finishing quilts Archives - Handi Quilter

Apply Facing on the Longarm

In this, yet another, installment of the series on finishing the edges of your quilts while still on the frame, I’ll explain how to apply facing on the longarm. You can get up to speed by reading Apply Binding on the Longarm and Extra Tips – Binding.

What is Facing?

There are times when you don’t want any binding to show on the front of the quilt, but you want the durability and security of an actual binding. Facing is the answer. Facing strips are sewn to the front of the quilt and then turned to the back, rolling the seam, so that none of the facing is visible on the front of the quilt. Then the facing is hand stitched in place on the back of the quilt. It makes for a clean, non-stop visual as the eye travels to the edges of the quilt.

faced quilt with sunflowers

 

Making it easy

It really makes a lot of sense to apply facing on the longarm. The large quilt is stretched out in front of you and held smooth and secure by your leaders. What could possibly go wrong? Well, there are a few things you need to be aware of when facing a quilt this way. But no worries! I’ll clue you in.

Prepare your facing

Before you loaded your quilt on the frame for quilting you measured, right? And you wrote down those measurements, right? You’re going to need them now.

You’ll need one facing strip for each edge of your quilt. I use 1 1/2 inch wide strips, with one edge pressed under 1/4 inch. You can decide how wide you would like your strips, but don’t go much more than 2 1/2 inches. If the facing is too wide it doesn’t lay flat on the back and you end up with puckers in the facing. No one likes a floppy facing!

cutting strips

pressing strips

Two strips should be the length of your quilt and 2 strips should be the width of your quilt. These measurements don’t need to be super exact. Just close. Your quilt will likely NOT be the same measurements as the quilt top was before quilting. Remember, quilting draws up fabric, so your finished quilt will be slightly smaller depending on the density of the quilting.

Pro Tip:

The first time you face a quilt, choose a fabric that is close in color to the edge of the quilt top. Rolling the seam to the back of the quilt is a skill that takes a little practice. If your facing fabric shows a bit on the front, it will be less noticeable. Once you get good at applying facing on the longarm you can use any fabric.

If you need to sew lengths of strips together for a larger quilt, sew strips together on an angle. This creates less bulk at the seams. Just like regular binding!

You will also need two 4 inch squares of your facing fabric. Cut these squares from corner to corner, forming 4 triangles. Press the long edge of each triangle under 1/4 inch.

strips and triangles pressed and ready

Ready to Apply Facing on the Longarm

I start at the bottom of the quilt since that’s where I finished the quilting. Place the triangles in the corners, right side down.

Lay a facing strip, right side down, with the raw edge of the strip at the edge of the quilt. Start about 1 inch away from the left corner. This will help cut down on the bulk of fabric layers in the corner, and the triangle will cover the raw ends of the facing strips once they are turned to the back.

Use care to not stretch the strip. You can add a few pins, if you wish, to hold it in place. Remove the pins as you stitch.

Pro Tip:

Don’t trim the right edge of your strip just yet. Leave the end and trim it when you get to the corner as you sew.

Sewing

My favorite foot for this job is the 1/4 inch Square Foot. (The smaller one)

 

square feet image

And I like to use a straight edge ruler with tabs on the ends, like the VersaTool or the HQ Ditch ruler.

The tabs help hold the facing in place so I need fewer (if any) pins.

Machine settings

Set your machine for regulated, cruise, 12 SPI, and needle-stop down.

Stitch

Start stitching on the left edge of the quilt top (stitch over the triangle and onto the facing strip), using the ruler to keep straight and 1/4 inch from the edge. The edge of the ruler and the edge of the square foot are both aligned at the raw edge of the quilt. That results in the perfect 1/4 inch seam.

If you didn’t trim the end of the strip yet, trim it right before you get to the corner, leaving about an inch from the right edge.

Sew all the way to the edge, over the triangle.

Take a side strip and repeat the steps for alignment and start sewing up as far as you can go in your throat space.

Secure threads with a couple of back stitches and break your threads.

With the other side strip and repeat on the other side of the quilt.

Pro Tip:

Before rolling your quilt, go back to each corner, and sew across the corner at an angle to help strengthen the corner for turning. Back stitch a few times back and forth.

Roll your quilt onto the belly bar to expose the next section in your throat space. Start with a few back stitches and stitch up the side within your throat space. Repeat on the other side. Continue in this manner until the top edge of the quilt is in your stitching area.

Place the other two triangles on the top corners, right side down. Finish stitching the side strips, remembering to trim the strip before you get to the top edge. Stitch all the way to the edge to secure the triangle.

Sew the top strip in the same manner that you sewed the bottom strip. Stitch the angle at the top corners for security.

