Continuous Lines

Newsletter for AMQA Inc members

Friday, April 30, 2010

Newsletter No.11

A message from our new President

My name is Terry Elverd and I have been a Committee Member of AMQA for a couple of years now. With the early resignation of Suzan Saliba, I have stepped up to the position of President until our AGM which is being held in August this year.

We, the Committee, have been working very hard in creating this network for Machine Quilters and Quilters in general. Making it a one stop shop, so to speak, for information relating to our industry. The more people involved, no matter how big or small that involvement may be, the more beneficial to all. So, if you think that you maybe able to offer some help, we would love to hear from you. It could be in the way of interesting articles that you have read, or new gadgets that are available which you think we may all be interested in. A win at your local show? We would love to see your work, so please send them in.

Our latest exciting news, which you all may have seen by now, is “AMQ Festival” being held in Adelaide 1st – 4th October 2010. The AMQA Show 2010 is running in conjunction with this Festival, and we look forward to your support and involvement. With many very talented Quilters out there, we look forward to seeing your entries. Even if you have never entered shows before, this is your opportunity to do so. Once you have taken that first leap, you will be entering shows all over the Country. You never know, you could even become a World renowned Quilter. All it takes is that first step.

We will also be requiring help with this event, as in set up, take down, white glove etc., so if you are able to assist, even for a few hours. We would love to hear from you.

I know that we can count on you for your continued support as this industry is very dear to us all. Otherwise we wouldn’t be in it.


Terry Elverd

President AMQA Inc.


Marketing Opportunity for AMQA Members!

All members are invited to submit up to two quilts (room permitting) to have on display at the upcoming Quilt and Craft Expo  to promote your business and the type of machine quilting that you do. These will be hung along with your information for all attendees to view and collect your details. We had a fantastic display last year with many shops in attendance taking note on who to ask to quilt their samples in the future!! Great advertising for your business.

Hanging will be by pinning to the black carpet covered walls that are used at the shows for booth dividers. So no sleeve is required. Please ensure there is a label attached securely to your quilt and deliver in a fabric bag inside your envelope/box.

Please submit the following details to our coordinator in the following format via email.

Send to Sharon French

  • Your name:
  • Quilt name:
  • Description (40 words)
  • Maker/owner of quilt if different:
  • Size of quilt:

Once you have received a confirmation email from Sharon as to the acceptance of your quilt for the exhibit, you will then be invited to post your quilt direct to Sharon who will ensure it is looked after, hung and returned to you in the envelope/box that you provided with postage. It will be your responsibility to provide postage costs to return your quilt and also to have it insured if you wish.

You will also be asked to print up an A5 size (half of an A4 page) notice on WHITE paper with your details on it to be pinned next to your quilt. For example:-

Floral Fantasy

Made by ‘xyz piecer’ and machine quilted by ‘ABC professional machine quilter’, Mittagong, NSW.

Floral Fantasy has been custom quilted using designs created by the quilter to enhance the appliqué and piecing. This is considered a middle of the range custom quilting project.

Ph: 02 5555 5555 email:

AMQA holds no responsibility for any quilt in transit or whilst in our care, however all reasonable care will be taken. Please ensure your quilts are insured if you wish them to be so.



AMQAS 2010 is being held in conjunction with the Australian Machine Quilting Festival 1-4th October 2010, Mawson Lakes, SA. Check either or for details on entering your quilts to this show! Start planning now…


Product Review by Sharon French


In the last 12 months I have only purchased one tool to work with in my long arm quilting business. I ordered my IQ at the Trade Show at Rose Hill in late May 2009 and had it delivered from the US within a few weeks and installed ready to go by the end of June.

I have named her Pauline. She is a great employee – she doesn’t take sick days, only takes holidays when I do, works through lunch if I want her too and works long hours if need be. She also never complains.

I have a Prodigy Quilting Machine and so didn’t have any choices to make in terms of which computer system I would add to my machine. Intelliquilter is the only one available to me. I don’t think, if I had other choices, I would have made a different one.

Pantographs (E2E) are quick and easy to do and IQ allows me to multitask while it is quilting away. You can be getting your next quilt pressed and ready to go on the machine, do a bit of bookwork, have a cup of coffee or even do some of your own piecing (I haven’t got to that yet – I’m still catching up on my bookwork).

