Improv Quilting


Did you catch the last HQ Live, Improv Quilting with Kim Sandberg? It was a fun show where Kim shared the improvisation-ally pieced quilt tops she created in response to her guild challenge and then proceeded to quilt one of them. Right there, LIVE.

Kim is our newest studio educator. If you come to a retreat at our facilities in Salt Lake City, or to Handi Quilter Academy, you’ll get to meet her.

Here’s some of the things you can learn if you watch this show:

1. New words! Like intentionally improvisational –  straightish –  facing

2. New use of threads

3. Watch Vicki Hoth step WAY out of her box and have fun doing it. If she can do it and not die from it, maybe we all can try something new?

4. New way to utilize Pro-Stitcher that you may have never thought of.


The good news is you can watch this show and all of our previous HQ-Live presentations on demand! Go to our YouTube channel here and be sure to click the subscribe button so you don’t miss any of our great videos.

Here’s Kim’s finished quilt from the show.

Are you ready to try a little intentional improv quilting?

by Mary Beth Krapil



2019-05-14T14:38:46-06:00May 18th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

Do you struggle with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)?  This is an actual word that was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. It means a feeling of anxiety or insecurity over the possibility of missing out on something, as an event or an opportunity. Well, suffer no more because I have some tips that will help you overcome FOMO (at least when it comes to your quilting life).

I am going to share some of the ways you can be “In the Know” about all things Handi Quilter and never miss out again!

1. Register for the newsletter

It’s easy! Go to our webpage Click on the purple tab at the top right that says “Register”. Fill out the information requested and choose your preferences.  Once you do that, you will receive the weekly newsletter in your inbox every Monday. It is packed with information about upcoming events and sales. You’ll see the Minute Motif or Handi Tip for the week, learn about new displays in the HQ Gallery, be notified about HQ Live presentations, have a list of upcoming education events, and more.

2. Subscribe to our YouTube channel

This one is easy too! Go to YouTube. Type Handi Quilter in the search box and once on our channel click on the “Subscribe” button. You will be notified anytime we post a new video. Be sure to watch some videos while you are there. There are hundreds to choose from with a wide range of topics. It’s a great way to learn more about longarm quilting, from the basics, to fun and interesting new techniques.

3. “LIKE” our Facebook page or Follow Handi Quilter on Instagram

If you are on Facebook, be sure to “LIKE” the Handi Quilter page. You’ll be up-to-date with all the news from Handi Quilter and see some fabulous quilting and quilts as well.  You can also join the Handi Quilter group page where you can be a part of the community that shares what they are working on, asks and answers quilting related questions and enjoys learning from each other.

Follow @HandiQuilter on Instagram too!

4. Explore our website.

The website is full of information. Do you want to: Find your closest retailer? Learn about Ruler of the Month Club? See a comprehensive list of upcoming Education events being held all across the US? Get to know Handi Quilter Educators and Ambassadors? Down load quilt patterns and quilting designs? Take part in our discussion forum? Find out about Handi Quilter retreats and Handi Quilter Academy?All that and lots more can be found on our website.

Follow  these steps and you’ll never miss out on anything ever again!  FOMO, Fear of Missing Out cured!

Let me know what your favorite source of HQ info is.


by Mary Beth Krapil



2019-05-10T11:23:50-06:00May 11th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Spring Cleaning Quilting Style

Who invented Spring Cleaning? Well, there are many cultures that lay claim to that, Hebrew, Iranian, Chinese. Where ever it came from, it does make sense. Could the reason so many cultures have rituals and celebrations that incorporate spring cleaning be that this is the best time of year for it? With the warmer temperatures and longer days it’s good to refresh our homes. Throw open the windows and hang washed linens outside in the breezy sunshine to dry.  And let’s not forget our quilting space. Whether you have a quilting studio, a sewing room, or a corner of the family room, it’s time to do a little Spring Cleaning Quilting Style. This easy checklist will help you get it done in a snap!

1. Tidy up.

I’m not going to tell you who’s studio this is. Just tidy up. Put things away. Organize. Find a place for the things you love. Discard things that don’t bring you joy.

Wait! Everything sewing related brings me joy. Even my seam ripper collection. This might be harder than I first thought.

