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Lessons in Machine Quilting

My friend, Diane Harris, is learning how to quilt with a stationary longarm machine, her HQ Capri.  Diane is an ambassador for HQ Stitch sewing machines and writes the blog over on the HQ Stitch page. In recent posts she has been sharing her lessons in machine quilting, and I have been sharing her posts with you. She is learning some wonderful lessons!

This week she writes about figuring out what to quilt and about getting stuck. I’ll share her thoughts and my words of wisdom as a seasoned quilter.

Lessons in Machine Quilting

By Diane Harris, HQ Stitch brand ambassador

Comments by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator (MB)

I’m learning so much about machine quilting each day. The lessons apply whether you’re quilting on a domestic like HQ Stitch or on a stationary longarm like the HQ Capri. Some of them would also be useful if you’re longarm quilting with a machine on a movable carriage.

Diane Harris lessons Christmas Album quilt

I wrote about quilting My Christmas Album in the last post, and today I want to dive deeper into some big lessons I learned on this quilt and talk about how hard it can be to know what you should quilt.

In other words, do you need geometric shapes or should you outline the patches, can you quilt right on top of the applique, should the quilting be dense or sparse, and so on.

diane Harris lessons pointsettias

As I considered the blocks, there didn’t seem to be a lot of space for quilting. I stippled a couple of the blocks but I wanted to be more creative on the rest.

diane Harris lessons gingerbread

The gingerbread men got outlined loosely.

diane Harris lessons trees

I meandered a large stipple over the trees.

diane Harris lessons pointsettias

A smaller meander worked between the poinsettias.

Diane Harris lessons snow flakes

I curled in and out of the snowflakes. These ideas aren’t horrible but they’re not great, either. I am hoping that knowing what to quilt will improve with practice.

MB: Knowing what to quilt is a HUGE topic. Of course personal preference plays a big role, but how does a person know what their preference is if they are only just getting started? The answer, my friend, is STUDY. Study is a word that carries memories of forced memorization and poring over boring books. Luckily, the type of study you will be doing is nothing like that! Here’s how you study: you will look at quilts and pay particular attention to the quilting. Go to shows (someday soon I hope), open Pinterest, look on Facebook, browse Instagram, page through quilting books. Find quilts that appeal to you and make note of how they are quilted. You will soon develop personal preference. It might be modern, geometric, angular, flowing, flowery, feathery; there’s really a lot of styles. So first of all…

#1 Know what you like

Then, think about the quilt you are about to quilt and ask some important questions. These will help determine a lot about the quilting.

How is the quilt going to be used? – I will quilt a wall hanging much more densely than a bed quilt. A wall quilt must be stable to keep it square as it hangs and resist sagging of the fabrics. A bed quilt, on the other hand, needs to be soft and drape-able so that it will be cuddly and lay nicely over the edges of the mattress.

What kind of batting will I use? – The package of batting will have a suggested minimum distance for spacing of quilting lines. It’s important to follow these guidelines if you plan to wash the quilt and want it to hold up.

Who is the quilt for? – Man, woman, child, someone playful, someone more formal, modern, traditional? This will be important for the tone of the quilting design. You might put dinosaurs on a kid’s quilt, but might want to stick with feathers on a quilt for the Queen.


Second of all…..

#2 Consider the Quilt

Once you know what you like and have figured out what the quilt needs, it is time to choose a design.  

We are quilters. We all have a stash. Don’t even try to deny it; I know you do. You have more fabric than you could ever hope to use. And when you become a quilter (as opposed to a topper), you will also develop a thread stash. Those of you who have been quilting for a while are nodding your heads. You need one more stash: a design stash. A place to go when you are trying to come up with some idea of what to quilt on your quilt. I started my design stash with books of quilting designs. I have a few. This is only a small portion.

Mary Beth Krapil lessons books

I suggest taking photos of quilting that you especially like. Sketch designs that you have seen on quilts. Add these to a notebook. As you study quilting on social media, save photos to a special file on your computer or tablet. All of this becomes your design stash. Then when you are stumped as to what to quilt, browse your stash and the ideas will start to flow.


#3 Keep a design stash and know how to use it.

Let’s go back and see what other lessons Diane learned.

One other problem presented itself. I made a plan for quilting loosely around the gingerbread men.

Diane Harris lessons gingerbread

However, I hadn’t planned for how to travel from one to the next. You can see on the left above my wiggly line as I tried to travel. And under his arm, you can almost feel the panic as I ran into a roadblock and didn’t know where to go.

MB: Once you’ve settled on a design choice, figure out your path. One way of doing this is to use your Quilter’s Preview Paper and draw the design without lifting your pen. You can also simply finger trace the design over your block as if you were stitching it. It is great practice for when you are actually quilting, and you’ll find your quilting looks nicer when you take the time to finger trace before actually stitching.

Lesson 4

Trouble comes when I don’t know where I’m going.

I must have a plan for what to quilt, but also for how to travel around the quilt.

And that leads into another lesson.

Lesson 5

Stop. STOP! Sooner, not later.

I tend to blunder forward, adding bad quilting and making the problem worse. The more I blunder, the more quilting there is to remove later. I’m learning to stop as soon as I sense trouble.

