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Can You Hear the Echo? Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

Another free motion skill you will want to master is echo quilting. It has so many uses! Echo quilting is uniformly distanced quilting lines that outline or echo a shape. This simple technique can have really big impact on your quilts.

If you want to showcase a patch or applique or a quilting motif, echoing is a great way to accomplish that.

A classic example of echo quilting is seen on Hawaiian quilts. The quilting echos a central applique and is repeated until the entire space (or quilt) is filled.

Image of a Hawaiian quilt Hiart, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hiart, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the above example, the quilter utilized echo quilting inside the applique as well. Notice how the echo quilting emphasizes the shape of the applique without distracting from it.

Hawaiian quilting is an extreme example. Sometimes you’ll just use a single echo line to frame a particular element. Like this mug rug.

 

Look at the difference when the shape is not echoed.

The echoing really accentuates the shape.

When you take the time to quilt a challenging or intricate design you want it to be noticed. Like feathers. Feathers always look better with an echo.

 

Create a frame around a particular element

Echoing on both sides of the string of pearls makes it stand out.

 

A double echo around the central octagon is very effective.

 

If two is good, three must be better! (PSA: this thinking does not apply to adult beverages or medications.)

Fill spaces

Concentric echos fill the center of this ring.

 

Try off-setting the echos for a completely different look.

 

It works for filling the space outside of the ring as well.

 

Multiple echos with varying spacing can be quite interesting

These echos create faux borders which can be filled with any design of your choice.

 

The gentle wave that is on both sides of the small circles has an echo on the top and bottom with a deeper wave echo. Then at the top, a wide-spaced echo that is symmetrical with the wave below it sets the design apart. Below, a less-formal set of echos fills the space between the wave design and the larger circles.

By taking a simple shape and echoing it, I created a new cool design!

How to do it?

A great no-mark way to stitch a simple echo is to use the edge of your hopping foot as a guide for spacing. On our Handi Quilter machines the needle is 1/4 inch away from the edge of the foot. So, if you glide the edge of the foot along the edge of the thing you are echoing, you’ll get a nice 1/4th inch echo.

If you want different spacing you could give the Handi Echo Feet a try. They come in a set of three for three different sizes of echos. The feet provide a fixed interval to use when echo quilting around a motif or using rulers. Sizes are 3/8-inch interval, a 1/2-inch interval, and a 3/4-inch interval. These are compatible with all HQ machines with Interchangeable Foot Mount. If your machine is newer than November 2014 you have the correct foot mount. If not, there is a Conversion kit available to update you machine to be able to use all the cool feet available.

Remember you can always do less-formal free flowing echos too!

Join next week when I’ll show you some useful designs that incorporate echoing.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

2022-01-20T13:44:51-07:00January 22nd, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Quilt From the Back – Free Motion for Beginners

When we talk about “quilt from the back”, most quilters think of pantographs or groovy boards. Handi Quilter sells the Quilt From the Back Kit for folks interested in quilting with pantographs. Pantographs are printed quilting designs that usually come on rolls. They are placed on the table at the back of the machine and you quilt by following along the pattern line with a laser light attached to the machine. You use the controls on the handlebars at the back. Can you see the little dot of laser light on the pattern in the photo?

HQ Amara with quilt from the back kit

But this post is about quilting from the back – free motion style! This technique draws on all the practice and skills we’ve gained so far in this free motion quilting for beginners series. One of the things we learned was to draw quilting inspiration from the fabrics in the quilt. But what about the backing fabric? What if it has a really cool quilting design? You could make a stencil using Golden Threads paper like in this post. Then mark the designs on the quilt top. But why mark, when you don’t have to?

An Example

I had this cute baby quilt top that needed quilting. This one will go to Quilts for Kids to bless a child in a local hospital.

 

With super cute backing fabric.

I was stumped about what design to quilt. Looking at the backing I thought those flowers would make a good design for this quilt.

So I decided to quilt from the back and use the flowers on the backing fabric as my guide. No mark quilting!

Here’s how I did it:

To quilt the back, the backing fabric needs to be on top. Since the quilt top is smaller than the backing that could be problematic. My solution was to load the quilt as I normally would. With the quilt backing on the bottom, and the quilt top on top, and the batting in between.

Then I basted the top and side (within the throat space). I also basted across the body of the quilt about every 4-5 inches. Using a long 1 inch basting stitch made it easy to remove the basting later. Als0, I chose a contrasting thread to do the basting.

 

I worked my way down, basting the sides and across the quilt. Then across the bottom edge.

