The Homesteader

I told you the other day about the new toy that is sitting in a box in my garage.  Which made me think that you needed to know a little of the background of how this all came to be……

About 2 years ago (my how time flies) I bought a longarm quilting machine from a friend who had upgraded to a new fancy schmancy machine with a computer and all the bells and whistles.  This machine is a very, very basic one.  No stitch regulator.  No needle up/down position.  The needle just stops wherever it wants to stop.  Very basic.  But it was a such a good price that Dear Hubby and I thought we couldn’t lose.  And it would give me a chance to see if I even liked quilting on a longarm.

And here it is!  I’ve actually said that it’s sort of like a featherweight on steroids.  The pretty cover on the end makes me think of a FW – and of course, the black color too.  I must admit that the first few months Dear Hubby played on the machine more than I did.  He was determined to learn to quilt feathers and he practiced and practiced.  Let me just say that our feral cats in the backyard are totally spoiled with quilts in their shelter!

When I finally took possession of the machine from Dear Hubby <grin>, I went to town with practicing myself.

I learned to do loops with stars……

And loops with daisies.

I made a quilt for a friend’s Great Dane complete with dog bones.

I did swirls…….

…..and Dear Hubby helped me set up the machine to do pantographs on the front side of the machine.

And although my first practice feathers leave a little to be desired and I thought I’d never get them right…….

…. I’m pretty pleased with the feathers I did on this practice piece!  Along with wishbones and swirls and paisleys and pebbles.  I’ve come a long way and I’m having such fun!

I’ve been watching lots of YouTube videos on free motion quilting and that got me hooked on Angela Walters’ videos.  I became a big, make that huge, fan of hers.  And in July……

…. my quilting journey took me to Alaska, where I took classes with Angela along with my sweet sister, Pam!  See?  We are her biggest fans!  And we have the shirts to prove it!

So my journey has taken me to a longarm quilting business and now a new machine.  That will be set up in my house soon by Angela and her hubby (shhhhh…. don’t tell anyone.  I fear the quilting paparazzi will show up at my house!)

In the meantime…… this sweet machine that got me started really needs a new home.  When I got home today, pulled into the driveway and opened the garage door…..

……I was greeted by the sweet Homesteader…. moved to the garage to make room for the new machine.  It truly needs a new home!

So if you want to try a journey into longarming and need a sweet starter machine, please let me know.  I’d love to give this one a fabulous new home with a quilter who will have as much fun learning as I did.  It’s really been a fabulous, fun ride!

And it’s only just begun………


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44 Responses to The Homesteader

  1. Love the story, and the new machine, I am sure you will get more “you” time on this one, and the Homesteader has given you a head start, now you know you enjoy this so much. I have an ancient Gammill, that is really a short arm, on a wooden frame, and once the handles are rewired, should be all set to go.

    • Barb says:

      I’m planning lots of “me” time, Jean! Especially because I already have 5 customer quilts lined up and waiting. So excited for this new adventure! Sounds like you will be right there with me on your Gammill. I hope you have discovered all of Angela’s many great teaching videos! So much to use for our benefit in online videos these days!

  2. Peggy says:

    Can’t wait for you to get set up and started…….and my quilt gets to be the first one off the new frame!!! 😊

    Have fun and ENJOY!!!

  3. lindafranz says:

    Congratulations, Barb! It sounds wonderful.

  4. Connie Kresin Campbell says:

    Congrats on your new machine! Looks like you and your husband have really learned how to make beautiful feathers, I have taken a couple of Angela’s classes online and she is great. I tried putting my domestic 15-91 Singer on a frame but the harp distance was too small and it was easier to quilt with it back in the table. The Homesteader looks so neat!

  5. Lavonne Crews says:

    New to quilting and would love to have a starter long arm quilter such as a Homesteader. Is your Homesteader still for sale?

  6. Frances Carpenter says:

    My husband bought me a Homesteader quilt machine also. Before I ever got to use it, he was diagnosed with cancer. He passed without my ever getting it set up. We purchased it used and upgraded the frame to a two pole system, but could never find the poles. It’s been 5 years. Is there any information that you could offer me in getting my machine set up and ready to use? Thank you

    • Liz Reece says:

      Ms. Carpenter, there is a Homesteader yahoo group they are no longer in business from what I understand. There are pictures and probably numerous group members still watching the group page that could offer a lot of answers. I have a homesteader and have used it for a few quilts, it is fairly easy to set up, go to the yahoo group page and look at photos. You can get poles cut at lowes, you will need the pole ends for sure. I have a different frame than Barb had. If you have specific questions I might could help.

      • Frances Carpenter says:

        Thank you. I’ve contacted Quilting Solutions for PDF files on frame construction should be emailed soon.

