Blog - Handi Quilter

Adventures in Learning to Longarm Quilt

It has been a few weeks since we visited with Diane and the HQ Stitch blog. We are following my friend, Diane’s adventures in learning to longarm quilt on her new HQ Capri. If you haven’t read the prior posts you can catch up here. Look on the right side and you will see Previous Blog Posts. We started back on April 11, 2020 with the post titled Getting Started with Longarm Quilting.

Diane has come along way in her quest. She overcame her fear and she has experimented with many types of quilting. She’s gotten familiar with her seam ripper, but learned to either stop before the point of no return if what you are quilting doesn’t look right, or Let It Go. In other words, accept the minor imperfections and know that you will get better the more you quilt. She has adopted the slogan:

Finished is Better than Perfect

So here is what Diane has to say a few months into her adventure:

DH: I’m in the habit of keeping something always going on the HQ Capri, so that when I have a few minutes here or there, I can sit down and quilt! Of course the InSight table can be adjusted for standing, but recently I’ve been sitting.

Adventures in longarm Capri

MBK: Yeah Diane! The absolute BEST way to improve at anything (quilting) is to do a little bit every day. You will build your skills and not lose progress like you would if you only quilted once in whenever. Out of all the things I say when I teach a class, this is probably the MOST important thing and probably the statement that is most ignored. Big sigh.

DH: I was on a roll when I finished the peachy-pink, green and gray baby quilt, so I put another similar baby quilt under the needle next. See Diane’s post about the pink baby quilt here.

DH: This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but when I made it I was just playing around with half-square triangles and using up stash fabric for the borders. I like the idea that all four sides of a border don’t have to be from the same fabric.

And I’m okay with making a weird quilt. I’d much rather make a weird quilt that’s a little off than make a boring or ho-hum quilt. So this one’s weirdness made it perfect for practice.

Perfect for practice

MBK: When first getting started it really takes the pressure off to quilt quilts that you are not heavily invested in. It’s good to quilt REAL quilts rather than practicing on a piece of muslin. You will try harder on a real quilt.  But don’t choose that quilt top that you spent 1000 hours piecing and you want to put on the bed in your guest room. You’ll be way to invested and it will add stress and make you hunch up your shoulders. No one can quilt well with hunched shoulders. Save that one for later when you’re more confident.

DH: I started off with the solid gray areas by quilting connected squares and rectangles with straight(ish) lines. I used a ruler for a few lines but decided I preferred the organic look with less perfection.

MBK: This is a really good call! Ruler work, although precise, is slow. When quilting we have to weigh a lot of choices. One of those is how much time do I want to invest in this quilt? Once you have an idea about that, you can choose designs accordingly.

DH: I slowed my hands down and focused on making straight lines. And guess what?! Before long, my straight lines got a little straighter. And with that my confidence grew. 

DH: One thing I noticed is that the scale of my squares and rectangles changed noticeably between my first gray area and my last. I’ll tuck that away for future quilts:

The scale for any one motif should be consistent from one area to another.

MBK: A tip for straight patterns with corners: pause in the points. To make things like boxes look good, always pause your hands for a second at the point where you are changing direction. Set your stitch regulator in cruise mode and the machine will take a stitch right in the point making a nice sharp transition.

Consistency in motif size is what makes for nice uniform texture. If some of your motifs are large and open the quilt will poof forward in that area. And if others are small and tight the quilt will be flattened there.

An example of consistency

Let’s say you are doing an all-over meander on a quilt. The spaces in a meander are kind of circular. Notice the red circles placed in the spaces.

adventures in longarm stipple

When I quilt a meander or stipple (name depends on size) I like to think of a round object that I know the size of, like a pea or a quarter or a golf ball. I keep that image in my brain while I quilt. I imagine going around those oranges with my quilting lines. This does 2 things for me.

1. It keeps my meander consistent so that I get uniform texture.

2. It keeps my meander nice and round and I like a nice round meander.

Here’s what happens: you start out quilting a orange sized meander on a quick project and you get bored or in a hurry. The next thing you know your meander is basketball sized! This won’t happen if you keep picturing an orange in your mind’s eye.

This trick works for other shapes as well, like squares! Think dice or diamond ring boxes. 🙂

I hope you are enjoying following Diane’s adventures in learning to longarm quilt along with tips and tricks to help her improve. What have you struggled with? Let me know in the comments.

by Mary Beth Krapil and Diane Harris

 

 

Shop @ Home LIVE

Shop @ Home Live!  If you’re on Facebook you probably already know about this fun new event that Handi Quilter hosts on our Facebook page each week.

