Open Line Friday — Q & A

Bernina, Quilting

I would like to open up the World Wide Web hotlines to bring you another addition of Open Line Friday– A chance for everyone to ask questions (any topic) and for everyone to answer.  Let’s bring our collective knowledge together to solve a few quandaries…

I would like to start the questions today.  This question is off-topic from my usual, Quilts, Photography, and Family--but I know you will have an answer...I need a new mascara—can anyone recommend one?


There were a few questions that we didn’t address in last week’s Open Line Friday.   I am frequently asked if I use a stitch regulator like the Bernina Stitch Regulator  to keep my stitches even?  I do not.  When I started free motion quilting-nearly 10 years ago-I don’t think stitch regulators existed.  Later, when I tried to use one, I found it interfered with the rhythm that I have developed.  It was always “beeping” at me and I was always cursing back at it.

Bernina, Quilting, Free Motion Quilting

If I were a beginner today, I might invest in a regulator so that I could concentrate on the more creative aspects of free motion quilting.  On the other hand, it is quite possible to develop your own rhythm and enjoy FMQ without beeps.  Be patient and practice.  Start with small projects before working on large quilts.  What do YOU all think?  Are stitch regulators worth the investment?

This question is from JoAnn (but I know many of you are thinking the same thing…)

What to do with that big old quilt when you are quilting?

This is always a challenge for those of us who don’t have a long arm… Remember it can be done!  Diane Gaudynski has quilted many award winning quilts on her domestic sewing machine!

I have quilted many queen and full sized quilts on my Bernina 150 before I purchased the Bernina 820 with the wide harp space.  It does take patience and frequent breaks.  It is very important to keep the bulk of the quilt supported.  Place an inexpensive banquet table or an ironing board next to your work surface to keep the quilt level.  All you need is a small area that moves freely in order to quilt.  Work from the center out.  Keep rolling and bundling so that the smallest area is to the right of your needle.  This means that you will need to stitch some of your motifs right to left and some left to right and maybe even upside down.  (Keep doodling!)

I recently came across this photo of Caryl Bryer Fallert’s suspension system:

Two years ago, I invested in a sewing cabinet so that my machine is flush with my work surface and that is a huge help.  Before that I used a Sew Steady table to extend my work surface.  I still use that when I go to a class or retreat.

Bernina, Quilting

Again, this is a challenge we all share.  The bigger the quilt, the harder it is to fit it under the harp…So readers, please share…how do YOU handle those big old quilts??

Finally, this tip came from Roxanna, and I thought it might be helpful for everyone to see. (In the future, I will try to incorporate this into all my tutorials.)

Could you place an object next to your stitching as a point of reference for size? It could be a coin or your hand.

Free motion quilting


What’s YOUR biggest sewing(or makeup) quandary this week?Bernina, Quilting

May all of your dilemmas be quilting related,

50 thoughts on “Open Line Friday — Q & A

  1. I do not like the stitch regulator either. It is more of a hindrance than a help.Too slow.They are not worth the investment. Go spend your money on more fabric.

    • Hi Judy, Many newbie quilters start free motion quilting with meandering. I think this is a very difficult pattern to stitch well. One of the easiest motifs is The Easiest Flower Ever. There’s a lot of room for variation and it always looks great. The other easy patterns are The Open Leaf, The Upward and Downward Curl and the Straight Line Variations. You could quilt a beautiful quilt with just those stitches.

  2. LCK,
    I would highly recommend Benefit’s “They’re Real!” Mascara. Available at Sephora.
    And I agree with the comment above.

  3. Mascara — Cargo 3 triple action mascara thicken lengthen curl — pricey BUT covers quickly and doesn’t have fibers in it. My go to! I believe ULTA carries it.

    Free motion Bernina BSR — have it but the Bernina (440 QE) free motions so smoothly I don’t use the BSR at all! I learned free motion on a Janome 6500,

    Big quilt under a domestic machine — fortunately I also have the same quilting table as Lori — supporting the quilt and eliminating drag is key — I bunch up the quilt — to me rolling it creates too much weight. This table has a drawer to open at the left and a top to put on it so its perfect to handle a lot of the quilt weight — a lot of it still does end up in my lap tho.

    • Diane, I agree about rolling the quilt–Many authors recommend it, but it rarely works that way for me. I start with it rolled, and then it just unrolls during the process and it would be too time consuming to keep rolling. I mostly “bunch”. Also, for those who do not have a sewing cabinet–moving a bit of furniture or an ironing board around their sewing table helps support the weight. (and of course, there’s always our laps!)

