Friday 27 October 2017

Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club - the Swiss Cheese Ruler

Another month has gone by...

This month we were introduced to the Swiss Cheese Ruler
The ruler has three different sizes of circles, i.e. 1/4in, 3/4in and 1 1/4in.

This was a bit of fun playing around with this.
First tried just fitting the circles within lines...not that easy if you have trouble being exact in putting your lines down, but again, I think this is only practice. The circles are easy to do. If you look at the ruler you will notice the the Westalee rulers they insert a little piece to close that gap. With the HQ rulers that gap can be distracting as the foot sinks slightly into it and creates a bit of a notch. However, if you slow down a bit at that point and concentrate this is not much of an issue and even if you get a bit of a notch it is hardly noticeable.
I did try the 1/4in circles which are tiny, tiny...while they do create beautiful little pearls on a practice piece, I had problems fitting them nicely into my lined up 1/4in space. Personally  I think it is easier to do them freehand. The other two sizes are great though as you will not be able to keep it nice and straight if you were to do them freehand.
The square next to it has the orange peel design done with the 3/4in circle. For that I drew a grid in the square first and put my circles neatly into each square and then completed the overlapping circles. That worked really well and is a good way of doing this design at that size.
Next I did just lines with alternate circles, again at the 3/4in size. 
Really like this design...I used the straight edge of the Slice Ruler to give me a straight line and then just switched to the circles in between. I think I did draw a loose grid in the background first to keep my orientation straight.
And another one
Filled in some of the 1 1/4in circles as this is what they showed on the Handiquilter website. Thought initially that this was quite boring but actually looks really interesting. If you have them all lined up in a border and fill every alternative one, this could look quite good.

Overall really like this ruler as the circles are small enough to be used in blocks, sashings and borders in a variety of ways. While small I know from experience that no matter how careful you are to follow a drawn line, you will not achieve a tidy round circle freehand even at the 3/4in size. The 1/4in circle however is just a tad too small for me and unless I figure out how to align it precisely I probably prefer to do those little pebbles freehand.


Tuesday 24 October 2017


I upgraded my EQ7 to the new EQ8 program and have been looking around the new program a bit. It does look quite different but is very intuitive. This is important to me as I do not like reading manuals.

So I drew my favourite block...bit rusty on this so just used the easy draw facility and drew 'An Arrangement of Small Pieces' as a 9in block, then coloured it, saved a copy and went on to explore the export options. Same as before, you can copy to Windows clipboard or export as a Windows Metafile. I had issues with that in the last program, particularly when trying to use this as a piecing diagram where you draw individual units out of the block.

Happy to say, this worked very well (could just be that I finally figured out how to do this properly!)

So I exported the block using the Clipboard option, then opened my Serif Drawing program and pasted the block in there, then ungrouped the block, so I could pick the individual units up. As I copied this with outline and fill, I then had to click on the units, and grouped the fill and outline together before moving the piece. This allows you to create a nice little piecing diagram. As I am in my drawing program I could now have added text or arrows etc. to demonstrate the piecing of the block.

Looked at the Rotary Cutting Chart (rounding to 1/8in or 1/16in)
Here is a snapshot
...and also looked at the Foundation Piecing option which now comes out coloured (if you want)

All very interesting...lots of little changes. The navigation around the program will take me a while to get used to, but overall a much more user friendly experience.

Curious to see what else I find. There are a lot of new features to explore, like you can now take pictures of your fabric to use in your quilt...need to get on to that as I find it very useful to use the fabric that I am actually using when designing a quilt. This could be much easier than the scanning that I have done before.
Head over to the Electric Company website if you want to know more about this upgrade.


Saturday 14 October 2017

Useful resources

Had a book voucher that needed to be spent and got myself a very useful little book
The book is aptly titled 'FreemotionQuilting Idea Book' by Amanda Murphy and goes through a variety of commonly used blocks illustrating different quilting designs that one could use on them. I often struggle with blocks and what to do in them so I think this will be very useful.

Also treated myself to yet another Craftsy class 'Freemotion Motifs for Classic Blocks' with Natalie Bonner in one of their recent sales . In the class Natalie goes through quilting ideas for common shapes as well as borders, sashing and Applique and demonstrates the quilting on her longarm machine. I have started watching the class and already used some of her little designs in my ruler quilt.
Simple, but very effective designs which can be done on the domestic as well as longarm machines.

Can highly recommend this class if you are like me and stand in front of a pieced quilt with that absolute blank look.


