finishing quilts Archives - Handi Quilter

Turning the Quilt Successfully

Turning the quilt to quilt the side borders is a great technique that’s used by most accomplished quilters. It is definitely the best way when you are using robotic quilting like Pro-Stitcher, if you are really into accuracy (like me). It’s also a good technique for free motion quilters. Quilting a border all in one go is just easier. Not to mention all the stops and starts you’d have along the sides if you don’t turn.

What am I talking about you ask?

 

Imagine this scenario: You decide to quilt the borders of the quilt differently than the rest of the quilt with a continuous design. An example of this might be a quilt with a feather vine along the border.

Silver Celebration by Mary BEth Krapil

Silver Celebration by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Or a border that does not turn the corners, like this one.

You quilt the top border all the way across and it turns out beautiful. But only a small portion of the side borders are showing in your throat space. If you quilt the side borders as you work your way through the quilt, you have to figure out a way to divide them up into manageable pieces that fit in your throat space. This is called “chunking the border”.

You will have to have tie-offs at each section. Tie-offs can sometimes be visible unless you knot and bury the tails. Visible tie-offs are not good. Knotting and burying takes lots of time, also not good! So how do you solve this problem? Turning the quilt!

MY process

Start by basting the top and sides raw edges within your first throat space. Whenever I quilt a separate design in the border, I will stitch-in-the-ditch the seam between the border and the body of the quilt. It makes a great difference in the look of the finished quilt and is well worth your time and effort. Stitch-in-the-ditch across the top seam and as far down on both side seams as you can go.

Quilt the top border. Don’t quilt the side borders, just the top. Baste the side borders. Either with long basting stitches or with pins placed horizontally.

Then quilt the interior of the the quilt (as much as you can within the throat space).

 

I usually use pins unless the border is very wide.  Be SURE to place the pins horizontally. This allows the pins to roll around the take-up pole without bending.

 

Advance the quilt, baste the side raw edges and stitch-in-the-ditch the seam between border and body as much as you can in that next throat space. Baste the borders. Quilt the interior.

Continue in this manner til you reach the bottom of the quilt.

In the last throat space, baste the sides and bottom raw edges. SID (Stitch-in-the-ditch). Then quilt the bottom border. Baste the side borders. Quilt the interior of the quilt.

Now everything is quilted except the side borders. They are basted in place.

Tips for turning successfully

Remove the quilt from the frame. Trim all excess batting away from the quilt top. Be careful not to cut the backing.

Handi Batting Scissors are ideal for this job.  Trim all four sides.

 

Measure the excess backing fabric from the edge of the quilt top on both un-quilted sides. Trim if needed so that it is even all the way across.

 

Attach one of the sides to the take-up leader. I pin to my leaders. Use whatever method you are comfortable with. Do NOT pin the other end to the backing bar. Drape the quilt over the backing bar and clamp in place with HQ Super Clamps.

 

Notice that I have not removed my basting pins. Wait until you are ready to quilt!

Remove your basting (pins or stitches) and quilt this border.

 

Then remove the quilt from the frame and turn 180 degrees. Attach the other border to the take-up leader. Secure the quilt to the backing bar. Remove your basting and quilt the final border.

 

Your side borders are quilted perfectly! With no stops and starts! All in one go!

I hope you give this a try. You’ll find it does not take any more time than chunking the border as-you-go and you will get much better results! If you do, let us know what you think of turning the quilt in the comments.

Happy Quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

P.S. The designs you see on the patriotic quilt are available on Quiltable.com!

 

 

 

More Easy Echo Designs – Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

As promised, we’ll learn some more easy echo designs. How did you do with the peacock feathers? I’d love to see some pics in the comments!

We can modify the teardrop shape of the peacock feather to create a similar but very different looking design.

Leaves

Start with a leaf shape. You should be proficient at stitching leaves by now. If not, go back to this post for a review and more practice.

     OR   

 

Then just like the teardrop, echo it.

And echo again.

Start a new leaf and do it again to travel around your quilt.

Remember to travel in an undulating path to prevent the design from looking like “rows”.  You want to have your quilting be an all over texture and not rows.