There are so many options for custom quilting. You can create line patterns, path patterns, echoing, fan patterns to list a few. A couple of my favourite features of IQ are the path pattern and the no sew zone.

The path pattern feature allows you to make a path using a geometic pattern, eg an arc or a circle and add a repeating pattern along the path. I have lots of pretty floral and swirly patterns which are designed for borders but are beautiful when placed on a circular path-pattern to form a wreath.


Deb’s Swirls (patterns by Deb Geissler) used on a path pattern

My other favourite features is the no sew zone. No sew zones allow you to quilt an edge-to-edge pattern or a block on a quilt and have a section of the quilt, eg an embroidery, appliqué or a picture without stitching. The pattern stitches right up to the no sew zone and continues around the zone. They look fantastic and are very precise providing you have marked the no-sew-zone correctly.

We can split patterns and use parts of one pattern with part of another pattern.


The above picture show the bottom border on a quilt – using two patterns elephant walk and mouse row. These two patterns came with IQ. I deleted the elephants from elephant walk leaving the grass and added the mouse. The quilt is an appliqué cat quilt so the mice work really well.

There is often more than one ways to do a task and different people find different ways of doing the same thing.

I love being able to mark a block on a quilt with the long arm machine and have the block recorded onto IQ – it allows me to make each pattern fit perfectly into each block. Patterns can be resized, moved, rotated, flipped and stretched. You have so much flexibility with pattern manipulation

With IQ, you have the ability to record our own patterns and clean them up.

Intelliquilter can be used on your quilting machine or on the lounge (or anywhere else) – you can be designing and playing while you are watching you favourite TV show (you won’t see much of the show).

I like that IQ is attached on the top of the quilting machine so when you are stitching the computer is right in front of you. You can always see at a glance exactly where you are up to.

The digital pattern choices are amazing. In the world of instant gratification, most patterns are downloaded from the internet the moment you have paid for them. It is so exciting to pick a pattern and be able to quilt it within a few minutes.

Intelliquilter has a fabulous Yahoo Group. The members are friendly and encouraging. There is always someone available online who can make suggestions regarding pattern choices, technical queries and problems. People of all skill levels contribute to the Yahoo group. There is also a fabulous photo gallery so you see what other quilters are doing, what IQ is capable of and get ideas.

The support from Zoltan Kasa and his team at Intelliquilter is amazing. Zolton and the IQ team are generally available to answer questions and solve problems both on the IQ Yahoo Group and/or by private email. The system is constantly being developed and upgrades are downloaded off the internet . The features that have been added since I bought IQ twelve months ago are mind boggling.

We have some terrific teachers who has many instructions and videos available over the internet to get you started on your IQ journey and to teach you how to do different things as you progress. If you forget how to do something you can jump online and find an answer.

I am so pleased I moved from my manual driven quilting machine to computer driven. If you have been thinking about it I would recommend taking the plunge. Just like getting a long arm changed your life, so will adding IQ!!

Article by Sharon French of Morning Star Quilting

PS Tracey did not know what my product review was about so had no input into this article.

Note: If you have a new product (or just a great reliable old one) or have a really useful book or DVD why don’t you consider writing a short article about it for Continuous Lines. It would be a great help to many of us.

(Editors note: We would very much welcome articles from other computerised system owners to publish in future newsletters!! Compuquilter,Machine Quilting Robot, Pro Stitcher, Qbot, Shirley Stitcher, Statler or any other that I haven’t thought of here?)


Interview provided by Raylee Bielenberg – our roving reporter/interviewer!

with member, Barbara Cowan of The Quilt Connection

The intermittent issue of tension – your thoughts please

I’m probably the last person you should ask about tension, because sometimes I feel I am never going to get it! Charlie Pressler says in his article, “Wuz-Up with Figuring out Top Tension”, that ‘tension is a Black Art’. That is such an accurate description.

I think everyone struggles with tension issues at some stage because in our business we have to work with such a variety of different materials and we move our machines over the quilt.

Thread, batting, backings, fabric type and thickness, different quilting, tightness on the rollers can all upset the balance of tension. And now computers and digitised patterns have entered the mix. In fact, I think ‘tension’ is the most difficult aspect of working with a quilting machine.

