quilting tips Archives - Handi Quilter

Thoughts on Batting

The top is finished and the backing has been pulled together. Now we’re ready for the best part, the quilting. But we have to have something in the middle to make it into a quilt. I have some thoughts on batting that I’d like to share. It’s the least appreciated part of the quilt. But it does most of the work of making a quilt either soft and warm and cuddly, or wall hanging worthy. So you have to choose wisely.

What is batting?

Batting is the material used between the top and backing layers of fabric in a quilt. This material provides dimension, texture and loft to your quilt as well as providing an insulting layer of warmth.

Batting can be made from many different fibers. The most popular among quilters are cotton, wool, silk, polyester, bamboo, and various blends.  You can find a nice description of the different fibers at the Connecting Threads website.

There are a lot of choices on the market and it may seem overwhelming, but it really boils down to two things: 1. how the quilt will be used and 2. your personal preferences. I’m going to share my preferences and give my reasons. You should experiment and decide on your own personal preferences with some of what you read here in mind.

How will this quilt be used?

We make all sorts of quilted items, wall hangings, art quilts, table runners, place mats, baby quilts, kid’s quilts, couch quilts, bed quilts, lap quilts, heirloom quilts, guest bed quilts,  don’t-you-dare-nap-on this-quilt quilts, picnic quilts, car quilts, dog bed quilts. I’m starting to feel like Forrest Gump’s friend, Bubba, listing the uses for shrimp, but I’m sure you’re getting the picture.

I divide up my projects into 2 categories:

1. Flat and stable

Wall Hanging

In this category I include any quilt that needs to remain flat and square, so that it hangs nicely, and will very seldom (if ever) get washed. This type of quilt requires a stable batting that will not sag if hung on the wall, that doesn’t stretch as much as some other batts, and that provides stability. My choices are cotton, or an 80/20 cotton/polyester blend.

There’s only one problem with those choices, they don’t usually have much loft. I’m a quilter and I want my quilting texture to show. For that you need loft.  Loft refers to the thickness or puffiness of batting. So to add that loft with out giving up stability, I add another layer, of wool or polyester, on top of my flat stable layer. It lets my quilting texture sing while the cotton layer against the backing keeps everything flat and square. Win-win!

Table runners and Place Mats

These are things that will get washed. And they need to lay flat so that you can place dishes and glasses and such on them and not have anything tip over. My choice for these is fusible fleece. I position the fusible side to the backing so that I can get a small degree of texture from the quilting on the top. After quilting and binding I give the item a good press (according to fleece package directions) to fuse the fleece to the backing. This batting also helps keep the item looking crisp and flat after washing.

2. Drape-able and cuddly

These quilts are ones that will get used for sleeping, watching TV, napping, building forts, making super hero capes, having picnics, swaddling babies. They get washed. Soft and cuddly is the name of the game.

Bed Quilts

I prefer natural fibers for sleeping. My favorite bed quilts are made with wool batting. They are lightweight, breathable, warm in the winter (especially with a cotton batted quilt on top), and cool in the summer (all by itself). Most all wool batts on the market today are pre-shrunk so they are machine washable on gentle in cool water and dry-able in a low drier. You will get a small amount of shrinkage to give that classic crinkled quilty look. The loft shows my quilting texture (a big plus!).

Kid’s Quilts

If the quilt is for a child, then I might opt for cotton or 80/20. Kid quilts get washed much more often than most grown-up quilts. I prefer a more stable batting to hold up to all the play and trips through the laundry. I want the outer fabrics to wear out before the batting does.

Winter Quilts

Did you notice earlier I said I put a cotton quilt over my wool quilt in the winter? A cotton batting has a heavier weight and although it’s breathable, it’s a little less so than wool. It provides a nice layer of insulation in the winter. Where I live it’s not always super cold all winter long, we have some weeks of milder temps between the freezes. So I keep my cotton batted quilt nearby for the really cold nights.

These have got to be the most boring photos ever. The beauty of batting is the job it does to make your quilts work the way you want them to.

 

Batting Tips

  • Always follow the directions on the package when it comes to care and also the density of quilting. The package will always tell you how close your quilting lines need to be to keep the batting from shifting and bunching in the wash. Follow the rules!
  • I like to buy batting on the bolt or by the yard rather than the packaged batts. It has less wrinkles and fold lines.
  • Speaking of wrinkles and folds, I like to load my quilts on my longarm frame the night before I plan to quilt. Then I can drape the batting over the poles and give it a light spritz with a water bottle. During the night the ironing fairies come and get all the wrinkles out and I’m ready to put the batting in and start quilting.
  • Batting stretches very easily, so treat it gently while you are quilting and be super careful not to stretch it.
  • Handi Quilter machines can easily stitch any commercial battings, so no worries about that. If you’re hand quilting, be sure to choose one that is easy to needle.

