HQ Capri Archives - Handi Quilter

Swirly Grid Design

We have used all the shapes to make continuous grid designs except for the swirl (or hook). So today we will dive deep into the swirly grid design.

The Swirl

Remember the swirl or hook for the 5 basic shapes?

Like the S shape from last week, we need to make some modifications to the shape. To make our path continuous, the shape must start on the left and end on the right. I accomplished this by extending the line leading into the swirl and the line leading out. Then I spread them apart like this:

Notice that I also closed the swirl, or over-stitched the swirly part.  I did this is because this design is a lot of quilting in each grid space. If your grid is large, feel free to leave the open swirl with the double lines, like the original shape. Make it your own!

My quilting starts at the green dot on the left and arcs down slightly.

When I get about half-way across the grid space, I start my swirl.

Backtrack along the swirl.

Then arc up towards the grid intersection.

One thing to keep in mind while you are quilting this shape is that you cannot go too deep into the grid space. You have to allow room for a swirl on each of the four sides of the space. You can add a chalked dot or circle to the center of the space as a reminder, like we did when we used the loop shape.

The Path

To keep things consistent, let’s use the same grid.

 

Start in the upper left corner and stitch the shape across the top. Just like all the other shapes before.

 

The Mantra

Like the S-shape, it is SUPER important that the shape is stitched the same each time. In this case, the swirl has to go in the same direction. I chose to stitch the swirl swirling back towards where I started.

 

To help me keep the swirls going in the correct direction, I use the mantra “SWIRL BACK”.  And just like the S-shape, this mantra will be helpful when you you have to change the orientation of the shape to fill the grid.

 

Next stitch down the side. SWIRL BACK.

 

Keep the path going

As we did before we will work across the horizontal grid line. But for this design, like the Terry Twist, the serpentine path will not work. You will simply stitch across the top of the line. Keep the mantra going!

You can see how the swirl is opposite of the ones going across the top of the grid. It’s easy to get confused and turned around without the mantra, but the mantra will keep your shapes going the way they should. SWIRL BACK.

Next, stitch across the bottom of the horizontal grid line back towards the right. Keep the mantra going!

Without the mantra, you’ll be sure to get confused on this step. With the mantra you’ll just go along easy-peasy.

Continue on down the right side, and across and back on the next horizontal grid line. Keep the mantra going!

Stitching down the right side brings you to the bottom of the grid. Begin to stitch across.

 

Just as before, work the vertical grid line up.

 

Can you see now how using a chalked dot in the center of the grid space will help?

Next, work your way back down the vertical line. Keeping the mantra? Of course you are! If you don’t, you’ll be getting out the seam ripper.

 

Move across the bottom to the next vertical line and stitch up and down. Then across the bottom to the left side. Then all that’s left to do is stitch up the left side, back to where you started!

 

This swirly grid is great for larger grids. There is a lot of quilting in each grid space!

Did you notice that this intricate design used the skills we acquired when we learned the simpler shapes grid designs? We used the path that gets us from start to finish with just one start and one stop. We used a guideline (dot), we modified the shape slightly, we used a mantra to keep the pattern going correctly.  When you come up with your own new designs be sure to remember your skills and put them to work for you!

 

The Name

I have not named this one. Will you help me give it a cool name? Add your name suggestion in the comments. I can’t wait to see what you creatives come up with!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

More Easy Echo Designs – Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

As promised, we’ll learn some more easy echo designs. How did you do with the peacock feathers? I’d love to see some pics in the comments!

We can modify the teardrop shape of the peacock feather to create a similar but very different looking design.

Leaves

Start with a leaf shape. You should be proficient at stitching leaves by now. If not, go back to this post for a review and more practice.

     OR   

 

Then just like the teardrop, echo it.

And echo again.

Start a new leaf and do it again to travel around your quilt.

Remember to travel in an undulating path to prevent the design from looking like “rows”.  You want to have your quilting be an all over texture and not rows.

