quilting life Archives - Handi Quilter

Deep Clean

I was playing with my new Handi Felting Foot recently and decided I needed to do a deep clean before I go back to regular quilting. Haven’t heard of the Felting Foot? You can see it here.

A deep clean is something you should do every so often. Not like the normal maintenance of clearing out lint from the bobbin area and a drop of oil that you do each time you put in a new bobbin. I’m talking deep clean, like actually move the furniture when you vacuum kind of deep clean. Depending on how much you quilt, you might want to do this about once a month. Or if, like in my case, you were working with particularly linty materials.

Remove the throat plate

Warning: if you have an Infinity you might not want to remove the throat plate. There are some parts attached to the bottom of the Infinity’s throat plate. Consult the manual.

You will need a short, flat-head screw driver to remove the two screws holding the throat plate. You probably have one of these that you use with your domestic machine.

The little pink one is magnetic which is a plus because the screws will stick to it.

I like to start by removing the needle and the foot. You will need your small hex tool that came with your machine to do that. Then I remove the throat plate. Mine has extra holes meant for the Felting foot.

Put those little screws in a safe place!

Use your small brush to clean the exposed area. Also, turn over your throat plate and you’ll likely find some lint stuck to the bottom.

Here’s a tip: Plastic mascara wands work great to get into tight places. You can usually get a whole package of them for $1 at the dollar store.

If you have an Amara or Forte or Simply Sixteen or Moxie you may use canned air. Just remember: 1. Do NOT shake the can, 2. keep the can upright, and 3. use short, quick bursts of air.

Once it’s all clean and shiny under there, replace the throat plate, the needle and the foot. Place a drop of oil on the bobbin race and you’ll be ready for the bobbin case. But before you put that back in you’ll want to

clean under the bobbin tension spring

Small goobers of lint can accumulate under the tension spring on your bobbin case and cause all sorts of havoc with your tension if they get into the wrong place.

My favorite tool for this little job is the corner of a business card.  The tension spring is the flat metal piece on the outside of your bobbin case.

Start by putting the corner of the card under the tension spring close to the screw you turn to adjust tension.

Then slide the corner of the card under the spring to the other end. You might get a tiny little lump of lint out. You can do this motion a couple of times.

I don’t like to use a pin for this procedure. You will risk getting a minute scratch under the spring which could over time develop into a burr that will shred your thread.

If there’s lint on the inside of your bobbin case use your brush or canned air to clean it out.

That’s all there is to it! You are now ready to finish that next quilt. A clean machine is a happy machine. And a happy machine makes for a happy quilter.

by Mary Beth Krapil, the happy quilter 🙂

 

 

Handi Felting Foot Kit

I’ve been having a blast creating new fabrics and projects using my felting foot on my Amara. The Handi Felting Foot Kit transforms your HQ longarm into a felting machine with infinite possibilities! It creates new fun you can have with your Handi Quilter machine. I must give you the Sewing Surgeon General’s warning: felting is addictive.

Handi Felting Foot

 

What is Felting?

The Handi Felting Foot Kit puts a modern twist on an old way of creating embellished fabric by meshing fibers together so they interlock and become one. The kit includes a needle body that holds 5 barbed needles that will punch the fibers and mesh them together and a special foot that will protect your fingers and hold the fibers in place as you work.

Select your fibers

Needle felted cloth is fun, easy and quick to create. All that is need is a base fiber and bits of other fibers to add to the base. The fibers can be anything that can be penetrated by a needle: silk, yarn, wool or silk roving, tulle, cheese cloth, ribbons, fleece, lace, felt, burlap, sheers batting. Some fibers work better than others for this technique; experimentation is key. At least one of the 2 fibers you wish to combine needs to be fibrous, like felt or wool. Trying to felt 2 layers of a smooth finish fiber like quilting cotton or 2 layers of sheers doesn’t work well. You must play with your yummy fibers and textiles and see what you get!

Machine Prep

Once you have your assortment of fibers, refer to the Handi Felting Foot Instruction Manual to get the needles and foot attached to your machine. You can also watch the video to see how to get set up.

If you quilt on a movable machine it is helpful to attach your ruler base to provide a flat surface for laying out your fibers.
Remove the bobbin case from the machine and set it aside. Felting creates huge quantities of lint.

Be sure to clean the bobbin area frequently while felting and when finished clean thoroughly and oil the bobbin race before starting a quilting project.

 

 

 

 

 

Machine Settings

Set the machine to manual mode. Go slow when first starting until you have a feel for how it goes. I like the machine speed to be about 500 SPM. This allows me to move at a nice moderate pace. You want to keep moving, staying in one place too long can create a hole or can push all the fibers to the back of the piece. Different fibers require different amounts of felting to meld the fibers together.
Set your needle to stop in the up position so that you can move away and add more fibers without having to raise the needles.