2. Vacuum



Vacuum everything! Quilting creates huge amounts of lint and dust. Dig out those accessories for the vacuum cleaner and get in all the nooks and crannies, your longarm frame table and tracks, your wheels. Take out the bobbin case and vacuum out the bobbin area. Take the throat plate off and vacuum under there. (You can do this on your domestic machine too!) You’ll need a small screwdriver.



3. Microfiber cloths



Wipe all horizontal surfaces with these. Table, tracks, top of machine, cone holder, bed of machine. Then hold a cloth against each of your wheels and move the machine back and forth. You will be surprised by the build up of compressed lint that you will clean away. (By the way you should clean your wheels regularly, not just once a year! I clean for each new quilt.)



While doing this, take a close look at your wheels to see if there are any threads wrapped around them. Both sets, on the machine and on the carriage.

Wipe the fingerprints from your display and Pro-Stitcher tablet. No cleaning solutions or potions are needed for any of this. Just a microfiber cloth.

4. Schedule a “spa day”.



For your longarm machine. Check when the last maintenance was done on your machine then give your HQ retailer a call. If you don’t know who that is, you can find one here. Handi Quilter’s recommendation is to have your machine serviced once every 2 years or 10 million stitches which ever comes first. This will keep your machine in tip-top running condition.


5. Schedule a quilting day.


For you! After all that hard work, you deserve a little fun!


Are you in for Spring Cleaning Quilt Style? Let us know your organizing tips. We are in desperate need!


by Mary Beth Krapil



2019-05-01T13:13:48-06:00May 3rd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

I’m Seeing Stars

by Mary Beth Krapil

As I viewed the quilts at the AQS QuiltWeek in Daytona Beach this year, I started to realize I was seeing stars. Turns out, I was in the special exhibit Singular Stars – Lone Star Quilts from Judy Martin. I was amazed at the variety that was created based on one of the oldest traditional quilt patterns. In a Lone Star quilt the large central star is made up of diamond shapes that form the star points. There can be 6, 8, or even more points. Other names for the same pattern are The Star of Bethlehem, The Mathematical Star, Morning Star and Star of the East.

This is not an easy quilt to piece as it involves bias edges of the diamond shaped pieces and set in Y-seams when adding the corners. Variety can be achieved by color selection and placement of the colors. Traditionally, the colors were placed so that they create concentric circles around the center of the star.

You know how when you don’t know any better, you can sometimes take on more that you bargained for? The first quilt I ever made was a Lone Star. Yes, I had no idea. And, I HAND quilted it. This was one of the two quilts that convinced me I needed a longarm machine. After hand quilting them, I counted up the number of quilt tops I had waiting to be quilted, then multiplied by the hours it took me to hand quilt and I realized I would need to live to be 300 years old. And never do any more piecing!

Here is my quilt:

Lone Star
pieced and hand quilted by Mary Beth Krapil


Can you see the circles formed by the colors? The colors and fabrics kinda give away the era that I began quilting, don’t they?









You will see from the following collection that Judy Martin created some great variations of this simple lone star.

Queen of Diamonds
pieced by Judy Martin
quilted by Lana Corcoran



The diamond sizes gradually change to create the look of this quilt and Judy added a diamond border and satellite star blocks to embellish the quilt.








Star of Wonder
pieced by Chris Hulin
quilted by Carol Westercamp



These star points are asymmetrical and this is just one of the many ways they can be arranged.








Spiral Radiant Star
pieced by Chris Hulin
quilted by Jane Basin


This was based on Jan Krentz‘s Spiral Lone Star. The placement of the colors creates the spiral effect. I love how the spiral effect is carried out into the border.







Harvest Lone Star
pieced and quilted by Chris Hulin

Harvest Lone Star Setting Variant
pieced by Chris Hulin
hand quilted by Judy Martin

These two quilts are variants with the same colors. How different they look!










Wave on Wave
pieced by Chris hulin
quilted by Lana Corcoran



Graduated blue diamonds and parallelograms form an undulating Lone star. So cool!









Peppermint Twist
pieced by Margaret Sieck
quilted by Beth Hauersperger



Appalachian Spring
pieced by Judy Martin
quilted by Lana Corcoran

detail of Appalachian Spring


I love how how this scalloped lone star has a border print background. It almost looks like multi-colored embroidered stitches.









Galileo’s Lone Star
pieced by Judy Martin
quilted by Lana Cocoran



The bold colors of this star are quite striking against the white background.









pieced by Judy Martin
quilted by Lana Corcoran



Multiple stars make up this spectacular quilt. Check out the border!