MB: This is very common. Quilting is a continuous line, so we want to keep going, continuously. I always tell my students that when you get in a bind and are not sure where to go next, remember: the machine has an OFF switch as well as an ON switch. Take your foot off the pedal, or in the case of a moveable machine, hit the stop button, then take a breath and figure out your next path. No one likes to get that seam ripper out, and what is it about removing stitches? What takes 3 minutes to quilt takes an hour and a half to pick out. So stop before you get into trouble and let the dust accumulate on that seam ripper.

Diane Harris lessons Christmas Album quilt

As for this little quilt, while I struggled mightily, it is finished. And in my book,

Finished is better than perfect!

MB: That is a good attitude to have, Diane! We are our own worst critics. We are so close to our work that it is sometimes hard to stand back and just take it in as a whole and appreciate the quilt. You enjoyed the process of making it and you learned a few things along the way. What could be better?

And now because machine quilting is finally FUN, I’m off to quilt the next one!

MB: I can’t wait to see what you tackle next, Diane. There is one more question you have to ask when you are deciding how to quilt something:

What is my skill level? – Maybe you really want to quilt feathers on a quilt, but you’ve never quilted a feather. There are 2 paths here: practice your feathers until you feel ready, then proceed; OR pick a different design.

Remember how you all committed to practicing 15 minutes EVERY day? You did! You raised your right hands and promised! Here is what you will practice: the design you want on your next quilt. Whatever that may be—feathers, ribbon candy, stipple—practice until you feel confident. Then GO FOR IT.


2020-04-24T11:05:43-06:00April 25th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|2 Comments

Teaching Children How to Sew

We are so lucky to have a second guest post from And I Quilt personality, Vanessa Clark. She’s a Grandmother, she’s a volunteer, and she Quilts!  She loves to interact with her grandchildren and what better way than to share her love of sewing and quilting? Vanessa is sharing her method of teaching young children how to sew.

Teaching Children How to Sew

A common question frequently asked is, “How soon can children sew?” Well with an aid from this product that I found, it may be sooner than what you would think. I first saw this product used in kids camp at my favorite quilt shop. Perfect for children in first through third grades. My first grand son, Hudson and I love doing crafty things together. One day when I was watching him while his mom and dad were out of town, we went to the sewing room to make a project.

childrens sewing interfacing

The product we used is from It is printed fusible interfacing for making a nine patch block.

child cutting interfacing

Using scissors, Hudson cuts out the nine patch block. We really enjoyed selecting the fabrics for his project since Halloween was just around the corner, we were able to find the perfect selection of fabrics. Hudson finds my stash of fabrics fascinating.

Next was cutting our fabrics into 2 1/2 inch squares and with the Accuquilt fabric cutting system the squares were cut accurately.

child cutting with Accuquilt

Finding the right placement of squares for our nine patch was lots of fun too. We placed our fabric squares with the wrong sides on the fusible side of the interfacing and ironed them into place. Next we were off to the sewing machine using the Handi Quilter Stitch 210. The Stitch 210 is the perfect first sewing machine for beginners but also perfect for travel and to take to sewing retreat.

child sewing on HQ Stitch 210

By folding the fabric with right sides together, you can see the stitch lines marked for the 1/4 inch seams. Do all the vertical and then all the horizontal. It looks so good when finished. We added solid color fabric for the back, placing front and back with right sides together, stitched and turned inside out.

finished child's project

It was sensational, a mug rug for mommy. Hudson was so proud of himself and even more so when he presented his gift to his mom.

proud grandmother

Hudson is eight years old. Loves to play baseball and games with the family.

I love being a grandmother, making cherished sweet memories that I do not take for granted.

Thank you Vanessa! It’s so important to pass along our sewing skills to the next generation.

If you would like to learn more about Vanessa and meet our other And I Quilt personalities please visit here.

2020-04-06T11:04:34-06:00April 18th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

A guest post from And I Quilt personality Sarah McNary

This week we are so lucky to have a guest post from And I Quilt personality Sarah McNary. Sarah is a pilot, a camper, and she quilts! You can learn more about Sarah and get inspired by watching her And I Quilt video. Here, Sarah is sharing her sources of inspiration when it comes to quilting the quilt and takes the fear out of the words “quilt as desired” Take it away Sarah…..

Sarah McNary And I Quilt

Why Not Take a Chance? Try Something New?: Tips and Lessons Learned from a Wall-Hanging


The words “Quilt as desired” may inspire some to let their creativity run free like wild horses; but my creative horses seem more inclined to trot back to the barn for an early dinner and bed. Somehow I always feel that the generous instructor who so thoughtfully detailed each and every step of my quilt pattern has suddenly abandoned me with those ominous words. Then I’m left with the quilter’s equivalent of “writer’s block.”


This is when the voices start…my lazy voice argues that, “Edge to edge is good enough.” When I hesitate, she reminds me, “There are no quilt police!”


My clever voice advises copying the quilting from the pattern picture. She says, “After all, you liked it well enough to buy it in the first place…maybe that’s why.”


But there’s another small voice in amongst the louder ones, and it’s her I’ve come to listen to more and more. She’s the one who whispers, “Why not take a chance? Try something new?”


