A few months ago, a lady at church raised her hand during announcements and offered up a "quilt table" as she called it and it was free for the taking, but it had to be picked up that day. On Sunday. From a town about 50 miles away.
Well, as a new quilter a free quilting table sounded great! So I grabbed the lady after the meeting and begged for details. Turns out it was not so much a table as a bunch of wood pieces that you put your quilt on for quilting. (I was thinking a quilting frame now, which is still good.) So I grabbed my husband and asked him for an opinion and would he be willing to go get it on a Sunday? Sure, he says, just let me see if my Dad can come help. So I called the in-laws both to enlist Dad's help and pick the brain of my uber-quilter mother in law. She said it sounded more like a long arm quilting set-up and is not sure if it's something we have room for or a machine that will fit on it.
Fast forward to post-church, several phone calls between me, my mil, the lady from church and her sister who owns the table, and some Internet research. Finally, we decide yes we do want it, if we can't use it we could probably turn around and sell it for a decent profit ( if not gas money) so it's worth going out to get it.
It turned out to be an Original Grace Machine Quilter, which I have not been able to find on the Internet other than references to being replaced by the Little Gracie. These run about $400 - $600 and I am in shock that we got it free. More in shock that the lady was putting it out on the curb for trash pickup Monday morning if no one claimed it. I don't know what it cost her to buy it in the first place, but I'm sure it was an investment.
So, now that it was in our possession, and after deciding that having it in my loft with 4 kids is not the ideal place for it, we took it down to the in-laws house to set it up.
My father in law slowly put it together. The instructions are cryptic and sparse, so thank goodness he is an engineer. He finished it up this last week and Saturday I took the Wally quilt and the back down to give it a test run. We discovered it can hold any sewing machine which was good since we don't have $5-$7 grand laying around. Lucky for us my mil has her backup sewing machine.
It took us at least an hour, probably 2, just to figure out how to mount the quilt. Again, cryptic and also rather disorganized instructions. But we did it.
Quilting with it is harder than it looks. Move too slowly and your stitches pile up on each other, move too fast and they are enormous. :) But it's kind of fun. The only thing I don't like, is you only get 3 or 4 passes before you have to roll it. Which means unpinning the side tension things and then re-pinning them. Kind of time consuming. I can see why people charge so much for quilting. Especially custom quilting. With ours we would have to un-mount and turn the quilt several times for most custom things.
My mother in law and I are going to take turns practicing on it. That quilt is going to be interesting, to say the least.
Thanks church lady and her sister!