Mounting the base fabric

If you needle felt with a movable machine, (Amara, Forte, Simply Sixteen, Avante, Fusion), you can mount your base fabric by attaching it to the leaders. If the piece is not large enough, simply baste some muslin or scrap fabric to the edges and attach that fabric to the leaders. Mounting to the leaders is not necessary however, you can always use channel locks to keep your machine stationary and use the ruler base to give a surface to support the fabric. That allows you to move your fabric under the needles just like you would do on a stationary machine. It works well for  smaller pieces. If you needle felt on your Sweet Sixteen or Capri, you are ready to go.

Getting started felting

Start simple with two layers of craft felt. Use one piece for the base and cut out a simple shape from another piece. Lay the shape where you’d like it on the base fabric. Move the machine over the shape and start by lightly going over the entire shape to tack it down starting in the center and moving out to the edges. Once tacked in place go back and felt securely. You will quickly see how fast or slow you need to move to get the desired results.

Next try some yarn. Use caution so as to not get your fingers near the needles. Needle felting is a very organic technique so don’t be too worried about being exact. Try felting the yarn as it comes from the skein and also try separating the fibers.

 

Now you’re hooked

Add as much or as little you’d like. Once you take it off the frame you can trim it and add a piece of felt or cotton batting to the back, running a line of stitches down the center. Fold over on the stitch line and you’ve got a fancy little needle book to use for those hand stitching projects.

Felting: You’ve got this

Learning to needle felt is an easy transition from free motion quilting. Since you are already a longarm quilter, you already have the feel for free-motion quilting and needle felting is very much the same motion. You might not be accustomed to running your machine in manual mode. Since there are no “stitches” to show and no thread, it doesn’t matter and the smooth sound of the machine at a constant speed helps you to move smoothly. One thing you want to remember is to have the machine set at a faster speed and you should move the fabric (or the machine) at a slower rate. This will help prevent breaking needles. Also remember to have the needle stop set for UP. Learn more by watching the HQ Watch and Learn show about the Felting foot.

What will you felt first?

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

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Longarm Quilting

It’s been a while since we checked in on Diane Harris and her adventures in longarm quilting on her HQ Capri. She’s getting nice and comfortable using her Capri now. With that relaxation about the mechanics, comes an opportunity to notice finer nuances about her quilting that give her ideas to make the task easier and faster, or fine tune her technique to make her designs sharper.

Let’s take a look at her recent blog post, Hugs and Kisses: What I Learned.  (Kinda sounds like a dating advice blog? Haha! Just kidding! It’s about quilting, I promise.)

Her lessons:

1. Plan your route

So important! When free motion quilting we want to have as few stops and starts as possible. Not only will it save time, it also saves having to secure your thread tails. Be sure to go over to Diane’s blog and watch her video, it’s an excellent demonstration of how planning can help. Really, go watch it, click here. I’ll wait here.

She came up with a brilliant way to move through the block with her design. I have one tip. When she fills most of the block and she gets here:

She continues on to fill the bottom right corner, the way she did the two top corners, and then goes back to finish in the center, as she had been doing. If she had filled the bottom right of the blue 4 patch in the center, then did her two circles and then the bottom right corner, she would have finished at the outside corner, where she could move on to the next block.

Tip: Think globally

Think about how to travel through the block. But also think about how to travel from block to block continuously, as well.

2. Varied motifs are easier than matched motifs

Absolutely! If you choose a motif that has a regular repeat and uniform size, such as the finger like shapes Diane chose, you need to be confident about quilting them all the same.

A viewer’s eye can easily pick out the finger that’s not the same width or the same height as all the others. But if you vary them in some way, it’s much more forgiving and many times more interesting.

I’m a lover of symmetry though, so I practice a motif that needs to be uniform until I get really good at it. If you are too, it’s worth the effort. Often times you need a place for the eyes to rest and symmetrical designs, like cross hatch for example, create that place of rest.

Tip: Varied motifs fool the eye, but symmetry relaxes the eye.

3. Give yourself targets

Diane chose to quilt loops in her border. Great choice! It’s a classic design element and is fairly easy to quilt. Until you realize, that it is one of those designs that look best when they are uniform. That brings in a degree of difficulty. Diane came up with a shrewd way to help her make them more uniform. She gave herself targets, small tick marks made using a ruler for spacing.

              

When I want evenly spaced, even sized design elements I use line or grid stencils. They are available from many companies and in many sizes and configurations, even circles. Some have angle lines to help align diagonal designs. I use my pounce pad or water soluble markers to mark my quilts. Always test whatever product you choose to make sure it will come out when you want it to. Diane could have saved time and increased accuracy by using a line stencil. One swipe of the pounce pad and you’re done! For loops like Diane was quilting it not only helps with spacing, it also helps you keep the loops standing up nice and straight. (Although Diane did a great job of that all on her own.)