This design is available on Quiltable.com, if you like to quilt with pantographs or robotic quilting systems. Pro-Stitcher is the robotic system that pairs with Handi Quilter, Janome, King Quilter, and Babylock longarm machines. The design’s name on Quiltable is “Flames”

Pro Tip: I called the initial shape for this design a leaf. It can just as easily be called a flame. Depending on the theme of the top you are quilting you can quilt echoed leaves or echoed flames. Only you will know it’s the exact same design.

 

Rainbows

Along the same lines, with a little twist, are rainbows.

 

Start by quilting an arc.

Don’t start your echo from the point where you finish your first arc.

 

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Instead, travel a bit away from where you ended.

Then quilt your echo.

Travel, and then quilt your second echo.

Start another arc.

Travel along the previous rainbow and echo the arc.

Travel away from your ending point and stitch your 2nd echo.

Notice that the echos go until you hit the rainbow already stitched.

Once you get going you will nestle your arcs between the rainbows you have already quilted.

Continue on in this matter to fill up your quilting space.

You can tell this one takes a bit more concentration and you will get more practice in over-stitching as you do your traveling.

The same tips apply to the leaves design and the rainbow design as we mentioned with the peacock feathers:

If you need to fill space, add another echo.

If you don’t have enough space for 2 echos, just do one. Or none! No one will ever know!

Also, where your first shape ends, will be the side you end on after 2 echos.

 

An even more challenging way to quilt the Rainbow design is the traditional Baptist Fan design. Where the rainbows are in rows and are uniform size.

The best way to accomplish Baptist Fan, if you are quilting free motion, is to use rulers. It’s a bit labor intensive but it is really beautiful when finished.

Remember, post pictures of your stitching in the comments!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

Welcome New Quilters!

Santa ordered a slew of HQ longarm quilting machines from us this year to be delivered all over the world. So I want to say, “welcome new quilters! to the Handi Quilter family.”  Families look after one another and help each other out. And that’s what Handi Quilter is all about.

Helping you finish your quilts

We do that in 3 ways.

1. Equip

We make great machines that will help you finish quilts quickly, easily, and professionally. Visit our website and clock on the machine tab to check out all the possibilities.

2. Educate

We provide the education you need to get the most from your machine. At the website, click on the Education, Events and Resources tabs to see the many opportunities available to you.

3. Inspire

We share inspiration to spark your creativity. You’ll find a Community tab on the website that shares some of the ways we endevor to inspire you.

This blog is all about #2 and #3.

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

At the end of May 2021 I started a series of posts on Free Motion Quilting for Beginners. It has become wildly popular! And I know you’ll want to join in. You’ll probably want to start from the very beginning. To make it easy for you I have compiled a list of the links to all the posts. This list is in order from first to most recent.

Pace Yourself

There are 20 posts and you’re going to want to pace yourself. I recommend reading one or two a week and practicing the techniques. Everyday practice/play is essential to becoming a good free motion quilter. Gift yourself the time to learn. And be kind to yourself. Some shapes will come easy to you and others you will find more challenging. It’s not that you cannot quilt those shapes, you just need more practice time.

Pro-Tip: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” The pro who said these words was Vincent VanGogh. Seems he should know.

portrait of Vincent VanGogh

 

Getting Started

Curves

Loops

Ready for a Real Quilt!

Stipple / Meander

 

Are you keeping up with your everyday quilting play? I hope that it becomes a life-long habit.

Spiral out of Control!

 

S Shapes

Leaves

Holiday designs

Edge to edge

Stay tuned!

More posts on free motion quilting are coming.  I hope this list is helpful for you. For those who have been following along, show us your best quilting with a pic in the comments to welcome new quilters. We are on the road to becoming Super Quilters!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Pro Tips for Anything E2E

As promised, I have some Pro Tips for you, so that you can get the most out of Anything E2E quilting.  This technique allows you to customize a design that is unique to each quilt.

It’s edge-to-edge, so it is fast and easy to stitch. Just choose a motif that compliments your quilt and connect repeats of that motif with  continuous flowing stitching.

