Education Archives - Handi Quilter

Adventures in Learning to Longarm Quilt

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

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

Finished is Better than Perfect

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

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

Adventures in longarm Capri

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

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

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

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

Perfect for practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An example of consistency

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

adventures in longarm stipple

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Mary Beth Krapil and Diane Harris

 

 

Shop @ Home LIVE

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

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

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

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

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

There are chances to win a prize!

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

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

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

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

 

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

5 Tips for Stitch in the Ditch

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Let me answer a few Q’s to get us started.

Q: What is “the ditch”?

A: The ditch is formed by the seam between two pieces of fabric. A pieced quilt top has lots of ditches.

 

Q: Why do I want to stitch in it?

A: Ditch stitching defines the spaces on the quilt top and creates areas for other quilting designs. If done correctly, SID (stitch in the ditch) can help to stabilize and square the quilt.

 

Q: Why do quilters avoid stitch in the ditch?

A: The short answer: it is boring. It is exacting work that really doesn’t show on the top of the quilt. If it shows, you’re not doing it right. It has to be done right. It is very unforgiving, the stitches must remain in the ditch at all times. NO wandering out of the ditch.  After all, it is called, “stitch IN the ditch”.  It is not called, “stitch somewhere near the ditch”.

 

So, we have some tips to help you bring your stitch in the ditch to the professional level.

1. Use invisible thread. My favorite is MonoPoly by Superior Threads.

It works for all quilt tops and helps hide the stitches.

Alternatively, you can use a matching, fine thread.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Use the Sure Foot. It has a higher profile than the ruler foot that makes using rulers much more secure. Less danger of the ruler getting between the foot and the needle.

 

3. Use the Ditch Ruler. The tabs on the end of the ruler are lined up on the seam line, which places the needle right in the ditch.

 

 

4. Stitch on the low side of the seam.

Q: What is the low side?

A: the side that the seam allowances are pressed toward is the high side. The other side of the seam is the low side.

Stitching on the low side helps hide the stitches in the ditch.

Also, keep the ruler on the low side.

 

5. If you bobble out of the ditch, don’t un-pick the whole line of stitching. Stitch back over your previous SID, being careful to keep in the ditch where you bobbled out. Then just un-pick the small part where you bobbled. The over-stitching will secure your threads.

6. (this is a bonus for Pro-Stitcher users) Use Mark to stitch in the ditch. If you need to learn about Mark, go to https://hqprostitcher.com/education and watch the video titled “Record”. If you are a Pro-Stitcher user, Mark is the way to go for SID!

 

Yellow Quilt by Marie Eldredge

The photos in this post came from Marie Eldredge’s Color Play Video on the Yellow Quilt. Handi Quilter has offered free patterns for Marie’s Color Play Quilts and American Patchwork and Quilting offers free videos of Marie showing how she quilted these quilts. Get the patterns here. To see the videos click on “Watch the video” under the quilt. A new video is released each month. Watch the Yellow video here.

See you in the ditch!

 

2018-08-20T17:52:03-06:00August 24th, 2018|Categories: Education|11 Comments

2016 Handi Quilter’s Academy: Quilting Elevated

 

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We have just completed the fourth annual Handi Quilter’s Academy: Quilting Elevated, our premier educational event focused on machine quilting. This year we welcomed more than 150 quilters, who chose from 63 classes — both hands-on and lecture-demo. We had an international group — including five from Spain, four from Australia, and one from the Philippines. (Plus, of course, the US and Canada.)

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Even before the official kick-off of HQ Academy, more than 90 quilters opted to jumpstart their learning with an optional one-day boot camp focused on either HQ Pro-Stitcher, longarm quilting (taught on the HQ Avanté), sit-down quilting (taught on the HQ Sweet Sixteen), or Art & Stitch. They were then more than prepared to take on the deep dive into specific topics throughout the rest of the conference.

 

Because we knew that quilters love to mingle and were eager to start their HQ Academy experience, we prepared the HQ Sampler, a set of tutorials about the latest Handi Quilter products and gadgets. Quilters could visit the tutorials, that included the new HQ Stitch sewing machines, the HQ Simply Sixteen on the HQ Little Foot Frame, the “new and improved” Easy-Fit Ruler Base, the Electromagnetic Channel Locks, the new Pole Cradles and Super Clamp, as well as see a demonstration of the couching feet from Helen Godden (the “couching queen”).

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They could visit the vendor showcase and see products from Anne Bright Designs, Karlee Porter Designs, SewBatik, Superior Threads, Wasatch Quilting, Winline Textiles, and WonderFIL Specialty Threads. And, of course, try out some tasty hors d’oeuvres and a chocolate fountain.

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We began Thursday’s activities with a general session, featuring a keynote address from Bruce Magidson, founder and owner of SewBatik. Bruce taught us all about the centuries-old processes for making batik fabrics. We got up close and personal with examples of the tools used to fashion the wonderful batik designs, and certainly grew to appreciate the workmanship that goes into these beautiful fabrics we all love. And thanks to CEO Mark Hyland for joining in the fun by modeling a batik sarong.