Howdy Ma’am
pieced and quilted by Mary Beth Krapil



Here’s a miniature Lone Star that I made several years ago. It measures 20″ x 20″ and has some unusual embellishments.







Spiral Lone Star
pieced and quilted by Mary Beth Krapil


And I tried my hand at a Spiral Lone Star too. I took a class with Jan Krentz to get me started on this one.









Have you made a Lone Star quilt? Put it on your bucket list. They are fun!


2019-04-15T16:24:05-06:00April 26th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Interview with Lea McComas, Part 2

by Mary Beth Krapil

Here is the continuation of my conversation with Lea McComas.  Read part 1 here.

HQ:      Who is your inspiration or muse?

LM:      Definitely, my husband. He is an accomplished artist in his own right.  He studies the old masters, relentlessly. When I’m struggling with a composition or color scheme, or something just isn’t right, I can process with him.  He always has a helpful insight, or constructive critique. I do the same for him. At the same time, we are each other’s biggest fans.

Recently, we purchased a small plot of land with an old barn, next to our home and we are beginning the process of converting it into a joint studio.  We will both be retiring from our current jobs in the next few years to become full time artists. Who knows, maybe we’ll host a joint exhibition in a few years.

handmade carpet

HQ:     That sounds like a dream come true! A studio with room for all your tools and equipment.   What are your favorite tools that you use in your work?

LM:      In my studies of portraiture, I learned about the golden mean and how this ratio occurs over and over again in the human body, and particularly in the face.  From that, I discovered a tool called Golden Mean Calipers, It’s a measuring tool with 3 points, the center point being slightly closer to one side than the other. It will open and close to different measurements, but the distance between the points always maintains the golden ratio: roughly 3:5.  It is useful for me when the face I’m working on doesn’t look quite right, or my reference photo doesn’t clearly show enough detail. I use this tool to make sure features like the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, are in the right location and are the right size compared to the other features.

golden mean calipers

HQ:      What type of machine do you use to quilt with?

LM:      As for sewing machines, I have a Janome 6600 domestic machine, and a Handi Quilter Avante longarm machine. I’ve had both for over 10 years and love them.  They get regular cleanings and fresh needles. Once a year, they each go in for a full tune up. I take care of them, and they take care of me.

HQ:      Glad to hear you are enjoying your Handi Quilter Avante!  Of all the “tasks” in creating a quilt, which is your favorite and least favorite?

LM:      I love thread painting faces.  It is the phase of the work where I can smooth the transitions between fabrics and add the details that have gotten lost.  It is the time when a few, well-placed stitches can make a piece really come to life and jump out at you.

The part I really don’t like is the finishing: hand stitching the facing or binding, adding the sleeve and label. And then, there is the cleaning up of the studio to get ready for the next project. Ick!!

HQ:     Do you have any other hobbies / interests?

LM:      I love to travel and explore other cultures.  Many of my portrait works are from photos I’ve taken in my travels.  Since moving back to the states, I don’t get to use my passport as much I would like, but that will change after I graduate. Places on my bucket list include Africa, Antarctica, and South America.

Also, my husband and I share a love of the mountains and being outdoors.  Early in our relationship, we did a lot of backpacking trips together. We actually hiked up to a lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, with Long’s Peak in the background, to get married. Now, we live in the mountains above Golden, CO.  While we still enjoy hiking in the woods, these days, we sleep in a comfortable bed and just walk out the front door.

HQ:     How can readers get connected with you?

LM:     If you visit my website: You can see my latest work along with information about the lectures and workshops I offer.  I also post fairly regularly on Facebook and Pinterest. If you search for Lea McComas Fiber Art, you can find me and follow along.

HQ:     Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

LM:    There is a new collaborative enterprise I started a year ago:  The Border Wall Quilt Project.  The intent is to promote civil discourse and bring people together at a time when we seem so divided.

The BWQP is a collection of small quilted pieces, 8” x 16”, donated by artists across the United States, and around the world, expressing ideas, concerns, and opinions about the proposed border wall between the US and Mexico and issues related to immigration and border security. I organize these quilted bricks into panels, 10 feet wide and 8 feet high.  Panels can be viewed from both sides. As viewers examine each brick, they may also look through the wall to see and hear viewers on the opposing side.