If not, I’m gonna get you up to speed!

It happens every Tuesday at 2p Eastern, 1p Central, Noon Mountain, and 11a Pacific time.

It is on our Facebook fan page. Facebook.com/handiquilter

It’s a LIVE video filled with quilting tips and education. You can ask questions in the comments. Some questions are answered LIVE on the air and others are answered in the comments.

There are chances to win a prize!

Every week we feature a special item at a super special price. The presenters will tell you all about the item and it’s features and how to use it. You get your questions answered by an expert and you can purchase right from the comfort and safety of home.

Do you like to support your local Handi Quilter retailer? No worries! Just let us know and the sale will get credited to your local retailer just as if you bought it in their shop.

Please join us for Shop @ Home LIVE! You’ll be glad you did.

P.S. if you can’t make it live, you can watch any time later. A recording will stay on our Facebook page. You can also enjoy the special pricing because it will stay in effect til Sunday at Midnight Mountain time. We’ve got you covered.

 

And I Quilt Celebrity Catherine Aitken

Have you seen Catherine Aitken’s And I Quilt video? You don’t want to miss the beautiful scenes and quilty inspiration of her video. And I Quilt Celebrity, Catherine Aitken is a wildlife photographer, a retired business professional, and she QUILTS! She joins us here on the Handi Quilter blog with a lovely guest post about her quilting inspirations and lessons.

Catherine Aitken - And I Quilt

Here’s Catherine

As I was working on the piece I’m about to tell you about, I realized just how collaborative quilting is for me, even if I’m working on my own.

When I first started quilting – no sewing machine, no quilting tools, no knowledge, I did hand quilting. Two queen sized pre-printed whole cloth quilts and ten months later, I realized there had to be a faster way. Enter my first collaborators, my local quilt shop. Help with fabric, rulers, scissors and a sewing machine and I was off and running (sort of). I still had to learn the hard way that a 1/4 inch seam really is a 1/4 inch seam, if you ever want pieces to fit together. A quick trip to emergency, to get the tip of my finger sewn back on, showed me the importance of cutting carefully with a rotary cutter.

This was before Facebook, on-line resources and videos from all the quilting “gurus”. Just magazines and books. (I have dated myself with just one sentence!)

My muses

Today, the quilt I just finished had help and inspiration from Cindy Needham (stencils), Jamie Wallen (design rulers), Telene Jeffries (patterns) and Debra Linker (fabrics). Not to mention Handi Quilter rulers, videos and my loved Simply Sixteen (no computer on board). Not all of them are in this specific piece but they have all contributed to the journey to here.

This wall hanging is a comedy of errors (had to remind myself to laugh occasionally). I have really wanted to focus on whole cloth quilts since I started quilting. I enjoy free motion quilting my club members patchwork quilts, but I really love whole cloth quilts. However, I could never figure out how to design one or to do one on my machine with free motion quilting.

Finally, courtesy of those I mentioned, I decided to give it a try. Using one of my many beautiful fabrics from Debra Linker and a pattern from a Lady Jane Quilts (Telene), I started and started and started. I kept trying with encouragement from them on Facebook. I must have worked on four or five of different sizes. Finally, I think I’m getting it.

Deep inside, though, I still wanted to create my own design. So I went for it with a practice piece. I grabbed two odd pieces of fabric I had, a piece of batting that at least was the same size as the top piece and slapped it together. Used stencil and rulers to rough out – (really rough). In fact I ended up with a ‘quilt design as you go pattern’. Not the best way to do it. Then on to my machine…..

Catherine Aitken wholecloth

I brought it upstairs after a while to look at and John (my husband) loved it! And wanted it for the house! Lovely, but it’s a scrap piece as you can see. So I took it back to work on more carefully.

Of course the problems (challenges) began. There wasn’t enough batting for a border. And actually I hadn’t planned on a border but needed something to complete it. I liked the back better than the front colour and they didn’t have much in common. Did I mention that I didn’t have any of the front fabric left to use? And the only fabric that went with it didn’t go with the back? So I needed two different pieces – one for the front and one for the back!

Borders found

And of course I would have to patch batting in, as there wasn’t enough batting in the piece.

