New from Angela Walters – Creative Grids® Machine Quilting Templates

Angela Walters has developed a series of machine quilting templates with Creative Grids®. You talk about a marriage made in heaven! Angela’s genius with our signature grip! These templates are 1/4″ thick acrylic so they work well on a standard sewing machine as well as a longarm. They were specifically designed to fit in the palm of your hand so they are easy to manipulate on either machine.

Without further ado, meet Shorty, Slim, Archie, and Squiggy:






























The black and white markings show up on dark and light fabrics. And the printed grid lines make spacing quilt lines a breeze. The video instructions include potential quilting designs that can be created with each tool. The video can be accessed by scanning the QR code on the back of the package, visit, or But we all know that Angela really shines when she is in front of the camera so she will be releasing more videos very soon. We will keep you posted!

This one is a no-brainer! Order now!

This truly is a no-brainer!  When a book concept is this brilliant, everyone who machine quilts needs this in their library.  We all know Angela Walters is the go-to gal for long arming.  Now she has teamed up with Christa Watson – and expert in quilting on domestic machines.

Item #B1350T  Retail $29.99

They both share tips and tricks that have made them the experts in their field.  Learn through studying 10 different quilts when it is best to use which machine.  They also walk you through the steps of how to choose designs, pick threads, and advice on everything in between!

Whether you choose to quilt full sized quilts or smaller projects they will help you every step of the way!




This one is a real page turner!  Order now to make sure you get the first run due out in April because this one is guaranteed to go into a second printing!

Learn about Batting from the Best

Let’s face it.  Even though batting is in every quilt, quilters know little about battings.  Most of us stick with the same batting, buy what’s on sale, or let our machine quilter choose.  What if we could educate our customers and help them choose the RIGHT batting for their projects?










Dawn from The Warm Company will be at the Checker Open House.  I have quilted long enough to remember when they came out with “Warm and Natural” – a batting that could be washed and maintain its shape.  This also meant that it could be quilted up to nine inches apart without FALLING apart!  This product was revolutionary but they didn’t stop there.  Let Dawn help you choose which battings you should carry in your store – and explain when specialty battings are a good choice.




Insul Shine


Soft & Bright








The days of carrying two battings – one cotton and one polyester – are over.  Come to the Open House and take a few minutes to educate yourself!

Creative Grids Machine Quilting Templates

Grids Machine Quilting Templates Part 3 of 3 – Concentric Shapes.

This is the final article in a series of 3, which explains how to use the templates with longarm quilting systems. It is worth noting that all the templates can be used for many purposes, but they were designed to be used with longarm quilting systems, which is why they are ¼” thick.

The Concentric Shapes are extremely useful since there are multiple sizes of each shape – AND – you can use the inside edges as well as the outside edges. This is possible because every template has a small slot which provides access to the inside edges. This slot is large enough to get around the shaft of  the hopping foot, but small enough that you can stitch past it and there is no visible flaw in the stitch line.

The benefit of this slot is subtle, but significant. When stitching a geometric shape, the inside edge provides far more control, making it easier to get the perfect shape. Outside edges are still very useful, especially when the shape is being used to control the machine when outlining designs like appliqué.

There are four shapes available:


Item # BDQSQ

The Circles and Squares have 11 pieces each.



Stars have 4 pieces and Hearts have 6.

Here are examples of what you can do with the Creative Grids Sweet Set Circles. Notice the consistent shape of the stitched circles. It is easy when using the inside edge of the template.

It is always a good idea to measure and mark the quilt before stitching. I use chalk because it is removed easily. The registration marks on the templates allow them to be placed accurately.

The square templates are quickly becoming one of my favorites, especially for inside borders and sashings.

Squares are stitched on point, and connected by stitching a horizontal line from one to the next.

Squares can also be overlapped, creating a gridwork, similar to crosshatching, but much easier to do.

Use one side of the template to create duplicate stitch lines. No need to mark and measure the echo lines! When using the inside of the template as the stitching guide, the corners remain sharp and pointed.

Enhance the square designs by using the Star.

Add some arcs by using just the top of the Heart.

Here is an example of a block design, created using just the heart shape template. There are hundreds of block possibilities using the Creative Grids Sweet Set concentric shapes individually or in combinations.

Use concentric shapes when doing detailing around appliqué. Choose a template that matches the curvature of the appliqué, and use either the inside or outside edge.

I especially like using the Heart shapes for outlining appliqué because they have both a straight edge and a curved edge.

