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Dueling Squares

HQ Groovy Boards create a precise pattern that can be used by all quilters, from beginning to expert. Made of durable plastic, these patterns can be used over and over with the same precise results. Handi Quilter recommends customers purchase a minimum of two of the desired pattern to eliminate having to stop and mark your quilt project. Using Groovy Boards requires a stylus and adapter. HQ Pro-Stitcher users will require an additional adapter. Use center dot for placement on quilt.

2020-08-18T09:07:24-06:00May 10th, 2017|Categories: |0 Comments

Block Squared

HQ Groovy Boards create a precise pattern that can be used by all quilters, from beginning to expert. Made of durable plastic, these patterns can be used over and over with the same precise results. Handi Quilter recommends customers purchase a minimum of two of the desired pattern to eliminate having to stop and mark your quilt project. Using Groovy Boards requires a stylus and adapter. HQ Pro-Stitcher users will require an additional adapter. Use center dot for placement on quilt.

2020-09-23T10:38:27-06:00April 27th, 2017|Categories: |0 Comments

Thoughts on Batting

The top is finished and the backing has been pulled together. Now we’re ready for the best part, the quilting. But we have to have something in the middle to make it into a quilt. I have some thoughts on batting that I’d like to share. It’s the least appreciated part of the quilt. But it does most of the work of making a quilt either soft and warm and cuddly, or wall hanging worthy. So you have to choose wisely.

What is batting?

Batting is the material used between the top and backing layers of fabric in a quilt. This material provides dimension, texture and loft to your quilt as well as providing an insulting layer of warmth.

Batting can be made from many different fibers. The most popular among quilters are cotton, wool, silk, polyester, bamboo, and various blends.  You can find a nice description of the different fibers at the Connecting Threads website.

There are a lot of choices on the market and it may seem overwhelming, but it really boils down to two things: 1. how the quilt will be used and 2. your personal preferences. I’m going to share my preferences and give my reasons. You should experiment and decide on your own personal preferences with some of what you read here in mind.

How will this quilt be used?

We make all sorts of quilted items, wall hangings, art quilts, table runners, place mats, baby quilts, kid’s quilts, couch quilts, bed quilts, lap quilts, heirloom quilts, guest bed quilts,  don’t-you-dare-nap-on this-quilt quilts, picnic quilts, car quilts, dog bed quilts. I’m starting to feel like Forrest Gump’s friend, Bubba, listing the uses for shrimp, but I’m sure you’re getting the picture.

I divide up my projects into 2 categories:

1. Flat and stable

Wall Hanging

In this category I include any quilt that needs to remain flat and square, so that it hangs nicely, and will very seldom (if ever) get washed. This type of quilt requires a stable batting that will not sag if hung on the wall, that doesn’t stretch as much as some other batts, and that provides stability. My choices are cotton, or an 80/20 cotton/polyester blend.

There’s only one problem with those choices, they don’t usually have much loft. I’m a quilter and I want my quilting texture to show. For that you need loft.  Loft refers to the thickness or puffiness of batting. So to add that loft with out giving up stability, I add another layer, of wool or polyester, on top of my flat stable layer. It lets my quilting texture sing while the cotton layer against the backing keeps everything flat and square. Win-win!

Table runners and Place Mats

These are things that will get washed. And they need to lay flat so that you can place dishes and glasses and such on them and not have anything tip over. My choice for these is fusible fleece. I position the fusible side to the backing so that I can get a small degree of texture from the quilting on the top. After quilting and binding I give the item a good press (according to fleece package directions) to fuse the fleece to the backing. This batting also helps keep the item looking crisp and flat after washing.

2. Drape-able and cuddly

These quilts are ones that will get used for sleeping, watching TV, napping, building forts, making super hero capes, having picnics, swaddling babies. They get washed. Soft and cuddly is the name of the game.