Trim

Remove the quilt from the frame and trim the edges.

trimming the edges

 

 

Trim the corners:

Cut off the corners about 2 threads away from the diagonal stitching.

Press

Press all the facing strips to the outside of the quilt using a hot steam iron.

Turning the edges

Use the facing to pull the quilt edge around to the back. It’s OK to have about 1/16″ of an inch of quilt front showing on the back. Steam as you go. I like to use pins to hold it in place. Pins and steam (lots of steam) are the key here. Work little-by-little and take your time.

Flip the triangle to the back and use a blunt instrument like a chopstick or a point turning tool to help smooth out the corner. Don’t use scissors or anything sharp that could cut or punch a hole in the corner. Steam it in place and pin.

Stitch the facing to the back

of the quilt by hand. Make sure your stitches do NOT go through to the front of the quilt.

Finished!

It takes a lot of words and pictures to explain, but it really does go quickly. And doing it on the frame is way easier for larger quilts.

Hope you give it a try and let us know how you like facing on the longarm.

About the quilt: this was a piece I painted in a virtual class with Helen Godden from Australia,  then quilted on my HQ Infinity. I free motion quilted the sunflowers and the tiny matchstick quilting was done with a ruler. The background was done with Pro-Stitcher. I really prefer facings on art quilts like this.

By Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra Tips – Binding

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

Finish the last few inches at your domestic machine

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

HQ Stitch 510 sewing machine

IF you like a wider binding

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

HQ Echo Feet

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

Faux piped binding

I love the look of piped binding

quilt with couched binding

Friendship Fanfare by Mary Beth Krapil

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

I use my HQ Couching Feet set.

HQ couching feet set

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

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

Pro tip:

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

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

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

quilt with couched binding

Friendship Fanfare by Mary Beth Krapil

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Apply binding on the longarm

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 binding on the longarm. Sewing the binding to the front of the quilt, while the quilt is still on the 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.

Apply binding on the longarm

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.

    I love to apply binding on the longarm! Wasn’t it easy?

    by Mary Beth Krapil

Creating Texture

Every time you quilt you are creating texture. The very nature of what makes up a quilt, three layers, with the center being a compressible fiber, means that when you stitch the three layers together you will compress that inner layer with your stitches and create texture. The location of the stitches will be lower than what surrounds them. The contrast, low to high, creates a variation on the surface of the quilt. That variation is the definition of texture. (See last week’s blog post to refresh your memory of that definition.)

Seeing texture

Sometimes you look at a quilt and swoon over the gorgeous texture of the quilting. With other quilts, you might hardly notice the quilting. Why? If you look at a variety of quilts, (Pinterest is a good place to do that), notice where you can really see the quilting and you’ll come to realize that quilting shows up best on solid, lighter color fabrics. This quilted bag has a ton of quilting on the black background surrounding the mandala. But you can hardly see it.

Mandala tote by Mary Beth Krapil

This quilt has a lot of texture too. It is hardly noticeable on the colorful, busy and darker fabrics. You can see a bit of the texture in the light blue areas. This quilt is 12″ x 12″.

Miniature by Mary Beth Krapil

But look at the texture you can see on the back of the quilt!

Back of Miniature by Mary Beth Krapil

Emphasizing texture

What can we do to emphasize the texture? Here’s some tips you can use:

Pick the right place

Choose the lighter, solid fabric areas of the quilt to create the most interesting textures. [Don’t neglect the other areas with busier, darker fabrics though! If you want your quilts to lie flat, you want an even distribution of texture.]

And always remember, in the right lighting, even texture on darker fabrics can be seen.

back of Mandala bag by Mary Beth Krapil

Emphasize the contrast

Remember the contrast, low to high, creates a variation on the surface of the quilt, creating texture. So if you stitch some tighter quilting next to an area you want to emphasize, the tighter quilting will flatten out and allow the area next to it to pouf forward.

Mary Beth Krapil

The daffodils pop forward because there is tighter (or smaller) quilting next to them.

We usually refer to the tight quilting as background quilting.

Rule of thumb: The background quilting motif must be at least 1/3 or less the size of the motif you are trying to emphasize.

Choose the right batting

When you are trying to achieve texture choose a batting with a higher loft. There has to be something to fill up the unquilted areas to make them pop forward.  Avoid very flat batts.

100% cotton is an example of a flat batting. Wool is an example of a batting with loft. You can also use a polyester batting, just choose one with a higher loft or thickness.

When I want to emphasize texture I usually use two batts. A layer of 100% cotton or 80/20 on the bottom and a layer of wool on top.