Tip: Use the tools you have available to make the job easier.

Bonus tip: Buy the tools you need to make the job easier.

Diane’s well on her way to becoming the quilter she wants to be! It just all takes time. Remember to give yourself the time to play and learn. Diane has been doing that and it has paid off. Be easy on yourself with your beginnings and know that in time you will get to where you want to be.

Tip: Practice, practice, play

Ha! you thought that 3rd word would be practice didn’t you? Quilting is something we love to do. If it wasn’t you would not be reading this. So our practice time is really play. Have your own adventures in longarm quilting. Diane has really enjoyed her practice time. She has been quilting actual quilts and has been very lenient with herself. She only pulled out the seam ripper a few times. Diane says,

“Unless you’re entering your quilt in a judged show, those who view it will not criticize it and will likely think it’s beautiful. Out in the wide, wide world, there aren’t many people who can make a quilt, so others will admire the colors, the shapes and the sheer skill it took you to create such a wonder. ”

And I agree 100%.

We will continue to follow Diane’s adventures in longarm quilting. There were a couple lessons in Diane’s post I didn’t speak to yet. Stay tuned.

 

 

And I Quilt Personality, Dorien Keusseyan

This week we hear from And I Quilt personality, Dorien Keusseyan. Dorien is a hockey player, a mom, and she quilts. Before COVID, Dorien led an active, busy life as an athlete and mother, but always found time for quilting.

A pandemic has a way of changing what everyday life looks like. But it didn’t change Dorian’s love of quilting and giving. She dug deep into her favorite endeavor to find a place of peace. And she found a way to comfort a friend along the way. Here’s her story:

 

My COVID escape

Quilting keeps me going, especially in these most recent times of uncertainty. My hours used to be filled with a part-time job and sports, both playing and watching. When COVID-19 hit, and hit hard, it turned so many people’s worlds around, including mine. These freed-up hours left me with less of an identity in a way, too, and with no real good news on the news, unrest started to overtake me. I needed an escape. My Handi Quilter Amara did just this for me.

Dorian Kuesseyan and her Amara

Making masks

It was during those first few months that I, like so many of us with the gift of sewing talent, turned to my machines for mask-making. Making masks for friends, family, and donation kept my mind busy and made me feel like I was making a difference. I did make a difference. We all made a difference, a very important difference. I am thankful for keeping my family safe and share that with others.

Quilting

Once I made a few hundred masks, I turned to my quilting, a more artistic outlet. I have always been a better person when busy, so that’s what I did, I kept busy with Ms. Amara. Since the COVID shut down I pieced and gave away 9 quilts, most of them queen sized! Imagine, my husband thought I’d never use all the fabric I had. I continue to sew and quilt several hours each day. I also quilted many benefit quilts for my guild. I try to do ten each month.

I managed to quilt for hire a bunch of tops for some folks near me too. Quilting and spreading love and happiness puts me in my happy place. Buying my Handi Quilter was perhaps one of the best and most fulfilling things I have ever done. Not only is my studio my favorite place in the house, it makes me feel complete. I am part of a community, the Handi Quilter community, and feel like we are all family.

Focus

Quilting demands attention to detail and focus, which clears my head. This escape is amazing. I love creating and showing off the finished product, social media is a great forum for this. Cruising social media groups is also a great place for collecting ideas for projects. Often when I am stumped for an idea for a place to start with a top, I turn to the internet.

Bringing the community together

One of those nine quilts that I made during the early part of COVID really brought my community together when we needed it most. The school nurse at Arlington High School, Sarah Lee Bolt, who is a friend and neighbor, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I happened to be at the gym, where I worked as a personal trainer, with another friend and neighbor who informed me of this. This client at the gym mentioned to me that the signup genie was all full, so I thought, there’s gotta be something I can do for her, as she has done so much for our community and my sons in particular. I’m betting you can guess what I did? Yup, made a quilt.

It was a community effort though! I ironed muslin onto freezer paper. Thankfully, I had it on hand since all the shops were closed. And started an email and texting effort to get other friends and neighbors of hers to write inspiration and healing messages on these squares with fabric markers. I planned to put them together into a quilt.

A parade!

After a few weeks and lots of coordination, I had 48 blocks! I can’t tell you how many people who got the bag with the blocks were in tears after reading the finished blocks. It still brings goose pimples to me just typing this. Once complete, we neighbors organized a car parade that actually made the local news!

This quilt was incredibly uplifting for her and got me thru that first month, when I wasn’t sure how long things were going to be like they are – this new normal. My new normal includes escaping with everything quilting!

Thanks, Dorien! I think so many of us quilters can relate to your story. Keep on quilting, it’s a life safer!

 

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