“That’s all fine and well,” I tell her, “but I’m stumped.” And so she begins her sage advice:

Tip #1: Look to the Pattern of the Quilt Itself

In this case, my quilt top is a Marti Mitchell “Hexi Puzzler” pattern, pieced from her templates. I see a nice geometric 6 pointed star that would make a nice ghost pattern of the main motif.

Marti Michell ahexie Puzzler pattern

Tip #2: Look to the Pattern of the Fabrics

In this case, most of my fabrics are from a hand-dyed class I took years ago so don’t have much of a pattern. The background white fabric has white on white dots. They remind me of bubbles which is a fill pattern I’m working on improving. A wall quilt is the perfect place to practice.  It’s not so large that it’s overwhelming but enough space to improve (hopefully).

Tip #3: Look to Contrast Shapes for Visual Balance

Since there are so many straight lines and geometric shapes in this quilt top, it has a more “yang” or masculine feel. Introducing a few curves with more organic, feminine  or “yin” lines may help balance things and what is more suited than a free-motion feather?


Tip #4: Choose Color Contrast Based on Your Confidence Level

For this wall-hanging, I know I’ll be stitching scaled stars in the white hexagons (imprecise at best) and the tiny feathers I have planned for the star points present their own challenges in the irregular shape so I’m going with matching thread. White for the white areas and I’m going to commit to all six color changes in every star (all those stops and starts…gulp) to disguise any goofs. I did get lazy and stick with a white bobbin the whole way – full disclosure.


Tip #5: Always Ask for Help from Friends

Sometimes, I can’t see the forest for the trees and so I called a fellow quilter to help me decide between two border options. I’d used a sharpie on my preview plastic to help her see what my options looked like full scale on the actual quilt. It didn’t take her more than a minute to decide what I’d been deliberating over for hours.


Lessons Learned:


I’m not a professional quilter. I quilt for love, for family, for friends and charity on occasion. I’ve won a few ribbons and even had one of my quilts on exhibit in that National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY, but can best be classified as an enthusiastic hobbyist. I do teach classes at a local quilt shop so I like to share what I learn from each quilt I complete.


Lesson #1: Always Stitch a Test Pattern when Changing Thread.


Check out the lovely green test pattern here – looks pretty good doesn’t it? Now check out the back!!! My green thread was a heavier weight than my white and I didn’t get it fully “flossed” through my tension discs. So glad I caught that before I stitched on my quilt.

Lesson #2: Always Check that Your Method of Marking Comes Out Easily


I used my favorite blue, water-erase marker to mark up all my ghost star shapes. It worked great right up until I spritzed water on to check how it was going to look in white on white. The marker disappeared instantly but so did my crisp white background as the nearby green, hand-dyed fabric started to bleed.

marking quilt


Side note: it was a great fabric dying class but I am not a natural dyer. Even after multiple rinses and Retayne, my fabrics continue to bleed when wet making them only suitable for wall-hangings which won’t get washed…which I forgot in this case.


Luckily, my sister suggested a small paintbrush and a careful hand and although it took far longer and I felt like an amatuer restoration artist, it worked!


Lesson #3: Audition Your Thread Choices with Unwound Piles of Thread or Actual Stitching Rather than Whole Spools


My favorite blue turned out to be way too dark. Then my next choice was way too light. Feeling a little like Goldilocks I settled on my third choice in order to find the best fit.

thread choices

Lesson #4: It’s Never Too Late to Go Back to Your Longarm


After I had squared and trimmed the quilt (I’d even threaded my domestic machine with matching thread to attach the binding), I discovered an un-quilted section of the wall-hanging that hadn’t seemed like much of an issue previously but puffed out haughtily now (I used a double batting on this quilt – Warm and Natural on the bottom, wool batting on top to enhance the definition of my quilting). So I loaded it back on the frame using my Easy Grasp Clamps and quilted the poufs down.

easy grasp clamps

Finally done and ready for our local quilt show!

finished quilt


Thanks Sarah! Hopefully we won’t fear those 3 little words at the end of the quilt pattern anymore!

Be sure to catch Sarah’s And I Quilt video and take advantage of the 20% off on all feet during Sarah’s campaign.

AIQ Sarah McNary

2020-03-06T15:34:05-07:00March 6th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|3 Comments

More new features of Pro-Stitcher Premium

I’m glad you’re back to learn about more new features of Pro-Stitcher Premium! If you missed the first post last week you can read it here. The Pro-Stitcher Premium Beta software release was made available February 3, 2020. Click here for more information and to download the release.

Here’s some more of the wonderful new tools we now have at our disposal. Let us know in the comments which are your favorites.

Record Snap to Grid

Select the Pro-Stitcher tab, then the Record button on the ribbon.

record button

Press Snap to Grid.

snap to grid

When using the Mark feature with Snap to Grid turned on, the marks will land on the nearest grid intersection making the resulting drawing very square and straight. Sometimes you won’t want or need to use this feature, especially if you are marking a curved shape. But if you are marking something with straight lines, it’s the bee’s knees!

