Quilting life Archives - Handi Quilter

Quilt Show Inspiration

Quilt shows are an awesome place to get inspiration for all sorts of quilty topics. Color combinations, piecing, applique, borders, new techniques, and my favorite: quilting designs.

Quilt show inspiration for you

I was working in the Handi Quilter booth at the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo in Raleigh, NC at the beginning of August.

quilt show booth

It was wonderful to be at a quilt show again! I was able to snap some photos of quilts to share here, just so you could get some quilt show inspiration too. Click on any photo to see the full size image of any of the quilts.

Aloft

The show had a special exhibit, called Aloft. It is a collection of quilts from SAQA, Studio Art Quilt Associates.

The sign says:

See the world from a new perspective! Birds, insects, and even some mammals are able to fly and soar. Plant seeds and kites are carried on the breeze, and the perfect pass can float through the air. Humankind has dreamt of ways to fly from Icarus’ attempt to create his own wings to the advent of airplanes, satellites, and space exploration. This exhibit provides new perspectives through which to see our world.”

I found it genuinely fascinating to see the unique perspective each of these artists chose. These quilts are delightful, so let’s just jump in.

Squirrel Aloft

Squirrel Aloft
by Carla A White
South Burlington, VT

Raw-edge appliqued, hand dyed, thread painted. Cotton and felt.

 

Hong Kong Taxi

Hong Kong Taxi
by Jean Renli Jurgenson
Walnut Creek CA

Painted, machine paper pieced, machine and hand appliqued, inked, machine quilted. Cotton upholstery fabric, paint, ink.

 

On the Wing

On the Wing
by Betty Busby
Albuquerque, NM

Digitally cut, machine stitched, fused applique. Silk, non-wovens.

This is a close up view of a cicada wing!

 

Take Off

Take Off
by Jan Soules
Elk Grove, CA

Fused, machine pieced, machine quilted. Commercial and hand dyed cotton.

The view from an airplane window during takeoff.

 

Flight from Portland

Flight from Portland
by Lisa M Thorpe
Healdsburg, CA

Digitally designed, free motion stitched. Cotton sateen.

 

Ekko

Ekko
by Sara Bradshaw
Spencer, TN

Fused fabric collage, machine quilted. Cotton.

Ekko, the dog, is totally focused on that treat that’s flying through the air.

 

Mapforms #7

Mapforms #7
by Michele Hardy
Silverthorne, CO

Dyed, painted, drawn, screen printed, machine stitched. Cotton and silk, fiber reactive dyes, acrylic paints, markers, paint sticks, assorted thread.

 

Steampunk Selfie

Steampunk Selfie
by Kestrel Michaud
West Melbourne, FL

Free motion quilted, fused applique, digitally printed. Cotton, ink, liquid sealant, glue sealant.

Bungee jumping off the side of a steampunk airship with pet owl!

 

Night Owl

Night Owl
by Judith Roderick
Placitas, NM

Hand painted, waxed, dyed, machine quilted, embellished. Silk, beads, buttons.

 

Icarus II

Icarus II
by Victoria Carley
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Cut, assembled, overstitched. Fashion and upholstery fabrics, embroidery floss.

The story of Icarus is the mythological story of man’s first flight with wings made from wax and feathers.

 

Dezi’s Joy

Dezi’s Joy
by Julie A. Bohnsack
Carbondale, IL

Fused applique, thread painted.  Variety of fabric, denim, cork.

This little boy is “aloft” in more ways than one.

 

Milkweed and Hummingbirds

Milkweed and Hummingbirds
by Sara Sharp
Austin, TX

Fused raw edge, machine applique, thread painted, digitally printed, free motion machine embroidered, quilted, inked.  Cotton prints and batiks, inks, inkjet printed cotton.

 

A Perch Above

A Perch Above
by Sue Colozzi
Reading, MA

Raw edge fused applique, thread sketched, free motion stitched. Printed cotton, interfacings, upholstery fabric, fleece, tulle, dupioni silk, acetate, cording, colored pencils, fabric markers, fabric paint, matte medium, fusibles.

