Capri Archives - Handi Quilter

More Adventures in Longarm Quilting

Last week we checked in on Diane Harris to see how she was coming along. Seems she is having more adventures in longarm quilting and learning a lot while having fun. We looked at her recent blog post, Hugs and Kisses: What I Learned. If you didn’t read it, do it now. If you missed the post on the Handi Quilter blog last week, you can read it here, to get caught up. This week we will talk about Diane’s other lessons and I’ll share my thoughts and a tip or two.

Diane says, “The next one is a problem and question that came up but I don’t yet know the answer. I’m counting on Mary Beth Krapil, my machine quilting coach and a Handi Quilter National Educator, to help me.”

4. Should the motifs in different parts of the quilt be related in some way?

Wow, Diane! That’s a huge question.

Here’s what she was thinking:

I had this thought when I started the loops above in the first border, and again when I started the straight lines in the outer border.

I like the loops and the lines a lot because they’re easy and forgiving. But they don’t seem related in any way to the motifs (fingers and leaves) I quilted in the blocks.

The answer to that question is a big matter of opinion.  I like to try to use some principles of design when choosing quilting motifs.

Rhythm and Repetition

Rhythm is created by repetition of line, form, and texture to create a visual link that the eye follows. It invites viewer’s eye to move from one part of the quilt to another.  And what does this mean to a quilter? When you choose a motif, like a leaf, you should repeat that shape in different parts of the quilt and Diane did that expertly by repeating the leaf form in all the dark squares of her X blocks and in each of her X blocks.

Contrast

I like to introduce contrast with the quilting. For lots of straight lines in the piecing, I use curved quilting lines. If there are curved lines in the piecing (or definitely for applique quilts) straight line quilting is the way I lean,  Diane’s “fingers” have a nice element of curve to an essentially straight design that creates that contrast to the straight-line piecing. She also created contrast with the scale of the fingers v.s. the leaf shapes. The fingers are tighter quilting that pushes down the batting in the background of the X and lets the X come forward with the looser leaf motifs. Contrast can also be achieved with thread color. You have to be brave or confident in your quilting abilities, because your quilting will really show with contrasting thread.

Balance

First and foremost the placement and scale of your motifs have to be balanced so that you end up with a nice flat square quilt. Diane used the straight lines in her border. Piano key-like designs are always a good choice for the border. Because of it’s back and forth quilting path, a piano-key design can tame a bit of fullness if needed. And as long as it’s quilted with fairly even spacing it really helps a quilt lie flat.

As to Diane’s concern that the straight lines are not related to the other motifs, it’s my opinion that straight lines always work, no matter what else is happening with the quilting.

Her loops are similar enough to the fingers that I think they work just fine too. She quilted them in the narrow pink stop border. I think a simple design like loops or zigzags or arcs are the perfect motif for narrow borders. Now, if she had chosen to quilt fish….that would be a stretch. Keep the quilting in narrow borders simple and you will always come out ahead.

There are many more principles of design and I would recommend researching and learning as much as you can about them. It will really help you to achieve better quilting.

5. Use a similar color in the bobbin as on the top

Yes, that is an excellent rule! It eliminates tension headaches. Starkly contrasting thread in the top and bobbin will show even the tiniest variations in tension. Diane used hot pink and dark blue threads on top, but didn’t think they would look that great on her light blue backing fabric. It’s always a dilemma when choosing threads, but if you stick with the same thread top and bobbin, it is much more forgiving. If you are a beginner and are afraid that your quilting won’t look nice on the back, choose a busy patterned backing fabric to disguise your quilting till you gain more confidence.

Diane’s next lesson was:

6. Your bobbles won’t show to the average viewer.

Amen. The people who will see your quilt will love it, simply because you made it. They don’t know anything about quilting and they don’t care! You made it, and it is beautiful. Even other quilters who DO know a thing or two about quilting will applaud you. You FINISHED a quilt. That is cause for celebration in and of itself. Not to mention the things you learned along the way.