    • Steve says:

      The company that made Homesteaders is called the Quilting Solution. They no longer make the machine, but are still in business as a shop and can provide information.

  7. Jackie Wallace says:

    I have a Homesteader 18″, I have a question. Did you ever have an issue where the thread would break. I can sew 6 to 10 inches and it breaks. This happens continually. I have changed thread, needles, adjusted tension, had timing set and machine serviced and the thread still breaks. I bought mine like you to learn freemotion quilting and have had my machine 3 years. But now I can only use a filament thread since it is the only thread that won’t break.

  8. Steve says:

    Does the machine seem to work better if you are sewing from near you to further from you? (front of the frame to the rear of the frame) Or is the problem the same regardless of the direction that you are moving the machine?

    • Jackie Wallace says:

      I always sew from the front and it doesnt matter. I checked the thread path for burrs. I think it is fraying through the tension pass through and then breaking at the arm. The tension will not loosen up when the pressure foot is down

      • Steve says:

        I meant, does the thread tend to break more when pushing the machine away from you or pulling it towards you as the clearance between the hook and the needle scarf could cause thread breakage.

        Our Homesteader works well with Signature brand 40 wt, cotton thread.

        The tension discs on the Homesteader definitely provide more resistance than a modern machine and doesn’t release much tension when the presser foot is raised. To make sure that you are not over tensioning the top thread, start by making sure the bobbin thread tension is not too tight. (that would make you add even more top thread tension to counteract)

        With the bobbin case in your hand and looking at it from the bobbin side, make sure that the bobbin turns counterclockwise when you pull the thread. The bobbin case should be adjusted to where the thread does not spool off of the bobbin with just the weight of the case and the bobbin. If you put in a full bobbin and then hold the bobbin/case by the thread you should be able to pick up the assembly by the thread and have some thread spool off if you give it a light bounce. If you have to give it more than a light bounce, loosen the bobbin case tension about a 1/16th of a turn at a time until a light bounce will cause thread to come off of the bobbin. Then loosen the top thread tension about 2 full turns.

        Does that solve or at least reduce the breakage issue?

      • JACKIE WALLACE says:

        Thanks so much for you help. It doesnt matter which way I move the machine the thread breaks. I will try the suggestions. I have looked for burrs but am not finding any. Weird thing filament thread doesn’t break. The manufacturer of the machine had said maxi lock thread which was doing fine. I did buy a spool of Sew Easy by Superior and new needles with larger eyes and it broke to. I will try a cone of Signature and see if that works. Thanks again

  9. Frances Carpenter says:

    Following. I hope to have my Homesteader set up and running by August.

  10. Steve says:

    To Jackie Wallace… If you are going to try the Signature thread, please start by adjusting the bobbin tension when you switch to that thread type. It sounds like you have been using thinner and slippery threads. The 40 weight cotton thread will need to have things loosened up a bit to function properly and that is definitely the direction that you want to go to reduce thread breakage.
    My process with a new machine is to set the bobbin tension (kind of on the loose side) and then run a test with the top tension being rather loose using two different color threads in the bobbin and the top thread. (loose top tension is kind of tough on the Homesteader as it will seem tighter than a modern machine even when relatively loose) For a new Homesteader user, make sure that you pull the thread in between the tension discs, if you try to thread the tension discs like a modern machine, you may end up just having the thread go around the discs instead of between them, which would make it impossible to properly tension.
    If the test results in sewing that works, but top thread is visible on the bottom, snug the top up some and repeat. If bobbin thread is visible on top, try to reduce the top thread tension even more, before tightening the bottom thread.
    When you adjust the bobbin thread, make very tiny adjustments, not the quarter or half turns that you can make on the topside.
    I see that one person on the Homesteader group reported that they had breakage issues that was caused by the thread looping on the take up arm. So they glued a piece on to extend the take up arm to prevent the issue. It worked for them, but if you are not seeing twisting or looping of the thread before or after the tension discs, that wouldn’t be the issue with your machine. We have found that some colors of thread seem to be twisty, not sure if it is related to color or just the cotton that was used for that cone. Regardless, when we get a twisty cone, I usually just reverse the threading through the guides and it seems to deal with it.

    There is a Homesteader group on Yahoo. It’s not very active, but there is a lot of information stored there.

  11. Connie Orman says:

    I want to see more pictures or have more information on how you set up to do the pantos from the front of the machine. Did you just lay the paper on the quilt, and move it as you advance the quilt? Any pointers to acomplish this would be greatly appreciated.

  12. Sharon says:

    I have a Homesteader and need a new belt. I’m finally getting to the point of trying to use mine and the belt is broken. Any suggestions?