  4. I learned FMQ with a Bernina Stitch Regular, only because it was part of the 830 machine that I purchased. There was a learning curve, and I can control it so I don’t hear the beeps and my stitches are nice and even. I think one advantage is being able to regulate stitch size. It works well when you want to do micro-stippling. I had to really stick with it and practice every day. But now, I am learning FMQ without the BSR. I think both ways have their own advantages.

    I was able to quilt a queen-sized quilt with my domestic machine. I found that it was easier to scrunch up my quilt, rather than roll it. But the key is, as you mentioned, you must have a fairly large work surface flush with your sewing machine.

  5. I’ve quilted queen size on my Bernina and do not have a stitch regulator. It’s all in developing a rhythm and listening to your machine. I don’t roll quilts. I use the “fluff and stuff” method from a Paula Reid CD. My latest tip I learned from a Craftsy Class is to cut two “hand size” rectangles from that spongy shelf paper I hated in the kitchen. If you place it on the quilt, it really helps you move the quilt while you’re quilting.

    • Thank you, Paula. I have never seen the Paula Reid CD, but I will look into it. I like the idea of the shelf paper. As I have written about before, I am not a fan of Machingers. I use a Husqvarna hoop or nothing. The spongy shelf paper would be a great addition to my repertoire. It is also useful to put under your sewing machine pedal to prevent it from sliding away.

  6. As seen on QVC…”IT” brand cosmetics has a wonderful mascara!
    Thanks for the acknowledgement about size clues. I learned that when my father got his tomatoes and peppers photos included in a gardening magazine. He showed the sizes of his veggies using a standard yardstick. Everything is relative.

  7. I have a Sweet Sixteen and bought the stitch regulator for it. I am new to the Sweet Sixteen (love it!) and to FMQ as well. I don’t care for the stitch regulator. I have found that I am so accustomed to controlling the stitching with hands (Machinger’s gloves) and foot pedal, that I am learning more quickly by not using the stitch regulator. My stitching is still a work in progress, but I am making progress!

      • The Sweet Sixteen is a lovely machine. There is definitely a learning curve and it was an investment, but since I’m past retirement age it was now or never! The table has two leaves, one on each side, and gives you lots of room to work and has a slick surface. I have found that I like having the bulk of the machine in the back rather than to the side. That’s probably more a psychological factor than anything else. I agree that whatever machine you use, you become accustomed to the sound of the machine when it is doing what you want it to do. I am still at the practicing, practicing, practicing stage, but I’m almost ready to try quilting a simple twin-size Halloween quilt I made for fun. It’s very busy and will hide many oopsies. I’m a newbie to FMQ, but I do think that anyone who has some FMQ experience could transition to the Sweet Sixteen very easily. Your Tuesday tutorials are an inspiration for me. Thanks!

  8. Mascara recommendation: Lumine Blueberry Curl (I use regular, not waterproof). I like how it goes on, how it feels, how it lasts, and how it washes off with my regular face wash (no extra makeup remover needed). I get mine from The Derm Store for about $10. If you sign up and add the mascara (or other items) to your favorites list, they run specials periodically to get your favorites at a percentage off. Plus, they send a little gift with each order.

  9. I’m considering buying an embroidery sewing machine. . . I just have a “regular” sewing machine that works great. I’m wondering if I should just buy a free-motion foot (or other embroidery foot) before I invest in an embroidery/sewing machine. Do you have any advice for me?

    • I would go with the simplest route first-buy the free motion foot and give that a try. Most “regular” sewing machines do free motion quilting beautifully. I don’t think you need a special machine to have success. Can you lower your feed dogs? Can you adjust for needle down? Those things are very helpful to have (though you can do it without, too.) You might want to review my post: Seven Steps to Free Motion Quilting . If you can set up your machine in that way then you are ready to go. If you can’t, get back to me and there are some other modifications I can point you to in order to FMQ anyway.

  10. I agree with you, keep as much as the quilt supported as possible with an extra table, etc. Here is a link to Leah Day’s blog and video where she discusses her set up for suspending the quilt while working on a domestic machine. :
    When working on a domestic machine I have the machine on my large work table, keeping the majority of the quilt on the table, puddled around the machine. At the beginning of the project when doing long straight rows of stitch in the ditch (before fmq smaller inbetween areas) I will put the walking foot on the machine and will throw the quilt over my shoulder to feed it through the machine at a good pace.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Always, Queenie

    • Thank you so much for supplying that link. It seems like a good idea–I’d love to hear if anyone tries it and if they like it. I use the over-the-shoulder method as well. I guess I do whatever works at the given moment. The more ideas we have in our bag of tricks the better, don’t you think!?