Wednesday 11 October 2017

Progress Report on HQSweet 16

If you have been following my blog you might be aware of my initial struggles with the new machine. Happy to report that we have arrived at a place where we seem to be on the same wavelength. After having spent a month or so trying to figure out the tension issues I must say that I now got a pretty good sense of the tension, at least for the Aurifil thread that I use most.
I did buy a Towa tension guide at a recent quilt show though...not so much to figure out the tension but to have a definitive number that I can use. This is important when you want to continue quilting with half-empty bobbins. As the tension is set on a full bobbin I have found that a bit fiddly as the drop test is no longer that reliable. While you could go with setting the screw where you know the tension roundabout sits, I do like the Towa guide in that it gives me a number, so all I have to do is set the bobbin to that number (which I determined with a full bobbin). This makes this very quick. And of course, I like the security of numbers over you just get a feeling of where that tension should sit. Over time that will probably change in that you do get that sense/feeling on where your tension should sit, but for a 'newbie' this is a great help.

I have quilted a baby quilt and a charity quilt on the machine and have had no problems. The other day then I tackled a shadow trapunto piece, now moving forward to the more detailed quilting that I am used to.  Yes, definitely getting used to it...the sound of the little tension spring was initially irritating but over time I have realized that I need to listen to the motor instead...that gives me my rhythm. Speed is amazing on the machine, but for the time being I will continue with my snail pace as this is what I am used to. Enjoying the ruler work, even though I am not that good at it, but that was one of the reasons I got the extend myself so that I have that option of using different rulers in my quilting.

I am in the midst of a piecing marathon at the moment trying to complete several quilts at once as I have ne new quilt ops to quilt on...getting bored already! However, one is finished and ready to be basted
Made out of UFO blocks! Not sure what I will use it for, but I like it. Probably will try my rulers out on this one. My 1000Pyramids quilt top is painful...have done 5 rows and am starting to struggle.

Speaking of a Wave ruler at the recent show
Two lots of waves, ideal for feather borders.
Did a bit of doodling today ...felt a bit confident and used the Towa guide to try Superior Fantastico thread (40 wt). On the Superior website you can look up what the Towa number is when using different threads in the top coupled with a Deco Bob Prewound. That was very handy and worked really well for me after relatively little mucking around. Initially tried my Aurifil 50/2 in the bobbin, but the Prewound which is a Bottomline thread was the better choice. Was happy with my quilting...stitches looked fine and some of the wobbliness is gone and I feel that I am getting back to normal.
More ruler practice coming up shortly when I pick up the next ruler from the Handiquilter Ruler Of The Month club.

Overall, having fun


Wednesday 4 October 2017


I am out of quilt tops to quilt on...hence I am continuing on my 1000 Pyramid quilt. Wow, what was I thinking...there are so many points to match! Given my tendency for sloppiness in piecing this is going to be very painful.

Have done 2 rows so far, aiming for a King Single size. We shall see...

You would think that a scrappy quilt like this would make a bit of a dent in the stash, but I have to say I have hardly noticed the difference. What I did notice though was that I have an extraordinary amount of red fabric in the pyramids...just about every pyramid has some sort of red tone in there. Constructing the pyramids is good fun as you can chain piece along. Particularly love my new gadget...the Cutting Gizmo
Makes separating the chain pieced units very fast.

While I was doing this and looking at my stash in general (I really need to do something about this!), I found a stack of orphan blocks...I think they were from an EQ7 quilt along some years ago of which I dropped out after a few months. The blocks were very intricate and many were paper pieced. You would think that they were all nice and straight, but 'no' they were anything but straight...found some nice grey fabric to go with it (the fabric was from a Jelly Roll from Moda which I think was called 30s Playtime) and put some sashing around it, fudging a fair bit to get some straightness happening.
Love those blocks. This will not be exact and the piecing is somewhat wonky in parts but it will be great to practice some more intense ruler quilting on. I am planning to put a 4 in border around it in the grey fabric and also try out my new Waves ruler on that to put some feathers in. This should be fun.

Apart from that I have been searching the internet for a bit of an interesting pattern for Charm squares. I got a packet of Charm squares (Meadow Bloom by April Rosenthal) from the Fat Quarter shop last year to make into a baby they had a special going at the time I also got a packet of 2 1/2in squares of the same range to go with it, not thinking much about how to combine this...
Found some simple ideas on the Internet and after a lot of math was able to combine some ideas on the EQ 7 program and come up with a way to use both the 5in squares and the 2 1/2in squares. Nothing spectacular...just squares to keep it simple. Currently waiting for my order of an 4 1/2in finished Accuquilt die to cut out some additional fabric to go with it. Figured that I often use this size and while I could cut it, I do like the efficiency of the cutter. Takes no time to cut out a whole stack of squares and you are ready to go.

So, hopefully in a couple of weeks I will have 3 new quilt tops to play with.

I am dropping in to Esther's Quilt Blog  who hosts WIPs on Wednesday


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