Sunday, 8 July 2018


I made a start on my 1000 Pyramid quilt...

Once I basted this thing, I went over it with the basting stitch of the HQ Sweet 16 in a broad meander pattern.
You can see how I stuffed the whole quilt to the left of the machine...not rolled up, just bunched together in a big bundle. Once that was done, I went around the edges with the Versa Tool, still using the basting stitch
That is one thing I have used from the beginning with this machine, saving me heaps of time in terms of going around the edges of a quilt and I am used to doing this with the Versa Tool (has these little notches which I line up so that it stitches about 1/8in from the edge).

Then came the Baptist Fans...could not resist trying this, although I was still not convinced that this would work
Starting off...
...and having 2 rows done
Hard to see, even though I am using a 40/2 wt Aurifil thread. The scrappiness of the quilt just soaks it up. This is a good thing as consistency is a bit lacking, however overall it looks really good. I am making the fans slightly bigger, i.e. 5.75in instead of 5.5in (my largest ring gives me an 11in circle) so that the fans do not land on the seams. This is where the HQ Echo foot became really handy
This is the 1/2in Echo Foot. Looks a bit intimidating, but I must say I almost find it easier to stitch with this. Have not once trailed off and find it easy to work with. Took me a while to work out a workable process for quilting the fans, i.e.
- placed the quilt in a bundle to the left and then moved the bundle under the machine to the right onto the next table as I went along
- had a chair next to me with all the rulers and bitses, as the quilt kept pushing things off the table
- did temporary marks on the quilt of 5.75in width and height so that I would roughly stay on track

Overall, a half ring set would probably be better in terms of holding and aligning the rulers, however I am obviously not going to buy yet another ruler set just for this. I bought the circle set specifically to do circles of various diameters and this set is particularly handy as you can ride on the inside for some of the sizes. 

We will see how this progresses. For now, all is well...will be very interesting to see how I am going to manage this as I am getting more to the middle.


Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Taming The Beast

I finally knuckled down and attacked the basting of my 1000 Pyramids quilt. Was unsure exactly how I would do this, i.e. whether to spray baste or to pin paste. This quilt turned out a bit big, approx. 66in x 87in! I have done spray basting before and like it but have little room to do it and also was not a friend of the mess that it created around the basted piece (i.e. had to wash the floor twice as all that sticky stuff was spread out all over the place as I got it on my socks).

Anyway, decided against the spray basting as I am also not sure how I will quilt this and thought that it would be good to get a sense of how heavy and unruly this quilt was going to be.

So I followed my trusted 'crawling around the floor' method (yep, paid for that the next day with a very sore back).
Lucky, I was by myself as there was no space left to walk around anywhere. I pin basted it very tightly as I did not want to risk any shifting or distortion as I am not going to stitch-in-the-ditch (that much I know).
I then took it to the HQ Sweet 16 and had some fun using the inbuild basting stitch (at 1/2 sec) and noodled around the pins, taking about half of them out as I went along. This went surprisingly fast and secured the quilt even more. The handling was not as bad as I thought it would be as I do have a fair amount of space around me, i.e. one extension to the left and on the right I have my cutting table, so it was just a matter of laying it out properly.

Still don't know exactly what to tempted to try to do the Baptist fan with the rulers...would look lovely on that but just not sure whether this would become too difficult given it's size.


Saturday, 30 June 2018

My HQ Sweet 16 Journey

Its time to write about my experience with the HQ Sweet 16. I bought the machine about a year ago. I had been looking at the machine for some years however was not sure whether I actually really needed it. I was by that stage proficient in my FMQ and was quite content with how things were travelling. However, doing mainly Wholecloth quilts I felt some kind of boredom as I was essentially doing the same thing over and over again. I then quilted this beast