      My sister left a note on my new Facebook page on how she handled sewing a large boat sail. Give that a look, too!

  11. You said to quilt from the center and go out, I understand that. I had a scrap quilt that i wanted to machine quilt using the Baptist Fan design which is started at a corner when hand-quilted. How would you do this on the machine?
    Thanks so much for the info that you share on your blog, you are a very talented quilter!

    • If it were me…I would redesign the fan a bit so that it starts in the center and is quilted in quadrants. I think you will still get the effect you are looking for without running the risk of the batting shifting and distorting your quilt. Love to hear ideas from everyone else, too!

      • Definitely! I have done it a number of different ways, you just have to remember to heat set your ink with a dry (no steam or it will run) iron. You can use the fabric sheet papers, you can use a sheet of freezer paper with your fabric pressed onto it, or I’ve also tried a sheet of regular paper with a piece of freezer paper glued to it and then my fabric pressed onto the freezer paper. There is a good you tube link to this last method. It may depend on your printer, My brother printer loved the last method, but I had to replace it and the HP isn’t as happy with it so I have reverted to method one or two. I design my labels with a word processing program then print them out.

  12. First: I’ve tried every mascara from Clinique to Estee Lauder to Mary Kay to Bobby Brown… and after all that, the best of the bunch WITHOUT a doubt is Covergirl Lash Blast mascara in the orange container, found at every grocery store and CVS for a fraction of the cost of the hoity-toity department store brands. No clumping, no irritation, no stink, no problems.

    As for the Bernina Stitch Regulator: I got one for my Artista 200/730 when they first came out, and got very frustrated with it and did not use it. Then I took one FMQ machine NOT using the BSR, which helped me get comfortable with the whole idea of swirling my fabric around with my hands while my sewing machine needle runs in place, and did a whole twin sized quilt with a dense FMQ paisley design and no BSR. I got the pattern down so I could quilt it smoothly, but my stitches were nowhere near even. So I tried the BSR again, after reading the DIRECTIONS this time (duh!) and getting some tips from other quilters who use the BSR foot successfully. And this time, I saw an immediate improvement and LOVED it. I almost always use it now with my 750 QE — and by the way, I found that the BSR is a lot smoother and gives better results on the newer machine. The thing for beginners to keep in mind is that learning to free-motion quilt involves a lot more skill than just coordinating the speed of your hands to the machine to get even stitches. Even with an expensive new machine and a stitch regulator, you still have to put in hours and hours of practice, just like riding a bike. But I do feel like quilting with the BSR has helped me for when I quilt without it, because I’ve grown accustomed to the sound and rhythm of the machine speeding up and slowing down in coordination with my hand movements. When I’m quilting without BSR, I just kind of drive the machine so it sounds the same way as when the BSR is driving, if that makes sense, and then I get similar (if not quite as perfect) results.

    So, you quilt primarily on an 820? I’m curious about how you like the 8 Series bobbin system. Supposedly there is a new TOL Bernina 880 coming out this fall that will have the 8 Series bobbin, and I read mixed reviews on that when the 8 Series first came out. Do you love your 820?

    • Hi Rebecca,
      I laughed out loud when I read that you’ve tried every mascara ever! I feel that I have, too and still I don’t have one I can say I love. I plan to try all the recommended mascaras–so I can say I have tried them ALL!

      I think you make some great points about the BSR. It takes practice, too. One thing that I notice from many of the comments is that many quilters use their sense of hearing as much as other senses to get the rhythm correct…not something I considered before. The other consistent theme is that good FMQ can be learned both with and without the BSR.

      As for my Bernina 820…I love many things about the 820: the huge harp space, the large bobbins, the bright light, the built in walking foot, the internal tension adjustment, the clock and many other features. However, the bobbin has given me some trouble. Partly, I usually thread it “blind” because I have a Supreme Slider taped to my table top. I was able to do this quite easily with my other machines, but the 820 is more difficult. I am still in the “get to know me” phase with this machine and haven’t even begun to try all the fabulous features, but so far I love it!

      • Rebecca, that’s my mascara too! Nothing against expensive mascara, but this works great and I have more money for thread and fabric, which is most important!!

    • Hi Lori,
      I stumbled across your blog today. Your tutorials are very clear, helpful and inspirational!