One fun way to decide on a motif is to look at your fabric.

Flower Power

Maybe your fabric has a flower that you love and that might make a really cool quilting design.

fabric with a multi-color floral motif

I really like the orange flower with the blue center. It will be easy to stitch. After all it is an organic shape. By now you’ve heard it many times if you have been following along with this series. Organic shapes, like flowers and leaves are super easy to stitch because they are very forgiving. Not enough petals? Too many petals? Center not really round? It’s all good! No two flowers in nature are the same. And EVERY flower in nature is perfect and beautiful.

So we’ve got a motif that will be easy to stitch. Now we have to figure it all out.

Decide the stitch path

First analyze the motif and suss out the shapes you will need to quilt. Remember the 5 basic shapes? Each petal is a molar shape (you know, like the tooth, molar) like this:

line drawing that looks like the shape of a molar

 

The center is a circle.

Because we are creating an E2E pattern we have to decide how to enter and how to exit the motif (flower).

Here’s how I decided to quilt it. This is not the only way to do it! You might come up with an even better way. If you do, please share with all of us in the comments.

Stitch path

Enter on the left and stitch 2 molars at the top of the flower. Note: the pencil line is how I imagine the flower will look when completed. I keep thinking about this image as I quilt. It helps me form the elements.

 

Stitch a big round loop for the center circle.

 

Complete the flower with three molars under the center.

 

Exit towards the right.

 

Make it an Anything E2E

To make this an E2E we need some connecting lines. My good friend Mary Fisher from Oklahoma likes to say, “lolly-gag over to the next flower.”  By that she means travel to the next motif with a design you are very comfortable with.

 

It might be loops.

flower anything E2E

 

Or it might be a stipple-type meander.

stipple anything E2E

 

Kick it up a notch using a design that you’ve had lots of practice with recently. You should be pretty comfortable with stitching Leaves! What could possibly go better with flowers, right?

flower anything E2E with leaves

Advanced Pro-Tip: Take a look at these three Anything E2E designs. Which one is your favorite?

I love the leaves, but I would reject the stipple meander. The flowers get lost in the meander because the shape of the flowers (curves) and the shape of the stipple (curves) are just too similar. So think about going for contrast between your motif and your flowing lolly-gag connecting design.

 

More Ideas for Anything E2E

Still working on those holiday quilts?

Here is some inspiration for motifs you can use for Anything E2E!

Gingerbread men

photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels

 

Candy Canes

Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com from Pexels

 

Stars

photo of Christmas Star ornaments

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

 

How would you draw these shapes? Here’s a hint:

fun holiday cookies

Photo by Jonathan Meyer from Pexels

 

Did you guess?

an assortment of cookie cutters

That’s right! Cookie cutters are great shapes to use for Anything E2E. They are very easy to trace around.

Uber Pro Tip:  Use your pounce powder to mark the motifs on your quilt. Tap the cookie cutter on a damp sponge, then into a dish of pounce powder, then onto your quilt.

You will have to do the steps we did with the flower.  Decide on the stitch path of the motif, find an enter and exit path, and choose a lolly-gag connecting pattern. You are ready to make your quilt unique!

What will you Anything E2E?

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free Motion for Beginners – More Leaves

More leaves are falling here in North Carolina and the air is crisp and clear. Since leaves are such a popular quilting motif, I thought we might explore some more designs, using more leaves.

Vines

photo of green leafy vines

photo by nothing ahead on pexels

 

Meandering leafy vines make great edge-to-edge designs, or a fill design for any shape on your quilt.

You can use the familiar leaf shape, simply attaching them to a vine as you meander and fill your quilt. Alternate adding leaves to both sides of your meandering vine.

Try it with just single leaves attached to the vine.

line drawing of a meandering leafy vine

Pro Tip: Mark your meandering vine with a removable marker. Then stitch along the vine adding leaves as you go.

