Stop foot pedal scooting across the floor

1 01 2017

I have lovely hardwood floors in my house. But they are a darned nuisance for my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen’s foot pedal — it wants to slip further and further away from me as I put pressure on it. I tried putting that non-slip stuff underneath it (you know — that slightly tacky plastic mesh stuff you put under rugs or in drawers to stop things sliding around). It worked to a point, but eventually the foot pedal would creep away. I needed to come up with a better solution…

On one of the forums, someone had suggested putting Velcro dots under the foot pedal if you’re on carpet. Well, my machine isn’t on carpet, but that got me thinking… Perhaps Velcro dots would work with something else that doesn’t slip on wooden floors? Hmmmm….

Something like an old neoprene mouse mat, perhaps? That’s neoprene on the top and bottom, not the newer mouse mats that have a slippery top surface.

So I tried it, and I’m here to report that with the combination of Velcro dots on the feet on the foot pedal AND a neoprene mouse mat, my foot pedal no longer slides or creeps away from me. I call that a win!

I haven’t tried this on tile, but I expect it would work similarly – worth a try, anyway.

Velcro dots stuck to the base of the foot controller

Velcro dots stuck to the base of the foot controller

Foot controller with Velcro feet sticks to the neoprene mat, which sticks to the wooden floor

Foot controller with Velcro feet sticks to the neoprene mat, which sticks to the wooden floor





Easy cathedral windows for hexagons

4 08 2015

I modified my method for quilting easy cathedral windows (suitable for squares, rectangles, or grids) to work with hexagons (see Community Quilt 220).

The photo below shows the stitching order — the red lines (1 to 13) show the first row of stitching, where you start with one of the vertical arcs near the adjoining seam, then do two arcing hops followed by a completed arc up (or down, as in the photo) the seam, followed by two more arcs, then a vertical one and so on until the end. Then come back along the other edge with more arc hops all the way back to the beginning (the purple lines numbered 14 to 19). (Note: If you’re doing a complete circle of hexagons like I was in Community Quilt 220, then numbers 14 to 19 will go in the other direction to complete the ‘loop’.)

Easy!

cathedral_windows_hexagonal_numbered

 





Searching a Yahoo! Group

14 02 2015

These instructions are mostly for members of a specific Yahoo! Group I belong to, but the general principles should apply to searching all Yahoo! Groups.

Often, newbies will ask questions that others have covered some days, weeks, months, or even years ago. We were all newbies once and we all needed help at various stages, but when you’ve been on any sort of group for a while, you see the same questions seemingly a million times, so you tune out and tend not to answer — or you leave the group.

So here are some instructions for searching a Yahoo! Group BEFORE you ask a question, just to see if it’s been covered before and if there are some pearls of wisdom that have already been shared by other members.

  1. Open your Group’s page in a web browser. If you get your Group’s messages via email, the quickest way to do that is to click the link to View Your Group at the bottom of each email from the Group. (Note: Email programs may differ in how they display this link — the screen shot below is from Outlook 2010)
    yahoo_search06
  2. If asked to do so, log in to your Yahoo! Group.
  3. On your Groups’ home page, there’s a search box (it has ‘Search Conversations’ in it) near the top of the screen. Type your search word or phrase into that search box.
  4. Click Search Groups.
    yahoo_search01
  5. Your results will display, telling you how many results in total, and showing the latest message first.
    yahoo_search02
  6. If you want to narrow the search results (advisable if there are too many to deal with), click Advanced Search.
  7. Complete some of the details on the Advanced Search form, then click Search.
    yahoo_search03
  8. Your result set will be much smaller.
    yahoo_search04

In the screen shots above, I first searched for tension and got some 2500 results, then I clicked Advanced Search, added my own name as the Author and tension as a word I wanted to find in any Message I’d sent to the Group. This time the search revealed 119 results — a much more manageable number.

Another option is to browse messages by month, which is very handy if you go ‘no mail’ for a period of time (such as when you go on vacation). The links for messages by month are at the bottom of the home page for your Yahoo! Group.

yahoo_search05





Quilting an 8-petaled flower

27 01 2015

In a recent Community Quilt (blog post to come), I stitched heaps of 8-petaled flowers in the centre of each on-point block. I took some photos and with some (very) rudimentary computer drawing skills, I’ve tried to describe how I stitched it (I still don’t have the hang of videoing anything!! and my computer-drawn lines leave a lot to be desired…)

Basically, you start in the centre, loop out to a corner, then back down through the centre to the opposite corner in a fat-topped figure eight fashion (let’s assume you do the first one vertically), then scoot back through the centre and make another figure eight going on the other plane (e.g. horizontally). You don’t stop and start for the entire flower, just cross over in the centre point.

After making your two big figure eights, you swing back to the centre and make two smaller and narrower figure eights to fill in the gaps between the large one.

Then you swing back to the centre again and echo stitch inside the fat figure eights so that there’s a double line for them. And that’s it.

It’s certainly much easier to do than to describe! Hopefully the pictures and the diagram below will help.

This is what the finished flower looks like:

FMQ_flower_design11

And this is how I got there. First, start in the centre and loop out to a corner, swinging back to the centre.

FMQ_flower_design01

Next, finish the bottom of that figure eight.

FMQ_flower_design02

When you get back to the centre, keep stitching and loop out to the horizontal plane, doing another figure eight to the left….

FMQ_flower_design03

…and then to the right (or whatever feels most comfortable for you).

FMQ_flower_design04

Swing back through the centre again, and this time stitch a smaller, narrower petal in between two of the large loops.