BWQP – White House grounds

We are about to complete the 5th panel and and are actively looking for venues to exhibit the work.  It has been seen at a number of quilting events and festivals, but I’m hoping to share the exhibit with audiences that may not be familiar with fiber art, through universities, libraries,  cultural centers and art galleries.

Quilters are fascinated by the collection of work, but non-quilters are blown away.

We set it up on the White House grounds last September for a weekend and shared it with people from 27 different countries.  Most memorable were 2 young men from China. They stood silently, staring for the longest time. Eventually, one of our group approached them and their comment was, “We could never do this in our country.”

Information and galleries of the bricks can be found on my website, The bricks can also be seen on Pinterest and a full prospectus and online entry can be found at

 HQ:    Thanks so much Lea for sharing about your work and life. We certainly enjoyed having your collection on display in the HQ gallery.

Panning for Gold
by Lea McComas

Busy Signal
by Lea McComas

thread painted portrait of HQ’s own Brenda Groelz

2019-04-07T17:57:18-06:00April 19th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

An Interview with Lea McComas

By Mary Beth Krapil

We currently have a collection of  Lea McComas‘s quilts on display in the Handi Quilter gallery. I shared those quilts with you here on the blog when we first opened the exhibit. Unfortunately, the gremlins invaded our website and the blog post wast lost to cyberspace. So I decided to up my game and do an interview with Lea. You can now enjoy Lea’s fabulous works and get to know her to boot.

Here is what we talked about:

HQ: Thank you for sharing your quilts with Handi Quilter. They are truly works of art. What is your background? Were you always an artist?

LM: I’m a teacher. This is year 37 for me as a public school teacher. I’ve taught many subjects and grade levels, but right now, I’m a special education teacher at Boulder High School. In 3 years I will move on from this  job. Some call it retirement, but I’m calling it graduation; that’s when I’ll be able to devote myself full time to my fiber art passion.

Although I have always been creative, referring to myself as an artist is something I had to learn to do as an adult.  Even when I was working exclusively in my own original designs, it didn’t feel right. A voice in my head would point out that I didn’t have a degree, my work wasn’t in galleries, if others saw it, they would reject it.  Calling myself an artist somehow felt pretentious. Getting over that was essential to opening up my creativity. Embracing the title “Artist” meant that I validated my work, and all of the creative energy that went into it. It was empowering.

HQ: How did you come to quilting as your medium?

LM: That has been a lifelong process. I sewed my first shirt at age 6, then learned traditional quilting in my teens. “Lady Liberty” was my first original design, made in my 20’s. This design was the Missouri state winner in the first Great American Quilt Festival, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. That was a pivotal event for me; having that kind of recognition for my first original design was a real confidence booster.

Lady Liberty

Soon after, I entered a period of exploration. I discovered a local spinning guild and started making my own yarn. That included shearing, carding, dying, and then spinning. Soon, I had baskets full of yarn with no idea what to do with it.  That led to weaving and knitting. In one year, I made everyone in my family a sweater from scratch.

family sweaters

Then, in the 1990’s, I lived overseas, teaching children of military families stationed abroad for the Dept of Defense. I was assigned to Turkey, then Okinawa, where I used my free time to explore indigenous fiber art techniques.

Weaving in Turkey

Also, when I was in Turkey, I met my husband. Our paths crossed and diverged for about 5 years, before we both ended up in Colorado in 2001 where we’ve been together ever since. Along the way, we discovered a shared passion for art. Jim attended a classical art atelier in Boulder, where I was the proverbial fly on the wall, soaking up as much information as possible. I was intrigued by the figurative and portrait works. Everyone encouraged me to take up painting, but I was inspired to create similar works with just fabric and thread.

HQ: How would you describe your style of quilting?

LM: I describe my style as contemporary realism. I achieve this with two main techniques. First, is fabric collage. I used to refer to this as raw edge applique, but, outside of the quilter’s world, people don’t know what that means. Second, is thread painting, and this is the technique where I feel I’m most accomplished, especially in my portraiture work. I am, however, branching out into landscape more and more. Often, people mistakenly believe that I print images to fabric and thread paint over that. I only do this for class samples where I separate the two techniques for teaching purposes.

Thread painted portrait of HQ’s own Brenda Groelz

HQ: What is the most fun thing you have done as quilter?

LM: Wow! It’s difficult to choose one “most fun” thing. I always enjoy traveling to lecture and give workshops with guilds and at festivals. To be able to step out of my regular life for a few days, and just spend time with receptive, creative people, is a real treat.

