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Adventures in Learning to Longarm Quilt

It has been a few weeks since we visited with Diane and the HQ Stitch blog. We are following my friend, Diane’s adventures in learning to longarm quilt on her new HQ Capri. If you haven’t read the prior posts you can catch up here. Look on the right side and you will see Previous Blog Posts. We started back on April 11, 2020 with the post titled Getting Started with Longarm Quilting.

Diane has come along way in her quest. She overcame her fear and she has experimented with many types of quilting. She’s gotten familiar with her seam ripper, but learned to either stop before the point of no return if what you are quilting doesn’t look right, or Let It Go. In other words, accept the minor imperfections and know that you will get better the more you quilt. She has adopted the slogan:

Finished is Better than Perfect

So here is what Diane has to say a few months into her adventure:

DH: I’m in the habit of keeping something always going on the HQ Capri, so that when I have a few minutes here or there, I can sit down and quilt! Of course the InSight table can be adjusted for standing, but recently I’ve been sitting.

Adventures in longarm Capri

MBK: Yeah Diane! The absolute BEST way to improve at anything (quilting) is to do a little bit every day. You will build your skills and not lose progress like you would if you only quilted once in whenever. Out of all the things I say when I teach a class, this is probably the MOST important thing and probably the statement that is most ignored. Big sigh.

DH: I was on a roll when I finished the peachy-pink, green and gray baby quilt, so I put another similar baby quilt under the needle next. See Diane’s post about the pink baby quilt here.

DH: This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but when I made it I was just playing around with half-square triangles and using up stash fabric for the borders. I like the idea that all four sides of a border don’t have to be from the same fabric.

And I’m okay with making a weird quilt. I’d much rather make a weird quilt that’s a little off than make a boring or ho-hum quilt. So this one’s weirdness made it perfect for practice.

Perfect for practice

MBK: When first getting started it really takes the pressure off to quilt quilts that you are not heavily invested in. It’s good to quilt REAL quilts rather than practicing on a piece of muslin. You will try harder on a real quilt.  But don’t choose that quilt top that you spent 1000 hours piecing and you want to put on the bed in your guest room. You’ll be way to invested and it will add stress and make you hunch up your shoulders. No one can quilt well with hunched shoulders. Save that one for later when you’re more confident.

DH: I started off with the solid gray areas by quilting connected squares and rectangles with straight(ish) lines. I used a ruler for a few lines but decided I preferred the organic look with less perfection.

MBK: This is a really good call! Ruler work, although precise, is slow. When quilting we have to weigh a lot of choices. One of those is how much time do I want to invest in this quilt? Once you have an idea about that, you can choose designs accordingly.

DH: I slowed my hands down and focused on making straight lines. And guess what?! Before long, my straight lines got a little straighter. And with that my confidence grew. 

DH: One thing I noticed is that the scale of my squares and rectangles changed noticeably between my first gray area and my last. I’ll tuck that away for future quilts:

The scale for any one motif should be consistent from one area to another.

MBK: A tip for straight patterns with corners: pause in the points. To make things like boxes look good, always pause your hands for a second at the point where you are changing direction. Set your stitch regulator in cruise mode and the machine will take a stitch right in the point making a nice sharp transition.

Consistency in motif size is what makes for nice uniform texture. If some of your motifs are large and open the quilt will poof forward in that area. And if others are small and tight the quilt will be flattened there.

An example of consistency

Let’s say you are doing an all-over meander on a quilt. The spaces in a meander are kind of circular. Notice the red circles placed in the spaces.

adventures in longarm stipple

When I quilt a meander or stipple (name depends on size) I like to think of a round object that I know the size of, like a pea or a quarter or a golf ball. I keep that image in my brain while I quilt. I imagine going around those oranges with my quilting lines. This does 2 things for me.

1. It keeps my meander consistent so that I get uniform texture.

2. It keeps my meander nice and round and I like a nice round meander.

Here’s what happens: you start out quilting a orange sized meander on a quick project and you get bored or in a hurry. The next thing you know your meander is basketball sized! This won’t happen if you keep picturing an orange in your mind’s eye.