Comedy of errors. I was finding it hard to laugh at that point, but I liked the design so onward and upward. Things had to get better. I tried to measure correctly (not) so fudging became an important tool. And I learned just how important it is to ‘divide’ the piece into smaller sections in creating the design. When you do that there isn’t a huge blank space facing you that needs to be filled. Framing sections really helped in the designing process both before loading and on the machine.

Finished!

Two mistakes later, and yes, no one else might see them, I was ready for the binding. The two mistakes? One side has the feathers that are flipped and I stopped the border quilting short of the binding so there is a gap.

But with binding finished I like it. Thank heavens for that!

Am I ready for the next piece? Yes! With my team mates and their expertise available on-line I have started my new piece already. And I’m going to put to use all the lessons I learned from the first piece. Hopefully.

Lessons

What are they?

  • Treat each quilt as if it will be a finished work, not a practice piece.
  • Divide the piece into sections to create the design.
  • Create the design on paper before starting on the quilt.
  • Mark the fabric precisely, and check that the marks stay on as long as you need them, but still come off.
  • Have all the fabric you need for the finished piece.
  • Watch what you are doing so that the pattern is correct over the whole piece.
  • Don’t get too complicated.

Nothing earth shattering but points to abide by.

Last but not least,

  • Get as much guidance from sources like Handi Quilter and my friends, among many others. Google designs, watch magazines and other places like Pinterest. There are design ideas galore out there.

In other words,

Plan Ahead

And laugh when you make a mistake! And do have fun.

Now on to the next one, using one of my wildlife photos on fabric.

Thank you

To Catherine Aitken, And I Quilt Celebrity, for sharing your story.  That quilt taught you some great lessons that we can all learn from!

To our readers, what is your most valuable quilting lesson? Please share in the comments!

Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020-06-10T13:23:49-06:00June 19th, 2020|Categories: And I Quilt, quilting tips, Simply Sixteen|1 Comment

HQ Academy Virtual Sneak Peek

What is HQ Academy Virtual Sneak Peek?

That’s a great question!

Handi Quilter LOVES to provide the premium quilting education you need to get the most out of your longarm quilting machine. We want you to know and love your machine and, most of all, to be having fun finishing more quilts. There are many ways we accomplish that from

YouTube videos,

to in-store events,

 hands on classes all over the world,

Kim Brunner Academy

to retreats at the HQ headquarters.

But the premier event of the year is

HQ Academy

This year we had to postpone Academy from June til November.

We are sad that we will not see all your smiling faces this month, as we’re sure you are sad too. So we are hosting HQ Virtual Academy Sneak Peek.

It’s a one day (June 19, 2020) virtual event that features 4 classes to give you a taste of what HQ Academy is all about.

If you’ve never been to HQ Academy and wonder what kind of classes happen there, here’s your chance to find out. Classes will be 1 hour 45 minutes each. We will have a short 15-minute break between classes 1 & 2, a 1-hour break for lunch, then another 15-minute break between classes 3 & 4. Each class will include a live Question and Answer session with the teacher. When you register you will get access to a private Facebook group. Handouts will be available in the Facebook group to download and print out at your home.  If you can’t attend on June 19, you can watch the classes anytime after that day. In fact, you can watch the classes over and over again. The classes will be available for you to watch as long as Facebook supports the group.

Purchase a ticket.

The cost is only $99. Ticket sales end June 17, 2020, so book in now! Go HERE to see the class descriptions and purchase your ticket to HQ Virtual Academy Sneak Peek.

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

2020-06-11T04:23:27-06:00June 11th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Words We Need

The QuiltCon Charity Challenge is one of the Modern Quilt Guild‘s largest-scale charity projects. Guilds and individual member groups create quilts according to challenge guidelines and after they are displayed at QuiltCon they are donated to the group’s charity of choice. For the 2020 show, groups were challenged to create quilts using text with a palette of grayscale. The vast majority of the quilts incorporated words of encouragement, hope and inspiration. Words we need right now. So I will share these quilts with you in the hopes they will lift you up, bring a smile, and remind you that our world is full of sunshine (even though these quilts are gray).

The Charity Quilts from QuiltCon 2020

Be The Good

Words Quilts from QuiltCon

Be The Good
by Angelina Payton, Paula Pike, Jenny Armour, Carolina Oneto Tapia, Michelle Ramsay, Velda Roy

This quilt was made by an international group from the US, Australia, Brazil and Canada. They were hoping to spark the “good” in everyone. Quilters sure are a powerful community, who will find each other from the far corners of the earth to encourage and help others.