Plus, the top of the heart fits the hopping foot perfectly, so the template can be used to guide the machine for excellent control.

The information contained in here should be enough inspiration for a teacher to develop a class for their longarm owners. For more ideas, go to

Always “checking” for a better way to quilt! Sewlong,

Pat Barry

ã2011 By Design Quilting, LLC.  This copyright entitles you to reprint this article. All other rights reserved.

Creative Grids Machine Quilting Templates – Border Curves

Creative Grids Machine Quilting Templates –Part 2 of 3 – Border Curves.

This is the second article in a series that explain how to use templates when doing long arm machine quilting.

Only the sewing foot on the right is safe to use with longarm quilting templates. Because it actually hops up/down, it is called a hopping foot.

What to look for –

As mentioned before, templates must be about ¼” thick. They must also be cut to accommodate the distortion caused by the hopping foot. Look carefully at the cut edge of the Machine Guide. Notice that the curvature at the upper and lower edges is different. The peak has a tighter arc, and the valley has a wider one. This shows how much distortion there is, caused by the hopping foot.

Border Curve Template - 2 pieces

So, if you buy a curved template that looks perfect, it won’t stitch perfectly. Creative Grids has solved that by correcting the cut edge, and providing a two piece border template, which shows the Stitch line placement.

Both parts are used together when auditioning the placement. When the alignment is good, remove the Placement Guide, leaving the Machine Guide where it is. Move the machine into position and stitch!

Other important features include a laser cut with smooth edges, like they had been buffed after they were cut. All outside corners should be rounded so they can’t puncture the fabric. The Creative Grids Gripper Strips are awesome because they prevent the template from slipping when it is being used as a machine guide.

The templates shown are the Creative Grids Sweet Set Border Curves. Although sold individually, there are 4 different repeats in a set. Included in every package is a chart that is used to choose a template repeat which will ensure accurate corners.

The chart suggests which repeat size to use, based on the border measurements of the quilt.

The instructions are easy:

  1. Mark (the miter lines and border center lines) and Measure (the center line, miter to miter across the top and down the side).
  2. Look up the measurements, noting which repeats have check-marks. The check-mark means that template will result in perfect corners.
  3. Choose a template size that works with both measurements.
  4. Stitch the border curve design. When done, add free motion designs that complement the quilt top and/or fabrics.

For more detailed instructions, go to my website and download the chart and the instructions.

Here are examples of what you can do with the Creative Grids Sweet Set Border Curves.

More Examples:

Another articles about Creative Grids Sweet Set Concentric Shapes will follow.

Always “checking” for a better way to quilt! Sewlong,

Pat Barry

ã2011 By Design Quilting, LLC.  This copyright entitles you to reprint this article. All other rights reserved.

Creative Grids Machine Quilting Templates – Accessories

Creative Grids Machine Quilting Templates–Part 1 of 3 – Accessories.

In a previous article I talked about using templates when accuracy is important. This is the first of three articles that describe different types of templates offered by Creative Grids. I wanted to start with accessories because they are used throughout the quilting process. Included are two rulers, a stipple stitcher and a (free) spacer.

Starting with what is probably the most useful tool in the set, look at the Straight Stitchers, which come in two sizes. Some call these rulers, and in fact, they are.

Item # BDQSS

Item # BDQSS2

Rulers are templates with a straight edge and the ability to measure – both very useful features. In addition to this, look at the photo showing the BDQSS. It is smaller, and it fits nicely in one hand. For people with small machines, the smaller size is essential for measuring, marking and stitching any vertical lines.

Look closely at how the template is held. Although people have been taught to press down hard on a ruler so it doesn’t slip, that really isn’t feasible when quilting. Pressing down hard on a ruler prevents the machine from moving, making it very hard to quilt. Instead, learn to hold the template, so it is secure in your hand. You will exert some downward pressure, but the stability comes from how it is held. Notice that the fingers are touching the fabric too. This is very important because if the template starts to slip, the fingertips know instantly. If the hands are not touching the fabric, there can be small slips that add up to bigger mistakes. This is true for all machine guides.

Notice also that the rulers have the patented Creative Grids Gripper Strips, which really help prevent slipping. This is the same technology used in other Creative Grids rulers, but these are strips instead of dots. This helps visually differentiate the two.

Rulers designed for rotary cutting are NOT safe to use as a machine guide because they are not thick enough to prevent the ruler from sliding over or under the hopping foot. Note: the concepts described here apply to all quilting machine templates.