If you choose to use Snap to Grid when using Record, your free motion will be quite jagged as it will follow the grid. It kind of looks like the old Etch-a-Sketch.

record with snap

Quilting Space

Have you ever wondered if the next row of an edge-to-edge design will fit in your quilting space? Or if you have really positioned a design properly? Now we have a visual representation of the quilting space right on the screen. It will appear as a black box on the workspace.

To activate, select the Area tab and the Quilting Space button on the ribbon.

quilting space button

Move your machine to the top left corner of the quilt and press 2-Corner in the Sidebar.

2 corner button

Move the machine to the bottom of the quilting area and the right side edge of the quilt. Press 2-Corner in the sidebar again. This will create the black box on the workspace that indicates the maximum quilting space for the quilt you have on the frame for your throat space.

E2e out of bounds PSP

Ut oh! I can see that the first row of this edge to edge design extends beyond my throat space! This can sometimes happen when you stretch vertical to fill the area of the entire quilt. Each row grows a bit to make the whole design fit the quilt. Now we can easily double check and make adjustments if needed before we get into trouble.

Snap to Grid when Creating an Area

When you select the Area tab in the sidebar you will notice a Snap to Grid option. This is a great feature to use when creating a layout or blocks in simulation. It will result in very accurate area points.

New Start & End Arrows

In the past it was a little tricky to move a start or end point through the design to place where you needed. It moved very fast! We now have 2 sets of arrows. The arrows at the top of the slider allow for slower movement forward and backward and the arrows at the bottom of the slider can be used for faster movement. We still have our Jump Arrows to move the start and end points to jump points in the design. This gives us more control and who doesn’t like more control?

start and end arrows

Come back to the blog next week for even more new features of Pro-Stitcher Premium. Spoiler alert!  I have saved the best for last. In the mean time, go ahead and download the update and give it a go!

If you really love the features or if you run into any issues on your Pro-Stitcher system with the new Pro-Stitcher beta version we would love to hear your feedback.

Happy quilting!

by Mary Beth Krapil


2020-03-06T11:07:38-07:00February 22nd, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Features of the New Pro-Stitcher Beta version

update announcement

Are you wondering what all the excitement is about? The great new features of the new Pro-Stitcher Beta version are the talk of the town. And as always updates are FREE. The Pro-Stitcher Premium Beta software release was made available February 3, 2020. Click here for more information and to download the release.

But what’s that “beta” mean? Beta software refers to computer software that has gone through our internal testing processes, but has not yet been tested in the real world, and therefore is not officially released as a final version. Releasing a Beta version allows Pro-Stitcher engineers to get bug fixes and new features into quilters hands sooner, and gives quilters the opportunity to provide feedback to our developers. Remember, you can always rollback to a previous version if you find you are having difficulties.

Features of the New Pro-Stitcher Beta version

Stitch Stats

The program will generate stitch statistics for the selected design. The feature is found on the ribbon of the Settings tab.

stitch stats button

the design below is 4″ x 4″ and is set to stitch at 12 stitches per inch. The stats will change if the size of the design is changed, if the stitch length is changed or if the speed is changed. In the example below the design has 429 stitches, it will take 31 seconds to stitch, and the needle will travel 35 inches which means it will us approximately 35 inches of thread.

stitch stats dialog

Have you ever wondered if you have enough of a certain thread to complete an edge to edge design? Maybe now, with all this great information at hand, we can make a better informed guess.

Load Pattern at Crosshairs

To enable this feature of the new Pro-Stitcher Beta version, select the Settings tab and the Advanced>General button on the ribbon. In the sidebar select Load Pattern at Crosshairs.

load at crosshairs

With this button selected, when loading a pattern, the Start Point of the pattern will load at the crosshairs.

load at crosshairs dump truck

Load Point to Point

To enable this feature, select the Settings tab and the Advanced>General button on the ribbon. In the sidebar select Load Point to Point.

load p2p

With this button selected, open your first pattern. Now load a second pattern. The second pattern’s start point will load right on top of the first pattern’s end point. This allows the combined pattern to become continuous. It’s really fun to mix and match continuous line patterns to create new border patterns and new edge-to-edge patterns! Think of the possibilities!

load p2p 2 trucks

Point to Point Default

We used to have to press the P2P button in Horizontal Repeat to remove the gap between some designs, but not anymore! Now, when repeating horizontal designs they will automatically snap point to point. You will see a green/red square together at the start/end point between designs.

p2p button baptist fan snapped p2p

If you want to have a gap between designs, you can always touch the p2p button to turn it off and then increase the gap.

baptist fan gap


Come back to the blog next week for more new features of Pro-Stitcher Premium. In the mean time go ahead and download it and give it a go!

If you really love the features or if you run into any issues on your Pro-Stitcher system with the new Pro-Stitcher beta version we would love to hear your feedback.

Happy quilting!

by Mary Beth Krapil




2020-03-06T11:08:34-07:00February 15th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|4 Comments

Piecing on the Longarm

Some of my favorite things to do with my HQ Infinity are NOT stitching the 3 layers of a quilt together. Have you ever done any piecing on the longarm? It can be a fun and quick way to piece and quilt something all in one step. This method works especially well for strip quilts.

My story

Many years ago, I went on a shop hop with a big group of friends. We descended on each shop en masse and spread out to find the newest and coolest. Then, when someone found something wonderful, of course each of us had to buy one. Mob mentality at its finest!