Diane says, “Have you ever noticed that no matter how ugly a quilt might be during show and tell, people still appreciate the maker’s efforts?

And if it’s an early effort, even more so. We all start somewhere, and later we remember how much we appreciated the encouragement of others who understood.”

Wise words my friend! Quilt on!

by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Longarm Quilting

It’s been a while since we checked in on Diane Harris and her adventures in longarm quilting on her HQ Capri. She’s getting nice and comfortable using her Capri now. With that relaxation about the mechanics, comes an opportunity to notice finer nuances about her quilting that give her ideas to make the task easier and faster, or fine tune her technique to make her designs sharper.

Let’s take a look at her recent blog post, Hugs and Kisses: What I Learned.  (Kinda sounds like a dating advice blog? Haha! Just kidding! It’s about quilting, I promise.)

Her lessons:

1. Plan your route

So important! When free motion quilting we want to have as few stops and starts as possible. Not only will it save time, it also saves having to secure your thread tails. Be sure to go over to Diane’s blog and watch her video, it’s an excellent demonstration of how planning can help. Really, go watch it, click here. I’ll wait here.

She came up with a brilliant way to move through the block with her design. I have one tip. When she fills most of the block and she gets here:

She continues on to fill the bottom right corner, the way she did the two top corners, and then goes back to finish in the center, as she had been doing. If she had filled the bottom right of the blue 4 patch in the center, then did her two circles and then the bottom right corner, she would have finished at the outside corner, where she could move on to the next block.

Tip: Think globally

Think about how to travel through the block. But also think about how to travel from block to block continuously, as well.

2. Varied motifs are easier than matched motifs

Absolutely! If you choose a motif that has a regular repeat and uniform size, such as the finger like shapes Diane chose, you need to be confident about quilting them all the same.

A viewer’s eye can easily pick out the finger that’s not the same width or the same height as all the others. But if you vary them in some way, it’s much more forgiving and many times more interesting.

I’m a lover of symmetry though, so I practice a motif that needs to be uniform until I get really good at it. If you are too, it’s worth the effort. Often times you need a place for the eyes to rest and symmetrical designs, like cross hatch for example, create that place of rest.

Tip: Varied motifs fool the eye, but symmetry relaxes the eye.

3. Give yourself targets

Diane chose to quilt loops in her border. Great choice! It’s a classic design element and is fairly easy to quilt. Until you realize, that it is one of those designs that look best when they are uniform. That brings in a degree of difficulty. Diane came up with a shrewd way to help her make them more uniform. She gave herself targets, small tick marks made using a ruler for spacing.

              

When I want evenly spaced, even sized design elements I use line or grid stencils. They are available from many companies and in many sizes and configurations, even circles. Some have angle lines to help align diagonal designs. I use my pounce pad or water soluble markers to mark my quilts. Always test whatever product you choose to make sure it will come out when you want it to. Diane could have saved time and increased accuracy by using a line stencil. One swipe of the pounce pad and you’re done! For loops like Diane was quilting it not only helps with spacing, it also helps you keep the loops standing up nice and straight. (Although Diane did a great job of that all on her own.)

Tip: Use the tools you have available to make the job easier.

Bonus tip: Buy the tools you need to make the job easier.

Diane’s well on her way to becoming the quilter she wants to be! It just all takes time. Remember to give yourself the time to play and learn. Diane has been doing that and it has paid off. Be easy on yourself with your beginnings and know that in time you will get to where you want to be.

Tip: Practice, practice, play

Ha! you thought that 3rd word would be practice didn’t you? Quilting is something we love to do. If it wasn’t you would not be reading this. So our practice time is really play. Have your own adventures in longarm quilting. Diane has really enjoyed her practice time. She has been quilting actual quilts and has been very lenient with herself. She only pulled out the seam ripper a few times. Diane says,

“Unless you’re entering your quilt in a judged show, those who view it will not criticize it and will likely think it’s beautiful. Out in the wide, wide world, there aren’t many people who can make a quilt, so others will admire the colors, the shapes and the sheer skill it took you to create such a wonder. ”

And I agree 100%.