Then, there is immense satisfaction when I’m working in the studio and a portrait piece comes to life. When I have a break from school around the holidays, I love to put on my comfy clothes and disappear into my studio for days. My husband, Jim,  is very understanding; he’ll come down with a tray of food periodically to keep me going.

However, I would have to say that winning the award for Thread Mastery at the International Quilt Festival in Houston for my piece “Bike Boys” has been the most exciting. In that same year, I had also won 1st place in the People & Portraits category for “Panning for Gold”.  My book “Thread Painted Portrait” had just come out. It was a full week of celebrating and sharing my work that opened so many doors for me.

Houston award night

Panning for Gold
by Lea McComas

HQ: Of all your quilts, which is your favorite?

LM: My current favorite is “Busy Signal.” It incorporates some hand-dyed, hand-painted fabrics that I made myself. The design elements come together perfectly. It is contemporary in its color scheme and its message. I also love the title and its double meaning.

Busy Signal
by Lea McComas

HQ: Do you still have your first quilt?

LM: Oh yes, I do. I look at it periodically and appreciate how far I have come. I started this little sampler quilt about 1974. Every pattern piece was drawn and cut from cereal boxes. Then, each fabric piece was drawn with pencil and cut out individually. Every block was hand pieced, and finally, it was hand quilted. It took several years and the most important lesson I learned was, “Start looking for shortcuts, lady!”

Lea’s First Quilt

HQ: Haha! That’s a great lesson! One we can all use. We will look forward to your book on that subject.

Tune in next week for a continuation of my conversation with Lea. In the meantime, enjoy these quilts that are part of the display in the Handi Quilter gallery!

2019-04-09T09:55:48-06:00April 12th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Spring has Sprung (at the quilt show)

by Mary Beth Krapil

Blossom by blossom the Spring begins. – Algernon Charles Swinburn

Has Spring arrived where you are? Here in North Carolina the tulips are blooming and that’s a pretty sure sign. The daffodils come up way before Spring decides to really take hold. They brave the chances of one more winter snow. Sometimes their prediction is right and other years they get frozen by several more weeks of winter. But the tulips are more patient and hang back til it’s a sure bet that the sun will shine most days and the temperatures will remain above the frost line.

happy tulips in my yard

If Spring takes too long, we can always count on quilts to provide our blossoms. Here are some great floral quilts from AQS Quilt Week in Lancaster, PA.

See the Leaves for the Tree
by Marilyn Farquhar
Heidelberg, Ontario, Canada

Petal Play
by Debra Lohman
Mechanicsburg, PA

Blueberry Hill
by Nancy Arseneault
Tucson, AZ

detail of
Blueberry Hill

by Aileyn Renli Ecob
Walnut Creek, CA

by Sachiko Yamaji
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

by Annie Miller Romero

Simple Gifts
by Sherry Southgate
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

by Maribeth Schmit

Bottles and Blooms
by Shannon Shirley

In Full Bloom
by Claudia Pfeil
Krefeld, Germany

Tiptoe Through the Tulips
by Shawna Crawford
Lewiston, MT

detail of
Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Twist of Flowers
By Anne Lillholm
Nuenen, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands

detail of
Twist of Flowers

Circle Doodles
by Rose Orr
Colchester, VT   I loved the fantastic quilting and this looked like a giant flower to me.

A kind word is like a Spring day.Russian proverb 

Be kind to each other and happy quilting!

2019-04-03T15:24:46-06:00April 5th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Apply Binding with your Longarm

by Mary Beth Krapil


I’m willing to bet 9 out of 10 of you bought your longarm machine because you were not happy wrestling that large quilt through your domestic machine to do the quilting. Am I right? We solved one problem. But, then what do we do? We finish the beautiful quilting on our longarm, then take the quilt off the frame and wrestle that large quilt through our domestic machine to apply the binding. Let me ask, does that make any sense? I am going to share a little tutorial on how to apply your binding to the front of the quilt while it is still on your longarm frame. It is quick and easy! The only tool you will need is a straight longarm ruler. I also use my HQ Square foot which makes the whole process much easier.

Along the way I am going to mention some different options you have for doing some of the steps. I suggest you try them all and see what works best for you.