FMQ_flower_design05

Swing through the centre again and repeat on the opposite side.

FMQ_flower_design06

Next time you come back through the centre, swoop to the left to make another skinny loop, and repeat on its opposite side. (no photos for this figure eight — however, you can see the stitching in the photo below)

After completing all eight petals of your flower, add some extra oomph to the large petals by echo stitching about 1/8 to 1/4  inch inside each one — you don’t have to be precise!

Swoop back down inside one of the large petals and echo stitch it from the centre, around the loop, and back to the centre.

FMQ_flower_design07

Keep on stitching through and echo stitch the opposite fat petal.

FMQ_flower_design08

Swoop back through the centre and echo stitch inside the last two petals, forming yet another figure eight through the centre of the design. Again, unless you are using plain fabric, you don’t have to be perfectly precise with where your centres cross — the crossing point will get lost in the fabric design.

FMQ_flower_design09

FMQ_flower_design10

And you’re done! Here it is all stitched out:

FMQ_flower_design11

And below is a really basic drawing of the stitching lines — each colour is another figure eight loop/infinity symbol, with all crossovers occurring in the centre of the block.

FMQ_flower_design12





Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen: Needle Sensor Failure

19 01 2015

Occasionally you might get this message on your machine. Stop stitching immediately and investigate the cause.

In my experience, it’s almost always caused by something caught in the bobbin area — a piece of thread (it can be TINY), or a broken needle tip.

If you broke a needle, have you found the needle tip? It might be jammed inside the bobbin area. Mine was and my machine wouldn’t work (see https://rhondabracey.com/2013/04/22/oh-no/). I had to take it back to the dealer for them to get the tip out and to reset the timing. A broken needle jammed into the bobbin case invariably throws out the timing, which means your stitches may not form correctly even if you can get the tip out and the ‘needle sensor failure’ message goes away.

However, the most common reason I’ve found for the ‘needle sensor failure’ message is that some thread is caught inside the bobbin area, which is stopping the bobbin mechanism from moving.  If it’s thread, try these:

  1. Turn off your machine and turn it back on again – do you still get ‘needle sensor failure’? If yes, go to the next step; if not, try stitching again but be aware that if you get badly formed stitches (or no stitches), your timing is likely out and you’ll have to take your machine to a technician.
  2. Remove the needle plate and dust out any lint. Look for and remove any thread caught in the bobbin area.
  3. Remove your bobbin and bobbin case. Again, look for and remove any thread caught in the bobbin area.
  4. Slowly turn the handwheel at the back of the machine while looking down into the bobbin area – you’re looking for any piece of thread that might be stuck in there. If the handwheel is jammed, apply some pressure but don’t force it – if you can’t turn it at all, take your machine to the technician.
  5. Assuming you can turn the handwheel, turn it back and forth (slowly) looking for anything caught in the bobbin area mechanism. If you see any thread, remove it with tweezers.
  6. Turn the machine off, then back on again, replace the bobbin/bobbin case, and try to stitch. If you still have ‘needle sensor failure’, take your machine to your technician.




Handi Quilt Sweet Sixteen: Using the couching foot

3 08 2014

I purchased the conversion kit and couching foot kit for my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen a few weeks back, and had my first ‘play’ while on my annual quilt retreat with the girls a month ago. Life has sort of got in the way since then, so today was my first time back playing with the couching foot.

In the interim I’d bought some cheap yarn from Spotlight, so it was time to try it out.

First, here’s a video from Handi Quilter on using the couching foot. The instructions for starting off are around the 5-minute mark and again at the 8-minute and 10-minute marks. However, the instructions give you NO information on how to tie off/bury the yarn at the beginning/end of your stitching.

Here’s my first practice piece with both a variegated yarn and a gold metallic yarn. I was going too fast initially and thus my yarn wasn’t always caught by my needle — once I slowed down (25% speed or less), I had no trouble. I used the middle couching foot (2 mm, I think)

P1000249

After I’d finished that piece, I decided to do something on a spare quilt sandwich I had in a navy linen-like fabric. I’d seen an image of a boomerang and thought it would quilt well, so I did all the inner couching with the variegated yarn, and the outer edge with the gold metallic yarn. Some practice still required!

P1000231

P1000235

P1000234

P1000236

P1000237

 

P1000240

 

It all looked a bit plain, so I filled in the inner part of the boomerang with a scribble stitch just using the brown variegated thread I had in the needle for the couching. Then I made up some elongated curved lines and spirals for the rest of the small sandwich, emulating the spiral pattern inside the boomerang.

P1000242

P1000241

P1000248

P1000245

P1000247

It was fun! I’m not sure how much I’ll use it, but it’s good to know how. However, I still have to find a quick and easy way of tieing off at the beginning/end without doing it by hand, and without the cut ends of the yarn fraying.

More: If you are a member of QNNTV.com, then Helen Godden has a great 49-minute video on using the couching foot, including information on how she stops and starts and finishes off the ends. This video is available from: http://www.qnntv.com/videos/1896_qbn-couching-yarns-with-your-longarm-full-episode/

 





8-pointed wonky star quilting motif

28 07 2014

Several people have asked me how I stitch the wonky 8-pointed star shape as shown in these quilts:

It’s really very easy — you go from the middle of one side to its opposite corner, then to the opposite middle, then the opposite corner etc. until you get back to the beginning. It’s easier to explain in a simple diagram!

You can start at any mid point or corner point — in this diagram I’ve started at a mid point. Follow the arrows and the numbers (1 to 8) to create your own 8-pointed slightly wonky star!

P1000074