longarm quilting Archives - Handi Quilter

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

Free Motion for Beginners – Leaves

We are going to stick with our S shape again and keep creating new designs with it. It’s the perfect shape for quilting leaves. We all love to quilt organic designs on our quilts, flowers, leaves, etc.  Organic images are very forgiving. No two leaves in nature are exactly alike. So you don’t have to worry too much about making these designs uniform. Another walk in the park! Or maybe this week will be a walk in the forest, amongst the leaves?

path through the forest surrounded by leaves

Photo by Fstopper from Pexels

 

You can create a leaf shape with simple curves.

line drawing of leaf

 

It works, and looks even more like a leaf when you add a vein down the center.

line drawing of a leaf with a vein

 

But when you add the subtle curve of an S shape in place of the simple curves, it really says, “LEAF.”

line drawing of leaf with curvy sides and vein

 

Practice quilting leaves in all different orientations. Then you can start putting them together into usable quilting designs. One of my favorites is a border or sashing design where the leaves alternate pointing up and pointing down as they scamper across the border.

Stitch path for alternating leaves

Let’s break down the stitching path of this design. Start at the bottom of the first leaf and stitch up the right side with a lazy S.

beginning of stitchpath for leaves

Pause at the top to create a sharp point then stitch a mirror image lazy S down the left side of the leaf.

Stitch the vein up the center. You can make this a lazy S or a simple curve. Both those shapes look great as the vein. Stitch up and then backtrack back down to the bottom of the leaf. It doesn’t matter if your backtracking is not perfect. However this is a good opportunity to try to improve your backtracking skills. 😉

To connect to the next leaf stitch a lazy S that scoops under the leaf you just stitched and goes up and over. The mantra I use here is “under and over.”

That lazy S sets you up for stitching smoothly down the right side of the leaf that points down.

Once again pause in the point. If you need to remind yourself to pause, add it into your mantra. “Under and over, pause in the point …” Then stitch up the left side of the leaf.

Stitch the vein, in and out.

Another lazy S connects to the next leaf but this time you go over and under.

stitching path of leaves

Now just repeat as many times as you need to fill your border!

Pro Tip:   The stitching starts on the right side of every leaf. It doesn’t matter if it’s pointing up or down. Always go right. The S shape connectors set you up for a smooth transition into the next leaf if you go to the right.

This is the perfect design for fall quilts! Doesn’t this put you in the mood for some leaf peeping? Come to North Carolina for some spectacular views!

by valiphotos on pexels

pexels-by-kelly-lacy

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free Motion for Beginners – Lazy S

If you practiced the Red Hot Hearts design from last week, you worked really hard. So you deserve a break this week. That Red Hot Hearts design takes good control of your machine and lots of brain power and guidelines to keep the pattern going right. Did you think of a mantra to use to help you? If you’re not sure how mantras and quilting go together read this previous post. We will learn some easy, free-flowing, no-guidelines-needed designs this week, using a lazy S, rather than the very-good-penmanship S we used last week. It will be like a walk in the park!

woman walking in the park

Photo by Min An from Pexels

Grass

Speaking of parks, lets start with grass. This simple design works as an all-over texture design, or a background fill (when quilted smaller). It is especially nice in areas of quilts where you want to give the impression of grass. Like my elephant quilt, Don’t Forget Joe.

raw edge applique quilt depicting an elephant with lazy S quilting in the background

Don’t Forget Joe
by Mary Beth Krapil
Duncan, North Carolina

In the background toward the bottom of the quilt, I quilted grass. You might be able to see the stitching better on the back of the quilt.

Detail of back  Don’t Forget Joe quilt

 

I did use a contrasting thread (green) on the red fabric so the stitching shows there pretty well.

detail of front  Don’t Forget Joe quilt

 

Grass looks like this.

line drawing of grass quilting design

Pick out the S shape

Can you see the lazy S shapes? One of the things you might be learning from this series of posts is to pick out which of the 5 basic shapes make up a quilting design.