Once the quilt was all basted, I cut away the excess batting using my Handi batting scissors. Love these scissors!

 

Then I unpinned from the leaders, flipped it over (so that the backing was facing up) and pinned it back on.

 

Now comes the fun part! I quilted around each flower connecting one to another with a short line of stitching. The basting around the outside edge of the quilt showed me where to quilt. I removed the interior basting little-by-little as I went.

quilting path

Start tracing around the petals:

quilt from the back quilting path

 

Complete all the petals and go into the flower to go around the center with a loop:

 

Travel out between two petals and stitch to the next flower:

 

Repeat!  This stitched really fast.

 

Some of the skills you will utilize with this technique are:

Quilting curves and loops – two of our basic shapes!

Tracing a design – remember those practice fabrics?

Looking ahead – Not only to get nice smooth curves, but also to know where to exit the flower and which flower you will stitch to next and where you will enter that next one.

It’s easy quilting, but you do have to have your brain engaged for all this looking ahead. Remember the secret!

And it’s so fun to unpin from the leaders and turn it over to see what it looks like on top.

 

I think the quilting looks so fun on the same fabric squares on the front. Like echoing.

Give it a try and let us know how it went for you in the comments. BTW this is easier to do on a stationary machine or a domestic machine. All you have to do is flip it over!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Welcome New Quilters!

Santa ordered a slew of HQ longarm quilting machines from us this year to be delivered all over the world. So I want to say, “welcome new quilters! to the Handi Quilter family.”  Families look after one another and help each other out. And that’s what Handi Quilter is all about.

Helping you finish your quilts

We do that in 3 ways.

1. Equip

We make great machines that will help you finish quilts quickly, easily, and professionally. Visit our website and clock on the machine tab to check out all the possibilities.

2. Educate

We provide the education you need to get the most from your machine. At the website, click on the Education, Events and Resources tabs to see the many opportunities available to you.

3. Inspire

We share inspiration to spark your creativity. You’ll find a Community tab on the website that shares some of the ways we endevor to inspire you.

This blog is all about #2 and #3.

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

At the end of May 2021 I started a series of posts on Free Motion Quilting for Beginners. It has become wildly popular! And I know you’ll want to join in. You’ll probably want to start from the very beginning. To make it easy for you I have compiled a list of the links to all the posts. This list is in order from first to most recent.

Pace Yourself

There are 20 posts and you’re going to want to pace yourself. I recommend reading one or two a week and practicing the techniques. Everyday practice/play is essential to becoming a good free motion quilter. Gift yourself the time to learn. And be kind to yourself. Some shapes will come easy to you and others you will find more challenging. It’s not that you cannot quilt those shapes, you just need more practice time.

Pro-Tip: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” The pro who said these words was Vincent VanGogh. Seems he should know.

portrait of Vincent VanGogh

 

Getting Started

Curves

Loops

Ready for a Real Quilt!

Stipple / Meander

 

Are you keeping up with your everyday quilting play? I hope that it becomes a life-long habit.

Spiral out of Control!

 

S Shapes

Leaves

Holiday designs

Edge to edge

Stay tuned!

More posts on free motion quilting are coming.  I hope this list is helpful for you. For those who have been following along, show us your best quilting with a pic in the comments to welcome new quilters. We are on the road to becoming Super Quilters!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Happy New Year!

I want to wish each of you a happy new year! What a wonderful thought it is that some of our best quilts haven’t even happened yet. I hope some of what I write here will help you make your best quilt EVER!

My wish for you ……. that your seam ripper will collect dust in 2022. Enjoy every stitch!

Happy New Year photowith clock and holiday tree

 

With warmest wishes for health and happiness,

Mary Beth

P.S.  If there’s something you’d like to see discussed here on the blog this year, let me know in the comments.

2021-12-09T14:39:17-07:00January 1st, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Happy Holidays!

I hope your holidays are filled with warmth, cheerful celebration and a little magic. The love and laughter of family and friends, good food and treasured traditions.

holidays tree with ornaments

Thanks for joining me here on the Handi Quilter blog!

With warmest wishes,

Mary Beth

 

2021-12-09T14:19:18-07:00December 25th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – More Anything E2E Inspiration

Last week we got inspiration from fabric and created a design for stitching an Anything E2E. I hope it got you thinking about other designs and other places to draw inspiration.

Look around

All you need to do is take a look around your environment. There are quilting motifs everywhere!