 

Hugs All Around

words quilts QuiltCon

Hugs All Around
by the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild

Hugs All Around was made to support a charity that helps people who have experienced domestic violence.  More than 30 members made blocks with the word “hug” in many languages. The circle (symbol for hug) is also symbolic of how a quilt is like a warm hug.

 

#Hashtag

Words quilts QuiltCon

#Hashtag
by the Orange County Modern Quilt Guild

Hashtags have become an integral part of social media to identify messages on a specific topic. Hashtags cover the background of this quilt! We have so much information coming at us these days, I think the message of the words is super important. We have to find balance, a place where we can be peaceful and yet stay informed.

 

Embrace the Detours

Words quilts QuiltCon

Embrace the Detours
by the Washington DC Modern Quilt Guild

We have many detours in our lives right now and the best way to handle them is to follow Kevin Charbonneau’s advice. Thirty members of the Washington DC Modern Quilt Guild created the arrows and letters.

It can be scary but what if  we do embrace the detours…..

 

What if You Fly?

words quilts QuiltCon

What If You Fly?
by the West End Modern Quilt Guild

The quote “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” is from a poem by a young Australian woman, Erin Hansen, known as the Poetic Underground. Pretty powerful words to keep us going in spite of our insecurities.

If we do keep going, maybe we will….

 

Soar

Soar
by the Lincoln Modern Quilt Guild

I love the luminescence of the background! It shows our world really is full of sunshine. Share your words on your quilts. They might just be the words we need.

Keep smiling, keep quilting!

By Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

 

 

 

 

Turned a corner?

I hope you’ve been following along with the blog posts chronicling Diane Harris’s adventures in machine quilting. If not, be sure to scroll back and read some of the previous posts. This week, Diane posted on the HQ Stitch blog,”Houston, We’ve Turned a Corner.” Diane says, “I quilted another UFO and for the first time I do not feel like I totally messed it up. I think I have turned a corner. ” Aren’t those happy words?!!

turned a corner Diane Harris

If you’d like to know about the quilt Diane was working on and how it came together, you can read about it here on the original post.

Here is what Diane had to say about her corner-turning experience:

I’ve been practicing machine quilting a lot recently. I have the HQ Capri stationary longarm. Companies used to call them “sit-down” machines, but the Capri can be used while sitting or standing, so “stationary” is an apt description because the machine does not move on a carriage like we think of longarms doing.

turned a corner Capri

It sits still on its Insight table (with stitch regulation!) and you move the quilt freely in its 18″ of throat space. Heavenly.

I may not need a therapist after all (see previous post) because this time I had a plan! Tomorrow I’ll show you how I decided to quilt this UFO.

I’m so Happy that it’s not a UFO anymore!

MB: Can’t you just hear the joy and excitement in her words? That is what finishing your own quilts does; it fills your heart with joy. Turning the corner after a few initial struggles and some practice time, and getting to a place where you feel you really can do it yourself, fills you up with pride. A genuine sense of accomplishment! Yay Diane!

She followed up with another post about how her plan came together:

Turning the Corner, Part 2

I kept the quilting simple, but that’s because Mary Beth Krapil, my tutor in all things machine quilting, has taught me to ask an important question.

How will the Quilt be used?

You don’t need to put heirloom-level quilting on a piece that will be dragged through mud puddles by a toddler.

A giving or community quilt (more appropriate descriptions than “charity” quilt, I think) can be something on which you try a new technique or explore a quilting idea. As they say, “The babies won’t care.”

MB: Quilting giving or community quilts is an excellent way to practice. It is quilting with a purpose. The quilt is actually going to be used, not wadded up and tossed in the corner or used for an animal shelter quilt. Since it will be given to someone, you try harder. You try to make those straight lines straight and those curved lines just the right amount of curvy. It’s quilting “for real”. If you belong to a guild that makes quilts for those in the community that need a bit of comfort, be sure to sign up to quilt a few. The quilt police won’t show up if you cross over on your stipple and that baby in the hospital won’t care a bit!

I used the Handi Quilter Skinny 2″ x 10″ ruler to quilt about 1/4″ outside the daisy petals. I did the same 1/4″ inside and outside the flower centers. It felt like enough.

I used a medium pink Superior Threads Omni and it looked great on all the colors in the quilt.

I used to want to hide my quilting at all costs because I thought it was horrible. But I’ve learned that practice and some help from an experienced pro have made all the difference. I’m starting to dream about the day I will want my quilting to show!