When you get good at picking out those shapes, you’ll be able to quilt just about any design you see.

two women high five-ing

SCORE!!!                                                                             Photo by Zen Chung from Pexels

Lazy S

Why lazy? Well as you can see, these S shapes do not stand up straight. The tops and bottoms are not the same curve or size. They have a much looser interpretation of the letter S.

Once again you start at the bottom, stitch up, to create the lazy S, then loosely echo it. Notice that, for grass, they are all different size “blades” and they lean in slightly different directions.

Also note that I left the top of the row of grass, not straight across, but undulating.

line drawing of grass quilting design

 

This allows for coming back and adding more rows of grass to fill in the area you want to quilt and creates a nice even distribution of texture.

Multi-purpose

This is a versatile design. If you were quilting something that featured this fabric:

fabric with hot peppers depicted

 

You can quilt the exact same design. Just change the name to “Flames

 

If you quilt the exact same design but do it sideways…

It can be “Wind” or “Water“.

Pro Tip:

Add in a swirl here or there, for either wind or water, to increase the movement.

This design also works to simulate wood grain.

Maybe there’s a tree appliqued on your quilt?  Bookshelf quilts are quite popular. This design would be great to quilt the wooden shelves!

What other uses can you think of for this design? Please share in the comments.

Relax and have fun quilting the lazy S!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – S shape

Continuing the series on free motion quilting for beginners, this week we will explore the S shape. You remember the shape of the letter S from kindergarten, right?

Elementary school Alphabet with the S circled

The perfect S with the nice, perfect, counter-clockwise curve at the top that transitions smoothly into the nice, perfect, clockwise curve at the bottom. That perfect shape works as a classic quilting design just as it is. It’s called by many names. One name is

“Red Hot Hearts”

because it looks like hearts flipping along a border or sashing.

image of red hot hearts quilting motif repeated 3 times

Red Hot Hearts

If you’re looking for a quick sashing or border design, look no further!

It starts with an S shape just like you learned in kindergarten. Shown here in red:

Then immediately a mirror-image S (in green). Repeat as often as you need to fill your border.

There is one difference from that kindergarten S. You’ll start at the bottom, rather than the top like you first learned in school.

image showing start point of red hot hearts design with an arrow point the direction of the stitching path

Starting at the bottom is simple. The tricky part, the part that needs practice, is stitching the mirror-image S. Nobody learned that in kindergarten!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

First practice this design by drawing on a white board, paper and pencil, or electronic tablet. You might want to print out the first image in this post and slip it into a page protector to trace with a dry erase, just to get that muscle memory started in the right direction. Remember we want GOOD muscle memory.

Pro Tips

If you’ve been following along with this series, you might be guessing what I’m going to say next.

You may have noticed how symmetrical this design is. So when quilting, it would be super helpful to have guidelines to help you achieve or come close to that symmetry.

This shows my quilt border with the guidelines I like. I don’t want my design to touch the seam lines so I mark a straight line 1/4 inch away from the seam lines. That will tell me how tall to make my S shape. I use a ruler and a chalk marker. You can use any removable marking device you like, (just as long as you know you will be able to remove it when you finish quilting!)

The other guidelines I like are the straight vertical lines that tell me how wide to make my S shape. These need to be evenly spaced. The easiest way I have found to mark these is to use a line stencil and a pounce pad.

various sizes of straight line stencils

The line stencils come in many different widths. I find stencils from many sources. Here are a couple that I like: The Stencil Company and  Full Line Stencils.

You can also accomplish this using a ruler and chalk. It will just take a whole lot longer. I’d rather be quilting than marking!

 

You know, quilts have vertical borders as well as horizontal borders. So I need to give you a

Practice assignment

Once you have the hang of drawing and stitching Red Hot Hearts horizontally, practice drawing, then stitching the same design vertically.

And you might run across a sashing that is on an angle, if you have a quilt with blocks on-point. So move on to 45 degree Red Hot Hearts.