 

I love this bird shape on a little wall decor.

photo for inspiration wall decor

 

Tableware tulip

photo for inspiration bowl with painted tulip

 

Teddy

photo for inspiration teddy bear

 

Leaf found on an autumn wreath

photo for inspiration wreath detail

 

Look closely at wallpaper, carpet, tiles.  Don’t forget about books and magazines.

 

Shapes

I’m interested in the SHAPES that I can create a design with. For instance, the bird on that little wall decor:

line drawing showing stitch path for bird

Start stitching at the green dot, stitch around the wing. When you get back to the start point turn and stitch around the body. End at the red dot. (ignore the dashed line)

Pro Tip: Lazy loops make a good flowing connection between birds. It kinda looks like the bird’s flight path.

This bird might be a shape that’s a little hard to stitch consistently. It’s not as forgiving as flowers or leaves. The proportions of the body parts need to be consistent to look nice. As a beginner, (or even the pros do this) you can rely on some help to get the shape right. What to do?

Create a stencil

Remember the flower inspiration from fabric last week?

fabric with a multi-color floral motif

What if you wanted all your flowers to look almost the same. Same size, same number of petals, same shape center….  Or maybe you were a little challenged quilting that flower without some guidelines and would appreciate some help. Here’s how to help yourself.

Step 1: trace or draw from inspiration

Trace or draw your design. I like to use a light box for tracing but you can also use a sunny window.

flower inspiration on a light box

 

Step 2: Resize

Decide how big you’d like your quilted flower to be. Measure the traced drawing of the flower. If you need to adjust the size, the easiest way is to use a copy machine.

That round tool in the photo is a Quilter’s Assistant Proportional Scale. Instead of guessing what percent to enlarge your copy (and wasting lots of paper refining your guess), the QAPS easily tells you what % to punch into the copy machine. No math required!

Line up the original size on the inner ring with the reproduction size (the size you desire) on the outer ring. The number that shows in the window indicated by the black arrows is what you will enter into the copy machine.

Notice the instructions are printed right on the QASP.

Print out the re-sized image.

 

Step 3: Trace on Golden Threads paper

Golden Threads paper is a wonder in the sewing studio! It has many uses. It comes on a roll in 3 different sizes.

In this case we will use it to make a stencil.

Trace the flower on the Golden Threads paper.

Cut out a square with your image on it.

Step 4: Create the stencil

Take the GT paper to your sewing machine (or your longarm). Remove the thread from your needle and stitch along the drawn line

creating holes in the GT paper.  A longer stitch length works well for this.

Step 5: Mark and quilt!

You now have a stencil you can use with your pounce pad and chalk to mark the image on your quilt top.

Place the stencil where you’d like to have the flowers and swipe with the pounce pad to transfer the design. The GT paper stencil can be used over and over.

Quilt with your lolly-gag continuous line connecting your flowers for E2E quilting.

Result: beautifully finished quilt with your unique quilting design.

I hope you start seeing design inspiration everywhere you go! Let us know in the comments where you found your next quilting design.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Pro Tips for Anything E2E

As promised, I have some Pro Tips for you, so that you can get the most out of Anything E2E quilting.  This technique allows you to customize a design that is unique to each quilt.

It’s edge-to-edge, so it is fast and easy to stitch. Just choose a motif that compliments your quilt and connect repeats of that motif with  continuous flowing stitching.

One fun way to decide on a motif is to look at your fabric.

Flower Power

Maybe your fabric has a flower that you love and that might make a really cool quilting design.

fabric with a multi-color floral motif

I really like the orange flower with the blue center. It will be easy to stitch. After all it is an organic shape. By now you’ve heard it many times if you have been following along with this series. Organic shapes, like flowers and leaves are super easy to stitch because they are very forgiving. Not enough petals? Too many petals? Center not really round? It’s all good! No two flowers in nature are the same. And EVERY flower in nature is perfect and beautiful.

So we’ve got a motif that will be easy to stitch. Now we have to figure it all out.

Decide the stitch path

First analyze the motif and suss out the shapes you will need to quilt. Remember the 5 basic shapes? Each petal is a molar shape (you know, like the tooth, molar) like this:

line drawing that looks like the shape of a molar

 

The center is a circle.

Because we are creating an E2E pattern we have to decide how to enter and how to exit the motif (flower).

Here’s how I decided to quilt it. This is not the only way to do it! You might come up with an even better way. If you do, please share with all of us in the comments.

Stitch path

Enter on the left and stitch 2 molars at the top of the flower. Note: the pencil line is how I imagine the flower will look when completed. I keep thinking about this image as I quilt. It helps me form the elements.