 

The Wind Beneath His Wings

The Wind Beneath His Wings
by Diane Powers-Harris
Ocala, FL

Fused raw edge applique, turned edge applique, digitally printed, image transferred, painted, machine quilted, machine couched.  Commercial and hand dyed cotton, cheesecloth, textured glitzy and sheer fabrics, bubble crepe, satin, clear vinyl, transfer paper, paint, gloss coating, gel medium.

It was a fun collection full of inspiration with just the materials used alone. Have you been to a quilt show recently?

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quilting for Healing

Warning: this blog post contains profanity and discusses serious topics such as death by shooting and mental health crises. Please read at your own discretion.

Marilyn Farquhar, from Ontario, Canada, is a member of the HQ Quilt Your Desire Inspiration Squad. Sadly, in late 2019 and early 2020  Marilyn lost her husband and father to cancer, then her brother, in a tragic shooting by police during a mental health crisis. In August 2020 Marilyn commenced a series of grief quilts, using quilting for healing to help her through the grieving process.

Quilting can be therapy in many ways and many quilters use quilting as a way to cope with difficult times in their lives. In August 2020 Marilyn commenced a series of grief quilts entitled Kairos – An Opportune Time for Action.  She has completed 3 quilts.

His Call For Help

Quilt titled His Cry for Help

His Call for Help – representing despair
Photo Credit The Abbotsford News

Marilyn’s artist statement:

On September 10, 2019, Barry shared his despair with me.  We sat on my back deck—he wore my pink jacket and smoked a joint while crying shamelessly.  He asked for his miracle—he pleaded for his miracle!  He stated “I’m such a piece of shit.”  “I’ve only caused heartache and sorrow.”  “The pain in my brain is unacceptable.”  I heard him, but I did not hear him!  I believed my strong brother would navigate his way through his struggles—I was wrong!  I am sharing this very personal story in the hopes that others, faced with this situation, will be able to recognize despair in loved ones during their darkest hours. Then find a way to get them help.

One Bullet

One Bullet – representing grief and loss Photo Credit Praveenraju909

Marilyn’s artist statement:

He asked to be shot six times—it only took one bullet to end his life.  There are many victims—not just Barry.  His friends, family, colleagues, and society have all been impacted by the loss of Barry.  Barry was a well known advocate for the homeless and marginalized.  The transformative effect of his work to change laws that impact the homeless will continue to be felt in the City of Abbotsford, BC, as well as across Canada.  Survivors left behind, despair at his loss, as much for a vital life cut short, as for the unnecessary circumstances of his death.

May Your Spirit Soar

May Your Spirit Soar – representing hope
Photo Credit Praveenraju909

Marilyn’s artist statement:

Barry’s spirit is now released from his earthly body—free to soar like the eagles.  My wish for all those impacted by poor mental health, grief, and the excessive use of force by police is that they will find within themselves the freedom to soar. May all the officers involved in this incident find peace.  If we are to be considered a civilized society, we need to find a better way of helping our fellow man.  This is the only way to pave the way to a more promising future we all deserve. 

Quilting for Healing

Marilyn’s goal in creating these quilts was not only to grieve her brother’s death and to heal herself, but also to make Barry’s life meaningful. She hopes these quilts will cause people pause and consider, and to talk about mental health, grief and changes in policing.

There is a documentary showing some of Marilyn’s process of making these quilts as well as more of the tragic story of her brother’s death.

When the Ontario and British Columbia travel restrictions are lifted, Marilyn will be taking the quilts across Canada. Her quilts will be on exhibit at various venues.

 

 

Please note: the series on free-motion quilting will resume next week.

 

 

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

 

Texture

There’s a lot of talk on quilting social media these days about texture. Just try a search on #TextureTuesday and you’ll see what I mean. What is texture, anyway? Dictionary.com says this:

Texture was what drew me to quilting.

I have no quilters in my family. My mother taught me to sew at a young age. But the intention was garment construction. She made our clothes, (my sister and I), until we were old enough to make them ourselves.