We will continue to follow Diane’s adventures in longarm quilting. There were a couple lessons in Diane’s post I didn’t speak to yet. Stay tuned.

 

 

Target Practice

Diane has been busy quilting away on her HQ Capri. She shared a tip on her HQ Stitch blog about target practice.

There are many times when you need to know exactly where the needle of your sewing machine is going to enter the fabric. It’s true with a domestic machine like HQ Stitch and it’s true with a longarm quilting machine. These times call for target practice!

I love sewing machines and I own more than one. On the machines I know well, I’m confident that I can get a bullseye where that needle is concerned. But on a machine that I haven’t been using for long, target practice makes me a better “shooter” and I’m happier with the results of my sewing.

Diane goes on to show a nice method of target practice so that you get better at knowing where your needle will drop. You can read her entire post at the HQ Stitch blog. I want to share something that longarm machine quilters can use to know exactly where the needle will drop.

Target Practice no more

This is a necessary skill for longarm quilting! And there’s no need for target practice. We have a tool that we can use, the Pinpoint Needle Laser is standard on the Infinity, the Forte and the Amara. If you have an older machine, an Avante, a Fusion, a Sweet Sixteen, or an HQ Capri you can use this great tool too, because it’s available to be added to any machine.

 

The laser creates a pinpoint of light on the surface of the quilt telling you exactly where the needle will penetrate the fabric. Target bullseye!

The laser light is adjustable for precise alignment with the machine needle. Compatible with most longarm machines with USB ports at the front of the machine. If no port is available at the front of the machine, this accessory can also be installed on other longarm or domestic machines with the addition of a USB 2.0 wall charger and USB 2.0 Type-A male to female extender cable (not included).

Yes, you can even add it to a domestic machine! No more target anxiety and no need for target practice. Just get quilting and finish more quilts!

Handi Quilter has the best tools to finish the best quilts.

by Mary Beth Krapil

What’s New

We have introduced a lot of new things lately here at Handi Quilter, so I thought I’d fill you in on what’s new. I wouldn’t want you to miss anything!

I’ll start with storage solutions.

Purple Bobbins

whats new

These beautiful bobbins are a gorgeous shade of Handi Quilter purple. You get 30 bobbins packaged in a storage case with an insert that keeps all your bobbins neat and tidy. They are EZ-wind slotted M class bobbins perfect for all Handi Quilter longarm machines and the height of bobbin fashion!

Bobbin Tree

what's new

The HQ Bobbin Tree provides stacked storage for M-class bobbins. You can see all your thread colors and know right away if you have a filled bobbin with the right thread. This is a Handi Quilter exclusive!

HQ InSight Table Drawer

Add extra storage for all your essential quilting tools. The drawer can be added to one or both sides of your InSight table.  All your stuff will be right at your fingertips.

Speaking of the InSight table…..

HQ InSight Table Extension

It’s important when quilting with a stationary machine (like the Capri) to keep your quilt supported by the table. That avoids drag and makes it easier to move the quilt under the needle.  You can add 18 inches of space to your InSight table with a table extension. They have the same slick surface as your InSight table, pop up when you need them and fold down for storage. You can add one to each side of the table!

Speaking of the InSight table, there’s great news for Sweet Sixteen owners!

HQ InSight Table for the HQ Sweet Sixteen

If your Sweet is Tru-Stitch ready, (find out by calling your HQ retailer), you can upgrade your stitch regulation by adding the InSight table. It has built-in stitch regulation! The new table has an insert that is custom sized for your HQ Sweet Sixteen and has the stitch regulation sensors built in. They sense the motion of the fabric as you move the quilt sandwich.  If your Sweet is a little older, some can become compatible with an upgrade.

There’s also a couple of new tools.

Handi Iron-Off Pencils

I love these for marking on darker fabrics! They make a nice, easily seen mark that will not dust off like chalk. But once you want it to go away just touch with a hot iron and the mark is gone. We all need guidelines every now and then.