Bed Quilts

I prefer natural fibers for sleeping. My favorite bed quilts are made with wool batting. They are lightweight, breathable, warm in the winter (especially with a cotton batted quilt on top), and cool in the summer (all by itself). Most all wool batts on the market today are pre-shrunk so they are machine washable on gentle in cool water and dry-able in a low drier. You will get a small amount of shrinkage to give that classic crinkled quilty look. The loft shows my quilting texture (a big plus!).

Kid’s Quilts

If the quilt is for a child, then I might opt for cotton or 80/20. Kid quilts get washed much more often than most grown-up quilts. I prefer a more stable batting to hold up to all the play and trips through the laundry. I want the outer fabrics to wear out before the batting does.

Winter Quilts

Did you notice earlier I said I put a cotton quilt over my wool quilt in the winter? A cotton batting has a heavier weight and although it’s breathable, it’s a little less so than wool. It provides a nice layer of insulation in the winter. Where I live it’s not always super cold all winter long, we have some weeks of milder temps between the freezes. So I keep my cotton batted quilt nearby for the really cold nights.

These have got to be the most boring photos ever. The beauty of batting is the job it does to make your quilts work the way you want them to.

 

Batting Tips

  • Always follow the directions on the package when it comes to care and also the density of quilting. The package will always tell you how close your quilting lines need to be to keep the batting from shifting and bunching in the wash. Follow the rules!
  • I like to buy batting on the bolt or by the yard rather than the packaged batts. It has less wrinkles and fold lines.
  • Speaking of wrinkles and folds, I like to load my quilts on my longarm frame the night before I plan to quilt. Then I can drape the batting over the poles and give it a light spritz with a water bottle. During the night the ironing fairies come and get all the wrinkles out and I’m ready to put the batting in and start quilting.
  • Batting stretches very easily, so treat it gently while you are quilting and be super careful not to stretch it.
  • Handi Quilter machines can easily stitch any commercial battings, so no worries about that. If you’re hand quilting, be sure to choose one that is easy to needle.

These are my thoughts on batting and are in no way comprehensive. The only way to learn your own preferences is to experiment and learn as much as you can by reading and talking with other quilters. Let us know what your favorites are and be sure to tell us why in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

More Adventures in Longarm Quilting

Last week we checked in on Diane Harris to see how she was coming along. Seems she is having more adventures in longarm quilting and learning a lot while having fun. We looked at her recent blog post, Hugs and Kisses: What I Learned. If you didn’t read it, do it now. If you missed the post on the Handi Quilter blog last week, you can read it here, to get caught up. This week we will talk about Diane’s other lessons and I’ll share my thoughts and a tip or two.

Diane says, “The next one is a problem and question that came up but I don’t yet know the answer. I’m counting on Mary Beth Krapil, my machine quilting coach and a Handi Quilter National Educator, to help me.”

4. Should the motifs in different parts of the quilt be related in some way?

Wow, Diane! That’s a huge question.

Here’s what she was thinking:

I had this thought when I started the loops above in the first border, and again when I started the straight lines in the outer border.

I like the loops and the lines a lot because they’re easy and forgiving. But they don’t seem related in any way to the motifs (fingers and leaves) I quilted in the blocks.

The answer to that question is a big matter of opinion.  I like to try to use some principles of design when choosing quilting motifs.

Rhythm and Repetition

Rhythm is created by repetition of line, form, and texture to create a visual link that the eye follows. It invites viewer’s eye to move from one part of the quilt to another.  And what does this mean to a quilter? When you choose a motif, like a leaf, you should repeat that shape in different parts of the quilt and Diane did that expertly by repeating the leaf form in all the dark squares of her X blocks and in each of her X blocks.

Contrast

I like to introduce contrast with the quilting. For lots of straight lines in the piecing, I use curved quilting lines. If there are curved lines in the piecing (or definitely for applique quilts) straight line quilting is the way I lean,  Diane’s “fingers” have a nice element of curve to an essentially straight design that creates that contrast to the straight-line piecing. She also created contrast with the scale of the fingers v.s. the leaf shapes. The fingers are tighter quilting that pushes down the batting in the background of the X and lets the X come forward with the looser leaf motifs. Contrast can also be achieved with thread color. You have to be brave or confident in your quilting abilities, because your quilting will really show with contrasting thread.