These are my thoughts on batting and are in no way comprehensive. The only way to learn your own preferences is to experiment and learn as much as you can by reading and talking with other quilters. Let us know what your favorites are and be sure to tell us why in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Target Practice

Diane has been busy quilting away on her HQ Capri. She shared a tip on her HQ Stitch blog about target practice.

There are many times when you need to know exactly where the needle of your sewing machine is going to enter the fabric. It’s true with a domestic machine like HQ Stitch and it’s true with a longarm quilting machine. These times call for target practice!

I love sewing machines and I own more than one. On the machines I know well, I’m confident that I can get a bullseye where that needle is concerned. But on a machine that I haven’t been using for long, target practice makes me a better “shooter” and I’m happier with the results of my sewing.

Diane goes on to show a nice method of target practice so that you get better at knowing where your needle will drop. You can read her entire post at the HQ Stitch blog. I want to share something that longarm machine quilters can use to know exactly where the needle will drop.

Target Practice no more

This is a necessary skill for longarm quilting! And there’s no need for target practice. We have a tool that we can use, the Pinpoint Needle Laser is standard on the Infinity, the Forte and the Amara. If you have an older machine, an Avante, a Fusion, a Sweet Sixteen, or an HQ Capri you can use this great tool too, because it’s available to be added to any machine.

 

The laser creates a pinpoint of light on the surface of the quilt telling you exactly where the needle will penetrate the fabric. Target bullseye!

The laser light is adjustable for precise alignment with the machine needle. Compatible with most longarm machines with USB ports at the front of the machine. If no port is available at the front of the machine, this accessory can also be installed on other longarm or domestic machines with the addition of a USB 2.0 wall charger and USB 2.0 Type-A male to female extender cable (not included).

Yes, you can even add it to a domestic machine! No more target anxiety and no need for target practice. Just get quilting and finish more quilts!

Handi Quilter has the best tools to finish the best quilts.

by Mary Beth Krapil

Get It Done

Last week we saw Diane’s Vintage Zigzag quilt and I made some suggestions about how she might quilt it. She made some choices and she is having a great time using her Capri to get it done.  Whenever you are repeating a motif in several places on a quilt it’s really nice to have them look similar. It’s almost impossible with free-motion quilting to make the motifs identical but some consistency is a good thing. So I like to use some tricks and some tools to help me get it done, the way I want it done.

vintage zigzag

One of the suggestions I made was a flower motif for alternate blocks.

For a design like this, I like the flowers to all be nearly the same size. I like for them all to have the same size center. If some have small centers with big petals and some have large centers with small petals, that can really draw the eye (not in a good way).

Get It Done

Here is what I do. I mark the size of my block on Golden Threads Quilting paper.

get it done

Notice, I place a piece of white paper under the Golden Threads paper. This helps me to see when I draw with pencil on my dark cutting board.

Next I draw my design, keeping my pencil down on the paper so that I create a continuous line without stops and starts. Try thinking as if you were quilting the design. Where would you start to be able to make it through the entire design without stopping? When creating a block design it’s best to fill as much of the block as you can. Use a pencil with an eraser so you can make adjustments as you go.

I know some of you may be thinking, “But Mary Beth, I can’t draw!”. No worries! Find a design you like in a book or magazine or trace a flower on your fabric. Golden Threads Paper is easy to see through for tracing. This quality also makes it possible to place your drawing on top of your quilt top to audition what the design will look like on the quilt.  You’ll know before you stitch!

Make it the right size

If you choose to trace a design, it might not be the right size for your block. Again, no worries! The Quilter’s Assistant Proportional Scale is my go-to tool for this task.

get it done

Measure your design. Line up the measurement of the design on the inner ring with the new size measurement (I usually use 1/2 inch smaller than my block) on the outside ring. The percentage of increase or reduction will appear in the window opening under the arrow. Resize on copy machine or scanner. Easy Peasy.

Once you have the print out of the right-sized design trace it on to your Golden Threads paper. When I am happy with the design I go over it with a bolder marker. I indicate the start point with a dot and the end point with a square.

During this process, I have drawn over this several times so I developed muscle memory for the design. It’s going to be easy for me to quilt! I need to mark this on each of the blocks on the quilt where I want to stitch it. A stencil of the design would be the perfect tool!