Yes, Diane, you have definitely turned the corner and I am standing on the corner jumping up and down and waving pom-poms!

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

2020-05-31T20:30:17-06:00May 29th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Machine Quilting 101

The adventure continues!  Diane continues to quilt and learn and has some questions for Mary Beth. Read some of the previous blog posts to learn about Diane Harris and her adventures in learning machine quilting on her new Handi Quilter Capri with the help of Mary Beth Krapil.

By Diane Harris, HQ Stitch Brand Ambassador

HQ Stitch Diane Harris Machine Quilting 101

and

Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

Diane: I started machine quilting an old UFO this week, and because I’m not experienced, I had questions right away. Mary Beth is a seasoned longarm quilting pro and is always just a text away. I sent my questions to her!

Machine quilting 101 Giddyup whole

My general plan was to outline or echo quilt the horses, to put scallops in the setting squares and to finish off with ribbon candy in the borders. (Debby Brown, another Handi Quilter National Educator, has gotten me hooked on ribbon candy!)

Once around the pony didn’t look too bad so I echo quilted a few more times. I always get ahead of myself.

Machine quilting 101 black horse

I stopped to see what Mary Beth thought because I wasn’t sure it was wise to continue.

A Little Q & A

Q (Diane): Should I stick with one outline here or continue with echo quilting?

A (Mary Beth): That’s a matter of personal preference. If you like it, go for it. Audition with Quilter’s Preview Paper before you commit. 

I personally do not like echo quilting, for the most part. Echo quilting creates motion and when quilted around some shapes like animals it makes them look like they are shivering or vibrating. Also, unless echo quilting is super-well executed it looks sloppy.

On the other hand, there are some instances that echo quilting is perfect. Have you seen Hawaiian quilts quilted in this style? That is an example of echo quilting that really sings! To do it well you need tools to get those echos nice and evenly spaced. The Handi Echo Feet work perfect for this. The Echo Feet Kit is a set of three acrylic feet with a ring that extends the width of the hopping foot. The feet provide a fixed interval to use when echo quilting around a motif. The Echo Feet provide a 3/8-inch interval, a 1/2-inch interval, and a 3/4-inch interval. When quilting an echo, position the edge of your foot on the edge of your applique and stitch using the edge of the foot as a guide to keep your echo uniform.

Machine quilting echo feet

 

In the end, I took out all but one outline of the ponies. Now I’m happy with their appearance.

Between the ponies are checkerboards of 2″ squares. I tried machine quilting scallops/curved lines but I realized that if you’re using the patchwork to create something regular, then it has to BE regular (as in consistent) or it looks sloppy.

Q: Do the scallops in the square patches work? Should I fill in the middle, or fill in the scallops, or leave it alone?

A: Yes, I love continuous curve (what you call scallops) in checkerboards! This works so well because one of the principles to remember when you are choosing machine quilting designs is that curved quilting lines accentuate straight line piecing. And what could be more straight line than checker board?

I like to use a ruler for continuous curve and the curve at the bottom of the Handi Versa Tool is usually my go to. Using a ruler keeps the scallops all the same height.

However, with practice, it is possible to get fairly even and consistent continuous curve doing free motion. Here’s a tip, (this applies to ANY free motion quilting): Look ahead. Don’t look at your needle. Your eye should be on your goal. Start in an intersection, Your eye is there where your needle starts. Then your eye should be at the next intersection. As you quilt to that goal you will naturally make a nice smooth curve. If you are looking at the needle you will try too hard and quilt a wobbly curve instead. Once you reach the 2nd intersection your eye goes to the NEXT one. Look ahead to your goal. The other advantage of this is that your quilting line will go to the intersection if you are looking at it.

I put a version of ribbon candy over two borders: the checkerboard and the narrow orange. If I could redo it, I would probably quilt them separately.

MB: I know you didn’t ask, but I will pipe in here anyway 🙂 You have good instincts, Diane. When it comes to narrow borders I always stitch in the ditch on both sides. Often times, these are referred to as “stop borders”; they stop the eye and let the viewer know they are leaving the body of the quilt and are entering the border. If you combine the stop border with another part and treat them as one it defeats the purpose.

I prefer to define and accentuate that stop with stitch in the ditch. I know it is no fun to stitch in the ditch. It is slow and boring and when you get done, if you did it right, no one sees it! But it really makes a difference in the appearance of the quilt. In the case of a narrow border, it creates a channel which is a design feature that I love to incorporate in my quilting. Worth the practice time to get good at it.