 

Stitch a big round loop for the center circle.

 

Complete the flower with three molars under the center.

 

Exit towards the right.

 

Make it an Anything E2E

To make this an E2E we need some connecting lines. My good friend Mary Fisher from Oklahoma likes to say, “lolly-gag over to the next flower.”  By that she means travel to the next motif with a design you are very comfortable with.

 

It might be loops.

flower anything E2E

 

Or it might be a stipple-type meander.

stipple anything E2E

 

Kick it up a notch using a design that you’ve had lots of practice with recently. You should be pretty comfortable with stitching Leaves! What could possibly go better with flowers, right?

flower anything E2E with leaves

Advanced Pro-Tip: Take a look at these three Anything E2E designs. Which one is your favorite?

I love the leaves, but I would reject the stipple meander. The flowers get lost in the meander because the shape of the flowers (curves) and the shape of the stipple (curves) are just too similar. So think about going for contrast between your motif and your flowing lolly-gag connecting design.

 

More Ideas for Anything E2E

Still working on those holiday quilts?

Here is some inspiration for motifs you can use for Anything E2E!

Gingerbread men

photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels

 

Candy Canes

Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com from Pexels

 

Stars

photo of Christmas Star ornaments

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

 

How would you draw these shapes? Here’s a hint:

fun holiday cookies

Photo by Jonathan Meyer from Pexels

 

Did you guess?

an assortment of cookie cutters

That’s right! Cookie cutters are great shapes to use for Anything E2E. They are very easy to trace around.

Uber Pro Tip:  Use your pounce powder to mark the motifs on your quilt. Tap the cookie cutter on a damp sponge, then into a dish of pounce powder, then onto your quilt.

You will have to do the steps we did with the flower.  Decide on the stitch path of the motif, find an enter and exit path, and choose a lolly-gag connecting pattern. You are ready to make your quilt unique!

What will you Anything E2E?

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free Motion for Beginners – More Holiday Fun

Stuffed like a turkey with Thanksgiving treats? Ready to get to work on more holiday fun designs? This time around let’s learn a useful technique that can be used on any quilt, anywhere, anytime. It’s so versatile, and yet allows you to personalize the quilt. It’s simple, but maybe something you’ve never thought about doing. Let’s call it, “Anything E2E”.

E2E

E2E is quilt code for edge-to-edge.

Edge to edge quilting utilizes a continuous line design that is stitched all over the quilt from one edge to the other without regard to piecing, blocks or borders.

It’s the best way to quilt quilts made with busy fabrics where the quilting will not readily show.

If you want to finish a quilt fast, E2E is the way to go.

Anything E2E

It’s fun to incorporate motifs into your quilting. Anything E2E uses motifs and connecting shapes. Let’s start with something we already know: holly leaves. If you don’t know, check out this post to learn about quilting holly leaves.

We made strings of holly leaves to fill borders and sashings and to meander around on our quilts. Often we see holly leaves in clusters of 2 or 3 combined with berries.

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We can use this motif in our Anything E2E technique. It’s simple. Stitch the motif then choose a flowing continuous line shape to connect it to another of the same motif. And keep going filling the quilt from edge to edge.

Let’s try it with holly clusters and loops. It might look something like this:

line drawing of holly e2e

I can meander all over my quilt with this design and fill the whole thing Edge to Edge, side to side, top to bottom.

Take note

There are a few things to notice about this design.

1. The motif (holly) is facing in different directions.

2. The motif is many different sizes.

3. The loops face in  different directions.

4. The loops are different sizes.

These things are intentional!  This way I can fill in spaces as needed and it won’t look funny if I have to make a loop bigger or a holly smaller to fill the space. If I made them all the same and one was different, it would stand out like a sore thumb. Making them different sizes and directions not only adds interest to the design, it makes it easier to quilt. You don’t have to worry about uniformity. No stress!

Quilting the motif

Anytime you want to quilt a Anything E2E you have to start with knowing how to quilt the motif. You also need to pick a spot where you will enter and exit the motif.

Here’s how to quilt the holly cluster. I chose the berries as my enter/exit point.

Start by stitching 3 circles. (The green line is where you would stitch if coming from a previous holly cluster)

stitchpath for holly berries

 

 

Travel along the edge of the circles to stitch 3 holly leaves (notice there are no veins this time).