This trick works for other shapes as well, like squares! Think dice or diamond ring boxes. 🙂

I hope you are enjoying following Diane’s adventures in learning to longarm quilt along with tips and tricks to help her improve. What have you struggled with? Let me know in the comments.

by Mary Beth Krapil and Diane Harris

 

 

Shop @ Home LIVE

Shop @ Home Live!  If you’re on Facebook you probably already know about this fun new event that Handi Quilter hosts on our Facebook page each week.

If not, I’m gonna get you up to speed!

It happens every Tuesday at 2p Eastern, 1p Central, Noon Mountain, and 11a Pacific time.

It is on our Facebook fan page. Facebook.com/handiquilter

It’s a LIVE video filled with quilting tips and education. You can ask questions in the comments. Some questions are answered LIVE on the air and others are answered in the comments.

There are chances to win a prize!

Every week we feature a special item at a super special price. The presenters will tell you all about the item and it’s features and how to use it. You get your questions answered by an expert and you can purchase right from the comfort and safety of home.

Do you like to support your local Handi Quilter retailer? No worries! Just let us know and the sale will get credited to your local retailer just as if you bought it in their shop.

Please join us for Shop @ Home LIVE! You’ll be glad you did.

P.S. if you can’t make it live, you can watch any time later. A recording will stay on our Facebook page. You can also enjoy the special pricing because it will stay in effect til Sunday at Midnight Mountain time. We’ve got you covered.

 

Words We Need

The QuiltCon Charity Challenge is one of the Modern Quilt Guild‘s largest-scale charity projects. Guilds and individual member groups create quilts according to challenge guidelines and after they are displayed at QuiltCon they are donated to the group’s charity of choice. For the 2020 show, groups were challenged to create quilts using text with a palette of grayscale. The vast majority of the quilts incorporated words of encouragement, hope and inspiration. Words we need right now. So I will share these quilts with you in the hopes they will lift you up, bring a smile, and remind you that our world is full of sunshine (even though these quilts are gray).

The Charity Quilts from QuiltCon 2020

Be The Good

Words Quilts from QuiltCon

Be The Good
by Angelina Payton, Paula Pike, Jenny Armour, Carolina Oneto Tapia, Michelle Ramsay, Velda Roy

This quilt was made by an international group from the US, Australia, Brazil and Canada. They were hoping to spark the “good” in everyone. Quilters sure are a powerful community, who will find each other from the far corners of the earth to encourage and help others.

 

Hugs All Around

words quilts QuiltCon

Hugs All Around
by the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild

Hugs All Around was made to support a charity that helps people who have experienced domestic violence.  More than 30 members made blocks with the word “hug” in many languages. The circle (symbol for hug) is also symbolic of how a quilt is like a warm hug.

 

#Hashtag

Words quilts QuiltCon

#Hashtag
by the Orange County Modern Quilt Guild

Hashtags have become an integral part of social media to identify messages on a specific topic. Hashtags cover the background of this quilt! We have so much information coming at us these days, I think the message of the words is super important. We have to find balance, a place where we can be peaceful and yet stay informed.

 

Embrace the Detours

Words quilts QuiltCon

Embrace the Detours
by the Washington DC Modern Quilt Guild

We have many detours in our lives right now and the best way to handle them is to follow Kevin Charbonneau’s advice. Thirty members of the Washington DC Modern Quilt Guild created the arrows and letters.

It can be scary but what if  we do embrace the detours…..

 

What if You Fly?

words quilts QuiltCon

What If You Fly?
by the West End Modern Quilt Guild

The quote “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” is from a poem by a young Australian woman, Erin Hansen, known as the Poetic Underground. Pretty powerful words to keep us going in spite of our insecurities.

If we do keep going, maybe we will….

 

Soar

Soar
by the Lincoln Modern Quilt Guild

I love the luminescence of the background! It shows our world really is full of sunshine. Share your words on your quilts. They might just be the words we need.