 All was well until I realised that my marking of my framework was out by sometimes as much as 1/4in and more and I realised that I needed to use a ruler to set the framework down in order to straighten this up. The first problem was that I did not actually have a large ruler that would allow me to do this and I ended up using a normal quilting ruler to stitch my frame around the motif. This was hellish, to say the least...not because of the quilting ruler, but because I could not see behind the foot of the machine. I spent a good 10 min to align the ruler each time I wanted to stitch, making sure it would not slip and then stitched in absolute snail pace against the ruler. I think it took about four attempts to get that first frame around the motif and that definitely got me thinking that I had reached the limit of my Pfaff machine. I did use a smaller ruler to quilt the Orange Peel design in one of the borders and thoroughly enjoyed looking at the stitches I thought then that it looked so much more refined then if I had drawn the design in and then stitched it freehand. Well, this got me thinking about the Sweet 16 (again!)...then doing some more research on the machine I also was somewhat horrified how much they had gone up in price over here and I decided...its now or never! I had to decide whether this is something I wanted or not. If I waited any longer I would just have to pay more and more and with the Quilt Show coming up there would be a Special on offer on the machine.
So the journey began...I decided to buy the machine.
I had watched all of the instructional videos, had read other quilters' introduction to the machine and started initial reaction was one of utter confusion. The machine was very different to what I was used to and I also realised how much I had sat in my comfort zone. The machine had a different noise, rhythm and speed and the different set up, i.e. the larger room around the machine was utterly confusing. I would take a quilt and scrunch it up to quilt and the quilt would just unroll itself in front of my eyes and lie flat. While this was a good thing, this completely threw me!
Initially I had only minor issues in setting the tension on the machine. I successfully quilted 2 baby quilts with Aurifil 40/2 at some speed. All went well and I managed to quilt a nice meander all over, noting that this was incredibly fast, possibly because I hardly needed to shift and re-arrange the quilt.
At the same time I started the Handiquilter Ruler of the Month club with our local HQ group
Stitching more deliberate and slowly and now using my familiar Aurifil 50/2 in both bobbin and top, tension issues started to appear. In addition, I found that starting off gave me issues as I could not reach the hand wheel to position the needle where I wanted it to go. The more I tried with the tension the more difficult it became...also realised that I had only ever FMQ with Aurifil 50/2. As I had received a gift pack of thread with my purchase I started to experiment with all sorts of thread combinations, fiddled with tension and got incredibly frustrated in the process (see post where I was just about to loose the plot). It felt as if I was starting all over again.
I watched untold videos re tension issues, went on forums, web sites etc to find the answers...
It was my worst nightmare which continued for several months. In addition, I could not manage the speed, i.e. how slowly did I quilt before ? The fastest I could do on the Sweet 16 was 10% and as time went by I seriously started to doubt my purchase and started to hate my FMQ. I became increasingly annoyed with hearing 'you will get the feel for it' or you 'feel' when the tension is right. I was definitely not getting the feeling and definitely not loving it. At that stage it would have been 3 - 4 months into my purchase and I was starting to wonder whether I needed to sell the machine!

So, what helped me in this?
- Jamie Wallen's comment in one of his videos re sticking with one thread initially (at least for 6 months) and how to clean your machine properly (very important!)
- decided to follow my intuition and sense what I thought right tension feels like; the only advice I can give re this is that my tension works when I test the bobbin in my palm and set it so that the bobbin lifts up in your palm but will not leave your palm, however just about wants to leave your palm...just at that point; also got a Towa guide to note down the number which I now use as a bit of a starting point to set my bobbin; I am still stitching with Aurifil 50/2 in top and bobbin, however also have successfully stitched with 60 wt Bottomline in the bobbin and tried the Decobobs 80wt prewounds (really like them); each of those needs a different bobbin setting and I am managing this without any major dramas.
- I continue to stitch rather slowly and decided not to focus on that, i.e. one issue at a time
- I don't blame the machine every time something does not work; as I found out the hard way there are a number of factors at play like batting, thread, bobbin winder...

Since then there has been a definite change in my attitude to the machine and towards the end of last year I started to really enjoying quilting on it. The tension adjustments seemed so much easier; the speed, sound and rhythm started to feel more familiar and I could really appreciate the potential that this machine has:
- ruler work - love ruler work and all that it brings to my quilting; not great at it yet, but getting better all the time
- pantographs - have stitched out a pantograph design on a small baby quilt; while time consuming this got me very excited as I was getting really bored with my overall designs; also managed to stitch out a Baptist fan design on a smaller quilt recently - something I have wanted to do for a very long time
- larger scale designs - all I have to do is to crank up the speed and I will naturally make wider movements
- definitely faster process as I use the machine to baste the quilt (and stitch down the edges) and also have continued to use rulers to stitch-in-the-ditch (I use Invisafil for this which strangely enough has worked for me since I got the machine).