 

Or two together might be twice the fun:

line drawing of a meandering vine with 2 leaves

 

My favorite is a cluster of three together:

line drawing of a meandering vine with groups of 3 leaves attached

 

Make it fancy by adding in swirls here and there:

line drawing of vine with leaves and spirals

 

Ferns

photo of lush green ferns

Photo by Carolina Gusmund from Pexels

 

We can use the S shape to create lush ferns on our quilts. The creation of a fern-like leaf is a bit different from the leaves we have been stitching. Rather than stitching the S for one side of the leaf, then stitching a mirror image S to form the other side of the leaf, to create a fern leaf stitch an S shape then echo that same S for the 2nd side.

Let’s dive right in and stitch a fern frond.

First stitch your spine from top to bottom. It is a long and lazy S shape!

Pro Tip: When first getting started with any new design, it is a good idea to draw the design first. So substitute the word “draw” for the word “stitch” in these directions.

 

Then start adding in the leaves. Stitch a lazy S away from the spine and then echo that same S as you stitch back toward the spine.

fern leaves stitching path

 

Add more leaves up one side of the spine. At the top I like to make a little swirl or curl. You can get creative here and make any shape you like to make the transition to the other side of the spine. A tear drop or a leaf would work well.

stitching path for multiple fern leaves

 

Next start stitching leaves down the 2nd side.

 

And continue to add more leaves until you reach the bottom.

 

You don’t have to have the same number of leaves on both sides. Just fill the space and don’t worry about lining them up side to side.

Once again, you can get fancy and add in some swirls.

 

Pro Tip: When filling an area on your quilt with a fern frond extend the leaves as you need to, so that the space is filled. There are many shapes of ferns in nature so it will look fantastic no matter what shape results.

 

quilt by Mary Beth Krapil with quilted fern leaves

Daffodils by Mary Beth Krapil

Challenge

Can you come up with a way to use more leaves? We would all love to see your drawings or stitching in the comments! How about some leaf wreaths?

 

by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

Introducing New HQ Ambassador, Jane Hauprich

I’d like you to meet our newest HQ ambassador, Jane Hauprich. That name just might sound familiar to you since Jane was a Handi Quilter National Educator for five years.

Jane Hauprich HQ ambassador

To get to know Jane just a bit better, (we’ve been friends and co-workers for the last 5 years), I thought I’d do an interview and share it with all of you.

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

JH: Being a Handi Quilter Ambassador means a lot to me.  First and foremost, I love my Handi Quilter machines, and love telling people about them and how much having one has
changed my life.  I cannot even imagine my life without my longarm in it!!! Being able to represent a company that has such great machines, amazing education and fantastic customer support is truly a privilege.


HQ: How did you get started in quilting?

JH: I first learned how to piece quilts in 1998.  I was a single mom, so I didn’t have a ton of time to quilt, but as I did get projects done, I was not able to afford to send them out to be quilted by a professional, so I taught myself how to do the quilting myself.  First I did  straight line quilting. Then moved on to teaching myself to free motion quilt on my domestic machine.

Fast forward a few years to 2009, and I went to the AQS Lancaster Quilt Show, and kept on gravitating to the Handi Quilter booth and the HQ Sweet Sixteen stationary machine.  I ended up purchasing a machine and absolutely fell in love.

Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen longarm stationary quilting machine

A few years later in 2012, I took a class on starting your own longarm business.  I decided at that point to sell my stationary machine and purchase my Handi Quilter Avanté, an 18-inch movable machine.

I did start quilting for others using all free motion.  For those of you just getting your longarms, I will tell you a story. When I first got my moveable longarm, my retailer came and set it up, gave me my lesson, and left.  I was so afraid of that machine, that I couldn’t even go in that room for two weeks. Once I got over that initial fear, I was good to go!!!


HQ: How would you describe your style of quilting?

JH: I have a love and passion for free motion quilting.  I now have a Pro-Stitcher, and while I do mostly free motion quilting, I do run my Pro-Stitcher for computerized edge-to-edge quilting, and sometimes like to mix things up by adding a computerized design and accentuate it with free motion quilting.  Sometimes that perfect design that I need lives right inside my Pro-Stitcher!!!