If you have any practice time left you can practice quilting the S shape at random angles. Next week we will explore more S shape design possibilities.

by Mary Beth Krapil

Handi Quilter

 

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 – Backtrack Spiral

Last week we got started with the spiral, hook or swirl shape. This week we will talk about another kind of spiral. I call it the backtrack spiral. Instead of spiraling in, and then splitting the path you created to spiral out, you will backtrack spiral back out. Or in other words, you will stitch directly on top of the stitching you just did, only in the opposite direction. They look like this:

You start on the left and spiral in.

Then backtrack to spiral back out.

As you are backtracking, you can leave this spiral and start a new spiral.

The new spiral can swirl in the same direction.

Or it can swirl in the opposite direction.

Here’s an example where I took off from the backtracking in a different place.

I find this backtrack spiral to be easier to quilt than the spiral we did last week.

Wait, what?

woman questioning

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

I know, right?  Backtracking is not easy. But with these backtrack spirals, if you don’t backtrack perfectly, they still look great.

Sometimes, when you change direction at the end of your spiraling in, you’ll get a little loop. I think that looks cute!

And you might not hit your backtracking at all.

As long as you are close, it still looks good. You can use these backtrack spirals as an opportunity to practice your backtracking skills.

All over or edge-to-edge quilting

all over backtrack spiral

 

Notice it’s not perfect but it still looks great quilted! The great thing about these spirals is that it is super easy to fill in any space on the quilt. You can start a new spiral wherever you need and you can make them different sizes. Not only does that make it easy to fill in spaces, it also adds interest to the design.

Borders

All in one direction.

If you look close you see the next spiral starts at about 5 o’clock. (red dots)

Keeping that in mind helps to keep the spirals consistent.

 

Or alternate direction of the swirls

 

alternating spiral border

For alternating spirals I like to try to start the next spiral at 3 o’clock-ish. (red dots)

Remember mantras? This is a good design to use a mantra to help keep the alternation going.

My mantra is: “up and over, down and around.”  I start with stitching up and over the top of the first spiral. Then I backtrack  to 3 o’clock and reverse direction, to go down and around the next spiral. Backtrack to 3 o’clock and go up and over. Rinse and repeat. (don’t rinse, just repeat).

If you have been keeping up with your 15 minutes of practice each day, you deserve a sticker!

free motion fabulous sticker

Happy quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Spirals

Moving on in our series on free motion quilting this week to our next shape, spirals (or hooks). We can really have some fun with this shape. It works for so many quilts. Like a meander, depending on the scale you choose, it can create a fabulous all over edge-to-edge quilting design or a fantastic background fill. Spirals can be used in blocks and borders too. And they are great combined with other shapes to create gorgeous designs.

 

swirl line drawing

Looking good

Let’s think about what makes a spiral look good. That way, we will know what to strive for when we quilt them.

Round

When you look at this shape can you see why it was so important to practice stitching those circles? Spirals really look best when they are round.

Pro tip: If it has been a while since you quilted circles or round shapes, you can always go back to that practice fabric.

fabric with baseballs

Do your 15 minutes today quilting around the circle shapes to refresh your muscle memory. Be like the major league baseball pitcher and warm up in the bull pen.

baseball pitcher

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Consistent gaps

Spirals look really good when the gaps between the stitching lines are consistent.

Don’t get discouraged looking at these images. We are doing free motion quilting, not computerized quilting. What you stitch won’t ever be flawlessly perfect. And that’s perfectly OK.

That’s all you have to remember when stitching spirals. Round and consistent gaps. That’s it.

Getting started with spirals

Lets take it step by step.

Stitch a hook.

line drawing of hook with directional arrows

Continue on spiraling in a little.

Then turn around

Now follow the yellow brick road.

Split the path you created to go back out.

Continue by echoing around what you already quilted.

And you’ve got a spiral!

Using spirals

Fill a space, whether a block or a whole quilt.

When you hit an obstacle, like a seam line or another spiral, do some stitch-in-the-ditch or over-stitching to travel to where you want your next line of stitching. Sometimes you will have to imagine the path of your spiral outside of your boundary so that you will know where to pick up and continue the spiraling.

This may be enough for you to practice in your 15 minutes a day this week. We’ll pick up from here next week to explore more ways to spiral out of control!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Free motion quilting for beginners – Start from the beginning

We have come a long way from the beginning of this series about free motion quilting. I sure hope you have learned a thing or two along the way. Are you keeping up with your everyday quilting play? I hope that it becomes a life-long habit.

Previous Posts

I’ve heard from several folks who have joined us along the way and missed out on the earlier posts. The list of previous blog posts, shown on the right side of the page, only goes back 5 posts. So I’m going to post some links to previous posts in the series in case you’d like to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Bonus points if you are singing the song now. Let me know in the comments.

Here they are. You’ll find the first post at the very bottom.

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Stipple

click here

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – For Real

click here

Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Getting Loopy

click here

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Curvy Designs

click here

big flower design

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – the Secret to Curves

click here

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Muscle

click here

photo of tracing a quilting design

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Putting it Together – Straight

https://handiquilter.com/free-motion-putting-it-together/

click here

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners, Theory

click here

curve quilting

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Part 1 (this one is the beginning)

click here

woman making a promise

Check them out! If for nothing else than to see what that picture has to do with quilting.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Advanced Meander

Last time we talked about the ubiquitous stipple. I said if the stipple is larger, we often call it a meander. Meander works for quilting entire quilts, edge-to-edge style. It creates good texture, holds the 3 layers together well and is fast and easy. On some quilts it is the perfect choice because the fabrics or piecing carry the design. Like this adorable license plate quilt made by my good friend, Jean Chapman. Jean quilted it on her HQ Sweet Sixteen, stationary machine with an edge-to-edge meander.

License plate quilt by Jean Chapman of North Carolina

detail of license plate quilt

But it can be boring.

When I first started longarm quilting, I started doing an all-over meander on my quilts. I was self-taught and I thought that was where everyone started. I soon became bored and wanted to branch out and do some other designs I had seen. (the truth is, I showed my friends yet another quilt I had finished and they all said in unison,” You NEED to learn a new design.”) The problem was, I didn’t have the skill I needed yet.

Now that you have some experience with meander, I want to share some ideas about how you can stretch and do some designs that look more special on your quilt. But these don’t take a heap more skill than a simple meander takes. So you will be very successful!

Ribbon

Start with a meander.

As far as size goes, think about how dense you want the quilting to be. If it’s a quilt that will be used on a bed or snuggled with on the couch, choose a loose density. For example a softball sized meander. For Ribbon quilting I start with a meander a little larger than I would normally choose, because I’m going to add more stitching.  Stitch this meander (as  much as you can  within the exposed throat space).

When you get to the end, reverse direction and echo your original stitched line, crossing over every now and then. Like this red line:

When you’re done it looks like a floating ribbon that’s swirling, twisting and turning.

Pro Tip: I find that it looks best when you try to cross over on the “sides” rather than at the top of the hill or bottom of the valley. Crossovers are shown in the yellow circles:

 

Get creative

Now just let your imagination take over and let’s come up with some new designs. What if we quilt a meander, then reverse and quilt a simple shape just next to it on the way back?

 

Here’s one with simple C shapes.

You could also reverse again and put C shapes on the other side of the meander too! Or try stitching the C’s in the opposite orientation.

Change it up and use straight lines that cross over your meander.

What if you just mark the meander with a removable marker and stitch the zig-zag?

Looks complicated doesn’t it? Shhh! Don’t tell anyone how easy it was!

Play time

What can you come up with? A good starting point for ideas are those 5 basic shapes.

Remember L’s and E’s?

Many of the designs in this post were inspired by phenomenal quilter and Handi Quilter educator, Megan Best. For more inspiration check out her book, Spinal Twist.  You can find it in digital format on her website.

Add your photos to the comments on this post to share with our Free Motion community. The more the merrier!

Who knew that simple meander could be so much fun?

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Stipple

The time has come to talk about stipple. You see it all over the place on quilts. What is a stipple, anyway?

Dictionary.com says:

Stipple History

Dots, small spots, small touches. In the quilting world stipple began with hand quilters. They placed single stitches randomly in the background of an applique or embroidery or a larger quilted motif. These stitches mimicked the small dots of paint used by artists who use the stipple technique. VanGogh’s self portrait is an example.

The stipple stitches did the job of flattening the surrounding area, letting the focus motif come forward and become even more prominent.

Machine quilting stipple

Machine quilting cannot produce these random individual stitches easily, so quilters came up with a continuous line way of achieving the same effect.

Remember the definition of stipple is small dots. When this continuous design is quilted, the negative space, or un-quilted area, created by the stitched line is like dots. Like these red circles:

Look what you see when I take away the stitch line:

Pro Tip: If you use a thread that blends or matches with your fabric color you won’t see the thread or stitches, you’ll just see the dots.

Figure it out

So now that you know why it’s called stipple, let’s examine the pattern and talk about how to quilt it.

Going back to our five basic shapes

We can see that stipple is made up of simple curves ( C-shapes) going in different directions. The quilting path does not cross over like it does with loops.

As a matter of fact, if you are stippling and your lines cross, the quilt police will show up at your door!

Not really, but I want you to try really hard not to cross the lines. Because that’s the design. If you do cross, no one will notice or care.  Don’t stress over it, but do try your best.

Remember last week we talked about even distribution of texture? Every time you quilt you should strive for it and stipple is no different.  To achieve the

even distribution

you should strive to make the spaces (those red circles) approximately the same size and nice and rounded. It sounds hard, but of course I’ve got a trick you can use.

Last week we learned about using mantras to keep our patterns going. Quilting a good stipple requires something a little different.

Mental Image

Sometimes it is helpful to keep a picture in your mind’s eye of an object or a shape. In the case of a stipple we want those curves to be nice and round and all about the same size. The mental image I use for stipple is a round object that I know the size of. Something I can easily picture in my mind. In other words something so familiar to me that I could come very close to the actual size if asked to draw it.

I think about a quarter, or a dime, or a ping pong ball, or a baseball, or the head of a pin, or a pencil eraser. The size of all those items is very familiar to me. Which I choose depends on the density of quilting I’m trying to do.

I imagine those dimes laying on the surface of my quilt and I stitch around them, clockwise then counterclockwise, clockwise and counterclockwise.

 Practice Stipple

Remember back when you used baseball fabric to practice and get good at quilting nice smooth curves? Well you can use the same trick for practicing stippling. You’ll want fabric with randomly scattered objects. like this:

star fabric for practice purposes

Pick a star (or whatever) and stitch around it part way. As you are stitching use the secret of looking ahead and pick your next star. Keep going, always picking your next star as you stitch, clockwise then counterclockwise, clockwise and counterclockwise.

Fill up a yard of this fabric and you will be an EXPERT stippler!

Examples

Here are some examples with a quarter in the photo for size reference.

The stipple makes the letters and flowers stand out.

This is a lattice design with a stipple in the background. The squares are about 1 and 1/4 inches. So the stipple mental image I used was the head of those yellow quilting pins. You know the ones.

yellow quilting pins for size compairison

Once again those triangles really stand out thanks to the stipple. The triangles get all the glory while the stipple does all the work.

This is a thread sampler to show the look of different weight threads. The stipple is larger because it’s not in the background of anything. It’s just a meandering line of stitches. Larger stipple is often referred to as Meander.

I call this tiny stipple a sand stipple. It looks like sand once you’re done stitching. The smaller your major motif is, the smaller your stipple needs to be. My mental image for this one was the head of a silk pin.

Even though I’m stitching so very small I still try to “go around” my mental image. There are crossed lines in sand stipple. It’s impossible to avoid it. But I still try not to cross. I find the effort gives me the best even distribution of texture. 😉

Pro Tip: when stitching this small, be sure to shorten your stitch length and use a very fine thread. You want to see texture not gobs of thread.

Go to the quilt shop now! Get that practice fabric and have some fun.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Handi Quilter National Educator

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