The more familiar we become with our machines though, the easier it is to resolve tension issues. Most machines are tensioned in the factory to suit a pretty ordinary and cheap thread type. As soon as mine was delivered and I threaded-up a better quality quilting thread it kept breaking. Straight away I was tweaking the top tension, altering the screw on the bobbin case, changing the thread path, etc, etc.

Eventually I did find that happy place where all tension is perfect and quilting is pleasurable and even though it was frustrating at the time, I think I’m glad I had that experience because it taught me a lot about my machine.

I’ve read quite a few articles on the subject of tension in machine quilting magazines and on the net and when the authors are machine manufacturers or machine servicing people, I pay particular attention. Those guys and gals know the facts about the machinery and how it works.

Types of thread for each quilting job or project? I am still building my range, are there threads that you would recommend and why?

To make things easier to control I have found what works for me and I stick to it. Thread for example, I prefer to use and recommend to my customers, one particular type of thread. I do sometimes use other threads but only sometimes and I keep a spare bobbin case set for thicker threads.

Aurifil 100% cotton Mako 40wgt is my preference and my reasons are:

- Aurifil comes in an extensive colour range and it has a nice lustre finish. I like to stock two or more spools of all the most popular colours. Yes spools, not cones and two so that I have one for threading on the machine and the other on the bobbin winder.

- Aurifil is manufactured from Egyptian cotton which means long strands of cotton and that means less joins in the thread.

- I also find I have less thread build-up in areas when the design involves some over quilting or backstitching. (no affiliation, just a happy user)

I prefer spools over cones because I can turnover my stock more regularly. Over time thread dries out with air-conditioning and goes mildew in humidity. Thread also deteriorates with dust so I keep all threads in Perspex storage boxes.

A little hint while I think of it... if the thread is coming off the spool in jerky movements from the vertical thread holder on your machine, put a metal bobbin on the thread holder under the spool. The bobbin will help the spool to spin more freely. A little piece of batting tied around the wire guide may also help.

When I want to use a variegated thread I use King Tut. This thread is slightly heavier/thicker but the variation of the colour is regular, every one inch in fact and I like the finished result of that regular variegation of colour.

I have also had great success quilting with silk thread. Silk is very strong and very fine so it isn’t as scary as you might think. Customers have requested that I use silk thread on their Japanese Kimono quilts.

Types of fabric – are there any that you would like to try or have tried to quilt on and loved/hated? Egg satin, shot silk etc

Silk fabrics, especially Kimono silk has very little, if any, give across the weft. So it can be a test to quilt. One silk quilt I did had a vertical print and after the quilting was applied (panto) the straight line of the printed pattern had shifted and appeared quite crooked. The quilt was straight but I hadn’t predicted how the quilting of the three layers would affect the look of the print. What was intended as a bar quilt look, wasn’t!

Some backing fabrics are a test aren’t they? Have you found that? I don’t know what they are doing over in China but I swear they must be using more man-made fibre now and some of the backings are so tightly woven. Bound to cause needle deflection on my machine so I steer clear of them when I can!

Some batiks can be troublesome also. I quilted with a batik backing just recently and no matter how small the needle I used it still punched a hole in the fabric. Other batiks from different manufacturers have quilted beautifully... go figure!

I also have so much trouble sometimes trying to straighten a large backing because no matter what I do because the grain is crooked, the backing looks crooked. Is it just me or have you noticed the resistance to quilting a crooked grain can cause?

I don’t quilt heavy, bulky or untidy quilt tops. It is not in my interest. I’m quite strict about that now. I don’t have time to be raising and lowering the hopping foot and I don’t have time to be re-pressing seam allowances or trimming away frayed threads that are going to be seen through the quilt top. IMO these things are the quilt-makers responsibility anyway.

Any helpful stories of how you treated those quilts with issues (wavy borders, too tight borders, unevenness in general)

Wavy borders are another problem aren’t they, as are borders that are too tight. I believe education is the key to success in overcoming these sorts of problems. I hand out instruction leaflets ‘how to apply borders’ to new customers and I refer people to information on the website regularly.

Too late to ‘return to sender’ the wavy borders when they arrive in your mail ready for you to quilt for a wedding in a couple of weeks! Better that our customers know the importance of getting these things right in the first place.

