Creative Bee Studios

Sweet Ideas for Creative Minds - #usebothsides

Category: Long-Arm Quilting

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking…

Quick tip for dealing with too much quilt top fabric:

Riddle me this:

When does a quilter have too much fabric?

(**see answer below)

Dream Pillow Trapunto


Use your fingertips to walk the fabric smooth when basting a wavy top for quilting.

Each time I load a quilt onto my Handiquilter Avante frame, I take specific steps to assure the quilt is square. With every advance of the quilt, I continue to watch carefully to make sure that the quilt ends up as square as possible.

The one thing I’ve learned from my own quilts and observed in customers’ quilts, that I can measure, cut, and sew as carefully as possible and still, sometimes, there will be an abundance of quilt top fabric for the space it is to occupy (to keep it a squared quilt) . It can be a challenge to baste wavy edges. Over time and many quilts, I developed a trick to make easy work of easing in that extra fabric when basting the edges:

*Start closest to you and stitch away from you (towards the top of the quilt).

*While one hand is moving the machine up the edge of your quilt top, use your pointer and index fingers of the other hand to gently “walk” behind the foot, following it up the side of the       quilt top. As your fingers “walk”, use your fingertips or nails to gently tug the fabric back towards you.

*If the amount of extra fabric is excessive, I like to spritz the quilt top with Best Press, help it dry thoroughly with a warm hair dryer, and then stitch it while walking the fabric. The Best           Press gives the fabric a slight stiffness and seems to shrink it slightly, making the easing process easier.

Oklahoma! by Karla Kiefner Oklahoma Backroads Pattern by Bonnie Hunter

**ANSWER TO THE RIDDLE:  When there is more fabric than space when quilting the top–and that’s the ONLY time a quilter has too much fabric!

How do you handle “sticky situations” when quilting?

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Why It’s Hip to Be Square

Test this demo about squaring up quilts!

You just gotta love square quilts!

Water Colours 

I’ve heard several of my quilter friends comment that they don’t like to make square quilts. I get that. Bed-size quilts can be more practical, usable, and gift-able. Even if I’m making a wall hanging or art quilt, mine usually aren’t square. But I DO love a quilt with right corners, no matter the length of its sides!

If your long-arm quilter ever mentions measured borders and “squared” backings, you might wonder, “What’s the big deal?”, especially in regards to your backing fabric.  Here’s a little demo you can do yourself to understand why it benefits you–and your quilt–to start and stay square:

*Grab two pencils, tape, scissors, and a piece of paper from a little notepad. I’m assuming your paper is a rectangle, but a square works, too.
*First make a straight cut on one of the long sides of your paper at an angle. It doesn’t have to be a big angle, just make sure you aren’t cutting it parallel to the edge of the paper.
*Now tape the opposite end to a pencil, keeping the paper even across the pencil.
*Now tape the other, angled end to the other pencil.
*Roll your paper “quilt backing” onto the first pencil.
As you can see, the second pencil lies at an angle. Straighten that pencil until it is parallel to the first pencil. The extra paper you see would be the extra fabric in a real quilt backing. This can cause folds on the back of your quilts. Your quilter might try to avoid that by making sure your backings is trimmed square before loading it onto her poles, but it could cost you extra fees because, depending on the backing, it could take up to an hour to square an unruly backing.
I figure most quilters understand why they’d want their quilt top to be square (have right angles). Whether it’s a wall hanging or going on a bed, or even folded as a throw, it’s nice to have everything line up just right. Tops have a tendancy to take on an hourglass shape, especially if the borders are applied and then trimmed. Measured borders (based on measurements from the center of the quilt) which are pinned at the centers and corners and  “eased” onto the top will actually help your quilt stay square.
Now, I am not telling you this so that you stress over your quilt tops and fret if they don’t (heehee) “measure up” (couldn’t resist). We don’t need more quilt police, especially in today’s world of quilting when so many of the old rules no longer apply. I do think as long as we take consistent steps in our quilting process that tend to lead toward a square quilt, that is effort enough. From time to time, I will get a quilt top in my long arm frame (including my own) which are less than square by (wait for it) a fair measure (sew many puns, see?). All puns aside, I have certain procedures I follow when loading and advancing a quilt so that I can be certain I’m doing everything possible to keep the quilt square. Sometimes, and it’s usually a mystery, a quilt just doesn’t play nicely, no matter how precisely it has been pieced or prepped. In those cases, there are tricks for easing in extra fabric and avoiding folds, some I’ve learned in classes and others I’ve learned through trial and error.
Sometimes, you can do everything possible to keep your quilt square and it still doesn’t cooperate. Sometimes it can truly be a mystery! Think, though, of all of the variables which go into the production of the fabrics and threads, the cutting, stitching, the differences in machines, etc. and construction of a quilt and you can understand why many quilters say, “If you can’t see it riding a horse at 40 mph, don’t worry about it!”. I say, if your quilt is made with love and passion, it is perfect just as it is.

For more information about prepping your quilt for a long-arm quilter, see my blog page. Also, visit me on Facebook at The Quilting Bee Long-arm Designs by Karla. Follow me on Bloglovin’ at: and at my website,

One of the lovely bonds between quilters is that we are crafting beautiful works with our hands to be enjoyed by others.

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Happy Quilting!

Tropical Fun traveled with the AccuQuilt GO! AQS Tour.

Three Quick Tips for Using a Long-arm Quilter

Check out these three tips for using a long- arm quilter.

TIP 1 : Choose your quilting based on the needs of your specific quilt top and how the quilt will be used. For example, is it going to be entered into a show, hung on a wall or used on a bed? Will the quilt be cherished as an heirloom or used as a beloved blankie? Determining how your quilt will be used will help you decide how much and what kind of quilting you want. (Generally, most people want soft quilts for a bed which means less quilting per square inch. In contrast, quilts entered in today’s competitions require more dense and varied quilting.)

Winter Blessings Quilt
Pattern by Shabby Fabrics

TIP 2: Choose your style. Remember that quilting styles vary based on each quilter’s experience and equipment. Piecers who crave perfection may prefer a quilter with computerized designs. Piecers making art quilts or those who want a hand-crafted look may prefer a quilter who does free-hand and tool-guided designs. It really depends on what you like and what your quilt top needs.

Monogrammed Baby Quilt

See more about this baby quilt at One Sophisticated Lady.

TIP 3: Choose your backing carefully. First, realize that most long-arm quilters today use the same color of thread in the bobbin as is used on the top. Keep this in mind when choosing your backing and you can determine if you want a big contrast, so the quilting shows or little contrast, so that it blends. ALSO, use quality backing. I encourage quilters to choose the same quality of backing as is used on the top. Be wary of “bargain” backings which may have low thread counts. Do the feel test!

Dream Pillow Trapunto

If you aren’t sure what and how much quilting you want, talk to your quilter. She or he has hopefully made these same decisions over and over for people who tell them to do whatever they think the quilt needs.  What is the quilt’s purpose? What do you like? Remember, that there are no wrong answers and, as the creator of your quilt, YOU RULE!

Happy Quilting!

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