My personal style is usually something densely quilted.  I kind of feel like it’s a sickness…..the quilt is never quilted enough….lol!!  No worries though, as I do quilt every day quilts to be soft and snugly.

This was such a fun wall hanging to make. Pattern is by Debby Kratovil.


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

JH: Prior to being an Ambassador, I was a Handi Quilter Educator for five years.  During
that time, I was able to meet so many great quilters.  I was also able to travel and teach at two shows overseas…..Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe, Germany and Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England.

One of my favorite memories was in Karlsruhe.  There were students who took the classes because they didn’t know what a longarm was.  The joy that crossed their faces when they were able to quilt on the Handi Quilter machines was unforgettable!!!  I look forward to more experiences as an Ambassador and can’t wait to see what is in store for the
future.

Another fun quilt I did as one of my monthly Island Batik projects.


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

JH: Wow……this is a tough one.  Since I quilt for customers, I have many favorite
quilts.  Usually my most favorite quilt is the one that I am currently working on.

I love to design whole cloth quilts when I have time, so those are probably my favorite.

whole cloth quilt, purple

This wholecloth quilting pattern comes from Telene Jeffery. I copied the pattern onto the fabric and adjusted it to make it my own.

 

whole cloth quilt, gold

I love to design whole cloth quilts. This is my most recent one that is completed.

Along with quilting ice dyed fabric panels.

quilted ice dyed fabric

This is an Ice Dyed fabric by Debra Linker. It hangs in a Handi Quilter Exhibit of a whole group of quilted Ice Dyed pieces.


HQ: Do you still have your first quilt?

JH: My first quilt was from my class in 1998.  A combination of piecing, hand quilting, and
tying.  I truly get a kick out of looking at this quilt.  It really shows me how far I’ve come.  I wish you could see the binding on this closely.

 

Jane’s first quilt


Apparently, they didn’t teach mitered corners in this class!!! LOL!!!


HQ: What are your favorite tools that you use in your work?

JH: The tools I use most for my longarming, is probably rulers.  I love ruler work and typically pair it with my free motion.

This was designed by me. This was totally stitched and quilted on my longarm!!

HQ: What machine do you use for piecing?

JH: For Piecing, I have two machines, my HQ Stitch 510 and a Janome 6600.  I use the Stitch 510 most of the time, as it is a powerhouse of a machine.

HQ Stitch 510 sewing machine

HQ: What machine do you use for quilting?

JH: For my longarm, I have a Handi Quilter Capri (that love of pushing the fabric around never left since I started on a domestic machine),

Handi Quilter Capri machine

 

and a HQ Amara with Pro-Stitcher.

HQ Amara quarter view

quilted fabric panel (image of a crab)

Panels are a great way to practice. You don’t spend a lot of time piecing, and can just follow along and do what feels right. This one is so cool!!

 


HQ: Who is your inspiration/muse?

JH: A year or two after I purchased my longarm, I went to a quilting expo in Virginia, and was able to take classes with Jamie Wallen, Lisa Calle and Angela Walters.  This was such a memorable experience and helped to shape me into the quilter I am today.  A couple of
years later, when I was thinking about teaching at shows, Jamie Wallen was a key person in encouraging me to get on the quilt teaching circuit.  I don’t think I would have had the courage to do it if it hadn’t been for him.  I will forever be grateful for his guidance.

Tasked to make a quilt using half square triangles, I designed this quilt and actually published my first pattern.


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

JH: My favorite part of the creating a quilt is the longarm quilting. I find that I can forget everything else that is going on in life and just quilt.  It’s a great stress reliever for me.  As far as the piecing goes, I do love knowing that I am creating something for someone.

I would say my least favorite thing is cutting out the fabric needed to piece the quilts.


HQ: Do you have any other hobbies / interests?

JH: My interests and hobbies are spending time with my family, cooking, and reading.  I am not a lover of handwork, so I have been attempting to hand applique simple blocks for a quilt. It may take me years to get it done though!!!