One friend found a Cuddle kit that consisted of multiple strips of various coordinating Shannon Cuddle fabrics. Inside was instructions on making a strip quilt using these fabrics. The idea was to start with a large backing fabric, lay down a strip and place another strip right side down on top of the first. Stitch through all 3 layers and flip the top strip open. Repeat this till all the strips are used and the backing fabric is covered by a lovely strip style quilt top.  And it is all quilted! None of us had seen anything like this before, so naturally we all bought one.

The idea

My friends and I got together once a week to sew. The following week my friend, Carole, brought her kit and set to work. If you have ever sewn with Cuddle, you know it can be quite slippery. The back is a shiny polyester knit with a fuzzy, furry, cuddly top side. Carole was having quite a bit of trouble keeping her layers together and trying to stitch a straight seam. She said a few un-lady-like words that evening. As I drove home, I regretted buying one of those kits. But then I had a light bulb moment! I could load that backing fabric on my Handi Quilter frame, then use my channel lock to stitch a straight seam. And If I used the Move feature on my Pro-Stitcher I would have both hands free to hold onto the strips and keep them aligned.

I gave it a go the next day and it worked like a charm! It was finished in about 2 hours. I left enough backing fabric all the way around so that I could turn it to the front for a binding. Next week I took it to our meeting and was hand stitching my binding. Carole came in and was shocked. She held her project up and she had 3 strips sewn. Then said some more un-lady-like words.

The quilt I made from that kit lives on our couch and in winter there is a race to see who gets the quilt for TV watching. So this Christmas I decided to make one as a gift for my husband. While I was at it I took photos so I could share the process with you.

How it’s done

I found this great kit at a quilt shop  in Florida.

Shannon Cuddle kit

It had all these great variations of Cuddle. Some are smooth and some have texture.

fabric assortment

Load the backing

I loaded the backing fabric on my Infinity‘s Gallery frame by pinning to the leaders.

pin backing to leaderbacking loaded

I wanted to leave 2 inches all the way around so that I could fold the backing to the front to form a binding. The measure tool on my Pro-Stitcher was perfect to measure 2 inches down from the top edge and 2 inches in from each side. Then I basted a straight plumb line across the top and down each side.

measuring with PSPbasting a plumb line

Place and sew strips

The first strip got lined up to those lines.

placing first fabric strip

Changing to the 1/2 inch square foot made it easy to line up with the raw edge of the strip and get the perfect 1/2 inch seam allowance. The channel lock gave me a perfectly straight seam.

change to square foot square foot lined up

The instructions on the kit suggested some useful notions when making this quilt.

recommended notions

I did use a ball point needle, but I did not need the temporary spray adhesive on my longarm. I could hold onto the fabric strips with my free hand to make sure they did not shift as I sewed.

On some of the more textured fabrics I found I needed the extra security of some pins to hold the fabric in place. I was able to remove the pins as I came to them.

pin when necessary

Once the strips are sewn together, flip open the top strip and smooth in place.

open strip

Keep adding strips one at a time, stitching and flipping til you run out of strips.

When I reached the bottom and flipped the last strip open, I sewed the strip across the bottom to secure it in place.

basting bottom edge in place


I took the quilt off the frame and trimmed the backing to 1.5 inches from the edge of the strips all the way around. Then I double folded the backing over the raw edge and hand stitched in place.

This was so quick and easy I had more time to play with the grandies!.

more time with kids

Happy quilting!


by Mary Beth Krapil


2020-01-27T18:23:34-07:00February 1st, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|6 Comments

A Quilter’s Essential Toolbox

If you asked Santa for a longarm quilting machine this year, you’d better start getting prepared. You know Santa always comes through! To help you, I’m sharing my quilter’s essential toolbox so you’ll have everything you need to get started finishing all those quilt tops that are waiting. Note : the items with an * are included with your machine, all others are optional.

Mary Beth Krapil tool tray

This is an aerial view of my Handi Quilter tool tray. It sits on a shelf that is right next to my HQ Gallery frame. Since I’ve been quilting for a LONG time, it is the old style of tool tray with fixed compartments. The new HQ Tool Tray 2 has customizable compartments that you can arrange to fit your favorite tools. Maybe I should write to Santa and ask for one of those?

I keep the things I use most, while quilting, in this tray so that they are right there at hand.

Zinger and Scissors

MBK Zinger

My zinger with small scissors is clipped to the end of the tray. I clip it to my shirt while quilting so I can easily trim threads as I go. The little sock on the scissor point is a tool borrowed from the knitting world. It is meant to go on the point of a knitting needle to keep your stitches from falling off. On my scissors, it keeps the point from poking me.

Measuring tapes, USB, and tools

MBK measure and tools

I have two kinds of tape measure, a metal carpenter’s tape measure and a cloth retractable tape measure. They are used to measure my tops and backing before loading. I also need to measure and cut the proper size batting. Another tape measure I use is a quilter’s zero center measuring tape mounted with command strips on my leveler bar. More about that in another blog post. Stay tuned!

The USB stick holds my Pro-Stitcher designs.

