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: LeaMcComas.com. 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

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, LeaMcComas.com. The bricks can also be seen on Pinterest and a full prospectus and online entry can be found at BorderWallQuiltEntry.com

 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

Succulents
by Aileyn Renli Ecob
Walnut Creek, CA

Always
by Sachiko Yamaji
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Lola
by Annie Miller Romero

Simple Gifts
by Sherry Southgate
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

Echinacea
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.

Oooops!
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

 

Yummy!

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 on..it’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

New! Pro-Stitcher Premium update with Opti-Stitch!

by Johnny Barfuss and Mary Beth Krapil

As some of you may have noticed, we released a new version of our Pro-Stitcher software recently. You can find it here. It was released as Beta Premium version 00.00.2378. We made a video explaining the newest features and we will share those features here as well.

What does Beta mean? A “beta version” of software means it is still in testing and development, usually for a limited number of people. At Handi Quilter we have a team of engineers who develop the software, as well as a team of people who test it. We released this latest update as a beta version because wanted to get it onto the machines of the people who will be using it most, our customers, so that we could get your feedback. Remember, you can always rollback to a previous version if you find you are having difficulties.

New Features

Opti-Stitch: This feature automatically calculates the speed and acceleration to match a chosen design and responds with optimal stitch performance. With Opti-Stitch your Pro-Stitcher will smoothly slow down and speed up, in and out of corners and curves. Designs will stitch out with improved accuracy – even with the most intricate patterns.

Manual control of speed and acceleration:  You’ll have more control, so that you can modify performance if necessary. That means you can get the most accurate stitch from your machine and your chosen designs. The default is set for an Acceleration of 40 and Speed Percent of 100. Control these by pressing the customize button and setting each to whatever you desire.

 

Basting stitch button: When you select the baste button, you can adjust the size you prefer for your basting stitches. Then, every time you want to baste, you can simply click the button on the screen and toggle back and forth between basting and regular stitching.

 

You can also assign this button as one of your favorites on the left side of the screen. It will always be at your fingertips!

Motors locked or unlocked at the end of a pattern: This is something many of our quilters have been requesting. It makes tie-offs and transitions faster and easier. This can be changed in the settings tab > advanced button > general, then look in the side bar on the right.

Design Points view: When selected, this shows all of the design points of a pattern. It’s a new button on the ribbon under View. This will be especially helpful when selecting a new start or end point. You will be able to see exactly where the design will start to stitch after using Start Auto or End Auto.

 

Changes and Improvements

We have improved the integration of the Infinity thread cutter use at the end of a row or end of a pattern.

Simulation license will no longer be required. This will make it easier to load Pro-Stitcher onto another tablet or computer.

Some user-interface icons have been updated. We wanted to make a clear differentiation between the Information tab and the On-screen Help button (blue question mark) in the upper right hand corner. The icons chosen are more in-line with other user interface icons you’re accustomed to.

We rearranged the side bar on the right under the Modify tab > Align button. The “Center” tool is placed by itself (a more logical place). We also changed the layout of the sidebar under Modify tab > Rotate button to be more logical.

Under the Repeat tab the “Fit” tool on the sidebar is now called “Fill”. It functions the same, it’s just a more descriptive name for that tool.

We are super excited for this release and look forward to hearing your feedback. Please let us know what you think by using the form here.

2019-03-07T10:05:51-06:00March 8th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Ruler of the Month Club 4 – You don’t want to miss this one!

by Mary Beth Krapil

Have you heard about the Ruler of the Month Club? We are on round 4 starting this month (January 2019)! The HQ Ruler of the Month club is a great way to challenge your quilting skills and build ruler work confidence. Each month in the six-month series features a debut acrylic ruler paired with mentorship from your local shop, step-by-step video instruction and design ideas. You get exclusive access to a brand new ruler, and at a discounted price! And you will receive a special club member gift.

You can get involved at your local HQ retailer shop and learn along with fellow quilters, or if you don’t have a nearby retailer you can participate by mail. You can find a participating retailer here. Simply add your zip code and check the box for Ruler of the Month. If you are too far away or cannot visit the shop, simply call one of the retailers closest to you and inquire whether they provide a “by Mail” option. Many (but not all) do.

I am writing about the HQ ROTM4 because it is really special! These rulers are something you have never seen before. You can create amazing, perfect designs with this new technique. Handi Quilter has teamed up with Leonie West to create these new exciting rulers and this round you will get your club gift first thing, since it is a tool you can use along with the rulers.

Here’s a preview of the rulers:

They look a bit strange, but you won’t believe the amazing things you can do with them!  Here’s just one example of a design created with January’s Ruler:

So COOL! and So Easy to do. I wish I could show you more because each design is cooler than the last. But that’s for club members only.

So take my word for it, you do NOT want to miss this ROM Club 4!

 

2019-01-21T09:21:57-06:00January 18th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Quilting Makes the Quilt

by Mary Beth Krapil

They say that quilting makes the quilt. Sometimes, that is more true than others. Of course it’s very true in the case of a whole cloth quilt. After all, in a whole cloth quilt, quilting is all there is. A single piece of fabric for the quilt top, made fantastically beautiful by quilting.

At the 2018 Houston International Quilt Festival I saw some quilts that were technically not whole cloth quilts, there was some piecing and/or applique or painting or dying. However the quilting was certainly the star of the show on these quilts.

Pink Oyster Mushrooms was created with dyed and painted white cloth. The quilting created real depth and texture.

Pink Oyster Mushrooms by Sarah Ann Smith of Hope Maine

detail of Pink Oyster Mushrooms

 

This quilt is actually pieced! Karl used a single fabric, Quilter’s Linen. He carefully changed the direction of the fabric to provide subtle variation in color and texture. Quilted with silver circles and rays. The thread creates amazing highlights.