Keep smiling, keep quilting!

By Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

 

 

 

 

Machine Quilting 101

The adventure continues!  Diane continues to quilt and learn and has some questions for Mary Beth. Read some of the previous blog posts to learn about Diane Harris and her adventures in learning machine quilting on her new Handi Quilter Capri with the help of Mary Beth Krapil.

By Diane Harris, HQ Stitch Brand Ambassador

HQ Stitch Diane Harris Machine Quilting 101

and

Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

Diane: I started machine quilting an old UFO this week, and because I’m not experienced, I had questions right away. Mary Beth is a seasoned longarm quilting pro and is always just a text away. I sent my questions to her!

Machine quilting 101 Giddyup whole

My general plan was to outline or echo quilt the horses, to put scallops in the setting squares and to finish off with ribbon candy in the borders. (Debby Brown, another Handi Quilter National Educator, has gotten me hooked on ribbon candy!)

Once around the pony didn’t look too bad so I echo quilted a few more times. I always get ahead of myself.

Machine quilting 101 black horse

I stopped to see what Mary Beth thought because I wasn’t sure it was wise to continue.

A Little Q & A

Q (Diane): Should I stick with one outline here or continue with echo quilting?

A (Mary Beth): That’s a matter of personal preference. If you like it, go for it. Audition with Quilter’s Preview Paper before you commit. 

I personally do not like echo quilting, for the most part. Echo quilting creates motion and when quilted around some shapes like animals it makes them look like they are shivering or vibrating. Also, unless echo quilting is super-well executed it looks sloppy.

On the other hand, there are some instances that echo quilting is perfect. Have you seen Hawaiian quilts quilted in this style? That is an example of echo quilting that really sings! To do it well you need tools to get those echos nice and evenly spaced. The Handi Echo Feet work perfect for this. The Echo Feet Kit is a set of three acrylic feet with a ring that extends the width of the hopping foot. The feet provide a fixed interval to use when echo quilting around a motif. The Echo Feet provide a 3/8-inch interval, a 1/2-inch interval, and a 3/4-inch interval. When quilting an echo, position the edge of your foot on the edge of your applique and stitch using the edge of the foot as a guide to keep your echo uniform.

Machine quilting echo feet

 

In the end, I took out all but one outline of the ponies. Now I’m happy with their appearance.

Between the ponies are checkerboards of 2″ squares. I tried machine quilting scallops/curved lines but I realized that if you’re using the patchwork to create something regular, then it has to BE regular (as in consistent) or it looks sloppy.

Q: Do the scallops in the square patches work? Should I fill in the middle, or fill in the scallops, or leave it alone?

A: Yes, I love continuous curve (what you call scallops) in checkerboards! This works so well because one of the principles to remember when you are choosing machine quilting designs is that curved quilting lines accentuate straight line piecing. And what could be more straight line than checker board?

I like to use a ruler for continuous curve and the curve at the bottom of the Handi Versa Tool is usually my go to. Using a ruler keeps the scallops all the same height.

However, with practice, it is possible to get fairly even and consistent continuous curve doing free motion. Here’s a tip, (this applies to ANY free motion quilting): Look ahead. Don’t look at your needle. Your eye should be on your goal. Start in an intersection, Your eye is there where your needle starts. Then your eye should be at the next intersection. As you quilt to that goal you will naturally make a nice smooth curve. If you are looking at the needle you will try too hard and quilt a wobbly curve instead. Once you reach the 2nd intersection your eye goes to the NEXT one. Look ahead to your goal. The other advantage of this is that your quilting line will go to the intersection if you are looking at it.

I put a version of ribbon candy over two borders: the checkerboard and the narrow orange. If I could redo it, I would probably quilt them separately.

MB: I know you didn’t ask, but I will pipe in here anyway 🙂 You have good instincts, Diane. When it comes to narrow borders I always stitch in the ditch on both sides. Often times, these are referred to as “stop borders”; they stop the eye and let the viewer know they are leaving the body of the quilt and are entering the border. If you combine the stop border with another part and treat them as one it defeats the purpose.