Balance

First and foremost the placement and scale of your motifs have to be balanced so that you end up with a nice flat square quilt. Diane used the straight lines in her border. Piano key-like designs are always a good choice for the border. Because of it’s back and forth quilting path, a piano-key design can tame a bit of fullness if needed. And as long as it’s quilted with fairly even spacing it really helps a quilt lie flat.

As to Diane’s concern that the straight lines are not related to the other motifs, it’s my opinion that straight lines always work, no matter what else is happening with the quilting.

Her loops are similar enough to the fingers that I think they work just fine too. She quilted them in the narrow pink stop border. I think a simple design like loops or zigzags or arcs are the perfect motif for narrow borders. Now, if she had chosen to quilt fish….that would be a stretch. Keep the quilting in narrow borders simple and you will always come out ahead.

There are many more principles of design and I would recommend researching and learning as much as you can about them. It will really help you to achieve better quilting.

5. Use a similar color in the bobbin as on the top

Yes, that is an excellent rule! It eliminates tension headaches. Starkly contrasting thread in the top and bobbin will show even the tiniest variations in tension. Diane used hot pink and dark blue threads on top, but didn’t think they would look that great on her light blue backing fabric. It’s always a dilemma when choosing threads, but if you stick with the same thread top and bobbin, it is much more forgiving. If you are a beginner and are afraid that your quilting won’t look nice on the back, choose a busy patterned backing fabric to disguise your quilting till you gain more confidence.

Diane’s next lesson was:

6. Your bobbles won’t show to the average viewer.

Amen. The people who will see your quilt will love it, simply because you made it. They don’t know anything about quilting and they don’t care! You made it, and it is beautiful. Even other quilters who DO know a thing or two about quilting will applaud you. You FINISHED a quilt. That is cause for celebration in and of itself. Not to mention the things you learned along the way.

Diane says, “Have you ever noticed that no matter how ugly a quilt might be during show and tell, people still appreciate the maker’s efforts?

And if it’s an early effort, even more so. We all start somewhere, and later we remember how much we appreciated the encouragement of others who understood.”

Wise words my friend! Quilt on!

by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

 

 

 

And I Quilt Personality, Dorien Keusseyan

This week we hear from And I Quilt personality, Dorien Keusseyan. Dorien is a hockey player, a mom, and she quilts. Before COVID, Dorien led an active, busy life as an athlete and mother, but always found time for quilting.

A pandemic has a way of changing what everyday life looks like. But it didn’t change Dorian’s love of quilting and giving. She dug deep into her favorite endeavor to find a place of peace. And she found a way to comfort a friend along the way. Here’s her story:

 

My COVID escape

Quilting keeps me going, especially in these most recent times of uncertainty. My hours used to be filled with a part-time job and sports, both playing and watching. When COVID-19 hit, and hit hard, it turned so many people’s worlds around, including mine. These freed-up hours left me with less of an identity in a way, too, and with no real good news on the news, unrest started to overtake me. I needed an escape. My Handi Quilter Amara did just this for me.

Dorian Kuesseyan and her Amara

Making masks

It was during those first few months that I, like so many of us with the gift of sewing talent, turned to my machines for mask-making. Making masks for friends, family, and donation kept my mind busy and made me feel like I was making a difference. I did make a difference. We all made a difference, a very important difference. I am thankful for keeping my family safe and share that with others.

Quilting

Once I made a few hundred masks, I turned to my quilting, a more artistic outlet. I have always been a better person when busy, so that’s what I did, I kept busy with Ms. Amara. Since the COVID shut down I pieced and gave away 9 quilts, most of them queen sized! Imagine, my husband thought I’d never use all the fabric I had. I continue to sew and quilt several hours each day. I also quilted many benefit quilts for my guild. I try to do ten each month.