There is a small jewelers screw driver* for adjusting bobbin tension. Also a small pink flat head screwdriver for removing the sole plate when cleaning. The black handled tool is a 2.5mm hex wrench* for changing needles and feet. If you look closely you can see an old fashioned wire needle threader. I seldom use this, but it’s there just in case.

Seam ripper and Versa tool

MBK seam ripper

Sadly, everyone needs a seam ripper. Nothing else needs to be said.

The Versa Tool is a great go-to template/ruler for those times when you just need a bit of a straight line or a nice smooth curve. It has 4 pieces of Handi Grip on the back to prevent slipping. I have a bunch more rulers and keep them in a couple of different places. The ones I use most are in a slotted wooden holder that my sweet hubby made for me. It sits on a low shelf at the other end of my frame. The rest are in plastic storage containers.

Marking tools, Oil, and batting squares

MBK marking

I keep a few marking tools close at hand. A water soluble pen, a Panda pencil, a white ceramic mechanical pencil, a piece of school chalk and a FriXion pen. Each of these gets used in different situations. I’ll write a post on marking tools soon. In the meantime, just remember: follow the manufacturer’s instructions and TEST to make sure the marks will come out.

There’s my oil – one drop on the bobbin race, after cleaning the lint, with each bobbin change. And some squares of batting to clean tracks and wheels before I start a new project.

Sure foot and Glide foot

MBK feet

These are the two feet I use the most. The Sure foot is a foot with an extra high side profile that offers extra insurance when using rulers. I never want to hit a ruler with my needle! My Sure foot combined with keeping good control of my ruler as I quilt will prevent that from happening.

The Glide foot is a curved bowl-like foot that will glide over open seams, extra thick seam allowances and never flip the edge of my quilt if I stitch off the edge and then back on again. It is perfect for pantograph work or stitching with Pro-Stitcher. I love using all the other accessory feet too. The Couching feet, the Echo feet, the Square feet, the open toe foot* are all great and have special uses. Check out my HQ Live presentation for more ideas about the optional feet.  I keep my other feet in a drawer next to my frame.

Batting scissors and a ruler

My HQ batting scissors are my go-to for cutting batting off the roll. I also trim excess batting away and square up my quilt backs using the batting scissors. The off-set handles are perfect for these tasks.

I keep a 12 inch ruler handy for measuring and marking guidelines. It helps keep my designs evenly spaced and perfectly aligned. It’s more handy to grab than my measuring tapes for smaller jobs.

Brushes and carriage tool

I like to use small inexpensive paint brushes for cleaning lint from the bobbin area. Since I have an Infinity, there are wires and such in the area, so I want to be precise and careful in my cleaning. I purchase in big sets at the dollar store and when they get yucky, I throw them away.

That funny looking black tool is used to manually release the carriage from Pro-Stitcher if needed in situations like a power outage. I have never used it in 5 years. Maybe I can stash that in a drawer?

Needles and bobbins and spare bobbin case

MBK bobbins

I have an assortment of needle* sizes since I use all kinds of different threads and you should always use the correct size needle for the thread you are using. “A new needle for every quilt” is my motto. The white container is for used needles. When it gets full, I tape it shut and toss it; then start a new one.

I have a few pre-wound bobbins and some empty metal bobbins* at the ready. My pre-wound of choice is Super Bobs from Superior Threads. They contain a ton of Bottom Line #60 polyester thread, so much thread, they last a long time! The rest of my bobbins are stored in HQ Bobbin Boxes. We have a new bobbin storage tool that was introduced at Houston, the HQ bobbin tree. I think I need to add one of those to my letter to Santa!

bobbin sign

Everyone needs a spare bobbin case. If the bobbin case gets damaged, dropped, out of round, loses the backlash spring, you can no longer quilt. I never want to be up against a deadline and find myself needing a new bobbin case.  So I have a spare. It’s a great insurance policy.

Towa Guage

Speaking of bobbins, I check each and every bobbin for proper tension with a TOWA bobbin tension gauge. This is not a necessity, but it sure takes the guesswork out of adjusting bobbin tension. I bought mine from Superior Threads, they have a great price!

Mirror, magnifying glass, lint brush and flashlight

MBK mirror

The mirror and flashlight lets me see the stitches on the back of the quilt without crawling on the floor. I go to the back of the frame, hold the mirror slightly under the quilt, shine the light on the mirror which reflects up onto the back of the quilt, and I can check on the stitches.

The magnifying glass helps me check my stitches when I’m adjusting tension. It is especially helpful if I am quilting with white thread on white fabric or black on black. I can really see what is happening with the stitches. Sometimes the flashlight gets put into play for this as well.

Quilting is a dirty business. Lint and threads everywhere! and can be cleaned up with a swipe of this handy lint brush. I can also remove chalk efficiently with this brush.

Machine cover and super clamps

MBK toaster cover

You may have noticed the long white things next to my tool tray. These are super clamps. I can quickly attach or take off a practice piece using these clamps. Originally designed for the Littlefoot frame, they fit around the poles of my frame and hold a quilt sandwich in place. I always like to have a practice piece on my frame when I am not quilting a quilt so that I can perfect new designs or just get in a little stitching time whenever I want. They are available in 2 sizes for the Studio(2) frame and the Gallery(2) frame. These are a must have for a beginner. Practice is the way you will become a good quilter. Practice every day!