Prepare your binding

Prepare your double fold binding as you normally would, at the width that you prefer, whether you use bias binding or straight grain binding. The binding needs to be at least 12-18 inches longer than the perimeter of the quilt top.
Tip: use a bit of spray starch, applying the starch to the wrong side of the binding as you press it in half, it acts like a glue that keeps the two sides of the binding firmly together and prevents the sides from shifting or separating during the application process.
Now you need to choose whether you will complete the entire binding on the frame or whether you will leave the last 10 or so inches to complete on your domestic machine.
  • complete the entire binding on the frame
    • open one end of the binding and cut on a 45 degree angle
    • press in a quarter inch fold on the end you just cut
    • press the binding back in half
    • Open binding and cut at a 45 degree angle


      press in 1/4 inch fold


      re-press in half


  • complete the binding on the domestic
    • no special prep required

Applying binding after all quilting is complete.

Quilt as you normally would, but do not remove the quilt from the frame. Be sure to baste the bottom edge of the quilt and remove from the leader if you had it attached.

You will start on the right side about 10 inches up from the bottom corner (or as much as your throat space allows). Leave a 6-8 inch tail loose. If you are finishing completely on the frame start with the end you cut at an angle. Place the binding so that the raw edge of the binding lines up with the raw edge of the quilt. There are a few methods you can choose from:

Using a Ruler

  • I like to use a ruler with tabs like the HQ Ditch Ruler or the HQ Mini Scallop ruler. The straight side of the HQ Versa Tool ruler works as well, although it is shorter than the other two. This holds the binding in place as you sew along the ruler edge.
    • Align the ruler at the raw edge of the quilt.  Place HQ Square foot against the ruler.
    • Make a few locking stitches and stitch ¼ inch away from the edge of the quilt along the ruler.
    • When you come to the lower right corner, position the ruler so that the inside of the tab is at the raw edge on the bottom of the quilt. Stop stitching ¼ inch from the bottom edge, or when the foot touches the ruler tab. Do a few locking stitches.
    • Do The Fold
    • – fold the binding to the right at a 90 degree angle to the right side of the quilt, aligning the raw edge of the binding with the bottom edge of the quilt. Finger press the mitered fold. Then fold the binding back on it self to the left, with the fold lined up with the right edge of the quilt. Align the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the bottom of the quilt.
    • Position your needle just off the fold, ¼ inch away from the bottom edge of the quilt. Make a few locking stitches and continue to stitch across the bottom of the quilt. When you come to ¼ inch from the left side of the quilt, tie off with locking stitches and repeat the fold. These photos show “Doing the Fold” at the bottom left corner and the top left corner of the quilt.
    • Ruler in place at the lower left edge. Note the placement of the tab.


      First fold at lower left corner


      Second fold at lower left corner


      Positioning foot


      Staring to stitch up left side


      First fold at top left corner


      Second fold at top left corner


    • Proceed in this manor stitching up the left side and across the top and down the right side. As you stitch up (or down) the sides, when you need to roll, leave the needle down in the quilt and very carefully and slowly roll the quilt. That way you can stitch a continuous seam.
    • As you stitch down the right side of the quilt, stop your stitching line approx 10 inches away from where you began, leaving the ends of the binding to be finished.
    • Remove the quilt from the frame and finish the binding on your domestic machine, attaching the ends of the binding with your favorite method.
    • Trim away excess backing and batting and the binding is now ready to be turned to the back side and stitched down either by hand or by machine, whatever is your preference.
  • If you prefer to finish the entire binding on the frame:
    • when you come close to where you started on the right side, smooth the beginning binding strip up in place and cut the ending binding about 1 inch past the miter on the beginning strip.
    • Tuck the raw end inside the mitered beginning strip. Then complete the stitching. The turned under edge on the binding will have to be hand stitched to keep the binding joined.
    • Now you can remove the quilt and trim the excess backing and batting. You are ready to turn the binding to the back and stitch.

Free Motion

  • Just stitch down the binding keeping the edge of the hopping foot at the edge of the quilt. Be sure the binding stays smooth and be careful not to stretch the binding as you work. Hold the binding in place with one hand as you move your machine with the other hand. This is the best method for not-so-straight-or-square quilts where you will have to make adjustments and follow the edge of the quilt.

Channel Lock

  • Channel lock really works well if the quilt is straight and square. Use the channel locks in place of the ruler. Once again, use one hand to hold binding in place and other hand to move the machine.

Wasn’t that easy?!!