Making a stencil

I take my GT paper drawing to my machine. You can do this on your longarm or your domestic machine. My HQ Stitch 710 is perfect for this, I can drop the feed dogs and free motion quilt easily. I take the thread out of my needle and I stitch along my lines just like I would quilt it. This needle punches the paper.

Now I can take my needle-punched paper to my quilt top and mark the blocks for quilting. I use it just like I would use a stencil.

The chalk creates a nice line that I can follow while I quilt.

I don’t worry if I’m not stitching exactly on the lines, but each of my flowers will be just about the same size and very similar in appearance because I have my stenciled guide. Just what I needed to get it done!

 

 

 

 

Vintage Zigzag

Our friend, Diane Harris, has been busy finishing UFO’s during her time at home. Her most recent finish is this vintage zigzag quilt.

vintage zigzag

It’s from the Fons and Porter Love of Quilting magazine May/June 2007 issue.

Diane says, “I had all of the printed units with yellow bits made when it became a UFO. Why did I put it away when the bulk of the work was behind me? I made myself stick with it. I knew if I put it away again I would never EVER finish it. There was a lot of easing and pinning and even some swearing because of the miles and miles of bias edges, but I love the finished product and I even have an idea for quilting it. Wouldn’t it be fun to fill each of those green squares with a different quilting design? I must talk to my machine quilting coach Mary Beth Krapil, to see if she thinks that would work. Mary Beth is a Handi Quilter National Educator and a longarm whiz with years of experience in machine quilting, and I count on her to guide me.”

Quilting Ideas

The first thing I thought when I heard Diane’s quilting plan was, how many green squares is that, exactly? So I counted, and there are 33 squares. That’s a lot of designs to come up with and it totals 53 if you want to include the green triangles!  It makes me tired just thinking about it.

That could be because I’m quilting a Jacqueline de Jonge Dream Flight quilt for a friend and I am trying to do different designs in the “moons”.  I’m challenged to come up with lots of variety that will work to create good texture. I’m just getting started.

I also think different designs in all the green squares will just be too busy. But that is my aesthetic showing. I like symmetry and cohesiveness; I like to tie things together with repetition. Diane is a lot more free spirited  than I am when it comes to her quilts. On the other hand I don’t want to discourage her from doing all those designs because, what great practice that would be for someone new to longarm machine quilting! If you haven’t read previous posts, Diane just recently got a HQ Capri stationary longarm machine and is having a blast quilting up her UFO’s and learning about longarm quilting.

So, how about a compromise? Quilt the same design in every other block and in the alternate blocks quilt different designs. I think the same design in alternating blocks would unify the quilt but still give the opportunity for fun, creativity, and Practice.

Examples

This vintage zigzag is really neither feminine or masculine. But we can sway it with the quilting.
Something on the feminine side:
or something a little more geometric:
With the geometric choice you will get plenty of ruler work practice! And if you do the other blocks in curvy free form quilting it will add contrast, which adds interest.

Some things to keep in mind

  • When adding your varied designs try to keep the density of quilting as close as possible to the other blocks. This will help keep the quilt flat.
  • The busy colorful zigzags only need something simple because the quilting will not show as much. I’m thinking some free form squiggly lines. That will be quick to quilt and make up for all the time spent on the blocks.
  • If you want a place to practice feathers, these zigzags are ideal! They won’t show your bobbles much.
  • Decide how confident you are with what you quilt in the green squares. If you are feeling bold then go with a contrasting thread so that the quilting will really show! Perhaps feeling a little more timid? Choose a matching thread.
I can’t wait to see what you choose, Diane! Of course I will share the finish here so we can all admire Diane’s work on this vintage zigzag. Stay tuned! And follow Diane’s blog over on the HQ Stitch site.

Adventures in Learning to Longarm Quilt

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

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

Finished is Better than Perfect

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

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

Adventures in longarm Capri

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

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

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

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

Perfect for practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An example of consistency

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

adventures in longarm stipple

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Mary Beth Krapil and Diane Harris

 

 

Shop @ Home LIVE

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

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

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

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

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

There are chances to win a prize!

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

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

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

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

 

Machine Quilting 101

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

By Diane Harris, HQ Stitch Brand Ambassador

HQ Stitch Diane Harris Machine Quilting 101

and

Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

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

Machine quilting 101 Giddyup whole

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

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

Machine quilting 101 black horse

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

A Little Q & A

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

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

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

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

Machine quilting echo feet

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My problem is a failure to plan.

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

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

Note to self:

Failure to Plan = Planning to Fail

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

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

Onward!

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

 

Go to Top