You’ve Got to Start Somewhere by Karl Burkett of Houston, Texas

detail of You’ve Got to Start Somewhere

 

There was a beautiful display of Cathy Wiggins lovely quilted leather made into saddles. Cathy uses paints and dyes after quilting the leather.

Red Roses of Texas by Cathy Wigginsnof North Carolina

Jackson’s Sunday-Go-to-Meeting Saddle by Cathy Wiggins of North Carolina

Bentley and Saddle by Cathy Wiggins of North Carolina

 

Stephanie used multi-colored threads to add depth and texture to this minimally pieced quilt.

Clyfford-Still Life by Stephanie Ruyle of Denver, Colorado

detail of Clyfford-Still Life

 

Cristina did not share what she used to create this adorable quilt. My guess is ink for the stripes on the bathing suit. What do you think?

The Jump by Cristina Arcenegui Bono of Alcala de Guadaira, Seville, Spain

detail of The Jump

 

This quilt definitely has some fantastic intricate piecing, but in my mind the star is Bethanne‘s wonderful pictorial quilting.

Into the Westward Sun by Bethanne Nemesh of Allentown, Pennsylvannia

detail of Into the Westward Sun

 

Another quilt with lovely piecing and over the top quilting. Sorry the detail photo I took was blurry.

Oh, My Bleeding Heart by Lisa H Calle of Pottstown, Pennsylvania

 

Vicki manipulated a photo of a Bird of Paradise bloom and then had it professionally printed on silk charmeuse. Her quilting creates the detail of the leaves and bloom.

Dancing Bird by Vicki Bohnhoff of Culver City, California

detail of Dancing Bird

 

This quilt was machine pieced and hand appliqued, but the dramatic use of contrasting thread really steals the show.

Blue Moon by Mary Lorenz of Austin, Texas

detail of Blue Moon

 

Here is one of my own. It was a challenge issued to the Handi Quilter Educators in 2015. It is a single friendship star block and I added quilting in a contrasting thread color along with some couched yarn.

Friendship star challenge by Mary Beth Krapil of Duncan, NC

 

You should add this to your list of quilts you want to make: a minimally pieced or appliqued quilt where quilting makes the quilt. Are you game?

 

2018-12-31T14:05:48-06:00January 12th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|3 Comments

Quilting Mistakes to Stop Making – Fast Five

by Mary Beth Krapil

This is the season of New Year’s resolutions and self-help advice. The time when we take stock and resolve to improve some area of our lives. The first step is to eliminate habits that are holding you back and quilting is no different. We can sometimes fall into bad habits that steal our success and joy in our quilting endeavors.

Here’s a fast 5 things to avoid while quilting, to improve your results and your quilting happiness.

No.1 – Looking at the needle when free motion quilting. You will get much smoother quilting lines and prettier designs if you look ahead to your goal rather than looking at the needle. It’s learning where to look that takes some thought and practice. Here’s some ideas to get you started. If you are quilting a zig zag design like this:

You start your line of stitching at 1, right away your eye should be on 2. When you reach 2, your eye goes to 3 etc……..

Or quilting clamshells.

Same thing. You start your line of stitching at 1, right away your eye should be on 2, the top of your clam, your goal. Your brain knows you are quilting a curve and you will quilt a nice smooth curve. If you look at the needle you try too hard and you will end up with wiggles. When you reach 2, your eye goes to 3 etc…….. To apply this to any design, break the design down into basic shapes, straight line, curve, S-shape, etc. Start at one end of that shape and the other end will be your goal.  Keep your eye on the goal!

No.2 – Putting items (scissors, marking tools, rulers, chocolate….) on the quilt. Or on the little area between the top pole and the belly bar (backing pole). This will distort your quilt. This is especially bad if you are a Pro-Stitcher user. Placing items on the little shelf between the top bar and the belly bar can be very dangerous! Those things can be forgotten and will slip between the layers of the quilt when you advance your fabric. It’s not fun to hit a pair of small scissors that are hidden beneath the top fabric. Or, as once happened to me, I managed to miss hitting the scissors only to discover them while applying the binding to the quilt! Get a tool tray to keep all those things handy, but off the quilt!

N0.3 – Using the wrong thread for the project at hand. There are so many threads to choose from. Why not take advantage of the one that will make your quilting be its best? The best tool for the job, as they say. For instance, stitch in the ditch on a quilt with high contrast between the fabrics.

Think, if you will, of a black and white checker board. What color thread would you choose to make your stitch in the ditch sink into the ditch? White will show on the black fabric, and black will show on the white fabric. Gray will show on both black and white. Give monofilament thread a try, it’s nearly invisible (which you will find when you try to thread your needle) (Small tip: take a sharpie marker and color the end of the thread, then you will be able to see it when you are threading the needle.)

That’s just one example. Take a bit of time to visit the Superior Threads website. There is a ton of information for you to learn about thread and you can see all the yummy thread possibilities. I’m sure you will get some ideas for your next project.

No.4 – Leaning on the poles while using Pro-Stitcher. When you lean against the poles of your frame you distort the fabric. So when you are creating an area for positioning your design or when you are doing your stitch-out, stay away from the poles. That slight movement of fabric can cause designs to not line up as perfectly as they should. Teach your family to never touch the frame while they watch your Pro-Stitcher at work too!

No.5 – Being overly critical of your work. We are all at different places in our quilting journey, beginner to advanced. When you finish a quilt, you can take a good look at your quilting and decide where you want to improve. Once you have set that goal, celebrate that you made the time to quilt (something you enjoy). Celebrate that the quilt is finished! Congratulate your self on small improvements.

Happy New Year!

 

2019-01-02T12:37:12-06:00January 5th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|7 Comments