Item # BDQSS2

Look closely at the longer ruler. This picture shows it being used for Stitch-in-the-Ditch (SID). Notice also that there are several white reference lines, at quarter inch increments. These are very important when doing echo quilting or outlining.

Another very useful accessory is the Stipple Stitcher. It becomes a secondary set of handles for your machine when doing tiny microstitching, like stippling.


The Stipple Stitcher is designed to fit around the hopping foot of most longarm machines, which is why it has four slightly different size keyholes. It must be a close fit, but still allow the hopping foot to ‘hop’ without moving the tool up and down too.

Holding the Stipple Stitcher

Notice that it comes with four indentations along the outer edges, which is where you will hold it. By having your fingertips control the movement of your machine, you can get excellent control when doing microstitching.

Because of the shape of the hopping foot, any time a template is used as a stitching guide, the stitchline is offset by (about) ¼”. Therefore, if you choose to mark a quilt before stitching (a very good idea for beginners) the marked line needs to be offset by ¼” also. So, mark your stitchline using the template and a ¼” spacer.

Marking before stitching

There are spacers on the market that will do this for you, but as a free gift to Checker customers, I will send a free heart-shaped spacer to you if you request it and while supplies last (see photo below).


Just use the comment section of the newsletter to request one, and remember to provide your complete name, street address and email so I can get it to you.

More articles about how to use the Creative Grids Quilting Machine Templates will follow.

Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!


Pat Barry

ã2011 By Design Quilting, LLC. This copyright entitles you to reprint this article. All other rights reserved.

Best Batting?

As a professional quilter I am often asked, Which batting is the best? Which types do I carry? What do my customers like? What do I use in my own quilts? There is no simple answer so instead I share my criteria:
(in order of importance to me)

     #1. Care Instructions and shrinkage
     #2. Fiber Content and loft
     #3. Sizes Available  (width and length)
     #4. Cost – including shipping

 My #1 criterion is care and shrinkage. For many years quilters were willing to pre-shrink their batting if they didn’t want their washed quilts to have that crinkley ‘antique’ look. Well, I don’t have time to pre-shrink , and I won’t do it for my customers. So, I read the fine print on the batting packages, and choose easy-to-care-for battings.

 Criterion #2 is fiber content. I have customers who consider cotton to be the only ‘real’ batting because it is a natural fiber and it drapes so nicely, so I stock cotton.

   The customers who ask for heirloom quilting designs will often choose wool batting because the extra loft shows the quilting stitches better, so I stock (washable) wool.

   Kid’s quilts – or any utility quilt that will be washed often – work well with a polyester batting because of the durability. Just be sure not to stitch too densely because it gets stiff. Poly comes in flat (great for wallhangings) and fluffy (great for comforters & trapunto) and I stock both.

   Poly/cotton blends are a good choice because they have good qualities of both fibers – Poly-durability, and Cotton-drape. I stock Poly/cotton blends too.

   There are some new battings available now that are interesting. One claims to be flame retardant (I tried it, and it really works!) making it a good choice for baby quilts. I found a flame retardant batting that drapes beautifully and I use it in all size quilts – and yes, I stock it too.

   Another really soft batting I have tried (and I stock) is a bamboo blend. Since it is made of bamboo, it is considered ’green’. I am not sure what the ‘green’ criterion are, but I do try to make environmentally friendly choices when possible.

   There is also a green batting made of recycled soda bottles. It is green in color, and a bit stiff for my taste, but I bet it would work well for many craft projects!  

  Criterion #3 is size choice. Many of my customer quilts are queen size, so 95” width is a must for me, and I prefer to buy batting by the roll. Traditionally rolls of batting have been 25-30 yards long, and I stock at least 7 different battings, so this gets expensive (Cost is Criterion #4). Since a roll is considered ‘oversized’ it earns a shipping surcharge too.

 What to do??? Buy (and resell) batting on a bolt. The first time I saw batting-on-a-bolt, it was 60” wide, designed by Penny Haren for Checker Distributors. This is the perfect width for smaller quilts and for Quilts of Valor, which I participate in. The 60” width is so much more useful than a 48” width, and Penny has designed 60” wide fabric for backings too, but I digress – back to the battings.

   Now, many batting companies have seen the benefits of batting-on-a-bolt (also known as batting-on-a-board). It is available in many different fiber contents and widths, even queen size. These boards hold 9 yards of 95” wide batting, which is perfect for doing 3 queen size quilts, with little or no waste. Batting on a board is so reasonable, I can justify carrying 7 or more different  types of batting without needing a second mortgage.