Travel along the edge of the circles to come out and head towards some loops and your next holly cluster. (red line).

stitch path for holly leaves

 

Use your loops (you know how to quilt loops) to move the design in the direction you want to go to fill up the quilt.

line drawing of holly e2e

More ideas

photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels

Gingerbread men are a nice simple shape to quilt! And those little guys are full of holiday fun.

Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com from Pexels

Candy Canes!

 

photo of Christmas Star ornaments

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

And stars!

There are plenty of simple shapes that inspire thoughts of holiday fun.

holiday fun cookies

Photo by Jonathan Meyer from Pexels

Come back next week to learn some pro tips for quilting Anything E2E designs.

In the meantime Happy Quilting!

Happy Thanksgiving

We, at Handi Quilter, want to wish all of our quilting friends a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your time with family and friends and be sure to carve out a little time for what you love best, Quilting!

happy thanksgiving card on a dining table

 

We are grateful for YOU.

We love to help quilters finish more quilts with tools, education, and inspiration. You make the world a softer, warmer, more beautiful place by finishing quilts. Here’s to YOU, our quilting friends! May your days be filled with love, laughter, and warm, beautiful quilts.

 

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

2021-11-18T18:24:37-07:00November 24th, 2021|Categories: Happy Thanksgiving!|Tags: , , |4 Comments

Free Motion for Beginners – Holiday Fun

I think I have recovered from teaching and working at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. So now we can throw ourselves into full holiday preparedness mode.

Are you ready for this? Now is the time for finishing up those gift quilts and making holiday decorations and last minute quilty gifts. Put your newly gained skills quilting the 5 basic shapes to good use and try out some holiday themed motifs for free motion quilting.

Holiday Leaves

We have been creating lots of leaves on our quilts lately and there’s no reason to stop. There are some special holiday leaves that are fun and easy to quilt.

photo of holly

photo by lum3n on pexels

Holly

Holly can be quilted with simple curves. Like this:

Start with a slightly curved line. Make it the length you want your holly leaf to be.

start of holly quilting design

 

Add 3 curves going back toward the start.

part 2 of holly quilting design

 

Cross over the original curved line and add 3 more curves, ending at the right side of the original line.

part 3 of holly quilting design

You have a holly leaf!

Note that this design starts on the left and ends on the right. That means it is repeatable! Why is that so exciting?  You can do lots of things with a repeatable motif like this.

Make a string of holly leaves and you can fill a border or sashing. Simply start with one holly leaf and repeat the motif as many times as you need to fill your space.

line drawing of continuous string of holly leaves

Pro Tip: Holly leaves, just like all leaves, are organic. No two are alike! They can be different sizes and shapes and they all look great! No stress here! Notice the center lines are not perfectly straight, they are just a very slight curve. Vary the way that curve turns (up or down) randomly along your string of leaves.

 

To make your holly extra jolly, add in some circles here and there for berries. You can place two or three berries in a cluster between leaves. Make it random.

Line drawing of holly leaves with berries

 

Another idea is to mark a large meandering line over your quilt and add holly leaves to it for an all-over edge-to-edge design. Like we did in this blog post. Use the meandering line as the center vein of your leaves. But don’t quilt the line first, quilt it as you quilt each leaf.

line drawing of meandering holly leaves with berries

 

Mistletoe

Another iconic holiday leaf is mistletoe.

photo of christmas poppers with mistletoe painted one them

Photo by Nick Fewings on Pexels

Notice the shape of the mistletoe leaf, an elongated teardrop. A teardrop is like a long tall loop with a narrow base and a wider head. Quilt this like a vine, adding in berries (circles) randomly. The berries are usually in clusters, two or three together work well for a quilting design. Remember, quilting designs are not literal depictions of an image or thing, but rather a simplified version.

line drawing of holiday misletoe with berries

Just like holly, you can make the mistletoe meander to fill areas of your quilt or quilt an all-over edge-to-edge pattern.

 

Poinsettia

photo of poinsetta flowers

photo by kstankss on pexels

This popular holiday flower is a great design for blocks. It uses the lazy S shape.

Start with a swirl for the center and add leaves around it made with the lazy S shape. I find that five leaves is a good number for the first round. But there are no rules! If your flower has less, or more, it’s all good!

line drawing of the start of a poinsettia flower

 

Then add more leaves (or bracts is the real name) around that first round. You might have to do a little over-stitching, traveling along the leaves you already quilted.

line drawing of holiday poinsettia

You can keep going adding as many rounds as you like, or need, to fill in your space.

 

Stay tuned for more holiday fun designs!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

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