Quilting Fun Archives - Handi Quilter

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Muscle

I hope you had some fun trying out those straight line designs from last week. They will become some of your favorite go-to’s when you’re deciding how to quilt lots of tops. As you practice you are developing muscle.

photo by Alora Griffiths

No, not that kind of muscle!  Muscle memory.

Is muscle memory a thing?

You bet it is! When you practice a new skill over and over, your brain (not really your muscles) learns to perform the task without really thinking. There is a bit of muscle component too, but it’s mostly brain.

photo by Fakurian Design

How do I get muscle memory?

Some of the best advice I received as a new quilter was to pick a couple of designs and get really good at them. Then you will have a way to quilt any quilt with confidence. By now, I think you know the way to get really good at something. Practice. And practice EVERYDAY. It’s what will develop that all-important muscle memory.

Remember your promise?

But here’s something to think about: you want to develop good muscle memory, not mediocre muscle memory, and certainly not poor muscle memory. By that I mean you want to train your brain and muscles to execute a really excellent version of the design you are learning.

An Olympic track athlete doesn’t train by slowly strolling around the track. They run fast. They train the way they want to perform in the real race.  And they pay attention to every nuance of their body and movements. They discover what makes them faster and what slows them down through experimenting with different techniques.

Training with the good stuff

You want to quilt like an Olympian. So you need to learn the design the way you want it to look on your show-stopping quilt!

All you need is a really good example of the design you want to learn. You might find it in a book of quilting designs.

Books of quilting designs

page from Quilting Dot to Dot by Cheryl Barnes

Or on a quilt you see at a show or a sample in a quilt shop. Take a photo. Get a close-up of the quilting design!

If you take a class, often times the teacher will provide handout notes with drawings of designs. Score!

You might find a design you like in a magazine.

from Quiltmaker Magazine Nov/Dec ’10

You’ll need a plastic page protector or piece of clear plastic that you can write on with a dry erase marker. If you are using a design from a book, place the plastic over the design.

Then trace the design with your dry erase marker.

Pro Tip:

Keep your elbow up off the table to help with the muscle memory development.

Erase and trace again. And again.

Pro Tip

Use a small scrap of batting to erase the marker. Paper towel will cause dry erase ink to “flake” off.  If those flakes get on your clothing or upholstery it will leave a permanent mark. The batting absorbs the ink with no flaking.

Another method is to make a copy of the design and slip that copy inside your plastic page protector.

Once you feel confident with the path of the design, remove the image and try drawing the design on your own. If you’re happy with the results, move on to your machine and practice fabric to try stitching.  If you don’t quite have the hang of it yet, keep tracing.

Notice the details

Just like the Olympian track star, pay attention to the small things. Like how the curves of your design are really very round. Or how the angles come to a sharp point over there. Or how the space between the lines is about 1/2 inch here, but only a 1/4 inch there.

Basic shapes

And pick out those basic shapes to make it easy.

You already know how to quilt all of the shapes. You just need practice in putting them together in different ways.

Next week we will explore designs made with curves.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art or Math?

There is a whole bunch of math that goes into creating a quilt. Geometry too. Those are scary words to a lot of quilters. Some think MATH is a four-letter word. Others will go screaming from the room at the mention of the “M” word. So the question is: Is a quilt Art or Math?

Quilts are made for beauty. But it takes a lot of math to get to the artistry. Spaces are divided into smaller geometric patterns that interlock. Tessellations. Angles. Measurements. Formulas. Calculations. Ratios.

     

But, when all those little pieces come together, a quilt is much more than the sum of all those little pieces. All the fabrics that were painstakingly chosen, precisely measured and cut and sewn. That’s where ART takes over. That’s when emotion enters. Magically, art transforms those angles and measurements and geometry into something much more. Something that speaks to the heart and soul. And it matters not if it is perfect. Every quilt has that special quality, that harmony. Beauty.

The math is still there. Much of what the human eye / brain perceives as beautiful is based on some interesting math concepts. Just ask Mr Fibonacci.

So never fear the math, because it will take you to the art, if you let it.

Happy Quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter

 

Extra Tips – Binding

Last week’s post explained how to stitch binding to the front of the quilt while the quilt is still loaded on the frame. You can read it here.  This week, I’d like to add a few extra tips when it comes to binding on the longarm frame.

Finish the last few inches at your domestic machine

Most of the time, I do not overlap the ends of the binding strip, the way I explained last week. I stop stitching about 12 inches before I get to the place where I started. I have tails of binding both at the beginning and at the end. I take the quilt and finish that last 12 inches at my HQ Stitch 510 machine. I prefer to machine stitch the ends of the binding together and then stitch the joined binding to the quilt. This results in less handwork.

HQ Stitch 510 sewing machine

IF you like a wider binding

I find I prefer a slightly winder binding than 1/4 inch. So I use my HQ Echo feet, specifically, the 3/8 inch foot (the one in the middle). It gives me the look I’m going for and keeps my binding size consistent. Win-win! Experiment with the other sizes of Echo Feet and the 1/2 inch size Square Foot.