  13. Vickie Cunningham says:

    I was so excited to see you have/had a homesteader longarm quilting machine. I just purchased a used one and am sooo excited to start my journey to long arming. My question is may I reach out to you for some tips? I never done this and also need to find out where I can get a manual etc. looking forward to hearing from you. Blessings!
    Vickie Cunningham

    • Steve says:

      I have the manual and a couple of other files for the Homesteader and can email them. Send me an email at mann sj @ g mail .com (remove all of the extra spaces) I’ll forward what I have. We have upgraded from the Homesteader, but still have it and it’s PCQuilter robotic system, just don’t use it anymore. I worked through a couple of tension, timing and thread issues. The Homesteader is a very durable machine and once setup, it will probably outlive all of us.

      • S says:

        Hi Steve do you happen to still have the manual or any other info you can email? I just bought the homesteader used and it has no information. I’m having a difficult time threading the machine. Thanks for your time

      • Steve says:

        I do, but cannot post through the message board. Send me an email at mann sj @ gmail .com. (remove all the spaces) I will forward what I have, lots of good info 8n the manual.

      • S says:

        Thank you so much Steve I will email you now.

  14. Steve says:

    I have the manual and a couple of other files for the Homesteader and can email them. Send me an email at mann sj @ g mail .com (remove all of the extra spaces) I’ll forward what I have. We have upgraded from the Homesteader, but still have it and it’s PCQuilter robotic system, just don’t use it anymore. I worked through a couple of tension, timing and thread issues. The Homesteader is a very durable machine and once setup, it will probably outlive all of us.

  15. Misty Gorum says:

    Im looking at buying a used homesteaders long arm but i can’t find the manual or any information on how to get it serviced or cleaned. Do you have any idea where to find this info?
    Thank you so much

  16. Debbie Batts says:

    What position should the tension spring (in the Upper tension assembly) be setting at, like at 11:00 position or what? Thank you for commenting!

    • Marcia Groover says:

      I’d love to know about the position of the tension spring.
      Also, what would be a replacement part for the assembly?
      And for you folks who have been successful with these beautiful machines, what thread are you using?

      • Steve says:

        I ordered a spare by searching for “Singer 15” and found several on Amazon, Ebay also has them. There are a few different models of machine heads that were used to make Homesteaders, so you can either go by the model number of the original machine, or by looking at some of the pictures to find one that appears the same.

        We set up our Homesteader tension with 100% cotton Signature thread and then didn’t change to another brand as we were happy with the performance of Signature.

  17. Gabrielle Madden says:

    Barb, just saw your post for the on the Homesteader, do you still have this machine and are you interested in selling. Will you please email me with details at

  18. Vickie Simmons says:

    What size needle do you us on your homesteader longarm?

  19. Steve says:

    I normally used a size 16 and occasionally a size 18. (Organ brand, HLX5)

  20. Cathyrn Zimmer says:

    Does any one know if you can still get a stitch regulator for the Homestead long arm? I have had mine for many years and use it on occasion. But I can never get the stitches to be even when going from right to left. I am usually pretty good from left to right. What regulators would you suggest? Also, can I hook a computer up to the stitch regulator to do patterns?


    • Steve says:

      I searched for a stitch regulator solution for my Homesteader and was not able to find one. There was a company that had made one for a few Homesteader owners, but they no longer do so. In the end, I sold the Homesteader to move to a stitch regulated machine.

      The Homesteader worked well with the PC Quilter computerized system as the PCQ doesn’t slow down when changing directions, so it fit the non regulated machine very well.

      • Ellen says:

        Hi Steve – you seem very knowledgeable on the Homesteader. I’ve had mine probably 7years + and can never get the machine and sidesaddle to work correctly. Did you have a sidesaddle with yours?

      • Steve says:

        Ellen, I used a side mount PC Quilter with the Homesteader. I believe that is the machine that people called a “side saddle.” The PCQ I used was a large white box that sat to the right side of the longarm and was connected to the carriage with magnets.

        I would set up the quilting instructions on the computer then hit go/start on the computer and the Homesteader would start sewing.

        There was a black relay box that connected between the PCQ and the red speed control box on the homesteader that would start/stop the Homesteader in coordination with the PCQ.

        If I was going to do free motion, I would disconnect the black relay box from the red speed control box (maybe had to switch the wire from one port to another on the red box) then the red needle button on the Homesteader would be used to run the machine in free motion.

      • Ellen says:

        Hi Steve. Can you DM me?

      • Steve says:

        I don’t see a DM feature here.

  21. Trisha Tucker says:

    Yesterday I was finishing up a row when the red light came on and couldn’t get it to stop with that last stitch. I have shut down computer and machine several times. It starts moving but not stitching. Any suggestions? Got 3 rows to finished this quilt. UGH!!! Thanks for help!! Trisha

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