We had no quilts in the house as I was growing up. (Sad, I know). My grandmother knitted and crocheted. We had afghans, from dictionary.com: afghan: a soft woolen blanket, crocheted or knitted, usually in a geometric pattern. They were scratchy to this little, allergic to wool, girl. I kind of hated them, but oh, what I would give to have one of them today. I had no appreciation of my Gramma’s artistry.

afghan, wikipedia

Every year at Christmastime, we would get a card from a woman that worked with my Dad. They were the most imaginative cards with moving parts and they were embossed. I was enchanted by them. The Christmas tree branches had needles and the little girl’s sweater had knitted stitches. They were the most beautiful things I had ever seen. The design elements of not only image and color, but texture. And I thought the lady who sent them must be some kind of princess artist with the best taste in things ever.

Later in life, I really can’t remember when, I saw a wholecloth quilt. The emotions and thoughts I had about those Christmas cards came flooding back. A practical item with gorgeous texture that you could enjoy every single day of the year and it wasn’t scratchy! I was in love!

Making quilts

When I started to make my own quilts, my greatest goal was to make a wholecloth. I started hand quilting my tops, I quilted two. However, that was taking way too long, so I tried machine quilting on my domestic machine. That was hard, and uncomfortable, and not very much fun. Then I discovered longarm machines. And when I bought my first Handi Quilter I knew my goal might be in reach, someday, after lots and lots of practice.

And that’s my story about how I ended up here, writing to you about quilting. Texture drew me in and never let go.

Here’s some quilt texture eye candy for you. Next week I’ll write more about how to achieve great texture on your quilts.

texture quilt

Kim Sandberg

 

Mary Beth Krapil

 

Debby Brown

 

Mary Beth Krapil

 

Telene Jeffrey

 

Mary Beth Krapil

 

Kelly Ashton

 

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

 

Learn

In reflecting back on 2020, one thing is certain, it’s been a year full of change. We had to learn new ways of living. From the way we work, to the way we shop and even the way we learn. And learn we did!

Learning

We learned how to cook at home, everyday, we learned how to share with our neighbors (toilet paper), we learned how to be together, without actually being together. And we learned how to make sour dough bread.

We learned to Zoom.

And we rallied together (but apart) to take on the unique realities and challenges of this year.

Change?

Many things changed in 2020, forcing us to adapt. Change is stressful. So we used quilting to find calm amid the stress. That’s one thing that didn’t change.

HQ is renowned for supporting and educating our machine owners. That’s another thing that didn’t change.

As a company, we at Handi Quilter devoted ourselves to finding new ways to bring you the quality education you have come to expect from us.

Our celebrated hands-on learning opportunities had to be put on hold, for a bit, while we devised a way to safely hold these events at Handi Quilter headquarters and at shops near you.

Handi Quilter University

We consulted with heath and government experts to devise a way to safely hold classes in the Handi Quilter studio. Now we have a safe event, complete with masks and social distancing and hand sanitizer and handlebar covers, to go along with all the excellent information and fun.

Handi Quilter Academy

The premier annual event, that brings together quilters and world-class instructors from all over the world, was impossible to hold as an in-person event. 300 quilters, (as delightful as that sounds), learning and laughing and eating all in one place just could not happen this year. So we found a way to bring those classes to you in a virtual format. HQ Academy 2020 Virtual Sneak Peek presented classes to ticket holders that they can go back and watch as many times as they would like. It was a hit!

Watch and Learn

Wanting to give everyone the opportunity to grow and learn inspired us to start our weekly video program on Facebook called Watch and Learn. It’s a little mini-class that covers all sorts of topics from ruler quilting, to Pro-Stitcher, to free-motion, to how to use various gadgets for quilting. It’s fun and it’s free. You can find it on our Facebook page every Tuesday at noon Mountain time. Post a question in the comments and you’ll get an answer from one of the HQ experts! You can watch recordings of previous shows on our YouTube channel. And be sure to LIKE and Subscribe so you don’t miss a thing. As a bonus, each week a HQ product is featured at a special discount.

What’s next?

It is your drive to keep learning that motivates us – and in 2021 we will continue to think big and create innovations to keep you learning and finishing quilts.

For now, thanks for learning with us.

There are many things we’d like to forget about this year. But hopefully we will never forget all we learned.

We wish you and your families all the best of health, happiness and quilty-ness in the new year.

 

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

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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