I managed to quilt for hire a bunch of tops for some folks near me too. Quilting and spreading love and happiness puts me in my happy place. Buying my Handi Quilter was perhaps one of the best and most fulfilling things I have ever done. Not only is my studio my favorite place in the house, it makes me feel complete. I am part of a community, the Handi Quilter community, and feel like we are all family.

Focus

Quilting demands attention to detail and focus, which clears my head. This escape is amazing. I love creating and showing off the finished product, social media is a great forum for this. Cruising social media groups is also a great place for collecting ideas for projects. Often when I am stumped for an idea for a place to start with a top, I turn to the internet.

Bringing the community together

One of those nine quilts that I made during the early part of COVID really brought my community together when we needed it most. The school nurse at Arlington High School, Sarah Lee Bolt, who is a friend and neighbor, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I happened to be at the gym, where I worked as a personal trainer, with another friend and neighbor who informed me of this. This client at the gym mentioned to me that the signup genie was all full, so I thought, there’s gotta be something I can do for her, as she has done so much for our community and my sons in particular. I’m betting you can guess what I did? Yup, made a quilt.

It was a community effort though! I ironed muslin onto freezer paper. Thankfully, I had it on hand since all the shops were closed. And started an email and texting effort to get other friends and neighbors of hers to write inspiration and healing messages on these squares with fabric markers. I planned to put them together into a quilt.

A parade!

After a few weeks and lots of coordination, I had 48 blocks! I can’t tell you how many people who got the bag with the blocks were in tears after reading the finished blocks. It still brings goose pimples to me just typing this. Once complete, we neighbors organized a car parade that actually made the local news!

This quilt was incredibly uplifting for her and got me thru that first month, when I wasn’t sure how long things were going to be like they are – this new normal. My new normal includes escaping with everything quilting!

Thanks, Dorien! I think so many of us quilters can relate to your story. Keep on quilting, it’s a life safer!

 

Get It Done

Last week we saw Diane’s Vintage Zigzag quilt and I made some suggestions about how she might quilt it. She made some choices and she is having a great time using her Capri to get it done.  Whenever you are repeating a motif in several places on a quilt it’s really nice to have them look similar. It’s almost impossible with free-motion quilting to make the motifs identical but some consistency is a good thing. So I like to use some tricks and some tools to help me get it done, the way I want it done.

vintage zigzag

One of the suggestions I made was a flower motif for alternate blocks.

For a design like this, I like the flowers to all be nearly the same size. I like for them all to have the same size center. If some have small centers with big petals and some have large centers with small petals, that can really draw the eye (not in a good way).

Get It Done

Here is what I do. I mark the size of my block on Golden Threads Quilting paper.

get it done

Notice, I place a piece of white paper under the Golden Threads paper. This helps me to see when I draw with pencil on my dark cutting board.

Next I draw my design, keeping my pencil down on the paper so that I create a continuous line without stops and starts. Try thinking as if you were quilting the design. Where would you start to be able to make it through the entire design without stopping? When creating a block design it’s best to fill as much of the block as you can. Use a pencil with an eraser so you can make adjustments as you go.

I know some of you may be thinking, “But Mary Beth, I can’t draw!”. No worries! Find a design you like in a book or magazine or trace a flower on your fabric. Golden Threads Paper is easy to see through for tracing. This quality also makes it possible to place your drawing on top of your quilt top to audition what the design will look like on the quilt.  You’ll know before you stitch!

Make it the right size

If you choose to trace a design, it might not be the right size for your block. Again, no worries! The Quilter’s Assistant Proportional Scale is my go-to tool for this task.

get it done

Measure your design. Line up the measurement of the design on the inner ring with the new size measurement (I usually use 1/2 inch smaller than my block) on the outside ring. The percentage of increase or reduction will appear in the window opening under the arrow. Resize on copy machine or scanner. Easy Peasy.

Once you have the print out of the right-sized design trace it on to your Golden Threads paper. When I am happy with the design I go over it with a bolder marker. I indicate the start point with a dot and the end point with a square.