And folded on my frame at the end, is my machine cover. I made a cover to go over my machine when it’s not in use. I travel and teach quite a bit so my machine stays cozy and dust free while I’m gone.

One thing that I don’t have in my tool tray is channel locks. I use the channel locks built in on my Pro-Stitcher. If you are not a Pro-Stitcher quilter, you will want a set of channel locks to be able to quilt perfect straight lines, e.g. the plumb line stitched across backing and batting to line up your quilt top perfectly straight.

So there you have it. My quilter’s essential toolbox kept all neat and right at hand in my tool tray. I hope this gives you some idea of the tools that are used by longarm quilters so you can be ready when Santa shows up to set up your new machine. Happy Holidays!

Hey, experienced longarm quilters! What are your favorite tools? Please share in the comments.


by Mary Beth Krapil




2019-11-20T10:08:22-07:00November 23rd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Edgy Edges

AQS header

There were some fantastic quilts (as always) at AQS Quiltweek in Charleston, SC. Charleston was a new location and venue for the show and it was wonderful. Convenient hotels and lots of great eateries in the area made it a fun destination. Charleston features history, shopping and beaches as well. The quilt show was the number one attraction and it did not disappoint. I noticed some unusual quilts with unusually edgy edges. These quilts had some unique edge treatments that really caught my eye, and of course I have to share them with you.

Traditional Edges

Here’s a beautiful example of a traditional edge treatment. This gorgeous quilt has nice straight sides and perfect square corners.

AQS Charleston

Whimsey Court
by Jane Ramee
of New Orleans
quilted by Carol Hilton


This masterpiece was the first one to catch my eye with its unusual outer shape.

AQS Charelston

Magnificent Mile
by Mary Olson
of Aumsville, OR


Karen’s handsome quilt has perfectly symmetrical scallops.  Traditional, but a step away from straight edges.


Natalia’s Flower Basket
by Karen Kendo
of Harleyville, SC


The lovely large scallops on Simone’s wholecloth compliment and enhance her enchanting quilting.

large scallops

Green is Gold
by Simone Steuxner
of Sveg, Haerjedalen, Sweden


Gentle undulations are a variation of scallops on this beauty.


Journey to Friendship
by Journey Girls
of Kevil, KY
quilted by Karen Kineman and Norma Tilford

Edgy Edges

The edges of this quilt follow the interesting openings that give this delicate quilt its name.


by Antonia Hering
of Hoorn, Noord-Holland, Netherlands


Aline and Natasha took scallops to a whole new level!

Golden Galaxy
by Aline Bugarin and Natasha Bugarin
of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil


Amoeba in Pink is perfect with its asymmetrical scallops that define the undefinable shape of an amoeba.


Amoeba in Pink
by Claire Marks
of Bremerton, WA


Kathleen took this edgy edges concept to the extreme.

extreme edges

A Blanket of Smow
by Kathleen V. Stuart
of Ocean Isle Beach, NC

So if you’re looking to add some edginess to your next quilt, hopefully you can take a little inspiration from these examples. Quilt shows are the best place to get new ideas!

by Mary Beth Krapil



2019-10-02T10:31:34-06:00October 5th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment


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The HQ Capri is a BIG machine for SMALL spaces. Free-motion quilting was never easier, and your stitches will be PERFECT with the HQ InSight™ Table with built-in stitch regulation.

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Shown with the HQ InSight Table with HQ InSight Stitch Regulation

  • Easy setup and assembly
  • Four times the quilting space of the average home sewing machine (18 inches of throat space and eight inches of vertical space)
  • Paired with the exclusive HQ InSight TableTM with built-in HQ InSight Stitch RegulationTM
  • Adjustable table height from 25.5″ to 39.5″
  • Stitching speed up to 2,200 stitches per minute
  • 4-22 precision stitches per inch
  • Two modes of stitch regulation: Precision or Cruise
  • Handi Feet compatible; comes with quarter-inch ruler foot installed, open-toe foot
  • Adjustable high-resolution color touch screen
  • Needle-stop position control
  • Responsive foot pedal
  • Easy needle change
  • Low-bobbin estimator and alarm
  • Quilting alarm and project timer
  • Walking stitch plus five basting stitch options
  • Presets for saving favorite manual mode stitching options
  • Stitch counters
  • Bobbin-area “dam” allows for use of canned air for lint removal
  • Built-in diagnostics
  • Easy USB machine and software updates
  • Can be easily upgraded to a movable-carriage, frame machine if your needs change

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Minute Motifs feature quick designs you can use for a variety of projects.

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Minute Tips are quick video shorts featuring longarm quilting tips.

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The second Thursday of every month (at 11 a.m. Mountain Time), the HQ Studio Educators share their wealth of knowledge with anyone who wants to join the conversation. You can comment, ask questions, and get live feedback. Simply join our email list and we’ll let you know about our upcoming HQ Live events.

