Last week we had a guest post from Diane Harris, HQ Stitch Ambassador. She is dipping her toe into longarm quilting. I’m sharing her second post about getting started with her HQ Capri. This time I’m going to add in my own comments with tips and hints for Diane and for your benefit as well. If you are new to longarm quilting too, this series of posts (Diane is just bursting with ideas!) will be a must-read for you. If you’re more experienced, who knows? You might just pick up a trick or two and if you are thinking about getting a longarm, this will be perfect for you to know what to expect. So I hope you will follow along on this adventure.

Getting Started with HQ Capri

A few weeks ago, my HQ Capri stationary longarm arrived in two boxes. I had been concerned about setup because I am new to longarm quilting and I have a lot to learn.

Handi Quilter Capri box

I kind of love the boxes. “Happy Quilting!”

So I thought I’d share how everything came together and some of the things you should know in order to get started using the HQ Capri.

HQ Capri footprint

The Handi Quilter website has a diagram like the one above for every longarm quilting machine they offer. This is critically important information because it helps you determine if you have the space you need.

(MB: I think EVERYONE has the space. Just get creative! Who needs a couch? Replace it with your heart’s desire, a longarm machine! đŸ˜‰

Capri empty room

I have a former bedroom that has been used most recently for storage, so I cleared out the junk to make way for the Capri.

(Way to go Diane!)

Capri table

There is plenty of room for the table even if I add the 18-inch by 32-inch table extensions to each side, which I plan to do soon. They will help support the weight of larger quilts and I’m excited to get the extensions.

The table went together without a hitch. Only one tool was needed and my husband located it easily because he’s organized! But even if I had been on my own, I could have assembled the table without problems.

Capri machine and table standing height

Above you can see that I made a warmup sandwich for a couple of test runs, just to get the feel of the machine. Always a good idea! I will keep this quilt sandwich nearby and use it over and over.

(MB: Here’s my recommendation: Practice, or as I like to think of it, Play, everyday. I know you are thinking, “But who has time for that?”  I suggest only 15 minutes every day and here’s why: if you practice everyday, you will build your skills gradually and consistently. If you save it up and do an hour and a half on Saturday you will “forget” what you learned last Saturday. It’s like taking 2 steps forward and one step back. Who can get anywhere doing that? Give yourself that gift of spending at least a tiny bit of time doing what you love, everyday. It will make you a better quilter and a happier person! And Diane’s practice piece is perfect! Make up a few sandwiches to keep at the ready.)

I lifted the machine into place according to the instructions and attached all of the cords and hookups. Easy peasy. I started out with the table adjusted for standing, but after a few days I lowered it for sitting and I have been enjoying that a lot. It’s really nice that you have both standing and sitting as options for your quilting.

(MB: When you quilt while sitting, choose a chair that allows your feet to be flat on the floor and sit back all the way into the chair so that your back is supported by the back of the chair. You will want to quilt for hours and good posture is important to make that possible.)

Capri videos

Handi Quilter is known for its education, so I put my feet up and prepared to watch the YouTube videos from Handi Quilter on the Capri. Everything I needed was covered in short, clear videos and before long I was ready to go.

xmas album un-quilted

Ready, Set, GO!

For my first real quilting on the Capri, I decided on a little Christmas quilt called My Christmas Album. It was designed by Tina Curran, and while I love it, I have had a devil of a time getting it quilted.

I’ve had machine quilting in it no fewer than three times (all done on a domestic machine) and have taken it all out for different reasons. It is time to get this one finished and off my plate.

xmas album 5

The problem is that I don’t know what to quilt. Applique isn’t my strong suit and I have zero ideas for how to quilt it.

xmas album 3

I have already anchored everything down by stitching a grid around the blocks on my HQ Stitch 710. It’s the free-motion part that has me flummoxed.

(I love Diane. The fact that she uses the word flummoxed makes me love her even more! )

xmas-album-4

Not long ago I was introduced to Quilter’s Preview Paper, a clear film on which you can draw with a dry-erase marker.

(MB: Quilter’s Preview Paper comes on a roll and has black lines on the sides. This is a warning so you don’t accidentally mark off the paper and onto your quilt top. When you cut a length of preview paper, take some painter’s tape and mark the top and bottom edge too. Dry erase marker is permanent on fabric so you really don’t want to make a mistake and go off the paper. Also, write “TOP” on the paper. If you take the paper away then bring it back over the quilt top you don’t want to place it writing side down. Those marks will rub off onto your fabric.)

xmas-album-6

It’s helpful to try out ideas before you commit with thread, and to practice any motifs you’re unsure of.

xmas-album-7

You can plan your stitch patch and feel confident before you start quilting.

xmas-album-8

Sometimes it becomes evident what you do not want to do. There is no harm in trying out every idea you have.

xmas-album-9

Block by block, I got the Christmas album done. I ripped some quilting out here and there but it was always because I got lost. There’s a blog post coming on that.

my-christmas-album-flat

It isn’t perfect but it is finished. I learned one big lesson that I’ll share down the road. And continuing with the theme of the last post, here is:

Lesson #2

Audition and practice quilting designs on Quilter’s Preview Paper.

Doing this one thing has totally changed my machine quilting experience. I can’t wait to share with you what came next!

Thanks for sharing your adventures in getting started with your HQ Capri, Diane! We look forward to your future posts and future lessons.

Comments by Mary Beth Krapil (MB)