   But, if I needed something special or I just didn’t want to keep that much batting in my inventory, it would be wonderful if I could go to my local quilt shop and purchase the batting I needed. Batting-on-a-board can be taken to the cutting counter, and custom sizes can be cut much more easily than batting-on-a-roll.

   When I need King size batting, I prefer to purchase a packaged batting, and I would buy that at my LQS too since I will get it fast. I don’t have to wait until I build an order large enough to meet the wholesale minimums, and I would not have to wait for the batting to be drop shipped from the factory. After all, time is another type of revenue, and inventory carrying costs are expenses.

   Start surfing the website, and search for ‘batting board’ or ‘batting bolt’,  logon to your account to place your order. There are lots of new batting choices for shopowners to make, and they are affordable and convenient!

 Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!     Sewlong,

Pat Barry

c 2011 By Design Quilting, LLC.  This copyright entitles you to reprint this article. All other rights reserved.

Note for professional longarm quilters –  

   I know how important it is to provide products and services that help your customers, but please remember that your local quilt shop (LQS) can also be a good business partner for you. I have adopted a “LQS Partner Policy” which simply means I will not compete against my LQS when it comes to goods and services that are not my ‘primary’ business. For instance, my primary business is quilting, not retail sales of fabrics.  I do carry some retail products (batting / backing) but I will not discount any retail products that my LQS also offers.

   My customers can bring their own battings/backing if they choose, in fact I encourage it.  I want my customers to purchase those items from their LQS because it keeps the LQS in business, it supports the quilting industry in general, and I benefit from that. So, don’t compete with them, Collaborate!

Sharpen Up the New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone !

When the hustle and bustle is over, the cleanup begins. When you are putting away the holiday decorations, take a look at your studio or workarea and make a list of those items that have been very useful this year, but are wearing out and need to be replaced.

It is important to keep your favorite tools in good working shape. Anything sharp deserves your consideration ! If you can sharpen it, great, but in many cases it is faster and easier to replace it. This goes for the pins, needles, seam rippers, rotary cutters, rotary cutter blades, cutting mats and scissors.

Shop owners might consider a special “Start Sharp!” sale for the New Year, and look for really clever new products (in this otherwise stable notions category). Life is too short for dull pins, needles, scissors and blades!

Here is what I will be buying to replace old, worn out gadgets:

Todd’s Catch-n-Cut Scissors – These are relatively new, and a real help to longarm quilters. They are snips, and the two sides are different lengths. The longer side has a hooked end that can pull up the bobbin thread without moving the quilting machine. The shorter side has a rounded end so it is safer to use when trimming threads close to the quilt top. I prefer these over my old ones because I can use them 1 handed more easily – I don’t have to get my thumb and finger into the finger holes. These work really well with my embroider unit too – the hooked side is thin enough to slide under the embroidery foot, to pull up the bobbin thread.
Checker Item #NOT048, List $21.95.

Checker Item #NOT048

Retractable Holder – I always like to have my scissors close at hand, and why not get a holder that is pretty ! Checker Item # 1415-GC List $5.75

Checker Item # 1415-GC

Pins for the Longarm – There are several methods for attaching a quilt to a quilting machine, and using pins is very common. These pins from HandiQuilter are like corsage pins – they are long, sturdy, sharp and have a pearl end that makes it easy to push them through multiple layers of fabric and/or canvas. Far too often quilters tolerate old, dull T-pins which make it much harder to load a quilt. Checker Item #HG00370, List $9.00

Checker Item #HG00370

Pins for the quilt top – Pins with burrs can snag your quilt top fabric, so get rid of the old ones, and get some new ones! I rarely put any pins in/on the surface of the quilt top because of the potential for running over it with the longarm. These are the only exception because they are very thin. More than once I have stitched right over one of these pins without a problem. (That doesn’t mean you should stitch over them – it just isn’t as dangerous as hitting a T-pin).
Checker Item #115C, List $5.69

Checker Item #115C

Seam Rippers – are one of the fundamental tools for a quilter, and they need to be safe and sharp. I like the seam rippers with a razor blade point, but it does get dull. There is a new model now available from Gingher that has a retractable blade – How smart is that! Especially since I often place the seam ripper on the quilt top when burying threads. Checker Item # G3779, List $28.00.

