When I first posted about buying my Gammill, I mentioned that there was no stitch regulator on the machine. I knew that it was not a necessity on a longarm, but it really seemed like it would have been a great feature to have, especially for a newbie just starting out. I had a lovely comment from Kristi on that post, and she said:
Congratulations! I bought my Gammill in 1999 because we were buying a new home, too. You’ll never regret it. I learned without a stitch regulator and never missed it. You’ll do fine without it.
I’m only working on the second quilt I’ve ever done on that machine (not counting practice sandwiches of course), so I am not pretending to be a longarm expert, but just wanted to talk a little bit about my experience (such as it is) without a stitch regulator so far. I mention Kristi’s comment because I come back to it a lot in my mind. Without a stitch regulator, I’ve really had to focus on moving my machine consistently and smoothly. This hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be, though. And since longarms don’t have a pedal for you to control your speed with, they have a speed control dial. Before I started the quilt I’m currently working on, I loaded a practice sandwich onto the frame and figured out how fast I wanted to move the machine around to execute the quilting design I had chosen. Then, I fiddled with the speed control until I found a needle speed that matched the speed of my movement to produce stitches the size I wanted them to be. And then I got to quilting and didn’t really think about it again.
I realized yesterday though that in the back of my head a thought was living that went something like this: You really need a stitch regulator. You won’t be able to upgrade your machine for some time, so maybe you should start saving for a stitch regulator to retrofit the one you have now. You’ll just have to make do, but you really need a stitch regulator. I didn’t even realize I was thinking this for awhile, but when I realized that thought was there, I had to give myself a reality check.
I do not need a stitch regulator. You don’t need a stitch regulator. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they are wonderful to have and I’m not saying I will never have one. Maybe I will someday. But looking at those close-ups of the quilting shows me that the consistency of my stitch length is just fine. But even though I was looking at my stitches with my own eyes as I was quilting, still this anxiety of not having a stitch regulator was building in my mind to the point that it was starting to rob my joy in owning my Gammill. Here I have this beautiful machine, and I was finding a reason to not be content with it- and a silly reason, to boot. After all, having a stitch regulator will not make anyone a master quilter overnight.
In fact, if I could have any features magically appear on my machine right now, I’d wish for channel lock and a needle up/down button. Those also aren’t necessities, but they would be very handy! Much handier than a stitch regulator.
I wanted to post this for a couple of reasons. One, because I like to chronicle where I’m at with my quilting and be as real as possible about it. When I look back on my old posts, it’s nice to see the evolution happening. Two, to (hopefully) be encouraging. You don’t need a stitch regulator to make good stitches. You don’t need one on your longarm, and you don’t need one on your domestic if that’s where you free motion quilt. Don’t let silly things steal your joy. Quilting should be fun before it’s anything else.