During this process, I have drawn over this several times so I developed muscle memory for the design. It’s going to be easy for me to quilt! I need to mark this on each of the blocks on the quilt where I want to stitch it. A stencil of the design would be the perfect tool!

Making a stencil

I take my GT paper drawing to my machine. You can do this on your longarm or your domestic machine. My HQ Stitch 710 is perfect for this, I can drop the feed dogs and free motion quilt easily. I take the thread out of my needle and I stitch along my lines just like I would quilt it. This needle punches the paper.

Now I can take my needle-punched paper to my quilt top and mark the blocks for quilting. I use it just like I would use a stencil.

The chalk creates a nice line that I can follow while I quilt.

I don’t worry if I’m not stitching exactly on the lines, but each of my flowers will be just about the same size and very similar in appearance because I have my stenciled guide. Just what I needed to get it done!

 

 

 

 

Vintage Zigzag

Our friend, Diane Harris, has been busy finishing UFO’s during her time at home. Her most recent finish is this vintage zigzag quilt.

vintage zigzag

It’s from the Fons and Porter Love of Quilting magazine May/June 2007 issue.

Diane says, “I had all of the printed units with yellow bits made when it became a UFO. Why did I put it away when the bulk of the work was behind me? I made myself stick with it. I knew if I put it away again I would never EVER finish it. There was a lot of easing and pinning and even some swearing because of the miles and miles of bias edges, but I love the finished product and I even have an idea for quilting it. Wouldn’t it be fun to fill each of those green squares with a different quilting design? I must talk to my machine quilting coach Mary Beth Krapil, to see if she thinks that would work. Mary Beth is a Handi Quilter National Educator and a longarm whiz with years of experience in machine quilting, and I count on her to guide me.”

Quilting Ideas

The first thing I thought when I heard Diane’s quilting plan was, how many green squares is that, exactly? So I counted, and there are 33 squares. That’s a lot of designs to come up with and it totals 53 if you want to include the green triangles!  It makes me tired just thinking about it.

That could be because I’m quilting a Jacqueline de Jonge Dream Flight quilt for a friend and I am trying to do different designs in the “moons”.  I’m challenged to come up with lots of variety that will work to create good texture. I’m just getting started.

I also think different designs in all the green squares will just be too busy. But that is my aesthetic showing. I like symmetry and cohesiveness; I like to tie things together with repetition. Diane is a lot more free spirited  than I am when it comes to her quilts. On the other hand I don’t want to discourage her from doing all those designs because, what great practice that would be for someone new to longarm machine quilting! If you haven’t read previous posts, Diane just recently got a HQ Capri stationary longarm machine and is having a blast quilting up her UFO’s and learning about longarm quilting.

So, how about a compromise? Quilt the same design in every other block and in the alternate blocks quilt different designs. I think the same design in alternating blocks would unify the quilt but still give the opportunity for fun, creativity, and Practice.

Examples

This vintage zigzag is really neither feminine or masculine. But we can sway it with the quilting.
Something on the feminine side:
or something a little more geometric:
With the geometric choice you will get plenty of ruler work practice! And if you do the other blocks in curvy free form quilting it will add contrast, which adds interest.

Some things to keep in mind

  • When adding your varied designs try to keep the density of quilting as close as possible to the other blocks. This will help keep the quilt flat.
  • The busy colorful zigzags only need something simple because the quilting will not show as much. I’m thinking some free form squiggly lines. That will be quick to quilt and make up for all the time spent on the blocks.
  • If you want a place to practice feathers, these zigzags are ideal! They won’t show your bobbles much.
  • Decide how confident you are with what you quilt in the green squares. If you are feeling bold then go with a contrasting thread so that the quilting will really show! Perhaps feeling a little more timid? Choose a matching thread.
I can’t wait to see what you choose, Diane! Of course I will share the finish here so we can all admire Diane’s work on this vintage zigzag. Stay tuned! And follow Diane’s blog over on the HQ Stitch site.
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