I prefer to define and accentuate that stop with stitch in the ditch. I know it is no fun to stitch in the ditch. It is slow and boring and when you get done, if you did it right, no one sees it! But it really makes a difference in the appearance of the quilt. In the case of a narrow border, it creates a channel which is a design feature that I love to incorporate in my quilting. Worth the practice time to get good at it.

Had a little “whoops” on this one. I squashed him flat!

In the final border, I repeated the pattern and nested the loops together. I like the idea of nesting, but I’m disappointed with the overall effect.

(MB: Love the nesting! Keep that in your bag of tricks.)

My problem is a failure to plan.

Why am I averse to planning? Sometimes I think I need a therapist more than I need a quilting coach.

I get so excited about my ideas for quilting. I start right in without thinking it all through. My personal style is to make decisions as I go. It’s how I design quilts, it’s how I cook, it’s just how I function.

Note to self:

Failure to Plan = Planning to Fail

Maybe that’s too harsh. The little UFO is finished, and that’s a good thing. I learned some stuff. And I got in a few hours of practice.

MB: Maybe it’s not a failure to plan but a failure to preview. You are just jumping into this and are gaining experience, learning what works and what doesn’t. Previewing helps with that learning curve, so keep that Quilter’s Preview Paper at the ready. And call me, I’ll be your therapist.

Onward!

Follow along as Diane makes her way through Machine Quilting 101. Will she graduate? Will she find quilting happiness? Tune in next week.

 

Getting to know Telene Jeffrey, Handi Quilter’s newest International Ambassador

by Mary Beth Krapil

We would like to welcome our newest International Ambassador, Telene (Hester Helena) Jeffrey! Telene lives in Krugersdorp, Gauteng, South Africa. She is an amazing quilter, teacher and artist. She is an SAQG (South African Quilters Guild) Accredited Quilt Teacher after successfully completing the Teachers Accreditation Course.  Telene has won numerous prizes for her quilts and attained Master Quilter Status from the SAQG. She has proudly had a quilt juried into the IQA Houston Quilt Show 2016 where it was displayed in the exhibition.

Free motion quilting is Telene’s absolute passion, and she is a firm believer that everybody can quilt. Her goal is to inspire students to simply try, as she knows they will never look back!

We sat down with Telene and asked a few questions to get to know her a little better.

HQ: What does being an HQ Ambassador mean to you?

TJ: Simply put it means 2 immensely important things to me. Firstly, to be able to represent a phenomenal brand and fantastic products on an international level. Secondly, that this international organization recognizes my work as good enough to represent their brand.

It is an incredible privilege for me to work with Handi Quilter.  I specifically appreciate and admire their focus on education and training of quilters and not just the sales numbers. When I started quilting, I never ever thought, for one single moment, that I would venture into teaching quilting. Yet I now feel like it is part of my purpose on this earth. Sharing my gifts and skills and spreading inspiration is what I enjoy doing daily and to be recognized for those skills and gifts is extremely gratifying but also very humbling. Little me, way down here in South Africa…

For me to spread the quilting love, I need to work with a reliable product. One that can do what I want to do. One that does not fail me when it’s Sunday evening and the quilt is due on Monday morning. A brand that provides incredible back-up service should I run into a problem. A brand that listens to the needs of the consumer and happily develops products to suit those needs. A brand that constantly seeks to improve and provide the latest in technology.

Being a HQ Ambassador means I would hopefully be able to reach more people; Inspiring quilters of all walks of life, styles and places! I love it when a quilter has the ‘ah-ha!’ moment or as I call it: when-the-penny-drops-moment.

Of course, the HQ people are just incredible. I have been welcomed with open arms from the first day I met the South African Importer and Distributor, Claire Wallace, and the first time I had direct contact with Handi Quilter head office personnel at Houston Market 2017! I cannot wait to see what the future holds!