A quilt I made for a wedding gift. The couple loved it!!


HQ: Thanks Jane! We are so glad to have you remain a part of the Handi Quilter family in your new role as Ambassador. Jane currently teaches virtual classes, so if you are looking for some free motion quilting classes, please check out her website. She also posts free motion quilting videos on YouTube. Be sure to check that out also and LIKE and Subscribe so you don’t miss anything.  Jane says she is all about trying to get quilters to love free motion quilting just as much as she does.

You can find Jane here:

Website:  www.stitchbystitchcustomquilting.com
<http://www.stitchbystitchcustomquilting.com>
YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/c/JaneHauprich
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JanesStitchByStitch
Instagram:  janestitchbystitch

Bye for now!

Quilted back of a jeans jacket

Quilting doesn’t always have to be on quilts. This is a favorite of mine to wear and I always get compliments on it!! Quilted right on my longarm frame!!!

by Mary Beth Krapil



Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – the Secret to Curves

There’s a secret to curves. Well, the secret really applies to all quilting shapes, but it works especially well on curves. Curves make up 97.35% of the best quilting designs. Take a look at any collection of quilts and pay close attention to the quilting. You will see curves on almost every quilt.

Curves

C-shapes, arcs, circles. These shapes are curves. They can be put together into a myriad of designs. It’s the most important shape for you to learn to quilt well. You have been doing your practice (15 minutes every day) on solid fabrics so that you can see your stitching easily.

Supplies

For this week’s practice you’re going to have to dig into your stash, or (yay!), make a trip to the quilt shop and get some specific fabric. It should look something like this:

Covered with round objects that touch each other. Baseballs, basketballs, oranges, anything that is nice and round.

not like this:

They don’t touch.

nor this:

 

Not touching, and the dots are too small.

The circles have to touch and should be at least an inch across.

You will use this as training wheels to develop your muscle memory for quilting nice smooth round curves. Purchase about a yard. Or if you get a yard and a half, when you are finished you can bind it and give it to a little baseball or basketball (or orange?) fan. They will love it! And take my word for it, they won’t notice the quilting at all. They will only see the game they love and know you made something just for them. Multitasking! you get practice and a warm hug for someone you love.

Practice

You will spend your 15 minutes a day stitching around each of the round objects. Stitch right on the edge of each baseball. Go all the way around each one. Then transition to the baseball that is touching the one you just stitched. This practice will teach you many things! Do 15 minutes a day. Outline the the rounds on the entire piece of fabric

At first you will wobble and bobble.

But as you do more, you will get better and better.

Soon you’ll be stitching nice round circles right on the edge of the baseballs.

You won’t be perfect, but it will look pretty good and the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

What you’ll learn

  1. Quilting smooth round curves and circles. The best muscle memory to have!
  2. Transitioning from one curve to the next.
  3. How to overstitch accurately.
  4. The secret.  Yes! the secret.

Smooth curves

Like I said, curves make up most of all quilting designs. If you’re good at curves, you’re going to be good at many designs. You’ve got a huge head start!

Transitioning

Once you go around the circle, you have to figure out how best to get to the next one. Sometimes you will keep going in the same direction, sometimes you might be better off to reverse directions. You want to minimize overstitching whenever possible. If over stitching is needed you want to choose a path that makes the overstitching as short as possible.

You have to think ahead, to know which way you plan to go.

Pro Tip: plan your path before you start stitching. Use your finger to move along and map out your stitching path.

 

Pro Tip: Your machine has an off switch. Use it when you get overwhelmed. If you don’t know where to go next, stop the machine and make a plan.

Overstitching

Definition: overstitching is when you stitch over a line that you already stitched in order to get where you need to go.

Try your best to make the overstitching directly on top of the original stitches.  Slow down and take your time.  I try to minimize the amount of overstitching if at all possible. It’s fussy work. It’s also a good skill to have because you’ll use it often. You will get better with practice.

The Secret

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for. The secret to being a good free motion quilter. The one secret, that if you know it, will make you into Super Quilter!

