Capri Archives - Handi Quilter

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

Getting Started with HQ Capri

Last week we had a guest post from Diane Harris, HQ Stitch Ambassador. She is dipping her toe into longarm quilting. I’m sharing her second post about getting started with her HQ Capri. This time I’m going to add in my own comments with tips and hints for Diane and for your benefit as well. If you are new to longarm quilting too, this series of posts (Diane is just bursting with ideas!) will be a must-read for you. If you’re more experienced, who knows? You might just pick up a trick or two and if you are thinking about getting a longarm, this will be perfect for you to know what to expect. So I hope you will follow along on this adventure.

Getting Started with HQ Capri

A few weeks ago, my HQ Capri stationary longarm arrived in two boxes. I had been concerned about setup because I am new to longarm quilting and I have a lot to learn.

Handi Quilter Capri box

I kind of love the boxes. “Happy Quilting!”

So I thought I’d share how everything came together and some of the things you should know in order to get started using the HQ Capri.

HQ Capri footprint

The Handi Quilter website has a diagram like the one above for every longarm quilting machine they offer. This is critically important information because it helps you determine if you have the space you need.

(MB: I think EVERYONE has the space. Just get creative! Who needs a couch? Replace it with your heart’s desire, a longarm machine! 😉

Capri empty room

I have a former bedroom that has been used most recently for storage, so I cleared out the junk to make way for the Capri.

(Way to go Diane!)

Capri table

There is plenty of room for the table even if I add the 18-inch by 32-inch table extensions to each side, which I plan to do soon. They will help support the weight of larger quilts and I’m excited to get the extensions.

The table went together without a hitch. Only one tool was needed and my husband located it easily because he’s organized! But even if I had been on my own, I could have assembled the table without problems.

Capri machine and table standing height

Above you can see that I made a warmup sandwich for a couple of test runs, just to get the feel of the machine. Always a good idea! I will keep this quilt sandwich nearby and use it over and over.

(MB: Here’s my recommendation: Practice, or as I like to think of it, Play, everyday. I know you are thinking, “But who has time for that?”  I suggest only 15 minutes every day and here’s why: if you practice everyday, you will build your skills gradually and consistently. If you save it up and do an hour and a half on Saturday you will “forget” what you learned last Saturday. It’s like taking 2 steps forward and one step back. Who can get anywhere doing that? Give yourself that gift of spending at least a tiny bit of time doing what you love, everyday. It will make you a better quilter and a happier person! And Diane’s practice piece is perfect! Make up a few sandwiches to keep at the ready.)

I lifted the machine into place according to the instructions and attached all of the cords and hookups. Easy peasy. I started out with the table adjusted for standing, but after a few days I lowered it for sitting and I have been enjoying that a lot. It’s really nice that you have both standing and sitting as options for your quilting.

(MB: When you quilt while sitting, choose a chair that allows your feet to be flat on the floor and sit back all the way into the chair so that your back is supported by the back of the chair. You will want to quilt for hours and good posture is important to make that possible.)

Capri videos

Handi Quilter is known for its education, so I put my feet up and prepared to watch the YouTube videos from Handi Quilter on the Capri. Everything I needed was covered in short, clear videos and before long I was ready to go.

xmas album un-quilted

Ready, Set, GO!

For my first real quilting on the Capri, I decided on a little Christmas quilt called My Christmas Album. It was designed by Tina Curran, and while I love it, I have had a devil of a time getting it quilted.

I’ve had machine quilting in it no fewer than three times (all done on a domestic machine) and have taken it all out for different reasons. It is time to get this one finished and off my plate.

xmas album 5

The problem is that I don’t know what to quilt. Applique isn’t my strong suit and I have zero ideas for how to quilt it.

xmas album 3

I have already anchored everything down by stitching a grid around the blocks on my HQ Stitch 710. It’s the free-motion part that has me flummoxed.

(I love Diane. The fact that she uses the word flummoxed makes me love her even more! )

xmas-album-4

Not long ago I was introduced to Quilter’s Preview Paper, a clear film on which you can draw with a dry-erase marker.

(MB: Quilter’s Preview Paper comes on a roll and has black lines on the sides. This is a warning so you don’t accidentally mark off the paper and onto your quilt top. When you cut a length of preview paper, take some painter’s tape and mark the top and bottom edge too. Dry erase marker is permanent on fabric so you really don’t want to make a mistake and go off the paper. Also, write “TOP” on the paper. If you take the paper away then bring it back over the quilt top you don’t want to place it writing side down. Those marks will rub off onto your fabric.)

xmas-album-6

It’s helpful to try out ideas before you commit with thread, and to practice any motifs you’re unsure of.

xmas-album-7

You can plan your stitch patch and feel confident before you start quilting.

xmas-album-8

Sometimes it becomes evident what you do not want to do. There is no harm in trying out every idea you have.

xmas-album-9

Block by block, I got the Christmas album done. I ripped some quilting out here and there but it was always because I got lost. There’s a blog post coming on that.

my-christmas-album-flat

It isn’t perfect but it is finished. I learned one big lesson that I’ll share down the road. And continuing with the theme of the last post, here is:

Lesson #2

Audition and practice quilting designs on Quilter’s Preview Paper.

Doing this one thing has totally changed my machine quilting experience. I can’t wait to share with you what came next!

Thanks for sharing your adventures in getting started with your HQ Capri, Diane! We look forward to your future posts and future lessons.

Comments by Mary Beth Krapil (MB)

 

 

 

2020-04-08T17:34:03-06:00April 14th, 2020|Categories: Capri|1 Comment
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