This design is available on Quiltable.com, if you like to quilt with pantographs or robotic quilting systems. Pro-Stitcher is the robotic system that pairs with Handi Quilter, Janome, King Quilter, and Babylock longarm machines. The design’s name on Quiltable is “Flames”

Pro Tip: I called the initial shape for this design a leaf. It can just as easily be called a flame. Depending on the theme of the top you are quilting you can quilt echoed leaves or echoed flames. Only you will know it’s the exact same design.

 

Rainbows

Along the same lines, with a little twist, are rainbows.

 

Start by quilting an arc.

Don’t start your echo from the point where you finish your first arc.

 

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Instead, travel a bit away from where you ended.

Then quilt your echo.

Travel, and then quilt your second echo.

Start another arc.

Travel along the previous rainbow and echo the arc.

Travel away from your ending point and stitch your 2nd echo.

Notice that the echos go until you hit the rainbow already stitched.

Once you get going you will nestle your arcs between the rainbows you have already quilted.

Continue on in this matter to fill up your quilting space.

You can tell this one takes a bit more concentration and you will get more practice in over-stitching as you do your traveling.

The same tips apply to the leaves design and the rainbow design as we mentioned with the peacock feathers:

If you need to fill space, add another echo.

If you don’t have enough space for 2 echos, just do one. Or none! No one will ever know!

Also, where your first shape ends, will be the side you end on after 2 echos.

 

An even more challenging way to quilt the Rainbow design is the traditional Baptist Fan design. Where the rainbows are in rows and are uniform size.

The best way to accomplish Baptist Fan, if you are quilting free motion, is to use rulers. It’s a bit labor intensive but it is really beautiful when finished.

Remember, post pictures of your stitching in the comments!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

Quilt From the Back – Free Motion for Beginners

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

HQ Amara with quilt from the back kit

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

An Example

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

 

With super cute backing fabric.

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

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

Here’s how I did it:

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

quilting path

Start tracing around the petals:

quilt from the back quilting path

 

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

 

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

 

Repeat!  This stitched really fast.

 

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

Quilting curves and loops – two of our basic shapes!

Tracing a design – remember those practice fabrics?

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – More Anything E2E Inspiration

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

Look around

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

 

I love this bird shape on a little wall decor.

photo for inspiration wall decor

 

Tableware tulip

photo for inspiration bowl with painted tulip

 

Teddy

photo for inspiration teddy bear

 

Leaf found on an autumn wreath

photo for inspiration wreath detail

 

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

 

Shapes

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

line drawing showing stitch path for bird

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

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

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

Create a stencil

Remember the flower inspiration from fabric last week?

fabric with a multi-color floral motif

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

Step 1: trace or draw from inspiration

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

flower inspiration on a light box

 

Step 2: Resize

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

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

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

Notice the instructions are printed right on the QASP.

Print out the re-sized image.

 

Step 3: Trace on Golden Threads paper

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

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

Trace the flower on the Golden Threads paper.

Cut out a square with your image on it.

Step 4: Create the stencil

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

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

Step 5: Mark and quilt!

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

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

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

Result: beautifully finished quilt with your unique quilting design.

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

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting For Beginners – Backtrack Spiral

Last week we got started with the spiral, hook or swirl shape. This week we will talk about another kind of spiral. I call it the backtrack spiral. Instead of spiraling in, and then splitting the path you created to spiral out, you will backtrack spiral back out. Or in other words, you will stitch directly on top of the stitching you just did, only in the opposite direction. They look like this:

You start on the left and spiral in.

Then backtrack to spiral back out.

As you are backtracking, you can leave this spiral and start a new spiral.

The new spiral can swirl in the same direction.

Or it can swirl in the opposite direction.

Here’s an example where I took off from the backtracking in a different place.

I find this backtrack spiral to be easier to quilt than the spiral we did last week.

Wait, what?

woman questioning

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

I know, right?  Backtracking is not easy. But with these backtrack spirals, if you don’t backtrack perfectly, they still look great.

Sometimes, when you change direction at the end of your spiraling in, you’ll get a little loop. I think that looks cute!

And you might not hit your backtracking at all.

As long as you are close, it still looks good. You can use these backtrack spirals as an opportunity to practice your backtracking skills.

All over or edge-to-edge quilting

all over backtrack spiral

 

Notice it’s not perfect but it still looks great quilted! The great thing about these spirals is that it is super easy to fill in any space on the quilt. You can start a new spiral wherever you need and you can make them different sizes. Not only does that make it easy to fill in spaces, it also adds interest to the design.

Borders

All in one direction.

If you look close you see the next spiral starts at about 5 o’clock. (red dots)

Keeping that in mind helps to keep the spirals consistent.

 

Or alternate direction of the swirls

 

alternating spiral border

For alternating spirals I like to try to start the next spiral at 3 o’clock-ish. (red dots)

Remember mantras? This is a good design to use a mantra to help keep the alternation going.

My mantra is: “up and over, down and around.”  I start with stitching up and over the top of the first spiral. Then I backtrack  to 3 o’clock and reverse direction, to go down and around the next spiral. Backtrack to 3 o’clock and go up and over. Rinse and repeat. (don’t rinse, just repeat).

If you have been keeping up with your 15 minutes of practice each day, you deserve a sticker!

free motion fabulous sticker

Happy quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Spirals

Moving on in our series on free motion quilting this week to our next shape, spirals (or hooks). We can really have some fun with this shape. It works for so many quilts. Like a meander, depending on the scale you choose, it can create a fabulous all over edge-to-edge quilting design or a fantastic background fill. Spirals can be used in blocks and borders too. And they are great combined with other shapes to create gorgeous designs.

 

swirl line drawing

Looking good

Let’s think about what makes a spiral look good. That way, we will know what to strive for when we quilt them.

Round

When you look at this shape can you see why it was so important to practice stitching those circles? Spirals really look best when they are round.

Pro tip: If it has been a while since you quilted circles or round shapes, you can always go back to that practice fabric.

fabric with baseballs

Do your 15 minutes today quilting around the circle shapes to refresh your muscle memory. Be like the major league baseball pitcher and warm up in the bull pen.

baseball pitcher

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Consistent gaps

Spirals look really good when the gaps between the stitching lines are consistent.

Don’t get discouraged looking at these images. We are doing free motion quilting, not computerized quilting. What you stitch won’t ever be flawlessly perfect. And that’s perfectly OK.

That’s all you have to remember when stitching spirals. Round and consistent gaps. That’s it.

Getting started with spirals

Lets take it step by step.

Stitch a hook.

line drawing of hook with directional arrows

Continue on spiraling in a little.

Then turn around

Now follow the yellow brick road.

Split the path you created to go back out.

Continue by echoing around what you already quilted.

And you’ve got a spiral!

Using spirals

Fill a space, whether a block or a whole quilt.

When you hit an obstacle, like a seam line or another spiral, do some stitch-in-the-ditch or over-stitching to travel to where you want your next line of stitching. Sometimes you will have to imagine the path of your spiral outside of your boundary so that you will know where to pick up and continue the spiraling.

This may be enough for you to practice in your 15 minutes a day this week. We’ll pick up from here next week to explore more ways to spiral out of control!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Stipple

The time has come to talk about stipple. You see it all over the place on quilts. What is a stipple, anyway?

Dictionary.com says:

Stipple History

Dots, small spots, small touches. In the quilting world stipple began with hand quilters. They placed single stitches randomly in the background of an applique or embroidery or a larger quilted motif. These stitches mimicked the small dots of paint used by artists who use the stipple technique. VanGogh’s self portrait is an example.

The stipple stitches did the job of flattening the surrounding area, letting the focus motif come forward and become even more prominent.

Machine quilting stipple

Machine quilting cannot produce these random individual stitches easily, so quilters came up with a continuous line way of achieving the same effect.

Remember the definition of stipple is small dots. When this continuous design is quilted, the negative space, or un-quilted area, created by the stitched line is like dots. Like these red circles:

Look what you see when I take away the stitch line:

Pro Tip: If you use a thread that blends or matches with your fabric color you won’t see the thread or stitches, you’ll just see the dots.

Figure it out

So now that you know why it’s called stipple, let’s examine the pattern and talk about how to quilt it.

Going back to our five basic shapes

We can see that stipple is made up of simple curves ( C-shapes) going in different directions. The quilting path does not cross over like it does with loops.

As a matter of fact, if you are stippling and your lines cross, the quilt police will show up at your door!

Not really, but I want you to try really hard not to cross the lines. Because that’s the design. If you do cross, no one will notice or care.  Don’t stress over it, but do try your best.

Remember last week we talked about even distribution of texture? Every time you quilt you should strive for it and stipple is no different.  To achieve the

even distribution

you should strive to make the spaces (those red circles) approximately the same size and nice and rounded. It sounds hard, but of course I’ve got a trick you can use.

Last week we learned about using mantras to keep our patterns going. Quilting a good stipple requires something a little different.

Mental Image

Sometimes it is helpful to keep a picture in your mind’s eye of an object or a shape. In the case of a stipple we want those curves to be nice and round and all about the same size. The mental image I use for stipple is a round object that I know the size of. Something I can easily picture in my mind. In other words something so familiar to me that I could come very close to the actual size if asked to draw it.

I think about a quarter, or a dime, or a ping pong ball, or a baseball, or the head of a pin, or a pencil eraser. The size of all those items is very familiar to me. Which I choose depends on the density of quilting I’m trying to do.

I imagine those dimes laying on the surface of my quilt and I stitch around them, clockwise then counterclockwise, clockwise and counterclockwise.

 Practice Stipple

Remember back when you used baseball fabric to practice and get good at quilting nice smooth curves? Well you can use the same trick for practicing stippling. You’ll want fabric with randomly scattered objects. like this:

star fabric for practice purposes

Pick a star (or whatever) and stitch around it part way. As you are stitching use the secret of looking ahead and pick your next star. Keep going, always picking your next star as you stitch, clockwise then counterclockwise, clockwise and counterclockwise.

Fill up a yard of this fabric and you will be an EXPERT stippler!

Examples

Here are some examples with a quarter in the photo for size reference.

The stipple makes the letters and flowers stand out.

This is a lattice design with a stipple in the background. The squares are about 1 and 1/4 inches. So the stipple mental image I used was the head of those yellow quilting pins. You know the ones.

yellow quilting pins for size compairison

Once again those triangles really stand out thanks to the stipple. The triangles get all the glory while the stipple does all the work.

This is a thread sampler to show the look of different weight threads. The stipple is larger because it’s not in the background of anything. It’s just a meandering line of stitches. Larger stipple is often referred to as Meander.

I call this tiny stipple a sand stipple. It looks like sand once you’re done stitching. The smaller your major motif is, the smaller your stipple needs to be. My mental image for this one was the head of a silk pin.

Even though I’m stitching so very small I still try to “go around” my mental image. There are crossed lines in sand stipple. It’s impossible to avoid it. But I still try not to cross. I find the effort gives me the best even distribution of texture. 😉

Pro Tip: when stitching this small, be sure to shorten your stitch length and use a very fine thread. You want to see texture not gobs of thread.

Go to the quilt shop now! Get that practice fabric and have some fun.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Handi Quilter National Educator

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – For Real

I know you have been practicing every day for 15 minutes. You raised your right hand and made that promise. I saw you. I’m getting lots of comments from folks who are finding it to be very effective in improving their skills and it makes me so happy to hear that! It’s super easy to fit that 15 minutes a day into your schedule, when you always have your frame loaded with practice fabric. But what happens when you want to quilt something for real?

 

Switching from practice to for real

When your confidence swells and you think you’re ready to quilt that top that’s waiting to be finished. It’s time to remove your practice piece to make room for your for real piece. If you haven’t filled it up, you’ll want to be sure you can put it back on easily. So I have a few hints to help you.

Basting

Set your machine to the longest stitch you can. On our Handi Quilter machines we have basting stitches. They go from 1/4 inch to 4 inch stitches! I like to do this basting at 1 inch stitches.

  1. Baste horizontally across the bottom of your quilting area that is showing right now.
  2. Advance your quilt to expose new un-quilted fabric.
  3. Baste down the sides of the fabric and again baste horizontally across the bottom of the quilting area.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you get to the end of your fabric.
  5. Baste across the bottom of your fabric sandwich.

Now you are ready to remove your practice piece. It is no longer 3 separate pieces; backing, batting and top. It is a single basted quilt. This is important for when you finish your for real quilting and want to, NEED to, put your practice piece back on.

 No fear, for real

Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

You’ve been practicing for weeks now. You are ready for this! You’ve come a long way, baby! So go for it, just jump right in and get that quilt quilted.

You are going to do great! After all, you know the SECRET to free motion quilting.

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

Reward: For real quilting counts as your 15 minute a day practice quilting. (But just for today)

Getting ready for tomorrow’s practice

As soon as you take your for real quilt off the frame, put your practice piece back on and you’ll be ready for tomorrow.  Never leave your frame looking like this:

empty quilting frame Bare, naked, devoid of any inviting quilting fabric. Shame!

You can attach your practice piece any way you like, but I’ll share the quick and easy way I do it.

I use HQ Super clamps. They are C-shaped clamps that fit over the poles.

Handi Quilter Super Clamps end view

I simply put the top of my piece over the take up pole and put the Super Clamp over it.

Then I put the bottom edge of my piece over the belly bar (the one that holds your backing) and place the Super Clamp over that.

And roll the quilt up on the belly bar.

That’s it! Done! Took all of 10 seconds. If needed, you would roll to the place where you have available un-quilted territory.

Pro Tip: Super Clamps come in 3 sizes. The large are for the Gallery, Gallery2, and Fusion frames. The smaller clamps are for the Studio and Studio2, and LittleFoot frames. A new size is available for the Loft frame. They are all 23.5 inches long. I have 6 clamps so that I can load wider practice pieces, using 2 or 3 clamps at each end.

You stationary machine quilters? You have no problem. All you need to do is move your stack of sandwiches to make room for your for real quilt. And then move it back when you are done.

One more thing: Do NOT remove your practice piece until you have your quilt top and backing and batting ready to go. Really, a naked frame is not a pretty thing. I’m sorry for posting a picture of mine but we are all adults here and I hope it helped you.

Happy practicing!

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Curvy Designs

Now that you are very comfortable stitching curves, you’re ready to learn some curvy designs. We will put those curves to good use quilting designs you’ll use over and over.

Block Designs

Let’s start with some simple block designs.

Here’s the block we will quilt:

block

Continuous Curve

And here’s the design:

Notice that it is just 4 simple arcs or C-shapes or curves.  Here is what the design looks like on the block:

This design is known as Continuous Curve.

You will use the skills you gained from last week’s practice. Quilting nice round curves and using The Secret.

Start in the upper left corner of the block. Can you figure out where your goals will be on this block?

That’s right! you will use the intersecting seam lines of the piecing for your goals. If it helps, you can mark those spots with chalk or your favorite removable marker. I like to use the Handi Iron-Off Pencils. The marks easily iron away when you’re done quilting. If I’m quilting on white fabrics my go-to is Dritz Mark-be-Gone water soluble pens. Be sure to test any marking tool you use on your fabrics to be sure they will come out.

So, start in the upper left corner of the block and quilt a nice curve to your goal. The next goal is the upper right corner.

Then quilt the next curve moving clockwise around the block, as shown. You end up back where you started.

If you want to practice this design you will have to draw a block on your plain practice fabric. Simply use a small, square rotary cutting ruler and a pen or marker. Then add dots for your goals.

After quilting a few of these, try simply quilting a curve from corner to corner around the block without the dots as helpers.

Orange Peel

Let’s try another one. It’s called Orange Peel. Notice that the curves all meet in the center of the block.

Start in the upper left corner. Your goal is the center of the block.  Then to the upper right corner

– to the center – to the lower right corner – to the center – to the lower left – to the center – and back to the upper left corner.

 

Both Continuous Curve and Orange Peel can be used in many ways and we will explore those in the future. For now we will stick to blocks.

Big Flower

big flower design

This one  is much more freeing. There are no guidelines or goals to worry about. It fills any block with quilting and can be used anywhere. A good design to have in your stash!

Start with a “kind-of” circle in the center, but don’t close it. Leave it open.

Add some arcs or C-shapes around the center shape. Any size you like, and as many as it takes to go around the center.

Then keep going in a spiral, adding more arcs around your previous arcs until you have filled the space you need to fill.

Have fun with this one! You can make it as big as you like.

Happy (Practice) Quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – the Secret to Curves

There’s a secret to curves. Well, the secret really applies to all quilting shapes, but it works especially well on curves. Curves make up 97.35% of the best quilting designs. Take a look at any collection of quilts and pay close attention to the quilting. You will see curves on almost every quilt.

Curves

C-shapes, arcs, circles. These shapes are curves. They can be put together into a myriad of designs. It’s the most important shape for you to learn to quilt well. You have been doing your practice (15 minutes every day) on solid fabrics so that you can see your stitching easily.

Supplies

For this week’s practice you’re going to have to dig into your stash, or (yay!), make a trip to the quilt shop and get some specific fabric. It should look something like this:

Covered with round objects that touch each other. Baseballs, basketballs, oranges, anything that is nice and round.

not like this:

They don’t touch.

nor this:

 

Not touching, and the dots are too small.

The circles have to touch and should be at least an inch across.

You will use this as training wheels to develop your muscle memory for quilting nice smooth round curves. Purchase about a yard. Or if you get a yard and a half, when you are finished you can bind it and give it to a little baseball or basketball (or orange?) fan. They will love it! And take my word for it, they won’t notice the quilting at all. They will only see the game they love and know you made something just for them. Multitasking! you get practice and a warm hug for someone you love.

Practice

You will spend your 15 minutes a day stitching around each of the round objects. Stitch right on the edge of each baseball. Go all the way around each one. Then transition to the baseball that is touching the one you just stitched. This practice will teach you many things! Do 15 minutes a day. Outline the the rounds on the entire piece of fabric

At first you will wobble and bobble.

But as you do more, you will get better and better.

Soon you’ll be stitching nice round circles right on the edge of the baseballs.

You won’t be perfect, but it will look pretty good and the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

What you’ll learn

  1. Quilting smooth round curves and circles. The best muscle memory to have!
  2. Transitioning from one curve to the next.
  3. How to overstitch accurately.
  4. The secret.  Yes! the secret.

Smooth curves

Like I said, curves make up most of all quilting designs. If you’re good at curves, you’re going to be good at many designs. You’ve got a huge head start!

Transitioning

Once you go around the circle, you have to figure out how best to get to the next one. Sometimes you will keep going in the same direction, sometimes you might be better off to reverse directions. You want to minimize overstitching whenever possible. If over stitching is needed you want to choose a path that makes the overstitching as short as possible.

You have to think ahead, to know which way you plan to go.

Pro Tip: plan your path before you start stitching. Use your finger to move along and map out your stitching path.

 

Pro Tip: Your machine has an off switch. Use it when you get overwhelmed. If you don’t know where to go next, stop the machine and make a plan.

Overstitching

Definition: overstitching is when you stitch over a line that you already stitched in order to get where you need to go.

Try your best to make the overstitching directly on top of the original stitches.  Slow down and take your time.  I try to minimize the amount of overstitching if at all possible. It’s fussy work. It’s also a good skill to have because you’ll use it often. You will get better with practice.

The Secret

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for. The secret to being a good free motion quilter. The one secret, that if you know it, will make you into Super Quilter!

Look ahead.

That’s it. The secret. Look ahead.

Don’t look at the needle. Look ahead. Look at your goal.

Let’s take some simple arcs as an example.

With your needle at the Start point, your goal is the top of that arc. There is a gentle curve between those 2 points. Your brain knows you are quilting a curve and you have the muscle memory to do it. If you watch the needle as you stitch, you’ll wobble. Trust your muscle memory to make that curve, and keep your eye on your goal. Don’t watch the needle.

Once you reach your goal, move your eye to your next goal. Keep your eye on that goal and let your muscle memory do the job of creating a nice smooth curve.

Simple. Right? I promise it works. It just takes……..you guessed it, Practice.

So off you go to the quilt shop to get your round objects fabric. You may as well get a few things for your stash while you’re there. 😉 And you might have to go to 2 or 3 shops before you find what you are looking for. You’re welcome.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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