Here’s something you probably haven’t seen yet:

Handi Felting Foot Kit

The Handi Felting Foot Kit puts a modern twist on an old way of creating embellished fabric by meshing fibers together so they interlock and become one. The kit includes a needle body that holds 5 barbed needles that will punch through the fibers and mesh them together and a special foot that will protect your fingers and hold the fibers in place as you work. Felting is a ton of fun! The possibilties of what you can create are endless.

We also have some new on-line fun. I’m sure your familiar with weekly Handi Tips and monthly HQ Live, ways HQ provides learning and inspiration. Here’s some new ones:

Shop@Home LIVE

Join us on Facebook Live every Tuesday at 12 Noon Mountain Time. We’ll be sharing quilting tips, showing you live demonstrations of Handi Quilter products AND offering tremendous deals, just like you’d see at a quilt show! We even have giveaways, extra limited-time offers, and free shipping in the continental US. Ask Kelly and our Studio Educators questions and we’ll answer them live. HQ Shop@Home – tune in, learn something new, and save big! You might even win a prize. It airs right on our Facebook fan page, Facebook.com/HandiQuilter

If you don’t follow us yet, be sure to click the “LIKE” button so that you’ll be in the know about all things Handi Quilter.

Here’s a little sneak peak, something that hasn’t been announced yet but will be coming soon.

HQ Learn@Home

HQ Learn@Home will be an in-depth set of classes on a particular topic. You will purchase a ticket and get access to some of the best educators teaching inspiring classes. You will have a chance to watch the classes on-line and then on a designated day you can participate in a live Q&A session with the instructors. Your ticket gives you lifetime access to your purchased classes. Learn@Home will start in September, so watch social media and your HQ newsletter for more information.

So that’s what’s new around HQ, what’s new with you?

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Get It Done

Last week we saw Diane’s Vintage Zigzag quilt and I made some suggestions about how she might quilt it. She made some choices and she is having a great time using her Capri to get it done.  Whenever you are repeating a motif in several places on a quilt it’s really nice to have them look similar. It’s almost impossible with free-motion quilting to make the motifs identical but some consistency is a good thing. So I like to use some tricks and some tools to help me get it done, the way I want it done.

vintage zigzag

One of the suggestions I made was a flower motif for alternate blocks.

For a design like this, I like the flowers to all be nearly the same size. I like for them all to have the same size center. If some have small centers with big petals and some have large centers with small petals, that can really draw the eye (not in a good way).

Get It Done

Here is what I do. I mark the size of my block on Golden Threads Quilting paper.

get it done

Notice, I place a piece of white paper under the Golden Threads paper. This helps me to see when I draw with pencil on my dark cutting board.

Next I draw my design, keeping my pencil down on the paper so that I create a continuous line without stops and starts. Try thinking as if you were quilting the design. Where would you start to be able to make it through the entire design without stopping? When creating a block design it’s best to fill as much of the block as you can. Use a pencil with an eraser so you can make adjustments as you go.

I know some of you may be thinking, “But Mary Beth, I can’t draw!”. No worries! Find a design you like in a book or magazine or trace a flower on your fabric. Golden Threads Paper is easy to see through for tracing. This quality also makes it possible to place your drawing on top of your quilt top to audition what the design will look like on the quilt.  You’ll know before you stitch!

Make it the right size

If you choose to trace a design, it might not be the right size for your block. Again, no worries! The Quilter’s Assistant Proportional Scale is my go-to tool for this task.

get it done

Measure your design. Line up the measurement of the design on the inner ring with the new size measurement (I usually use 1/2 inch smaller than my block) on the outside ring. The percentage of increase or reduction will appear in the window opening under the arrow. Resize on copy machine or scanner. Easy Peasy.

Once you have the print out of the right-sized design trace it on to your Golden Threads paper. When I am happy with the design I go over it with a bolder marker. I indicate the start point with a dot and the end point with a square.