2019-03-29T09:21:38-06:00March 29th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Sweet Quilts – Zero Calories

by Mary Beth Krapil

I’m hungry to share some of this collection that was on display at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo last week in Lakeland, FL. A group of sweet quilts, and like the sign says, “Zero calories”! This special exhibit is the result of a juried and judged challenge issued by Wisconsin Public Television with Nancy Zieman Productions in conjunction with the 2018 Quilt Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

The variety of techniques and materials used was delightful!


Katherine used raw edge applique and the chef’s hat and apron are 3 dimensional. She employed fabric covered pipe cleaners for the chef’s hair and the stars are made from glow in the dark fabric.

Galactic Goodies
by Katherine Dossman
Belton, Texas


Marianne used creamy fabrics, lace and luscious trimmings to create her delicious looking cake.

I Do…Love Fabric
by Lois Knaack
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
quilted by Marianne Belier


Phyllis added sparkly gold candles and shiny pearl buttons to make her birthday cake shine.

Birthday Cake
by Phyllis Campbell
Rockford, Illinois


Linda celebrates cupcakes with her quilt and rows of colorful cherries to salute!

Mega Cupcakes with Saluting Cherries
by Linda Marcangelo
Oak Park, Illinois


Renate is honoring her parents and German heritage and traditions with her sweet quilt. Her father was a pastry chef who would bring home an assortment of pastries on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday Afternoon Coffee
by Renate Diedrick
Green Bay, Wisconsin


Bonnie took fabric and lace from wedding gowns and satin from a gown for the binding. The cake topper is a wedding veil!

Let Them Eat Cake
by Bonnie Zahnow
Cedarburg, Wisconsin


Gloria managed to take all the guilt away! She used her vast collection of food themed fabrics. What a great way to get your “5 a day”.

All Major Food Groups in One Birthday Cake
by Gloria Welniak
Cottage Grove, WI


Deb wanted to create movement in her quilt, so she had some of her cupcakes tumble from the old-time carnival glass cake stand.

by Deb Kipp
Gillette, Wyoming


Laurie’s quilt really made me smile with her pin-up girl complete with tattoo. (It says, “Bake Gluten Free”.) She found fabric with baking words for her dress. The quilt is embellished with loose glitter, nail polish, donut themed buttons, silk flowers, rick-rack, bugle beads, fabric marker and a vintage earring!

Cupcake Betty
by Laurie Ceesay
Menominee, Michigan


Birgit’s sweet twins were created with pen and ink sketching on cotton, then colored with colored pencils, paint and markers. Everything was assembled on the background, then thread painted.

Baking Us Some Mischief
by Birgit Ruotsala
Green Bay, Wisconsin


Lori’s modern quilt honored the tools used to create our sweet treats. The whisk was made with hand sewn 1/8th inch bias tape and the rest is machine pieced.

Tools of the Trade
Lori Schloesser
Watertown, Wisconsin



2019-03-22T09:40:15-06:00March 22nd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Getting to Know Stuart Hilliard, Handi Quilter International Ambassador

by Mary Beth Krapil


Stuart Hillard is a quilt designer, maker, and home décor expert and a Handi Quilter international ambassador. He has more than twenty-five years’ experience and hundreds of published patterns to his name. His approach is fun and fresh, inclusive, and achievable. Stuart is the star of BBC Two’s “The Great British Sewing Bee“.  His first book, Sew Fabulous, was published in August 2014 by Orion. His latest book, Use Scraps, Sew Blocks, Make 100 Quilts, was published by Pavilion and he has a new book coming out in August called, Simple Shapes, Stunning Quilts, also published by Pavilion.


I visited the UK recently and sat down with Stuart to get to know him a little better. Here’s what he had to say:

HQ: What does being an HQ Ambassador mean to you?

SH: It’s a massive honor and a thrill of course.  The very first time I tried longarm quilting on a Handi Quilter frame I was completely hooked. The ease, the comfort and the endless creative possibilities were apparent the moment I grasped the handles!  You could say it was love at first stitch!  I’ve always cherished the quilt making process from start to finish but as a magazine columnist with four columns to produce every month and the author of three quilting and sewing books, the pressure is always on to make quilts that are beautiful but can be turned around quickly!  I’m also a TV presenter on both live and pre-recorded television and my Handi Quilter enables me to produce a vast array of samples with ease.  Working with my Handi Quilter Avante and Pro-Stitcher allows me to create beautiful, professional quilts in a fraction of the time it would usually take and I get to inspire more quilters than I ever dreamed possible.