But this was a faux leather pouch that I quilted with upholstery foam instead of traditional batting. It had super-defined texture!

creating texture

Faux leather bag
by Mary Beth Krapil

Choose the right thread

Both weight and color are important here. Matching the thread color exactly to the fabric results in seeing pure texture. The thread disappears.

micro-fill sampler
by Mary Beth Krapil

A fine thread also tends to disappear and leave the viewer seeing only texture.

Mary Beth Krapil

There are no hard and fast rules about thread though. Just like anything else in quilting, experiment and see what happens when you change things up. A contrasting thread can add to the texture!

Grid Sampler
Mary Beth Krapil

You’ve heard the saying, “Quilting makes the quilt”?  Well I think that’s true because quilting makes the texture.

What do you think?

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

Quilting a Vintage Quilt Top

In last week’s blog post I explained how I prepared a not-so-flat vintage quilt top for finishing. If you didn’t catch it, be sure to read it first. No worries, I’ll wait.

detail of vintage quilt top quilted

 

Basic plan

Now that I had a nice flat quilt top, I could start thinking about the quilting. I wanted to ignore the seam lines in an effort to hide all the added sashing. This would make the tulips come forward and float on the background.

I planned to stitch-in-the-ditch around each set of tulips and do minimal quilting within the tulips so that they would puff forward. To accomplish the puff, there had to be some tighter background quilting behind them. And using two layers of batting, 80/20 on the bottom and wool on top is essential.

Design ideas

Drawing design ideas on Quilter’s Preview Paper  over the quilt top with a dry erase marker is a good way to start letting the ideas become real.

preview paper over vintage quilt top

Creating designs

Using Pro-Stitcher Designer, my digitizing software, I created some designs that would go over the seams and hopefully distract from them.
I start the design process by tracing the major elements of the top on Golden Threads Quilting Paper. Then I can place a 2nd piece of Golden Threads paper over that and start sketching. If I don’t like what I have drawn, I discard the paper and take fresh piece on top. I still have my major elements underneath.


After I settle on the designs, I transfer them to my Pro-Stitcher Designer software to create the digital designs for my Pro-Stitcher robotic system on my HQ Infinity.

vintage quilt top digital design

This design will be available for purchase on Quiltable.com soon!

Quilting!

Next comes the fun of quilting and seeing the quilt top come to life. I employed a combination of Pro-Stitcher robotics, ruler-work and free-motion quilting.  I wonder what Mrs. Gibson and Ora Tyler would think of their quilt today?

detail of vintage quilt top quilted

Of course a quilt is not finished until there’s a label. I chose to use one of the spare blocks as the label. Turning the corner of the block back so that the penciled name and hand stitching is visible. I think that is such a charming aspect of this vintage top.

You can also see how the block does not lay flat.

I printed the list of names of all the contributors to the quilt, along with the quilter’s name (me) and date it was finished. Now I proudly consider myself part of this group of ladies. I have 13 new friends! And I wonder if I’m young enough to go by just Mary Beth? I know I’m not old enough to be known as Mrs. Krapil! Mary Beth Krapil will do I guess. 🙂

Have you ever quilted a vintage quilt top? Please share your experience in the comments. We’d love to see pictures!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

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

 

Make a Stencil

I told you last week I would show you how to make a stencil from Golden Threads quilting paper. It’s easy and fun and results in a easy, follow-the-line, free-motion quilting guide that will make your quilts look fabulous!

Start with a design

You can take one of your fantastic doodles.

Or maybe something you found in a magazine or a book.

You might have seen a fabulous quilting design in nature,

or on some tile or carpet, or on a tissue box,

 

or on a plate.

Look at the fabrics in your quilt,

there might be a super cute design. Inspiration for quilting designs are truly everywhere! Be sure to have your camera ready to capture them.

Draw and trace

Draw on regular paper first. Keep in mind the size you will need for your quilt. Make adjustments until it is perfect. As you are drawing, think like a quilter and make the design continuous, to minimize stops and starts.

Once you are happy, trace your design onto Golden Threads Quilting Paper. BTW, all this drawing and tracing is great practice for when you actually quilt the design!

Make a stencil

Take your GT paper to your machine and pin it to a quilt sandwich.

Set your stitch regulation for a longer stitch. I set my HQ Infinity to 6 spi.

Take the thread out of your needle and stitch the design. The needle will punch holes in the paper and you now have a stencil to

mark your quilt

Position your stencil where you want the design. Using your pounce pad, swipe over the paper.

You have nice lines to follow as you quilt!

QUILT

Once you have quilted the design, the pounce powder will easily brush away.

Now you can create a stencil from any design you can dream up!

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

 

 

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