During this process, I have drawn over this several times so I developed muscle memory for the design. It’s going to be easy for me to quilt! I need to mark this on each of the blocks on the quilt where I want to stitch it. A stencil of the design would be the perfect tool!

Making a stencil

I take my GT paper drawing to my machine. You can do this on your longarm or your domestic machine. My HQ Stitch 710 is perfect for this, I can drop the feed dogs and free motion quilt easily. I take the thread out of my needle and I stitch along my lines just like I would quilt it. This needle punches the paper.

Now I can take my needle-punched paper to my quilt top and mark the blocks for quilting. I use it just like I would use a stencil.

The chalk creates a nice line that I can follow while I quilt.

I don’t worry if I’m not stitching exactly on the lines, but each of my flowers will be just about the same size and very similar in appearance because I have my stenciled guide. Just what I needed to get it done!

 

 

 

 

Vintage Zigzag

Our friend, Diane Harris, has been busy finishing UFO’s during her time at home. Her most recent finish is this vintage zigzag quilt.

vintage zigzag

It’s from the Fons and Porter Love of Quilting magazine May/June 2007 issue.

Diane says, “I had all of the printed units with yellow bits made when it became a UFO. Why did I put it away when the bulk of the work was behind me? I made myself stick with it. I knew if I put it away again I would never EVER finish it. There was a lot of easing and pinning and even some swearing because of the miles and miles of bias edges, but I love the finished product and I even have an idea for quilting it. Wouldn’t it be fun to fill each of those green squares with a different quilting design? I must talk to my machine quilting coach Mary Beth Krapil, to see if she thinks that would work. Mary Beth is a Handi Quilter National Educator and a longarm whiz with years of experience in machine quilting, and I count on her to guide me.”

Quilting Ideas

The first thing I thought when I heard Diane’s quilting plan was, how many green squares is that, exactly? So I counted, and there are 33 squares. That’s a lot of designs to come up with and it totals 53 if you want to include the green triangles!  It makes me tired just thinking about it.

That could be because I’m quilting a Jacqueline de Jonge Dream Flight quilt for a friend and I am trying to do different designs in the “moons”.  I’m challenged to come up with lots of variety that will work to create good texture. I’m just getting started.

I also think different designs in all the green squares will just be too busy. But that is my aesthetic showing. I like symmetry and cohesiveness; I like to tie things together with repetition. Diane is a lot more free spirited  than I am when it comes to her quilts. On the other hand I don’t want to discourage her from doing all those designs because, what great practice that would be for someone new to longarm machine quilting! If you haven’t read previous posts, Diane just recently got a HQ Capri stationary longarm machine and is having a blast quilting up her UFO’s and learning about longarm quilting.

So, how about a compromise? Quilt the same design in every other block and in the alternate blocks quilt different designs. I think the same design in alternating blocks would unify the quilt but still give the opportunity for fun, creativity, and Practice.

Examples

This vintage zigzag is really neither feminine or masculine. But we can sway it with the quilting.
Something on the feminine side:
or something a little more geometric:
With the geometric choice you will get plenty of ruler work practice! And if you do the other blocks in curvy free form quilting it will add contrast, which adds interest.

Some things to keep in mind

  • When adding your varied designs try to keep the density of quilting as close as possible to the other blocks. This will help keep the quilt flat.
  • The busy colorful zigzags only need something simple because the quilting will not show as much. I’m thinking some free form squiggly lines. That will be quick to quilt and make up for all the time spent on the blocks.
  • If you want a place to practice feathers, these zigzags are ideal! They won’t show your bobbles much.
  • Decide how confident you are with what you quilt in the green squares. If you are feeling bold then go with a contrasting thread so that the quilting will really show! Perhaps feeling a little more timid? Choose a matching thread.
I can’t wait to see what you choose, Diane! Of course I will share the finish here so we can all admire Diane’s work on this vintage zigzag. Stay tuned! And follow Diane’s blog over on the HQ Stitch site.

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

 

 

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.

 

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
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