      I am a FMQ beginner. I have a 750QE since April 2013 (upgraded from basic Bernina 1000 Plus) I didn’t like it at the beginning mainly I found it too complicated than my old manual Bernina, But after familiarising with it I begin to love it as it has the features of self threading, thread cutter, needle up/down etc. But I really dislike BSR. I practise and practise but I still struggle FMQ using BSR. I am thinking to buy a quilting foot to see whether I might like it better.

      Rebecca, do you mind sharing tips you got from other quilters who use BSR foot successfully?

      • I do not use a BSR–I learned without one, and when I tried it, the BSR interrupted my natural rhythm. Maybe you should give it a go without the BSR. I like the #24 offset darning foot from Bernina. Hope that helps!

  13. As for FMQ I learned without a regulator and used the BSR when I bought a Bernina. I use both methods depending on situations(conditions) and bunching the quilt up works for me. I like checking out new methods, I like using Sharon Schamber’s Quilt Halo or the office product Tacky Finger. Gloves or finger tips just don’t work for me as I like to feel the fabric. My machine of choice is the Bernina 730 and 830 along with 2 Featherweights as pets.
    BTW “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” was great but unusual.

  14. Hi lori I don’t know if this is a no no but I use qvc to try out mascara as I have a problem with new mascaras so if I don’t get on with them I can send them back.

    I didn’t get on with the stitch regulator as I use hand controls and it doesn’t work with hand controls. I hope you find a mascara you like xxxx

  15. Bonjour à toutes. Pour faire du piqué libre (je suis débutante) et pour rouler ma couette j’utilise des pinces à vélo, vous savez, ces choses que l’on met et qui enserrent les chevilles afin que les pantalons ne se prennent pas dans le pédalier.
    Je ne sais si vous avez cela aux USA. Bonne journée et amical salut de Arcachon en France

    • Hi Nicole, After a quick trip to Google Translate–Thank you for the reminder that the bicycle clips used to keep pant legs from getting in a bike’s spokes, are a great device to keep a large quilt rolled. Thank you all the way to France!

  16. Maybelline Great Lashes Lots of Lashes. It has a pointy tip to get the corners and works better on the lower lashes. Thanks for the FMQ words of encouragement. All the quilting I’ve done is w/o a regulator and I prefer the uniqueness that brings to a quilt.

  17. Trish McEvoy mascara is wonderful! Changed my life! My 440 came with BSR and I have used it, but I never use it any more. That big foot blocked my view of where I was on my quilt.

      • I’m am imagining your bathroom cupboard after next week with 50 different brands of mascara in the drawer and your family wondering what the heck you are doing. LOL

  18. I was going to alert you to the Leah Day quilt-hanging method, but see that someone beat me to the punch. I have quilted larger quilts using only the middle third of the batting at first, FMQing, then sewing the batting pieces together with a large zigzag (or you could use batting tape–it wasn’t invented the last time I did this) for the top or bottom third, FMQing that, then add the last third and FMQ it. This makes a LOT less bulk and weight to handle at a time. The problem would be if you had an interlocking design. I read about this in a book, not my original idea, but it worked great (twin size is the largest I have done–but that is a heavy sucker with all the batting in it!)
    Sally in Seattle

  19. I was just thinking back to Lori mentioning her machine being on a level flat surface. I didn’t want to put money into an expensive table so I found a youtube video (love you tube) on creating my own quilting table with a level surface for less than $40. I measured how high my machine was off my table surface, then purchased two sheets of blue styrofoam insulation that totalled that amount. I then cut out a space for my machine using an electric knife to cut the styrofoam (dusty, but makes a nice cut). Then I used a heavy clear plastic (like what you cover tables with) to cover it all over tucking the edge in along the outline of the machine. I had to adjust my chair height a bit, but it works really slick. I’ve had a few friends come over to try it out and they ended up doing the same thing, I have an old dining room table as my quilting table with the styrofoam on top and I just leave it there all the time. I can be moved out of the way if I need to, but I have enough room that I can leave the table set up all the time. Here’s the link

  20. I am new to your blog Lori. I have enjoyed reading all the posts in the past couple of weeks. I have a Bernina 440 and tried to use the BSR when I first got it but could not FMQ with it, very frustrating and I gave up. I recently had my machine serviced and the store tech asked me if my 440 was working OK. I told her no and she said that all the adjustments on the machine were way off. They downloaded new software and updates to my machine, including the BSR and it’s like I have a new machine. What a difference! The BSR works much better but I still need to practice. I was having problems with the fluctuation of the speed when I FMQ without the BSR. My hands and feet were not working together. I found that by putting a 3/4″ board under the front of my foot pedal, I could regulate my speed better by pushing down to the limit.

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