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2020-01-29T13:27:37-07:00September 27th, 2019|Comments Off on Capri

Apply Binding with your Longarm

by Mary Beth Krapil


I’m willing to bet 9 out of 10 of you bought your longarm machine because you were not happy wrestling that large quilt through your domestic machine to do the quilting. Am I right? We solved one problem. But, then what do we do? We finish the beautiful quilting on our longarm, then take the quilt off the frame and wrestle that large quilt through our domestic machine to apply the binding. Let me ask, does that make any sense? I am going to share a little tutorial on how to apply your binding to the front of the quilt while it is still on your longarm frame. It is quick and easy! The only tool you will need is a straight longarm ruler. I also use my HQ Square foot which makes the whole process much easier.

Along the way I am going to mention some different options you have for doing some of the steps. I suggest you try them all and see what works best for you.

Prepare your binding

Prepare your double fold binding as you normally would, at the width that you prefer, whether you use bias binding or straight grain binding. The binding needs to be at least 12-18 inches longer than the perimeter of the quilt top.
Tip: use a bit of spray starch, applying the starch to the wrong side of the binding as you press it in half, it acts like a glue that keeps the two sides of the binding firmly together and prevents the sides from shifting or separating during the application process.
Now you need to choose whether you will complete the entire binding on the frame or whether you will leave the last 10 or so inches to complete on your domestic machine.
  • complete the entire binding on the frame
    • open one end of the binding and cut on a 45 degree angle
    • press in a quarter inch fold on the end you just cut
    • press the binding back in half
    • Open binding and cut at a 45 degree angle


      press in 1/4 inch fold


      re-press in half


  • complete the binding on the domestic
    • no special prep required

Applying binding after all quilting is complete.

Quilt as you normally would, but do not remove the quilt from the frame. Be sure to baste the bottom edge of the quilt and remove from the leader if you had it attached.

You will start on the right side about 10 inches up from the bottom corner (or as much as your throat space allows). Leave a 6-8 inch tail loose. If you are finishing completely on the frame start with the end you cut at an angle. Place the binding so that the raw edge of the binding lines up with the raw edge of the quilt. There are a few methods you can choose from:

Using a Ruler

  • I like to use a ruler with tabs like the HQ Ditch Ruler or the HQ Mini Scallop ruler. The straight side of the HQ Versa Tool ruler works as well, although it is shorter than the other two. This holds the binding in place as you sew along the ruler edge.
    • Align the ruler at the raw edge of the quilt.  Place HQ Square foot against the ruler.
    • Make a few locking stitches and stitch ¼ inch away from the edge of the quilt along the ruler.
    • When you come to the lower right corner, position the ruler so that the inside of the tab is at the raw edge on the bottom of the quilt. Stop stitching ¼ inch from the bottom edge, or when the foot touches the ruler tab. Do a few locking stitches.
    • Do The Fold
    • – fold the binding to the right at a 90 degree angle to the right side of the quilt, aligning the raw edge of the binding with the bottom edge of the quilt. Finger press the mitered fold. Then fold the binding back on it self to the left, with the fold lined up with the right edge of the quilt. Align the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the bottom of the quilt.
    • Position your needle just off the fold, ¼ inch away from the bottom edge of the quilt. Make a few locking stitches and continue to stitch across the bottom of the quilt. When you come to ¼ inch from the left side of the quilt, tie off with locking stitches and repeat the fold. These photos show “Doing the Fold” at the bottom left corner and the top left corner of the quilt.
    • Ruler in place at the lower left edge. Note the placement of the tab.


      First fold at lower left corner


      Second fold at lower left corner


      Positioning foot


      Staring to stitch up left side


      First fold at top left corner


      Second fold at top left corner


    • Proceed in this manor stitching up the left side and across the top and down the right side. As you stitch up (or down) the sides, when you need to roll, leave the needle down in the quilt and very carefully and slowly roll the quilt. That way you can stitch a continuous seam.
    • As you stitch down the right side of the quilt, stop your stitching line approx 10 inches away from where you began, leaving the ends of the binding to be finished.
    • Remove the quilt from the frame and finish the binding on your domestic machine, attaching the ends of the binding with your favorite method.
    • Trim away excess backing and batting and the binding is now ready to be turned to the back side and stitched down either by hand or by machine, whatever is your preference.
  • If you prefer to finish the entire binding on the frame:
    • when you come close to where you started on the right side, smooth the beginning binding strip up in place and cut the ending binding about 1 inch past the miter on the beginning strip.
    • Tuck the raw end inside the mitered beginning strip. Then complete the stitching. The turned under edge on the binding will have to be hand stitched to keep the binding joined.
    • Now you can remove the quilt and trim the excess backing and batting. You are ready to turn the binding to the back and stitch.

Free Motion

  • Just stitch down the binding keeping the edge of the hopping foot at the edge of the quilt. Be sure the binding stays smooth and be careful not to stretch the binding as you work. Hold the binding in place with one hand as you move your machine with the other hand. This is the best method for not-so-straight-or-square quilts where you will have to make adjustments and follow the edge of the quilt.

Channel Lock

  • Channel lock really works well if the quilt is straight and square. Use the channel locks in place of the ruler. Once again, use one hand to hold binding in place and other hand to move the machine.

Wasn’t that easy?!!


2019-03-29T09:21:38-06:00March 29th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments
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