine, April advises you to find a steel frame because wood frames tend to bow in the middle as the quilt gets bigger and heavier. She also found using a stitch regulator really helped keep her stitches consistent.

Longarm Quilting by April Wells of Sew Darn Cute Quilting
April quilts using three different tiers of quilting to fit your budget and add pretty designs to the surface:

All Over Quilting - Covers the quilt with one single design and ignores the piecing design.

Mid Custom Quilting - A blend between full custom and all over quilting. She plays off some details from the piecing design to enhance the quilt.

Full Custom Quilting - Much more detailed quilting with dense designs and intense ruler work.

April mentioned that quilts seem to come in waves with lots of new quilt tops right around Christmas for gifts. She home schools her kids so she's able to take a break from school work and focus completely on quilting during the holidays to manage the extra demand.

This is one of the many ways I've found longarm quilting to be a great business for working moms. Learn more about April and check out her longarm quilting services on her website right here.

Our podcast sponsor this week is my website where you can find quilting tools and supplies to make quilting on your home machine much easier. Come check out the Machingers quilting gloves which I wear in every video because they help me grip the quilt and move it smoothly over the machine.

My dad prefers Quilting Grips which allow him to grip a small disc and reduces the pressure on his fingertips, which tends to aggravate his arthritis. Click Here to find more quilting tools from

Now for a few updates around the house:

It's officially summer and James and I took off for a short trip to Charleston just the two of us to visit with my sisters and their kids. I ended up keeping all four kids at once which was an adventure! James being 10, I really haven't been around little kids much recently and it was a fun challenge to keep them all entertained.

Thankfully we had stopped by a Tandy Leather store on the way down in Columbia, SC and picked up a few kits for the kids. If you've never tried leather work, it's very simple (at least from a quilter's perspective) and I've found many designs from quilting can be carved easily into leather.

I kept things simple with the kids and let them stamp and bang shapes into leather as much as they liked and helped James and his oldest cousin stitch projects together.

I love learning new crafts and I got into leather this winter after realizing it's much easier to nail a costume together with leather and rivets than to try sewing it together. I plan to experiment with this even more as I've been continually getting an impulse to make some small art quilts.

I've mentioned this before I think, but when your brain fires off a message like "Hey wouldn't it be fun to try..." it's a good idea to follow that nudge and see where it leads. I'll be sharing a post about this maybe over the weekend to share a new art quilt I'm working on and the many crafts I'm combining in the process.

Several quilters wrote in to ask how things are going with James and transcription this summer. I've found so long as I keep the audio files short - so under 10 minutes he does really well. Any more than that and it's really hard to keep him motivated.

I haven't been giving him much on that project because I've been 100% focused on my book on walking foot quilting. This has been in progress since last summer, but had to be put aside and now it's crunch time! I'm getting up earlier in the morning and setting aside the first two hours every day to writing.

I plan to keep this up even after this book is complete because I've realized I have so much more I want to teach and share and books are a great vehicle for that. So my goal is to have the text of this new book nailed together by Saturday July 1st so I can hand it off to my editor, Janice Brewster from Creative Girlfriends Press.

A block from a quilt in the book. Yep, this was quilted
with a walking foot!
Josh and I are debating whether to do the layout ourselves or to have that done by a professional as well. This is one of those things that I can do, but I don't like to do it because you have to be very consistent - each quilt arranged the same way on the page, getting the bleed just right, the text arranged properly. All that is highly detailed and it can eat up days and days of time.

So I'm going to hand off the rough layout to Josh first and he's going to get started, then I'll go back over and polish, then hand it back to Josh and I think we'll bounce back and forth like that until it's done. We worked this way together on the Mega Star Walking Foot workshop we recently released and it worked really well.

I want to do this myself because if we increase our speed with books, getting one layout down and solid will be like a template for other books. Also it's a lesson in keeping things simple, making it easy. The more I complicate it, the more time it takes so this will be a challenge to simplify the process.

Speaking of simplifying, I've read a great book this week - The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It's a very short read, but super helpful for any creative person wanting to make something scary. So if you've been thinking about writing a book, making a very different quilt, trying a new craft, please read this book.

I've listened to it twice (I got the audiobook) and identified many ways I've let resistance beat me down. Listening to this book really fired me up and I think you'll like it too.

I think the key is slow, steady work. Working on the book every morning for two hours is not going to get it done in a day, but it will make steady progress. This has also worked on my evening project. Every evening I watch a show like Legends of Tomorrow with James and work on his puff quilt. Don't worry, I will be making a video on this puff quilt soon!

The steps to making this quilt are complicated and time consuming, but by working at it for just 30 minutes every day, it's nearly done and I know I would never have sustained this interest if I'd been stitching it in fits and bursts.

All in all it's been a great summer so far and I love working on all of these projects. I'd also love to hear from you! Please let me know if you'd like to be on the show or you have a special quilter in mind. I'm always eager to meet new quilters and make new quilting friends!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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