Checker Item #G3779

Don’t forget the replacement blades! Checker Item # 01-005706. List $13.00

Checker Item # 01005706

What about a new Cutting Mat! This one from Grace is actually 2 sided, and has a grid, measurements and registration lines for common angles. I prefer the 24”x36” (or larger) size because I often cut strips of fabric off the bolt, but they come in many sizes.
Checker Item #170171 List $59.95

Checker Item #170171

New Rotary Cutting tools are always a good idea, and Clover has a ‘Soft Grip’ feature which is really nice. Why not make it easier to hold and use the cutter? Available in 18mm, 28mm, 45mm and 60mm.
Checker Item # 7500CV (45mm) List $16.50

Checker Item #7500CV

Don’t forget the replacement blades! Get the 5-pack for added economy. Clover packages their replacement blades in a plastic case which makes it much safer to store blades, and safer to dispose of them. Checker Item #7509 List $26.00.

Checker Item #7509

There are lots of products that get worn out over time and need to be replaced – these are just a few. Having good tools makes it easier to deliver a good quilted product. As for New Years resolutions, how about encouraging yourself (or your customers) to try a new quilting technique this year. I will cover some products to help inspire you in the near future.

Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!
Pat Barry

PBQ-Tips – Bobbin Winding at its finest!

People who attended the Checker Open House last month had the chance to see a cool new tool ! The Deluxe Sidewinder Bobbin Winder from Simplicity.

Item # 881715

This is a portable, lightweight, variable speed bobbin winder that fits all bobbins! And it doesn’t require a foot pedal, so I can set it up, walk away while it winds, and I know it will turn itself off when it is done. Check out the picture – Here are the key features:

There are different posts for the different bobbin sizes including the really big “M” bobbins used by many longarm quilting systems (as shown in the picture). For those of us who have several different brands of domestic sewing machines, one of the other posts will fit all major sewing machines (blue, green or yellow).

All of my sewing machines have an onboard bobbin winder but I use cone thread whenever possible because of the economy. The Sidewinder can handle cone thread, which my other machines can’t do easily. I can even use the big thread cones because the first thread guide (above the cone of thread) is adjustable in height. There is a tension assembly (silver knob) to accommodate all sizes and/or weights of thread.

There is a red power button that lights up telling you it is ready. The green on/off button is used to start the unit, and the white dial (above the red power switch) is a speed control. Speed control is essential for specialty threads like the invisible threads which must be wound slowly and gently, so the invisible thread does not stretch. Carefully winding bobbins is important with many ‘fussy’ threads, so tension adjustments and speed adjustments are important.

It is easy to adjust how much thread is wound on the bobbin before it turns itself off. This allows us to make adjustments for the different size bobbins but also allows us to wind a partial bobbin – for those times when you only have a partial row of quilting to finish. Winding a partial bobbin on a typical standalone bobbin winder requires adjusting the switch with a screwdriver, or stopping the foot pedal before it is done. With the Sidewinder bobbin winder, just turn the little dial that fits into the bobbin space and it will stop automatically. And when you are done, no more looking for your scissors because there is a thread cutter attached ! Simplicity thought of it all! Since the Sidewinder is portable, I can take it with me to quilting retreats. Oh and one last feature – It is really cute!

PBQ Tips – Fabric Panels for longarm quilting classes

Wow, what a spring !  In the past couple months I have attended several major longarm quilting shows, and either taught or had a booth at each one. I tried something new in my hands-on quilting machine templates classes, and it was a real hit . . .  preprinted quilt panels from RGA Designs.

 These are not the typical preprinted panels – these have been designed as a teaching tool, and they are great. There are several choices available, but my preference was the colored panel from the Design Builder instruction set. It has 6 different quilt blocks, plus sashings and borders. These are sold by the bolt.

My classes are customized to teach people how to use the Sweet Set Quilting Machine Templates from Creative Grids. The beginner class starts with the Straight Stitcher rulers for outlining and stitch-in-the-ditch (SID). Then the concentric shapes are used to custom quilt the blocks. The Border Curve templates are used to create a structure in the border that is enhanced by adding some free motion quilting. The quilting design choice for the borders and sashings will vary depending on the quilter’s skill level.

Creative Grids Class Templates

Participants can take the panel home and make a tote out of it. The FREE pattern for the tote is on Renae’s website (

The panels are great for teachers looking to design their own classes or the teacher can use the instructions from the Design Builder kit  which includes the fabric panel, an instruction book and a DVD.

Design Builder Kit

Renae Allen (RGA Designs) also has other Skill Builder instruction books that focus on machine quilting with a domestic sewing machine (DSM) or a sit-down quilting system.

So, consider updating your classes and include these panels and/or instructional materials. It is a great way to help your customers enhance their skills and also have a quilted piece to make a cute tote!

Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!


Pat Barry