HQ: How did you get started in quilting?

TJ: I have been sewing since 1986 with my mother and because of a problematic overlocker, my parents ended up buying a sewing machine dealership instead of just a new overlocker! My mother discovered the world of quilting and subsequently arranged for 2 of South Africa’s top teachers, Wendy Burtenshaw and Susan Bornman, to teach a beginner sampler quilt in her shop back in 2000. I joined the workshop and that was that! I fell in love! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to make many quilts during my time in the corporate world, 2001 – 2009. In January of 2011 I took over the quilt teacher role at my parents’ shop and fully immersed myself in the quilting world.

HQ: How would you describe your style of quilting?

TJ: Feathered! Don’t you think we should start a new style called Feathered? 😊 I’m addicted to feathers. I think I would place my style as sometimes contemporary, not really modern nor completely traditional. Although I am happy to be called an artist, I don’t think I’m an art quilter. Well, maybe not yet! Certainly ornamental. Certainly NOT minimalistic. I struggle hard with quilting just a little bit. See, I think we need a new style name! So maybe the style “Ornamental” would be most appropriate to me.

HQ: What is the most fun thing you have done as an Ambassador?

TJ: Meeting my quilting idols and sharing silly moments of laughter with quilters from all over the world. It is in those moments that we discover the power of the global quilting community and share a common love of all things pretty.

HQ: Of all your quilts, which is your favorite?

TJ: My current favorite is my Dream Big quilt called ‘Ode to Kelly’. I initially wanted to do something completely different with my Dream Big panel and I designed 5 or 6 different options, but when it came down to picking my favorite design I kept going back to this feathered option in Kelly Ashton’s style of feathers in the petals. It just didn’t feel right to me to do something dramatically different. Kelly has inspired so many quilters across the world to have a go at the fabulous Dream Big Hoffman panel and I thought it fitting to dedicate my quilt to her. I also don’t get very many opportunities to quilt for myself and so this quilt is mine, ALL MINE! I do, however, have drastic plans for the next panel.

HQ: Do you still have your first quilt?

TJ: Yes, I do! It was the quilt I made in the sampler quilt class taught in my mother’s shop in 2000. My son loves to use it in winter time. I have wondered several times if I should put it on the frame and quilt some more, but then I won’t have a visual reminder of how far I have come.

HQ: Who is your inspiration/muse?

TJ: Everything. Everywhere. I have learned to really look at my surroundings, where ever I go, because inspiration is everywhere! I do however have several quilting idols that I look up to and continue to be inspired by;  Kimmy Brunner, Ricky Tims, Judi Madsen, Karen McTavish, Kathryn Harmer-Fox, Debra Linker, Carol Selepec, Sophie Standing, my 2 best friends Claire Wallace and Jane Renton, there’s too many to name them all.

HQ: Of all the “tasks” in creating a quilt, which is your fave and least favorite?

TJ: I totally LOVE free motion quilting! I LOVE machine work! I don’t particularly love piecing, not anymore. I don’t like handwork and I especially despise sewing/working away thread tails. Does that make me a bad person? 😊 But did I mention that I LOVE free motion quilting?

HQ: Do you have any other hobbies / interests?

TJ: Yes! Several actually!

I’m interested in quilting and sewing machines. I’m fascinated by quilting history. Creating quilting designs to free motion is one of my favorite down-time things to do. I really love taking photographs for quilting design or quilting project references and inspiration. Researching and experimenting with new techniques for quilt creations are also top of the list. Oh, and I like to read…fiction.

HQ: How can our readers get in touch with you?

TJ: You can find evidence of my quilting lifestyle on my:

website – www.ladyjanequilting.co.za 

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ladyjanequiltingshop/ 

Instagram – @teleneljq

HQ: Thank you Telene! We are proud to announce that Telene will be our keynote speaker and guest teacher at Handi Quilter Academy in June 2019. What a great opportunity to take classes from this awesome teacher.

2018-11-27T13:03:03-07:00December 7th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |3 Comments