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Classes then began — with seven classes going on simultaneously. There was something for everyone: HQ Pro-Stitcher hands-on, stand-up longarm quilting hands-on, sit-down quilting hands-on, Art & Stitch, HQ Pro-Stitcher lecture demo, and two quilting technique lecture demos for all quilters (regardless of whether they quilt on a stand-up and sit-down machine).

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For those who still had energy to spare on Thursday evening, we offered three excursions: a quilt shop hop, a downtown Salt Lake City experience (complete with the opportunity to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse in the historic tabernacle), and for the truly adventurous, a visit to the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island.

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After another full day of classes on Friday, we relaxed with a banquet, followed by our banquet keynote speaker, HQ ambassador Kimmy Brunner. Kimmy’s presentation, titled “Grandma’s Girl: The Story of Three Quilters”, told the story of her great grandmother and grandmother who quilted out of necessity to help endure the difficult Minnesota winters, and shared that love of quilting with a young girl who has embraced those traditions and added her own machine quilting excellence. We loved seeing Kimmy’s own journey into quilting, and reminisced with her about our own quilting origins and inspiration.

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We are already planning for 2017 and figuring out how to make next year’s Handi Quilter’s Academy an even greater experience for quilters. Mark your calendars for June 21 to 24, 2017. Class information and registration will open on the Handi Quilter website the first week of November.

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2017-07-24T13:53:27-06:00June 16th, 2016|Categories: Education, News & Events|0 Comments

Installing HQ Pro-Stitcher Version 91

 

Handi Quilter regularly releases software updates to HQ Pro-Stitcher. These updates are free to Pro-Stitcher owners. Installing the most recent versions (version 91 and version 92) are unique in that you select the version based on the type of Pro-Stitcher tablet you have. Note that the Pro-Stitcher software is the same in both versions, but the installation process is different.

Handi Quilter recommends that you stay current with the Pro-Stitcher software updates as we make ongoing improvements and add new capabilities.

If you have an Asus EEEPC, an Acer W500, or an HP Omni tablet, you will install version 92. Do not install version 91 because it will make changes to the computer’s operating system. Install version 92 using the standard update process described in the HQ Pro-Stitcher user manual. You can also refer to the installation document on the Handi Quilter website.

However, if you have an Acer W700 or Acer Aspire Switch 11, you must install version 91.

Since installing version 91 is a little bit more involved, educational coordinator Vicki Hoth and support technical Cathie Zimmerman prepared a video that shows you how to install version 91.There are alsowritten instructions on the Handi Quilter website.

And, of course, if you run into difficulties or have questions, contact your local Handi Quilter retailer. If you need further assistance, you are welcome to contact Handi Quilter technical solutions at: 1-877-MY-QUILT (697-8458).

2017-07-24T13:53:27-06:00April 21st, 2016|Categories: Education, Products|2 Comments

Why HQ Pro-Stitcher Simulation?

About a year ago, Handi Quilter added a simulation mode to HQ Pro-Stitcher. Here’s what we love about the simulation mode:

1. You can disconnect the Pro-Stitcher tablet from the quilting machine, but still use Pro-Stitcher to get ready for quilting out your design — or combination of designs. You set up the quilting plan while comfortably seated in your easy chair. Then, put the tablet computer back in the bracket, create your area, and quilt out your design.

2. You can install HQ Pro-Stitcher to a Windows-compatible computer. Then, like just using the tablet off of the machine, you use your computer with a mouse and run Pro-Stitcher in simulation mode to create your quilting plan. After you are happy with your design(s), save them to a USB drive, and copy to the Pro-Stitcher tablet to print out.

3. Both of these alternatives are great options for “playing” with Pro-Stitcher and trying out the features without actually stitching them out on a quilt. However, you can still see how the design will stitch out on the screen. Handi Quilter educators are starting to use the simulation mode to teach how to use HQ Pro-Stitcher when there isn’t a quilting machine available for each student. The class members still do all of the functions on their tablet or laptop and then “stitch” it out on the screen. It’s a very efficient way to learn how to use Pro-Stitcher — either on your own or in a classroom setting.

In the April educational webinar, educational coordinator Vicki Hoth and director of quality assurance Richard Eich demonstrated how to install the Pro-Stitcher simulator on a separate computer.

You can find written installation instructions on page 8.6 of the HQ Pro-Stitcher user manual.

We recommend that you use the most recent version of HQ Pro-Stitcher. You can find it on the Handi Quilter website (click here).

We’re confident you’ll love this new Pro-Stitcher option.

2017-07-24T13:53:27-06:00April 15th, 2016|Categories: Education|12 Comments

Quilt Finishing Tip: HQ Little Foot Frame

Since launching the HQ Simply Sixteen and the HQ Little Foot Frame, we’ve had some questions about what to do when you get to the end of the quilt. How do you finish the last row before taking off the quilt.

The number one thing to remember is that you need to make sure you have sufficient extra backing fabric length to enable the fabric to be clamped to the pole and the machine to get to the bottom of the quilt.

But rather than read more here, why not watch and listen to HQ studio educator Marie Eldredge as she discusses finishing your quilt on the HQ Little Foot Frame.

Feel free to share in the comments below any tips and tricks you’ve learned from using the HQ Little Foot Frame.

2017-07-24T13:53:28-06:00March 31st, 2016|Categories: Education, Products|0 Comments