Capri Archives - Handi Quilter

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