Saturday 30 September 2017


Might not have mentioned it on the blog, but since I bought the new machine, I am attending a HQ Sweet 16 group in the city. The group consist of people with HQ Sweet 16 sit downs and longarm machines. Very informative group and certainly have been full of encouragement with my initial difficulties with the machine.
The group works on different techniques from month to month and is in general about sharing information about all things related to quilting on these machines. I attended in the middle of the shadow trapunto sessions that ran over two months. Initially I was not going to do it, but the peer pressure is a bit much, so I made a start
I am using bastiste for the shadow effect and puffy polyester batting for the trapunto. This does not look like much but was very work intensive...had to mark the motif, then stitch around it with water soluble thread, then spent a long time cutting the batting neatly away. Then came the layering of the reddish cotton fabric, another layer of cotton and the finally the backing.

I used a pink Aurifil 50/2wt thread to stitch the motif down and fill in the rest. I used this also as a practice piece for getting used to do some more detailed stitching with the Sweet 16. Funny...half way through the pebbles  I remembered that the machine came with an open toe foot...completely forgot about that, so put that on and stitched away. Much better visibility!

Had to stitch a grid, of course... then did all sorts of fillers

And here is the finished little piece. Quite pleased with it, turned out nice. Not sure that I will use this often (bit of a lazy quilter really) but good little exercise.

 Added a bit of contrast to the editing...this is probably the closest to what the colour looks like.

Now I need to get on to some piecing to complete a quilt top, so I have something to quilt on. Hassle!


Monday 25 September 2017

Handiquilter Ruler Of The Month Club - The Skinny Ruler

Picked up the next ruler - the 2x10" Skinny Ruler

If you are wondering what this Ruler of the Month Club is all about, head over to the Handiquilter site and have a look. They have a video for the rulers as they come out each month. Over here in Australia we are a bit behind as we started about a month later.

So, I tried the skinny ruler
Did not find it that easy to use as it is a bit longer than other rulers I tried and if you do not hold it correctly, i.e. move your grip as you go along, it will slip.

The grid gave me the biggest issue...for the life of me I cannot do a grid with a ruler! Kept getting the spacing wrong and for a 1/2in grid any sloppiness in alignment shows severely after a while. So in the end I drew it in and followed the lines with the ruler.
Diamond in a square was easy to do...might just have to get the spacing a bit better.
Enjoyed this one! Just lines spaced 1/4in apart. That was quite manageable and after a while I also managed to stitch along the seam with some consistency with the ruler to get to the next space. So yes, it was getting easier.
More lines and a bit of filling in. That was quite fun to do.

And in the end I did the Paradox on a scrap fabric piece, as I could not get it together on the quilt square as I could not turn the quilt all the time. Definitely more practice needed
What you think of my stitching? I think I am getting more used to the is all getting a bit easier.

Next ruler is one with lots of little circles...that is going to be interesting.


Friday 15 September 2017

Charity Quilt

Since buying the new machine I am attending a monthly HQ group in the city. Last time a lady attended from the Orange Tree Quilters, an affiliated group of the Quilter's Guild of South Australia who donate quilts to children in need in the community.
She brought a whole stack of quilt tops that needed quilting...perfect opportunity to just practice as I have no quilt tops at the moment, so I took a small log cabin quilt.
This is where the HQ Sweet 16 shines...after some joining of the batting and basting I finished this little quilt top in a day.
Given that the log cabins were made out of colourful scraps, I chose the 'Ikea 'design that adorned the little white fleece blanket that we once purchased at Ikea...a bit of a mix between meandering and quilting loops
This worked really well and my tension issues seem to have largely disappeared. I used a soft yellow Aurifil 50/2 on the top and a beige Aurifil 50/2 thread on the bottom for the centre of the quilt and a pink Aurifil thread for the pink border.
...and here is the back
This was really useful as practice... as you can imagine none of those fabric pieces were of the same quality and gave me a really good idea of how my tension was performing. Happy to report that I had no major issues with the tension. Still some adjustment issues in terms of how to place my quilt and how to move it around...still find it confusing that I don't have to scrunch it up as I have done for years, so some of my stitching is more clumsy than usual. 
The border was a bit of an adventure. I don't think that was 100% cotton and my tension was ever so slightly out, i.e. had little pokies here and there on top, but I just did not worry about that and just quilted a loop design in there to finish it off.
Looks great and does the job.