HQ Echo Feet

Be sure to make the decision about the size of the binding while you are piecing the top! It helps to allow the extra fabric on the quilt top edges to accommodate the extra-wide binding. You can still do a wider binding at the last minute but it is a little more challenging to get it nice and straight.

Faux piped binding

I love the look of piped binding

quilt with couched binding

Friendship Fanfare by Mary Beth Krapil

But I don’t like the extra work involved in creating the real thing. That’s why this quilt doesn’t have piped binding. It has yarn couched in the ditch between the quilt and the binding!

I use my HQ Couching Feet set.

HQ couching feet set

The size I choose depends on the yarn I am using for the piping. I mostly use a smaller yarn and the small couching foot for piped bindings.

Once the binding has been stitched to the front of the quilt on the frame, I pull the binding aside (away from the quilt). You can even pin it back if you wish. Then I couch the yarn right in the ditch, working my way all the way around the quilt.

Pro tip:

Take a couple of extra stitches in the corners to make it secure.

Slightly, no more than 1/2 inch, overlap the ends of the yarn. Trim the tails right at the surface of the quilt.

Super fast and easy and looks like the real thing! Don’t tell anyone how easy this is. Let’s keep it our little secret!

quilt with couched binding

Friendship Fanfare by Mary Beth Krapil

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

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

 

 

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

Makers Master Moxie

We have this awesome new machine in our family, the HQ Moxie. The HQ Moxie is upfront–everything you need in one package. Practical features and optional accessories make this simple, spunky longarm the perfect quilting machine to customize and make your own. Social media is such a fun place to meet new friends and see what they are up to. We’ve partnered with 3 incredible makers from social media. They just got their new Moxie longarm machines. We thought it might be fun for you to watch these makers master Moxie. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages, because we will be sharing their adventures.

Let me introduce you

to these 3 awesome quilters.

moxie makers

They will be sharing their experiences as they learn how to use their Moxie machines, from set-up, to fearless beginning free motion, to using cool tools and accessories. You can follow along. And learn right along with them.

Crafty Gemini

new HQ Moxie machine The Crafty Gemini

Vanessa Vargas Wilson is the Crafty Gemini. She lives on a 5 acre homestead just north of Gainesville, FL with her hubs and 2 kids. She has been sharing her adventures in crafting and sewing on her website, her YouTube channel, and her social media pages for many years. Although she is not new to longarming, she just got a new Moxie. You can see her set up her machine by clicking her picture above.

Here is where you’ll find her:

 Instagram: @craftygemini
 TikTok: @thecraftygemini

Night Quilter

night quilter with Moxie

Kitty Wilkin is, in her own words, “a stay at home mom of three littles, wife, sewist of quilts and other beautiful things, runner, gardener, yogi, and all in all lover of life”. And with three little children the only time she has to quilt is after bedtime, so “Night Quilter” is her handle.

Kitty is new to longarm quilting and she is excited about learning and using her Moxie.

Connect with Kitty on:

 Instagram: http://instagram.com/nightquilter     (@nightquilter)

 TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@nightquilter?

Teri Lucas

It will be fun to watch Teri learning to quilt with Moxie.  Teri has an abundance of quilting moxie, her motto is, “Quilt with reckless abandon.” She recently moved to Georgetown, TX with her husband.  And she has a new book, Color, Thread and Free-motion Quilting. The designs in her book were stitched on a domestic machine. I can’t wait to see what she does with her Moxie!

Connect with Teri:

Website/blog: terificreations.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeriLucasquilts

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/terilucas/

Pinterest: @quiltedteri

 

I hope you’ll enjoy following these 3 makers master Moxie. And learn a thing or two along the way. If you are getting to know your Moxie, please post to social media using the hashtag #quiltwithMoxie. We would love to see how you are coming along!
makers master Moxie
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!

Quilters’ Survey

What’s important to you as a quilter? Let us know through the annual Quilters’ Survey!

Handi Quilter has been sponsoring the survey for many years to help us know what YOU want. And then we try our best to deliver!

 

Your responses inform decisions about products, services, and how companies interact with quilters.

Prizes!!!

As a thank you for participating, you can opt into a giveaway drawing for one of twenty-five sponsor-specific $50 gift cards.

Sponsors

If you have ever taken the survey in the past, you know that it is kinda long. Because this is a lengthy survey, you are given opportunities along the way to exit the survey and enter the drawing. So, you do not have to finish the survey to be eligible to win.

Everyone who enters worldwide is eligible to win! We will choose winners at random and notify them by email. Be sure to respond to the email within 2 business days. If you don’t, we’ll pick an alternate winner. The winner’s list will be posted by March 12 on the Quilter’s Survey website.

Quilters’ Survey Thank you

We truly appreciate you sharing your thoughts and desires with us. We want to help you finish more quilts. And we want to do it in a way that makes you successful and happy!

by Mary Beth Krapil

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