So, I am feeling that I am back to 'normal' with my quilting however if you look at it, this has taken me a good 9 months to get there. This is in contrast to some quilters who get these machines and are just loving it and do not seem to have any issues from the word 'go'. I tend to think that I was too stuck in my comfort zone with my DSM which made it difficult to accept any changes...who knows! Still have a lot of work to do...I got a whole box full of thread from Superior Threads that I have never used before, but at least now I do not feel so intimidated by that.


Thursday, 28 June 2018

Absolutely love Ruler Work

I have been working away on the challenge of our local HQ group run by Heather Hopkins.
Absolutely love the ruler work! Getting better at it, bit by bit. For this piece we have so far used the HQ Skinny Ruler, some curved rulers and are currently using the Line Grid Ruler for the corner treatment (not shown).
For the arcs I used the circle ruler set combined with the Echo feet set for the Sweet 16 to get the right size. Bit of an adventure but I managed this in the end. The echo feet set for the machine is amazing, basically 3 feet with different echoes attached...3/8in, 1/2in and 3/4in. This makes is possible to customise your rulers to the size that you need. In my case, I used the 9in circle and attached the 1/2in echo foot to quilt out a 10in half circle. Very useful indeed.

Then I used another arc to create a bit of a swag. For this I used the Pro Echo 12in arc
As you can see I am starting to amass a bit of a collection of rulers to choose from. I did participate in the first Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club that was run by Handiquilter through our local group. This just coincided with my purchase of the machine and I thought this was an easy way to get introduced to quilting with rulers on the machine...6 rulers in 6 months. They then ran a second ruler club and I did exercise some major restraint and did not sign up as I did not want to 'start collecting' rulers. Haha...have just signed up for the third Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club though! There are some very interesting shapes in there that could be useful (it has a 1/4in Line Grid ruler in there!). Reality is I am just addicted to the ruler work...also saw the other day that Angela Walters has brought out another set of her own rulers. Very enticing indeed, hers are particularly useful for quilting on the DSM, I think. In fact, if you look around on the net there is a ruler for just about any shape and given that they are not cheap you really have to have a bit of a think about how often and for what you are going to use least that is what I am trying to do.
I might stitch together another Charm Square quilt for the next ruler club, so that I can practice the new shapes that are coming.

Apart from this I am trying to piece together the backing for my 1000Pyramid quilt. I am so spatially challenged...this always takes me an extraordinary time to figure out how to put this together. There is a free class on Craftsy run by Elizabeth Hartman called Creative Quilt Backs that was quite handy to watch for this exercise...she makes it sound so easy.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Rookie Mistake!

I was working away on my little Baptist Fan quilt, when I decided to give it a bit of a spray with water to get rid of the blue water erasable lines that I had in there.

Disaster! Forgot that I did not wash this panel beforehand. Cannot believe it, as I am a quilter who definitely always pre-washes her fabric. Well, not this time obviously...when I went to pick it up from the washing line, the colours had run to the back

These are photos of some of the minor runs...had all sorts of colours come through to the back, particularly red and blue blotches. And this was just from spraying it with some water!

Had to quickly finish this quilt. I do know from experience (!) that you have to deal with colour runs pretty swiftly to have any chance of getting rid of them. Finished this little quilt with a simple black binding.
The front also showed some signs of colour run, particularly around the reds.

So the other day I went to the shop and bought some colour run remover. Was not looking forward to this as the fabric obviously bled a lot just spraying it and I thought that I might spoil the quilt altogether. However, had to be done...happy to say that this worked very well. Even the remover had improved...smelled actually quite nice and did not seem as harsh as when I had to resort to using it some years ago.

Now for the is winter here, so drying is a bit of an issue, particularly this week as it was supposed to be raining for most of the week. This is were our little washing stand comes handy...chasing the sun!
Disaster averted!


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Baptist Fan Design

So I finished my 1000 Pyramid Quilt. In thinking about how to quilt this and working on my challenge piece for the local Handiquilter group using the circle rulers, I started to wonder whether I could try a Baptist fan for an overall design.

I bought the Handiquilter Circle Ruler set (Gold Set) for Christmas as a bit of a present to myself. Since then I have played a little bit with it and have done a few select circles, however have not had a chance to give it a really good workout.

There are 5 individual circle rings which gives you a variety of sizes to complete circles with both on the outside of the ring as well as the inside of the ring. The circles start at 2in and go right up to 11in. As I had only used a few of them to start with (and mainly the easier inside circles)  the first task was to put more Handigrips on them because just 2 on each ring was just not enough, particularly for the bigger circles.

I had a try out on a piece of calico
Baptist fan 5 1/2in
Yep, that was it, loved it and was hooked, however not convinced that I could actually do this over a quilt because obviously I had some shifting and mis-alignments. I did not really have a quilt top ready apart from the huge Pyramid quilt that I could use for practice and I definitely did not feel like trialling it on yet another practice sandwich. I remembered that I had a very old panel from a good 10 years ago - bought this to cut out the blocks and do something really amazing with, however this never happened! Dug up the panel, quickly pinned and basted it and used this for further practice.
This was really good fun to do. Initially I had difficulties holding the ruler, i.e. not sure exactly how to align it properly and where to touch it to hold it in place. I had seen a YouTube video by Lisa Calle where she was using full circles to do the Baptist fan design...this seemed somewhat easier. However as these were circles, I did think that it was just a matter of paying attention to the lines on the ruler and making a note of the different points of alignment (and of course, then not moving the ruler which at times proved difficult). Did the first row of fans without any hassle, however then in the second row got very disoriented with the different colours and blocks I was going over. Realised that I needed to mark in lines indicating the width and height of the fans, in fact needed a 90 degree angle at each starting point! This was really quite marking became fairly sloppy and not entirely correct and some of the fans were not the same width or height, however looking at it after each row, you did not notice this at all. The overall design is incredibly forgiving and unless you are obsessed with consistency and examine it with a ruler it really did not feature at all. All the eyes see is the overall pattern and if the distance between the lines is approximately right it continues to look great.
How good does this look! I am so impressed with this. Always have loved this design, particularly for colourful, scrappy type quilts where you just want the texture over the quilt.
The panel is about  a lap size quilt and did give me a fairly good idea how a small quilt would need to be handled, i.e. I had to be able to quilt away from myself as well as towards me as well as quilting from side to side. As you are doing many of them, I fairly quickly got the hang of it and must say, I did enjoy the slow, deliberate action of changing size by size...not quick, but almost therapeutic and on a small quilt entirely achievable.

So this would definitely work well for a small baby quilt. Am debating a bit with myself at the moment whether I could pull this off over a large quilt...would love to see this on the 1000 Pyramid quilt, but a bit unsure at the moment.

Apart from this, I am working on a challenge quilt using different rulers for the local Handiquilter group and also currently working on the Pink Project initiated by Helen Godden over FB, but more on that another time.


Wednesday, 23 May 2018


Labels are important however like many other quilters I only really make a label when I put one of my quilts into the local Quilt Show.

Part of the reason is that they can be a bit work the past few years I have been printing my labels which has meant that I only do labels every now and then as I need to wait in order to print out several labels at once as I am using an A4 sheet of printable fabric sheets. One of my pet hates has been that the label fabric is quite hard and sewing it in place is anything but enjoyable. Then I came across a tutorial the other day where they attach a border around the printed label (why didn't I think of this?). That made a lot of sense to me so I did do that for my last label and discovered some use for the pressed binding fabric.
Given that I usually have difficulties pressing the seam allowance over on my label, the binding leftovers seemed perfect...already pressed, so I only had to cut them to size (I left about 1/2in to fold over and also shortened the width of my border to about 1/2in) and attach.
And here is my label ready to be sewn on. With the pressed edges, this was very easy and came out dead straight with very tidy edges.