HQ: How did you get started in quilting?

SH: I was a very early adopter!  I learned hand piecing when I was a little boy at school. Hexagons and log cabins mostly. Very traditional stuff which is still where a lot of my passion lays. I’ve been making quilts for 41 years now and I haven’t run out of ideas yet!  That’s what’s held my interest for so long, the shapes, the blocks, the fabrics and styles are ever changing and becoming fresh again but the elements that make up my quilts have remained the same.   I didn’t “quilt” anything by machine until I was in my 20’s and took a class.  I was given two options: “in the ditch” with a walking foot or “free motion meander”.  The free motion won and I’ve loved bringing a quilt to life with quilting ever since.

HQ: How would you describe your style of quilting?

SH: I’m definitely eclectic and inclusive in my approach.  There really isn’t a technique or style I haven’t tried and I love having a vast “tool-box” of skills to draw on whenever I need it.  I’m definitely a piecer but I love to applique too and combining them both in one quilt is about as close to perfect as I think you can get.  I love the traditions that our craft is based upon but I also love the innovations and ever changing boundaries.  I can’t wait to see what happens to quilting in the next 10 years!  When it comes to quilting my quilts, possibly the greatest asset I have in my Handi Quilter longarm is the Pro-Stitcher. The majority of my quilts for books and magazine publication are quilted with an edge to edge design.  I love scouring my library to find a design that will harmonize perfectly with my top, but not only that, I can alter the density of the design to perfectly complement my quilt. The thread weight and color too to create something that will truly inspire other quilters to get their fabrics out and start cutting!

HQ: What is the most fun thing you have done as an Ambassador?

SH: I just can’t wait to finish a quilt top these days. I’ve always loved the quilting process but now it’s painless, easy, dynamic and fun. The magic happens right before my eyes and there’s no “down side” anymore.  I get to meet thousands of quilters every year at shows and sharing our quilty passions is pretty hard to beat.

HQ: Of all your quilts, which is your favorite?

SH: That would be like choosing a favourite child, but if pushed, I would say that my favourite quilt is always the one I’m working on right now but ask me tomorrow and everything could have changed!

HQ: Do you still have your first quilt?

SH: My first quilts are all long gone I’m afraid, although I can still picture the little hand pieced hexagons I spent hours sewing together.  I hope those memories never fade!

HQ: Who is your inspiration/muse?

SH: My inspiration isn’t one person, it’s many. I’m inspired by, and design for, the thousands of quilters I meet in person or online every year. They’re the quilters who want to make a special something to wrap their son or daughter in when they leave for college, or their new grand babies; the quilters who have a precious few hours once a week to do the thing they love so much and need a bit of inspiration.  I listen and I hear the voices of those quilters when I’m designing and making my next project. I hope I fulfill at least some of their desires. That’s my intention anyway!  I also take a huge amount of inspiration from fabric and nature…there are patterns and color combinations all around us, we just have to see them!

HQ: Of all the “tasks” in creating a quilt, which is your favorite and least favorite?

SH: Bringing ideas to life is the very best part of quilt making; whether that’s choosing fabrics, piecing blocks, turning a flat quilt top into a quilt with beautiful stitching and thread, or even sewing on the binding. There’s nothing that doesn’t give me pleasure.  I don’t like making hanging sleeves or sewing them’s such a small thing in the great scheme of things but most of my quilts are minus a sleeve…oops!

HQ: Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

SH: Teaching in one form or another has always been my job. Now it’s really a very enjoyable hobby and I get to hang out with my quilty friends and share ideas and skills.   When I’m not sewing I love to knit (I’ve been doing that since I was 3 years old). And I also spin yarn on a wheel. It’s kind of my meditation!  I love to cook British classics, like roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and steak and kidney pies!  I love my garden but I’m more motivated to grow fruit and veggies than flowers. Travel is a huge passion of mine.  I visit Asia and Australia most years but so far my trips to the US have been a bit limited.
HQ: Thank you Stuart for spending time with me.  We all hope that you will put the U.S. and Handi Quilter in your travel plans soon. Many thanks to your photographer, Rachel Whiting, for the fantastic photos of your quilts.
Follow Stuart on Facebook here.
Instagram – @stuarthilliardsews


2019-03-12T16:04:14-06:00March 15th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments