Inspiration Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Handi Quilter

Quilting a Vintage Quilt Top

In last week’s blog post I explained how I prepared a not-so-flat vintage quilt top for finishing. If you didn’t catch it, be sure to read it first. No worries, I’ll wait.

detail of vintage quilt top quilted

 

Basic plan

Now that I had a nice flat quilt top, I could start thinking about the quilting. I wanted to ignore the seam lines in an effort to hide all the added sashing. This would make the tulips come forward and float on the background.

I planned to stitch-in-the-ditch around each set of tulips and do minimal quilting within the tulips so that they would puff forward. To accomplish the puff, there had to be some tighter background quilting behind them. And using two layers of batting, 80/20 on the bottom and wool on top is essential.

Design ideas

Drawing design ideas on Quilter’s Preview Paper  over the quilt top with a dry erase marker is a good way to start letting the ideas become real.

preview paper over vintage quilt top

Creating designs

Using Pro-Stitcher Designer, my digitizing software, I created some designs that would go over the seams and hopefully distract from them.
I start the design process by tracing the major elements of the top on Golden Threads Quilting Paper. Then I can place a 2nd piece of Golden Threads paper over that and start sketching. If I don’t like what I have drawn, I discard the paper and take fresh piece on top. I still have my major elements underneath.


After I settle on the designs, I transfer them to my Pro-Stitcher Designer software to create the digital designs for my Pro-Stitcher robotic system on my HQ Infinity.

vintage quilt top digital design

This design will be available for purchase on Quiltable.com soon!

Quilting!

Next comes the fun of quilting and seeing the quilt top come to life. I employed a combination of Pro-Stitcher robotics, ruler-work and free-motion quilting.  I wonder what Mrs. Gibson and Ora Tyler would think of their quilt today?

detail of vintage quilt top quilted

Of course a quilt is not finished until there’s a label. I chose to use one of the spare blocks as the label. Turning the corner of the block back so that the penciled name and hand stitching is visible. I think that is such a charming aspect of this vintage top.

You can also see how the block does not lay flat.

I printed the list of names of all the contributors to the quilt, along with the quilter’s name (me) and date it was finished. Now I proudly consider myself part of this group of ladies. I have 13 new friends! And I wonder if I’m young enough to go by just Mary Beth? I know I’m not old enough to be known as Mrs. Krapil! Mary Beth Krapil will do I guess. 🙂

Have you ever quilted a vintage quilt top? Please share your experience in the comments. We’d love to see pictures!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Preparing a Vintage Quilt Top

I’d like to share with you my process of preparing a vintage quilt top for finishing. Each top is different and will require different things of course, but this one is my latest finish and it has an interesting story and was extra challenging.

Choosing the vintage quilt top

I loved the colors in this top the minute I saw it. And one of my favorite flowers is the tulip. Those things drew me to choose it. I did notice some fullness in the blocks, but since I have experience with quilting hand pieced vintage tops, I had confidence I could tame it. Oh boy,  was I wrong!

The Truth about vintage quilt tops

There is usually a reason these tops never get quilted. Any quilter will tell you that they have quilt tops waiting to be quilted. In modern times, it’s usually a matter of not enough hours in the day to get all our projects completed. The vintage tops that end up in estate sales or on auction sites usually have some issues that would have made quilting them difficult. Remember, most were hand quilted back in the day. This tulip quilt had some major issues. But I’m so glad I chose this one. I loved working with it and learned a few things along the way.

Preserve as much of the original as you can

I try to preserve these vintage tops as best I can. They are a piece of history. I think about the hours of work that went into the hand piecing. Just look at those pretty, even, hand stitches!

A few tucks or a stain here or there is OK, just part of the uniqueness of the piece. This quilt top was uber unique! It presented a challenge that was insurmountable without some major alterations.

After spending some time trimming frayed threads from the back, I took it to my ironing board to see how I could possibly get the top to lie a little flatter. Several hours later I came to the realization that it just was not going to happen. I had to make the difficult decision to take the quilt apart and separate the blocks.

A special group collaboration

Most of the blocks had a name written on the back in pencil (3 blocks had no name). These were not signatures, since they were all in the same handwriting. But I imagine they are a record of the maker of the block. This quilt was a collaborative group effort! Making it even more special and deserving of preservation.

Abbie

 

Kuhma

 

Laura Barton

 

Leona

 

Lizzie

 

Maude

 

Mrs. Gibson

 

Mrs. Spoor

 

Nellie Gray

 

Ora Tyler

 

Pearl

 

Stella

 

Velma

Who were these ladies?

The whole time I worked on this quilt I thought about what sort of group this might have been. Was it a quilting bee? A group who gathered around a quilting frame whenever a quilt needed quilting? Were they neighbors, friends, a church group, members of a guild? It led me to think about the groups I have had the privilege of being a part of. And the wonderful friendships I have made through quilting. I hoped these women enjoyed the same blessing I have had.

I also thought about why they might have decided to make a quilt together. Was it to comfort a sick friend? Celebrate a milestone? Donate to a worthy cause to raise money? I wondered if, back then, did they hold block exchanges? Was there many more of these quilts, one for each of the contributors? Did any of them get quilted?
I wish I knew more about these ladies.

I thought maybe they were a group with varying ages since some were just first names (younger), and some were full names, and some were surnames, Mrs. so-and-so, (older and more respected?) It was actually quite fun thinking about the possibilities. And now that I have finished the quilt, I think I am a member of the group too.

Back to work

But back to the job of preparing this top. I had to un-sew the blocks on this vintage quilt top to see if I could somehow stitch them together in a way that would let them lie flat.

My original idea was to add sashing to compensate for blocks that were not all the same size. That’s quite often a common problem with group quilts. But when I got them apart, it became apparent what the problem actually was.
The blocks were not square, or rectangular. They were an unusual shape with sort of pointy wings in each corner.

not square vintage quilt

Someone, (I wonder who?), painstakingly sewed these blocks together by hand. That was certainly a labor of love.

You can see the middles of each side are straight but then they bow outward to the pulled-out corners. I thought about adding melon shapes between the blocks but after measuring and discovering no two blocks measured the same, I gave up on that idea.

The fix

I trimmed the blocks to as square as possible without losing any of the tulip.


Because they were all different sizes I decided to add sashing to each block, to make them all the same size. I hunted for a muslin that matched the vintage muslin background.This process required a lot of accurate measuring and math.

I was hoping that the quilting would eventually hide the seams required to add the sashings, and that the tulips would simply be floating on the background.

Once the blocks were all brought to a uniform size, I sewed them back together into a quilt top. Here they are laid out ready to be sewn. I feel I preserved the look of the vintage quilt top and didn’t really alter it too much.

Sadly, I did have to eliminate four of the blocks. The piecing on those would not allow me to press them anywhere close to flat. Let me publicly apologize to those ladies whose blocks didn’t make it back into the quilt. I’m so sorry, I know you did your best.
One of those blocks did get used on the back for the label. I might just hand stitch the other three to the back of the quilt as well. Just so the group can stay together.

Now that I had a nice flat quilt top, I could start thinking about the quilting. Come back next week and I’ll share about creating the designs and quilting with my HQ Infinity.

This quilt will be featured in the May/June issue of Love of Quilting magazine.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

National Quilting Month

March is National Quilting Month. It’s our favorite month of the year here at Handi Quilter.

national quilting month handi quilter

What are you going to do to celebrate? Here are TEN great ideas to help get you started.

Finish a UFO

If you have been a quilter for a while (a year? a month? a day!) you probably have a project (or 3) that isn’t quite finished and got put aside when you started something new. Maybe you ran into a problem that you couldn’t figure out how to solve. Or maybe you just lost interest. Perhaps you tried to finish before the new class you signed up for started, but you had to set it aside to concentrate on class. Whatever the reason, National Quilting Month can be your incentive to pull it out and get ‘er done.

Here are some of mine. Some. There isn’t enough room to show you all of them!

Plan a reward for finishing. Maybe a trip to the quilt shop, once the binding and label are on?

Start a new quilt

Nothing revs the quilting juices more than starting a new project. Pull out that pattern you bought and get busy picking fabrics for it.  Buy that fat quarter stack of luscious new fabrics and decide which quilt pattern will show them off the best.

Grab your sketch book to draw out the quilting design you’ve had in the back of your brain. Take the time to do what you love.

Organize your quilting space

American Patchwork and Quilting is hosting a fun 31 days to an organized sewing space challenge.

They give one task per day for each day in the month of March. This one-task-at-a-time approach seems very achievable. The challenge for me, when straightening up my studio, is resisting the urge to play with just about every item I touch.

I’m going to give this a try. Then I’ll let you know how it went. It’s not too late for you to try too! Just double up the tasks for a few days. Just think how great it will feel to play in a clean and organized studio. Wonder how long it will last? 🙂

 

Visit a Quilt Museum

You will be in awe, inspired and delighted by what you see at any and all of these places:

National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY

International Quilt Study Center and Museum, Lincoln, NE

Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Golden, CO

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts, Cedarburg, WI

Texas Quilt Museum, La Grange, TX

This is by no measure a complete list. You may find one in your neck of the woods! Check out your local history museum. My little town has a wonderful history museum that has a few quilts on display.

Take a class

Handi Quilter in-store events are starting to happen again, all over the country! We have worked with healthcare experts and our retailers to devise a way to hold in-person longarm quilting classes in a safe manner. Some are hands-on classes!

 

We are also offering virtual classes. These are such a great opportunity to take a class from an expert Handi Quilter National educator from the comfort of your own home. Check out what is available here.

Share your skills

Offer to teach a friend a new quilting skill that you know, but she hasn’t tried yet.

Or spend a day teaching a child a simple sewing/quilting project.

This little girl is hooked for life!

Join a guild

It multiplies the fun of quilting when you can meet with like-minded people who share your love of fabric and thread and color and pattern. Although we can’t really meet in person for a little while longer, many guilds are meeting virtually these days. Sharing knowledge and quilts and tips and tricks only adds to the joy of quilting. Find a guild near you. You can ask at your local quilt shop for recommendations. If that doesn’t get you results, try this website. Your new quilting friends are waiting for you.

Make a community quilt

Many organizations offer opportunities for making quilts for those who need the comfort only a quilt can provide. Knowing you’re helping others multiplies the fun of making quilts. An example of one of those organizations is Quilts for Kids. Quilts for Kids is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming fabrics into patchwork quilts to comfort children facing serious illness, trauma, abuse, and natural disasters.

There are many more. Once again a good place to inquire is your local quilt shop or guild.

Join a social media group

Handi Quilter oversees 3 Facebook groups. The Handi Quilter group is for all machine owners and folks who are interested in Handi Quilter or longarm quilting. At almost 11,000 members there is plenty of friendly help for all your longarm questions. It’s also a great place to share what you are working on.

If you’re interested in attending Academy, (the premier annual education event held by Handi Quilter), you might want to join the HQ Academy group. Alumni and future attendees share experiences and fun in this group. The excitement grows as the date for Academy draws near!

Are you a Pro-Stitcher Designer user? There’s a group for that! Help in learning the design and digitizing program is right at your fingertips. Share your achievements and projects, ask questions, this group is just getting started so all questions are welcome.

Watch a quilting video

Handi Quilter offers a bunch of options for this! We have a YouTube channel dedicated to helping you learn to use your Handi Quilter machine. Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to be notified when a new video is available.

You can also catch a video once a month on the 2nd Thursday called HQ Live. We present on a variety of quilting related topics. You want to mark your calendar for HQ Live. 2nd Thursday, 11am Mountain time.

 

Or get a quick dose of quilty fun every Tuesday on our Facebook page with HQ Watch and Learn. The studio educators share tips, tricks and how-to’s. It’s quick and fun and you’re sure to learn something each week. Tuesday at high Noon Mountain time.

Don’t forget to do something extra-quilty on National Quilting Day! March 20, 2021.

by Mary Beth Krapil

Paper-pieced Valentine

Here’s a little Valentine treat for you, because we love you! A quick, last minute project for your favorite Valentine. It’s a paper-pieced Valentine heart that you can make into pillow, a tote bag. Or make several and make a small quilt or wall hanging, or just one for a mini. You’ll probably come up with some more ideas. Be sure to share in the comments!

Kim Sandberg, studio educator, created this cute design using Pro-Stitcher Designer. Pro-Stitcher Designer is a full-featured design software for creating paper or digital quilting motifs. It gives you the ability to quickly design, edit, or customize any quilting motif you can imagine. Besides all that, you can create paper-piecing designs as well!

Kim tells about it in this video:

Download the pattern here.

Then let us know how you used your paper-pieced Valentine.

You’re welcome!

Make a Stencil

I told you last week I would show you how to make a stencil from Golden Threads quilting paper. It’s easy and fun and results in a easy, follow-the-line, free-motion quilting guide that will make your quilts look fabulous!

Start with a design

You can take one of your fantastic doodles.

Or maybe something you found in a magazine or a book.

You might have seen a fabulous quilting design in nature,

or on some tile or carpet, or on a tissue box,

 

or on a plate.

Look at the fabrics in your quilt,

there might be a super cute design. Inspiration for quilting designs are truly everywhere! Be sure to have your camera ready to capture them.

Draw and trace

Draw on regular paper first. Keep in mind the size you will need for your quilt. Make adjustments until it is perfect. As you are drawing, think like a quilter and make the design continuous, to minimize stops and starts.

Once you are happy, trace your design onto Golden Threads Quilting Paper. BTW, all this drawing and tracing is great practice for when you actually quilt the design!

Make a stencil

Take your GT paper to your machine and pin it to a quilt sandwich.

Set your stitch regulation for a longer stitch. I set my HQ Infinity to 6 spi.

Take the thread out of your needle and stitch the design. The needle will punch holes in the paper and you now have a stencil to

mark your quilt

Position your stencil where you want the design. Using your pounce pad, swipe over the paper.

You have nice lines to follow as you quilt!

QUILT

Once you have quilted the design, the pounce powder will easily brush away.

Now you can create a stencil from any design you can dream up!

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doodling tips

We have been following Diane’s adventures in learning to quilt and a few weeks back I gave some doodling tips to help her (and you). You can read that post here.

More Doodling Tips

I have a few more tips that will shorten your learning curve. Things you can do to make your doodling help develop the skills you use when actually quilting.

Define a space

Diane talks about this in her blog post. She found it very helpful to define a space to practice a design in. While quilting you are likely to be quilting within blocks or other defined spaces on the quilt, so practicing within a space helps you to know what works and what doesn’t. And to know how to navigate the space.

Doodling over a wide open space can be helpful in learning to draw a motif and that’s important.

When you doodle inside a defined space, not only do you learn how to draw the motif, you learn how it behaves when you approach an edge. You experience how it can be adjusted. You figure out how to change directions.

You also learn how to avoid getting stuck in a dead end. And how to travel to get yourself back on track to filling the space, without cutting your thread.

Doodle real size

Diane took a photo of her block and then printed it out for some practice doodling.

A happy accident occurred, the print-out was almost the actual size of the block itself.

Diane Harris Doodle tips

She stumbled upon another trick we use and that is doodling in real size. But printing a photo of a block will not always result in an image that is real size. Diane just got lucky with that block!

There are a couple of ways we can create a template of our blocks or areas on the quilt that will allow us to doodle for practice. Or for R & D (research and development), discovering a new design that works to enhance the block. It will allow us to audition designs as well.

Quilter’s Preview Paper

preview paper

Simply lay the clear film over the quilt and use a marker to trace your block or area to be quilted. Use a permanent Sharpie marker for the outline of your block. Then you can doodle in the space with a dry erase marker. Use a scrap of batting to wipe away the dry erase marks and the Sharpie outline will remain so you can try again. (Sharpie marks are easily removed with alcohol and a scrap of batting when you’re ready to move on.)

The other tool you can use is

Golden Threads Quilting Paper

While Quilter’s Preview Paper is a clear plastic film, Golden Threads Quilting Paper is actually paper. It is a high quality tracing paper that is easy to see thru to trace your shapes.

For this you’ll want to use a pencil to trace your block.

One advantage to Golden Threads paper is that if you come up with a fabulous design, you can make a stencil from the paper to mark your quilt for easy, follow-the-line, free-motion quilting. I’ll write about how to do that next week.

Density

Another advantage to doodling real size is it helps to see the density of the quilting. Remember, the denser the quilting the stiffer the quilt will be. For a soft and cuddly quilt you’ll want to keep the quilting designs larger.

It also changes the look of the quilting. Look at these two 4″ squares with swirls in them.

density

Same design but quite a difference in appearance, just by changing up the density of the design.

You can learn so much, just by doodling. Then you’ll come up with your own doodling tips! Please share them in the comments.

Happy doodling!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

Quilting Sideways?

For those who quilt on a frame system with a moveable machine, sometimes it just makes more sense to do the quilting sideways. Normally we load a quilt onto our frame with the top edge at the top and the bottom edge at the bottom. But there are times it can be advantageous to load the quilt sideways. Let me give you some examples.

The seam in the backing runs vertically

If the seam in the quilt back runs vertically, when we roll the backing around the pole, those extra layers of fabric from the seam allowances can cause the backing to get floppy or sloppy. To get wrinkles and puckers or even pleats. There is nothing worse than finishing a quilt only to remove it from the frame and discover you’ve stitched a pleat into the backing fabric. That usually means major un-sewing hours in your future. (Or you can get very creative in the placement of the label, but that’s a topic for another post.)

You can avoid all this by being extra careful while loading the back, smoothing and compressing the seam allowance as you go. Or, you can load the back sideways, so that the seam goes parallel to the pole. The extra layers of fabric run the whole length of the pole and don’t cause any problems at all. You only have to remember to load the quilt top sideways too!

quilting sideways

Be sure when you choose this method that the design you want to quilt is not directional.

Your design will look best quilting sideways

Maybe you want the design to go a certain direction that can only be achieved if you quilt sideways. On the Christmas quilt above, the holly looked better if it was quilted sideways.

So, this quilt had 2 reasons to do the quilting sideways! A vertical seam in the back and a design that looked better sideways. Win-win!

You want to quilt lots of vertical straight lines

Using channel locks lets us quilt perfect straight lines. Our options are physical channel locks,

channel locks

Electromagnetic Channel Locks,

electromagnetic channel locks

or the channel locks built in to Pro-Stitcher.

All three options will allow you to stitch perfect horizontal or vertical straight lines. If your quilt calls for long vertical lines (longer than your throat space), consider mounting the quilt sideways and stitch horizontal lines instead. No thread breaks, no tie offs, perfect continuous lines!

Fewer advances needed when quilting sideways

If you like to get quilts done as fast as possible, quilting sideways usually means fewer advances to complete the quilt. Most quilts are longer than they are wide. Advancing the quilt takes a little time but when you multiply that by the times you need to advance to make it to the bottom of the quilt, it adds up! Load sideways and you will need fewer advances. It will shave a few minutes off your quilting time. Done in time to spend a little quality time with your sewing machine!

I hope you’ll think about quilting sideways and see if it works for your quilts. What tricks do you have up your sleeves that help you quilt better or faster or easier?  Please share!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Quilts of Melissa Sobotka at the Handi Quilter Gallery

We are so lucky at Handi Quilter to have a gallery that features collections from exceptional quilters from all around the world. And right now, our gallery is filled with the lovely quilts of Melissa Sobotka. Melissa achieves a photo-realistic style of quilting by appliqueing raw edge pieces of batik fabrics. Then she enhances with inks to give greater depth.

Our gallery is open to the public. If you live nearby and would like to visit our gallery, you are welcome. Covid precautions are in force to keep our employees (and you) safe.  But I will share photos with you here if you are not able to see them in person. Enjoy!

Chihuly’s Gondola

quilts of Melissa Sobatka

detail Chihuly’s Gondola The Quilts of Melissa Sobotka

detail Chihuly’s Gondola

 

End of the Spin

 

 

 

Ode to Inspiration

 

Darshan of the Deities

 

 

The Calm

 

Archangel Haniel

 

Angel Watching Over Me

 

The quilts of Melissa Sobotka are usually quite realistic. Some of Melissa’s quilts are less photo-like and more painterly.

Gorgeous

quilts of Melissa Sobatka

detail of Gorgeous

 

Natalia’s Russia

 

Santorini Sunset

 

Last but not least, a commentary on the times we are living in.

 

A Modern Pandemic

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

2020-12-14T13:25:43-07:00December 12th, 2020|Categories: Gallery, Inspiration, quilt show, quilts|Tags: , , |0 Comments

When to Frog Machine Quilting – and When to Resist

My friend, HQ Stitch Ambassador, Diane Harris is quilting her scrappy Gypsy Wife on her HQ Capri stationary longarm machine. She’s fairly new to machine quilting. And she is chronicling her adventures with her new machine over on the HQ Stitch blog. This week she asks the question, “when to frog machine quilting – and when to resist?”. Diane says. “I know that ripping out machine quilting doesn’t make you a better machine quilter. It’s practice that makes you better! Nevertheless, I want my quilts to be reasonably well made and that includes the quilting.”

How do you find the balance? Let’s talk.

Definition

Frog: [frawg] verb – to remove stitches, usually with the help of a sharp implement, such as a seam ripper and the occasional un-lady-like word or phrase. Origin: from the sound emitted by the amphibian known as a frog, i.e. rip-it, rip-it.  Synonyms: rip, unstitch, unpick, unsew.

The Quilt

The Gypsy Wife is a sampler design by Jen Kingwell with many blocks in many sizes and lots of long, skinny strips. Don’t you love Diane’s amazing, riotous use of color?

Imperfections?

Diane thought the busy fabrics might hide her wobbles and bobbles that are a normal part of the quilting learning curve. And she was right! Busy fabrics on the quilt top and the backing will certainly hide many imperfections. The trick is to use a thread that will blend with all the colors in the quilt. With all those colors, Diane had a really difficult task!

Diane’s first example is this block:

She was happy with the quilting in the center square except for the long curve at the bottom. I think what made her unhappy is that the long curve is way more visible than the rest of the quilting. The medium colored thread she chose, (a good choice in my opinion), stands out much more on the black fabric where that curve is stitched. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

Ask an honest friend

Before you pull out the seam ripper, ask a friend, preferably a quilter friend, for an honest assessment. You both need to trust each other completely for this to work. Your friend needs to know that if she tells you to rip, that you won’t be offended. And you need to truly value her opinion when it comes to quilting and quality. Finding two people who can manage this type of interaction is hard and probably close to impossible. Quilters tend to be really nice people who would rather eat live bugs than hurt a friend’s feelings.

Ease up

The problem with making the assessment yourself is that you are too close. You spent hours piecing the top and so you want the quilting to be spectacular, to make the quilt look its very best. Looking at each and every stitch and expecting that the hours of practice you put in should be paying off by now, clouds your judgement. Take a few steps back. Wait a few days, then look at the overall quilt. Can you still see what you thought might be a mistake? Chances are, you won’t even be able to find it.

Some designs require more accuracy

Here’s my OCD showing!  Diane thought this block was one of the most problematic.

I agree with her. Straight lines need to be straight. Using a quilting ruler can help a bunch to improve the look.

This block is quilted with straight line designs and looks great. I’m pretty sure Diane used a ruler for what she quilted in the green and gray pointy parts. In her blog she says, “This sharply-pointed star isn’t perfect but it’s good enough. Consider it finished.”  I think she’s right!

When to Frog Machine Quilting – and When to Resist

The ultimate question

Diane asks, “How do you decide when it’s bad enough to take out and when it can be left in without utterly destroying your credibility?”

In other (less dramatic) words: when to frog machine quilting – and when to resist.

I think that question can best be answered with a few of questions.

Can you live with it?

Will you cringe every time you look at the quilt and that awful quilting will just scream at you? Then start frogging.

But before you do, give it some time. You may just forget and be unable to find the spot again. Then resist.

Do you think you can do better if you try again?

Maybe a different design will work better in the block? Maybe you can practice quilt a bit on a scrap and then give it another go? Start frogging.

If the design adds texture and does not look messy. Resist.

Do you want to spend the time it takes to frog and re-quilt?

What takes 10 minutes to quilt takes 3 hours to pick out. Is the quilt that important that you will invest your time? Yes? Start frogging.

If you’d rather quilt something else and try other designs, or the quilt is for your sister-in-law and you don’t like her much anyway. Resist.

I suppose it all comes down to the expectations you place on your level of expertise. If you know you can do better and you care about the quilt, then parent yourself. Make yourself take it out and try again. Study, if you have to, by practicing.

Here are some of Diane’s blocks that look just fine. Some she agrees with me, and others not.

Print out this sign and hang it on your quilting room door:

and add this sign too:

Rip or resist? How do you decide? Let us know in the comments.

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Building New Habits

My friend and colleague Diane Harris, HQ Stitch Brand Ambassador, shared some new habits she is building in her recent blog post over on the HQ Stitch page. Be sure to check it out; there are some great habits to get more piecing done. A couple of her habits will really help with finishing more quilts.

Prepare the Backing

Diane says:

When I finish piecing a quilt top, I prepare a backing right then and there. I used to fold up the quilt top and stick it in a cupboard where it languished. I might not think about it again for years. I stopped that bad habit, and I love practicing this new habit!

I don’t enjoy getting the backing ready so if I can conquer that task, I’m one huge step closer to finishing the quilt. And prepping the backing causes me to think about the quilting plan, which again moves me closer to a finish.

I love this idea! I like to make the backings but I don’t do it right away, as soon as I finish a quilt top. Maybe it’s because I have so many other projects going. I feel so great finishing something, and want to get to the others and try to get them finished, too. So I fold up the quilt top and put it aside. My problem is that when I do get a chance to quilt it, I don’t know what I did with the backing fabric. Or maybe I thought I would piece the back from the scraps and leftovers from the top. Those fabric have been stashed away and I don’t really want to hunt for them!

Making the backing right away would solve my issues and would make it so much easier to get to the best part: The Quilting. Thanks Diane! I am going to build this new habit into my routine.

After I read Diane’s post I pulled out a finished top, hunted for and found the backing fabric, and sewed the backing to size. I’m ready to quilt when I get some free time. It feels really good!

Hone your skills with practice

Diane says:

And speaking of the quilting plan, I fill my empty moments with doodling these days. Now there are no empty moments! Doodling lets me consider ideas for quilting. Swirls, ribbon candy, loops, hills and more go down on paper even if they’re uneven and ugly. You never get better if you don’t practice, and most people’s motifs start out at least a little bit ugly.

And did you know it’s better to doodle within a shape than on a blank sheet of paper? I will explain why in the next post.

I look forward to hearing Diane’s explanation! And I have have a few tips that will make your doodling time even more productive in honing your quilting skills.

Use a dry erase board and marker. The marker flows easily over the board similar to the feel of moving a frame machine or moving the fabric with a light touch on a stationary machine. They sell them at the dollar store. Keep it somewhere handy so you can grab it quickly for a few moments of doodling throughout your day.

Use a scrap of batting to erase your marks.The batting absorbs the dry erase ink and it won’t get on your clothes or furniture. Paper towel tends to make the ink flake off, and if that gets on fabric, it will be permanent. Ask me how I know.

If you draw a particularly nice design, snap a photo of it with your phone to save it for future reference.

Muscle memory training

Drawing for practice is all about muscle memory. We tend to draw or write with our hand and forearm down on the paper. To train the muscles you use for quilting lift your elbow up and keep your hand off the paper or board. With your hand and arm down, you are using your finger and wrist muscles to draw.

When you lift your elbow you will use your upper arm and shoulder muscles to create the drawing. These are the muscles we use when quilting, so now you’re training the right muscles and creating muscle memory for quilting.

If you want to get good at something…..you have to practice. Put in your 15 minutes a day. You will improve, I promise!

Thanks, Diane, for the great ideas to build new habits that will help us finish more quilts.

by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

 

 

 

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