Had a little “whoops” on this one. I squashed him flat!

In the final border, I repeated the pattern and nested the loops together. I like the idea of nesting, but I’m disappointed with the overall effect.

(MB: Love the nesting! Keep that in your bag of tricks.)

My problem is a failure to plan.

Why am I averse to planning? Sometimes I think I need a therapist more than I need a quilting coach.

I get so excited about my ideas for quilting. I start right in without thinking it all through. My personal style is to make decisions as I go. It’s how I design quilts, it’s how I cook, it’s just how I function.

Note to self:

Failure to Plan = Planning to Fail

Maybe that’s too harsh. The little UFO is finished, and that’s a good thing. I learned some stuff. And I got in a few hours of practice.

MB: Maybe it’s not a failure to plan but a failure to preview. You are just jumping into this and are gaining experience, learning what works and what doesn’t. Previewing helps with that learning curve, so keep that Quilter’s Preview Paper at the ready. And call me, I’ll be your therapist.

Onward!

Follow along as Diane makes her way through Machine Quilting 101. Will she graduate? Will she find quilting happiness? Tune in next week.

 

And I Quilt celebrity Sandra Mitchell

She’s a trail rider, a wife and she quilts! Sandra Mitchell is our featured And I Quilt celebrity and has a wonderful touching story. Be sure to watch her full length video. And, lucky for us, she has agreed to be a guest here on the blog.
sandra mitchell and horse
Take it away Sandra…..
I am so excited to share with you about some new tools in my “HQ tool box” that I love, Love, LOVE!

HQ Black Light

HQ Black light sandra Mitchell
I used this while making a baby quilt.  It was a panel printed on Minkee.  It was very hard to see my stitching so I clamped the Black Light on the handle bar and the difference was amazing!  I could see my stitching!  I like that the clamp holds securely and it plugs into a USB port on the machine so no cords to get in the way.  Also, the neck is flexible yet stays in place so the light is right where you need it.

Handi Feet Micro Foot

micro foot
I have used it multiple times already.  So you all know, if you are micro quilting you most likely are using 2 layers of batting or in this most recent quilt wool batting and Minkee backing.  In any case the Handi Micro Foot glides effortlessly across the quilt while allowing you to see your entire stitching area.  And yes, you can use the Black Light and Micro Foot together for a win-win!  I can’t say enough about this little guy.  If you like to micro quilt this is a game changer for sure!

HQ Curvy Ruler

(note: this ruler is one from the Ruler of the Month Club 6, available to club members only at this time  – it will be available to everyone at the end of this club session, in September 2020)

ROM 6 Curvy
The Curvy ruler will definitely be my go to ruler for Continuous Curve from now on! This ruler has the perfect arc on each side so no more searching for a ruler that fits the block or triangle I am working on.  I have used this one a few times already and each time it has fit the space perfectly.  I also like that I can stitch a double line all with the same ruler.  It is easy to hold and I can quickly turn and re-align it.  I love my rulers and this one is a winner!
Thanks HQ for continuing to come up with new ideas to inspire and improve our quilting journey!
I hope all of you are healthy and finding and sharing inspiration through quilting and sewing!
I’m a Trail Rider, a Wife and I QUILT!
Sandra Mitchell
Thanks Sandra for joining us and for your inspiring story! We are so glad you enjoy all the fun tools we have for our longarm quilters. You and your fellow And I Quilt inspiration squad members are examples of who Handi Quilter is all about, quilters who want to finish more quilts to add beauty and comfort to their lives and their families. We strive to provide the best tools, education, and inspiration so you can do that.
If you haven’t seen the other And I Quilt stories you can see them here. And there are more to come! Don’t forget to take advantage of Sandra’s limited time savings on HQ Electromagnetic Channel Locks.
Keep finishing more quilts!
2020-05-01T16:08:19-06:00May 16th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Ruler Work

Have you been following along with me and Diane as she jumps into learning her HQ Capri? This week I’m going to take a small part of Diane’s post to comment on. If you’d like to read the entire post (you’ll be glad you did!) you can find it here.  She is having a great time learning to longarm quilt and her quilts are so much fun! I love her bright colors and improvisational piecing. I love how adventurous Diane is in her quilting and this time she gave ruler work a try. Let’s see how it turned out for her.

From Diane’s post “The View”

before ruler work Diane Harris

The pink and red flowers came next. I tried something that did not work when I quilted a flower with rounded petals. It looked like scribbling, and not in a good way. Ribbit, ribbit.

