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Machine Quilting Designs: Arcs

Arcs are a fast and easy way to quickly fill in sashing and borders. They work well in irregular shapes too! Find out how to quilt this versatile design!

Thu, 8 May 2014|

"Hi, I'm Jennifer, here with Handi Quilter ambassador Angela Walters. And we're talking about some special stitches you might want to learn for your long-arm machine quilting to fill in some of those sashing and block areas." "And today we're going to be talking about arcs, because when I'm working on a quilt, I want to find something that's fast and easy, but still has a really neat look. And here you can see that I'm taking that basic straight-line piano key design and just adding a nice little curve to it." "But how do you travel when you're doing the arc design?" "It's kind of hard to see how it goes together when you see it on here, but if you take a look (I just so happen to have a sample right here), it shows you the arc design, and you can see that you actually alternate sides. So I quilt my curve, travel, and continue working my way across that way. And what's so great about this design is that it does work great in sashings or narrow borders, but it also works in those irregular shape blocks, as well, such as wedges or improvisational-pieced blocks, because you can easily go from smaller to larger." "And do you have any tips for how to make sure you stay even in your distance of the arcs?" "Well, unfortunately the biggest tip I have is practice, which I know is probably not the answer you want to hear. But if you use the foot as a guide, as well, so as you come here, travel about a quarter of an inch like your walking foot, and then just continue, you'll find that you can get into a nice rhythm and get that spacing consistent." "So you're stitching in the ditch along one side of the arc, but it's really every other arc depending on which side you're on. Would you go back and finish that if it were the edge of a block?" "I probably would, because I like the way stitching in the ditch kind of holds the whole block down, but that's a personal preference. If you just quilted it like this, I think it would be just fine." "Alright, now let's see the machine in action." "So here I just so happen to have a wedge quilted out and ready to go. And what I'm going to do is just start from the bottom and start quilting my arcs, showing you how to do that little travel stitch to get that nice arc. And the reason that we travel along the edges is that we don't want it to come to points. We want it to look like it's echoing it. And when I'm doing my curve, it's a gentle curve. I'm just working my way up. And as you can see, since it goes from side to side, it's really easy to fill the irregular shapes. A fun variation that you could do for this is if you can alternate directions, so one wedge you can have it going up this way and the next one can curve down and it makes a really neat effect." "So Angela, you've got a way for us to combine the arc design with a wavy line design and using them in combination." "Yes. And I'm actually going to draw that out for you. What's different about the arc that I'm doing in this variation is instead of traveling, I'm actually tucking it into the line. Let me show you what I'm talking about. So let's imagine that we have a couple of wavy lines that we've already quilted. And we want to fill in-between them with the arc shape. And what's really great about it is that it has a contrasting direction, so you have your horizontal, your vertical, and your horizontal, which makes a really nice look. Well, before when we talked about the arc, I've kind of traveled like this. But you could actually tuck it in here where it's almost like it's going to merge into this line. And you can just quickly fill that in. So you see the arc is a little bit more pronounced. And you can quickly work your way across. And tucking it in there gives it that look that it's really kind of getting behind there." "It's a little sharper edge than the other design. And that's one that you've used on this quilt behind us and I love the finished look of it." "One little tweak gives it a completely different look." "Terrific. Well, arcs are something that every quilter should add to her arsenal of stitches. It's a great alternative to stippling and loops, and something else that you can try to add interest and texture to your finished quilts."