Look ahead.

That’s it. The secret. Look ahead.

Don’t look at the needle. Look ahead. Look at your goal.

Let’s take some simple arcs as an example.

With your needle at the Start point, your goal is the top of that arc. There is a gentle curve between those 2 points. Your brain knows you are quilting a curve and you have the muscle memory to do it. If you watch the needle as you stitch, you’ll wobble. Trust your muscle memory to make that curve, and keep your eye on your goal. Don’t watch the needle.

Once you reach your goal, move your eye to your next goal. Keep your eye on that goal and let your muscle memory do the job of creating a nice smooth curve.

Simple. Right? I promise it works. It just takes……..you guessed it, Practice.

So off you go to the quilt shop to get your round objects fabric. You may as well get a few things for your stash while you’re there. 😉 And you might have to go to 2 or 3 shops before you find what you are looking for. You’re welcome.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners, Theory

Now that you’re ready, we can delve a bit into the theory. Wait, you’re not ready? Be sure to read Part 1 and prepare to have some fun learning free motion quilting.

Theory

Theory sounds boring, right? But I’m a big believer that the more you know, the more you can do. And this is not rocket surgery or even brain science. Just a little deeper thought into what forms free motion designs.

All the designs we can ever quilt or even think of quilting are made up of 5 basic shapes.

5 Basic Shapes

Take a look at any quilt or photo of a quilt where you can see the quilting. See if you can pick out these shapes in the quilting designs.

Straight line

straight line quilting

 

Curve

curve quilting

Curves are all over quilting. You’ll find them everywhere you look!

 

 

Loop

loop quilting

 

S-curve

 

Hook (or spiral)

hook quilting

You already know these

They are basic shapes and you are quite familiar in drawing them. I know you know this, because they are the same shapes you use in cursive writing. You know how to sign your name, you know these shapes!

Remember back in school when you were learning to write? Your teacher had you practice over and over again to perfect the shapes you were forming. Sound familiar?

And you got better and better.

If you are thinking, “my handwriting is not so good, maybe I’m not cut out for doing free motion quilting.”  Do not despair!

Quilting is much more forgiving than penmanship! In writing, the letters all need to be the same size and slant in the same direction and be spaced apart equally. Remember this?

Those lines on the paper were guidelines to help you keep your letters all the same size. And your words nice and straight.  In free motion quilting you don’t have to worry so much about that.

It’s OK to have different sizes. And it’s actually desirable to have the shapes going in different directions! It’s OK if some of your loops are fat and round and some are long and skinny.

Assignment

Here’s what to do this week in your 15 minutes a day, (that you signed the contract for).

Practice quilting each one of the shapes for 15 minutes. One per day.

Make the shape in all different directions and orientations, since that is what you will need to do when free motion quilting actual designs.

Pay close attention to how it feels to move the machine. Is it easier to move horizontally? Diagonally? Can I make the lines straight? or just straight-ish?

Pro Tip: When quilting points (as in the design above) pause in the points. Quilt the straight line, come to the end where you want to change directions and pause for as long as it takes you to say the word “pause”. If you are new to this, actually say the word out loud, until it becomes second nature to pause in the points. “Quilt, quilt, quilt, PAUSE, quilt, quilt, PAUSE…..”

It gives your body and brain time to re-set for the next line. Setting your machine in Cruise mode (if that’s possible on your machine) allows the machine to take a stitch right in the point. This results in a sharp point every time.

After you have done a day for each shape, use the other 2 days this week to combine shapes together. See what you can come up with.

Don’t stress over it, just let it flow. If you create something interesting, take a photo! And share in the comments.

Have fun this week!

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

 

 

More Adventures in Longarm Quilting

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

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

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

Wow, Diane! That’s a huge question.

Here’s what she was thinking:

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

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

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

Rhythm and Repetition

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

Contrast

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

Balance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diane’s next lesson was:

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

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

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

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

Wise words my friend! Quilt on!

by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

 

 

 

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