I decided to quilt straight lines inside the petals by using rulers designed for machine quilting.

Now you should know that I have resisted “ruler work” forever because honestly it just sounded like one more thing to manage. “I find machine quilting to be challenging enough,” I thought, “why make it even more difficult?”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

MB: This is where I could say, “I told you so!” 🙂 but I won’t. 

Handi Versa Tool

Ruler HQ Versa Tool

The Handi VersaTool proved to be exactly what I needed, but any straight-edge ruler for machine quilting will make straight lines.

Ruler Handi Grip

It does need to be a ruler made for this purpose, not one of your rotary rulers! Machine quilting rulers are much thicker. I added small pieces of Handi Grip on the back to help my VersaTool stay put.

Some explanations

MB: If you are a movable machine quilter Handi Grip is a good tool to help keep your rulers from slipping as you quilt. On a movable machine, you position the ruler where you want to quilt your line, keeping in mind that the needle will be 1/4 inch away from the edge of the ruler. Then you press down hard enough to keep the ruler from slipping as you glide the hopping foot along the edge of the ruler, but not so hard that you cannot move the machine. It’s a balancing act that takes approximately 3.14 seconds before you get the hang of it.

When doing ruler work on a stationary machine, it’s a whole different story. You will move the fabric and the ruler together and guide the edge of the ruler along the foot. Handi Grip is ESSENTIAL for stationary machine quilting. Without Handi Grip the ruler will slide over the fabric quite easily and we don’t want that to happen, the fabric and ruler need to move together.

There’s a good reason machine quilting rulers are thicker. When you quilt on a Handi Quilter machine you’ll notice the foot raises and lowers as the machine forms stitches, that’s why they call it a hopping foot! When the foot raises up, if the ruler was thin it could slide under the foot. Then when the foot and needle come down, the needle hits the ruler, causing the needle to break and possibly the ruler to break and possibly the machine’s timing to be thrown out of whack. That’s a sad situation because you won’t be able to quilt til you have the machine re-timed. 🙁

The other thing that can happen: if you don’t keep the ruler flat on the table or the ruler base and keep good control of the ruler it can pop up and get between the foot and the needle. Needle hits ruler, needle breaks, ruler breaks, quilter has a bad day.

HQ Sure Foot

Ruler sure foot

The HQ Sure Foot is a nice insurance policy against that happening. The taller profile of the Sure Foot provides additional stability while working with rulers. I always use the Sure foot when I’m quilting with rulers.

So back to Diane…..

The result was nice looking flowers with beautiful straight lines. I loved them.

MB: I love them too! Great job Diane!

Because this was my first try and since the quilt has a wonky theme, I didn’t worry about making each line an exact distance from the petal’s edge. I just focused on learning how to use the ruler.

MB: It really is important to be kind to yourself and to enjoy the quilting. I’m happy Diane takes a relaxed attitude and doesn’t over-worry about the results. She’s giving herself time to learn and to improve. And as you saw, if she really doesn’t like something she has quilted she can always pick it out and try again. Don’t do your practice quilting on your heirloom quilt top that you spent hours and hours piecing. You’re way too invested in that. Save it for when you become an expert.

 

I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it is! I am already looking forward to the next time I can use a machine quilting ruler.

And in my excitement I might have click-clicked and ordered a few more rulers, too!

MB: There are lots of rulers that can be used for longarm quilting, all different shapes and sizes. If you are first getting started the Handi Versa Tool is the perfect one to start with. It has 4 shapes on a single ruler so it can be used for hundreds of designs. There are design ideas on the packaging for each of the Handi Quilter rulers and if you go to the Handi Quilter YouTube channel you’ll find hours of videos on using the rulers.

Go practice and play now!

 

 

 

 

2020-05-08T18:27:20-06:00May 9th, 2020|Categories: Capri, Rulers|0 Comments

Machine Quilting and Muscle Memory

Diane Harris has been sharing her adventures as a new stationary longarm machine owner. She is making friends with her HQ Capri. I came across this vintage blog post from Diane over at the HQ Stitch page. Diane wrote this in September 2018. It’s all about machine quilting and muscle memory. I thought I would share it here because it is so spot on! Have you all been doing your 15-minute-a-day machine quilting play time? It’s so important to build your skills, but sometimes you just can’t be near your machine. In that case, pull out that pencil and paper and get to drawing!