Was again surprised by the efficiency of the machine. Did the meander first, then quilted in-the-ditch with one of the rulers around the pink border, then basted the slightly uneven border in place and finished it off with the loop design. This took me about 5 - 6 hours and it was done. Impressed with that.

Will continue on my ruler quilt next as I will be getting the next monthly ruler from the HQ Ruler of the Month club this weekend.


Wednesday 13 September 2017

Handiquilter Ruler Club - The Slice Ruler

Practising ruler quilting on the Sweet 16

First ruler of the month - The Slice Ruler
My practice ruler quilt is made from charm squares so the finished square is 4 1/2in.

Perfect little ruler...lies well in your hand and is easy to flip around. Very handy for those 'easy' line designs which are just perfect for some quilts. The ruler gives you very precise and neat curves fitting neatly into the square. Still struggling with alignment somewhat but that is just a matter of practice.

Must say that I like the Handiquilter Rulers better than some other rulers. Maybe not on this one however on the other ruler I bought, the Versa Tool, the lines are very intuitive, i.e. just where you need them. Also like the Handigrip patches that you put on them...they are see through and feel a bit like sandpaper, gripping very well.


Monday 11 September 2017

Getting to know the Handiquilter Sweet 16

I have been largely absent from social media for the last month or so due to the new machine and trying to get used to it apart from being busy with work and life in general.

I should have called the worst nightmare or something similar. Have had the most frustrating time!

Initially everything was pretty peachy. The machine arrived and I was able to finish one of my quilts with relatively little hassle. I then tackled my ruler practice quilt as I am part of the Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club. First I stitched in the ditch using Invisafil on top...

...and Bottom Line 60 wt in the bobbin
That worked well except for my inexperience in ruler work, but overall not too bad. Then tried the new Slice Ruler

Noticed some irregularities, particularly on the curves and devoted some more time just practicing on sample sandwiches and this is where that ended up
I have had the worst time, actually starting to seriously doubt my abilities...the problem was 1) the tension adjustment 2) the tension going out on the curves and 3) the tension not remaining the same across different speeds and 4) the stitches appearing different from left to right than they did from right to left...

Close up of flatlining in the back on curves
Not sure how well you can see this...initially I thought it had to do with my speed but after a while I was not so sure any more. Similarly, the issue of left to right and back again
How bizarre is this...I spent days on this thinking that it had to do with something I was doing, checking and re-checking thread path, needles, tension until I literally lost the plot....definitely was not loving this!

I had resigned myself to taking the machine back to the shop to ask them to check it over before resigning myself to that I was not able to quilt on this. Last weekend then I felt particularly chilled and had another go...checking thread path again, checking needle position, feeding it and also cleaning the bobbin area again. However this time I used a cotton bud for some reason and swished it once around inside the bobbin casing...well, caught a fluff ball and was wondering where the heck this had come from (as I thought I had regularly cleaned the area). When thinking about it I realized that my cleaning left a lot to be desired as I would usually go with the brush around the bobbin case gathering all the fluff and then often go once around inside the bobbin casing, therefore probably inadvertently depositing fluff in there I reckon (Duh!!!)

Well, not really realizing the significance I started stitching, this time using a prewound bobbin just for the fun of annoying myself a bit further...stranger than strange, my stitching was alright, so I kept going with that for a while changing the top thread to an Aurifil spool

Went well without a hitch...I then played around more with different threads on top and bobbin and the irregularities had largely disappeared! To my surprise, I realized that I knew by now (after one month of intense trialing and at times ready to smash the machine) about where different bobbin threads should sit with their tension and only needed to fine tune this a bit. Could not believe it and am not sure whether I truly trust this, but we shall least we are moving forward.

Cautiously optimistic!


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