I actually do think that our efforts as a collective group to better inform the general public about machine quilting is paying off. I am finding less and less occurrence of ill fitting borders.

And by the way, I have never used a can of baked beans to quilt out extra fullness. This method only stretches the backing and batting to fit the excess fabric on top. It concerns me that if I quilt the layers when stretched out excessively, I will end up with a wavy quilt. If I do find an area of extra fullness in a quilt top while I am working on it, I prefer to baste it out first and then little by little work it out, spreading the quilting evenly across the area. I’m referring to when I am custom quilting of course when the quilting is close. Perhaps if the quilting is more open the stretched section might return to norm, I don’t know I’ve never tried it.

I forgot to mention.... my set-up includes a free-standing bobbin winder. I don’t use the one on my machine because I don’t see how it can wind evenly when I am quilting with a stitch regulator. With the freestanding, I can be confident that every bobbin wound is the same and that is important in eliminating the chance of problems occurring.

Another hint... you don’t need to have tight tension on the tension discs of a bobbin winder, the tensioner is there just to ensure a smooth and consistent flow of thread. Taught but not tight.

Did you refer any quilting jobs to a more experienced quilter when you first started?  If so, do you think this affected your business in any way? Ie: was that customer ‘lost’ to the other quilter?

Scheduling is the only reason I have had to refer a customer to another quilter. When I was somewhat preoccupied with the management of AMQA, stupidly I neglected my own business and as a result the backlog of quilts built-up and my schedule blew out. There were a few of my established customers who rang at the last minute with rush jobs and rather than let them down, I took the time to make contact with other quilters to check their schedules and if they would accept the job. They were losses I had to endure.

I’ve never referred an enquiring customer to another quilter because I didn’t feel up to the job. Perhaps a little over ambitious at times because I didn’t realise how long the quilting would take me....but fortunately as it turned out, I have not ever taken on more than I could chew. Lucky timing I guess. Anyway I think it is the challenges in life from which we learn.

On the other hand there have been customers referred to me with quilts requiring major custom work because their quilter either ‘doesn’t do custom work’ or didn’t have the time. I have managed to get them done but always I’ve sent them packing back to their original quilter. I also, just out of courtesy, usually make contact with the referring quilter to make sure all were happy about how the arrangement worked out.

When I am too busy to accept any new customers, I refer any enquiries to the AMQA website sometimes mentioning the names of members in a particular location. I am happy to do that and grateful that list of dedicated professionals exists.

Please tell your readers Raylee, that in answering your questions I have shared what works for me. There’s no insistence on my part that it will work for everyone but I hope the information is helpful.

Barb Cowan



Member Blogs

Just a reminder that if you have your own blog and would like to promote it further then please let the editor know at and it can be added to our Newsletter blog list.


Upcoming Events

What:Central Coast 4th Annual Charity Quilt Show
Quilt show entries close on 29 April 2010. Please contact Janette Jones, Show Co-ordinator, for an entry form if you or your clients are interested in entering a quilt(s) in the show. Janette is contactable by email on Workshops are also being conducted at the show by Kim Bradley, Judy Hooworth, Carol Roberts and Susan Carr. Contact Blueberries on 43554400 for more information on the workshops. The show is raising funds for Central Coast Cancer Services Fund.
When:Saturday, May 8, 2010 10:00 AM to Sunday, May 9, 2010 4:00 PM
Where:Wyong Race Club
75 Howarth Street
Wyong, NSW

What:Perth Craft & Quilt Fair
When:Wednesday, May 19, 2010 10:00 AM to Sunday, May 23, 2010 5:00 PM
Where:Perth Convention Centre
Perth, WA

What:Quilt and Craft Expo - Trade Show
When:Saturday, June 12, 2010 10:00 AM to Sunday, June 13, 2010 5:00 PM
Where:Rosehill Racecourse
Sydney, NSW

What:Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair
When:Wednesday, June 16, 2010 9:00 AM to Sunday, June 20, 2010 5:00 PM
Where:Sydney Exhibition Centre
Darling Harbour
Sydney, NSW

What:Hobart Craft & Quilt Fair
When:Friday, July 9, 2010 9:00 AM to Sunday, July 11, 2010 5:00 PM
Where:Derwent Entertainment Centre
Brooker Highway
Glenorchy, Hobart, Tas