Machine Quilting and Muscle Memory

by Diane Harris, HQ Stitch Brand Ambassador

comments by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

A while back, my friend LeeAnn Meduna gave a guild program on her machine quilting journey. She started out quilting on a domestic sewing machine, and later she got a longarm. Her quilts were beautiful and inspiring, but one thing she said really stood out for me.Leann Meduna Muscle memory quilter

LeeAnn brought along her sketchbook, in which she had spent hours and hours drawing quilting ideas with a pencil. She said it was the most important part of learning to machine quilt. I thought about that for a long time. Really?! The most important part! Who knew?

muscle memory sketchbook

You may have heard the term “muscle memory.” I did some research into what that really means. I like this explanation from lifehacker.com:

Muscle memory is not a memory stored in your muscles, of course, but memories stored in your brain that are much like a cache of frequently enacted tasks for your muscles. It’s a form of procedural memory that can help you become very good at something through repetition…

Think of tying your shoes or signing your name. You’ve done those things so many times that the procedure is stored in your brain. You don’t even have to think about it.

Have you ever watched a child who is just learning to tie his shoes? You can almost see the wheels turning in his little mind. He thinks about each step in sequence, and about how to complete each one. Eventually he will become like you, having built muscle memory so that he doesn’t think about the process at all. He just does it.

muscle memory quilting

Machine quilting is like that. It doesn’t matter if you’re quilting on a domestic like HQ Stitch or a longarm like Handi Quilter. It’s tremendously helpful if you have the shapes engraved on your brain, so to speak, so that you can just quilt them without thinking too hard.

You’ll have smoother shapes. You’ll have a better idea of how the shapes fill up the spaces, where to go next and how best to get there.

MB: I have to pipe in here with a few thoughts and a tip. Although the definition Diane quoted claims that muscle memory is mostly brain memory, there really is a muscle component. True, you train your brain to execute the path of a design and create the memory of where to start and where to go next and which shape comes next. But you also train your muscles and the nerve endings connected to those muscles with a certain sequence. Think about dance, if you will. You can memorize the sequence of the moves and remember them without ever moving your body. But when you actually move to the music and use repetition (practice) your moves become smoother and more elegant. Quilting is no different!

Tip #1

When you draw to practice your quilting, you should raise your elbow up off the desk. This way you are using the muscles you actually use when quilting. Whether you move the quilt, or move the machine, the muscles you use are your shoulder muscles and your upper arm muscles.  If you keep your elbow down when you draw, just like you normally would when you write, the muscles you use are your wrist and finger muscles. (Try it.) But when you raise your elbow up, it brings the shoulder and upper arm muscles into play. (give it a try!) Train the right muscles.

Tip #2

Never lift your pencil from the paper. Quilting is, ideally, continuous, so that we don’t have to make knots to secure our thread ends, stops and starts. More continuous = fewer stops and starts = fewer knots = more beautiful quilting. Draw like a quilting machine, continuously.

DH: I love Handi Quilter’s Minute Motifs for this purpose. Each one lasts about a minute, so it doesn’t take up much of your day.

Handi Quilter Minute Motifs

Each Minute Motif video focuses on a single quilting design. It shows a quilter’s finger tracing the design so you can see exactly how it’s done. Select the full-screen icon at the bottom right of the screen to get the best view. It’s the one on the far right.

The full-screen icon is the one on the far right.

Click it to make the video fill up your computer screen.

 

After you’ve watched the video a couple of times, download the free pdf which is listed with every Minute Motif video. Print it and then trace it over and over with your finger. Each repetition helps build your muscle memory of that motif.

MB: Here’s a tip: Slip the printout into a plastic page protector and use a dry erase marker to trace it over and over.

DH: Get out your sketchbook (any notebook will do, it doesn’t need to be fancy) and pencil and draw it yourself a couple of times or until you feel comfortable and the motif looks good. Repeat this process daily for several days, and then layer up a practice sandwich and give it a try on your sewing machine or your longarm.

If you cultivate your muscle memory in regard to machine quilting on a regular basis, you’ll improve greatly. As LeeAnn said in her program, drawing in your sketchbook may be the most important part of learning how to machine quilt, no matter what kind of machine you’re using.

MB: So Diane, I guess you knew all along that daily practice makes perfect. 🙂 Machine quilting and muscle memory go hand in hand.

 

 

2020-05-01T15:12:51-06:00May 2nd, 2020|Categories: Capri, Education, Uncategorized|0 Comments