By Diane Harris, HQ Stitch Brand Ambassador
I just finished quilting a throw of my own design on the HQ Capri stationary longarm and boy, did I learn a lot! This is Hugs and Kisses, designed, pieced and quilted by me! All it needs now is binding and a label. Let’s talk about some of the lessons and hiccups I had along the way.
1. Plan your route.
Where in the block will you start the quilting? How will you progress around or across the block? Here’s a video to show you what I mean.
2. Varied motifs are easier than matched motifs.
I decided to quilt finger-like shapes in the background, and for 3/4 of the way I made them in straight rows of similar size. But then it hit me.
They’d look more organic and be more forgiving if I varied them. Since I had self-billed this as a practice quilt, I switched midstream to the varied shapes and didn’t worry about it.
3. Give yourself targets.
When I got to the first border, I decided to quilt simple loops, like cursive lower-case L’s. It wasn’t going well.
But I realized that I could mark a target for where each loop should peak. I don’t enjoy marking and I avoid it when I can. But this was fast and easy, and it made a big difference.
I used an acrylic ruler and marked every 5/8″ with a wash-out blue pen.
Those little marks made quite a difference.
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?
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.
5. Use a similar color in the bobbin as on the top.
I knew this already, but I had dark hot pink and dark blue in mind for the thread over most of the quilt. The backing is very light blue, and I didn’t want those colors against light blue. When you’re a novice, starkly contrasting thread is not your friend.
So I made peace with the idea that my bobbin thread would occasionally show (see those white bumps where I changed directions?) but it was a trade-off I was willing to make.
6. Your bobbles won’t show to the average viewer.
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.
Even quilters will applaud you.
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.
I enjoyed making this quilt from my stash and my scraps. I loved every minute of machine quilting on the HQ Capri. And I’m going to love snuggling up under it this winter!