Sunday, May 25, 2014

Using Quilt Pounces and Stencils on the HQ Sweet Sixteen

Sweet Sixteen Sunday!

I'm so happy to announce that I have teamed up with Handi Quilter Australia as an Ambassador for the HQ Sweet Sixteen. Yeah!!

I'm so excited about this as I have been a huge fan of the Sweet Sixteen for years. I am so happy to be able to bring you lots of hints and tips to make the most of your machine or maybe entice you to buy one ;) This is the first in my new weekly 'Sweet Sixteen Sunday' posts.  

I'm beginning my 'Sweet Sixteen Sunday's' with a blog post all about using the Chalk Pounce to help with your Quilting.

I'm finishing off a quilt at the moment that has lots of open space. This quilt is a perfect candidate to use plastic templates as it is a block based quilt that repeats over the whole quilt. I have chosen 2 different templates but both are based on the 'feather' design.

To start with, you will need a chalk pounce. I'm sure there is a few different brands around, but I have only used this one. I have a total of 3 pounces, I tend to go a bit overboard with gadgets :) I have a White, Pink and Blue chalk pounce pad. I can't remember where I got all of mine from, but if you google 'Chalk Pounce' there is a heap of options that come up.

The chalk pounce is basically like the old blackboard dusters we used to use at school, remember how we used to have to take them outside of class and bang them together until the chalk all came out... The pounce pad is the same thing except there is a reservoir inside that holds the powdered chalk and slowly feeds it through the 'duster'.

The white is probably my favourite as the chalk can be removed by simply ironing your piece and the chalk will disappear. I did try the Pink chalk on this quilt, but I had a lot of trouble seeing the chalk on my off-white fabric. The fabric I was using has a weird paint like stripe to the design and so I think the chalk was sitting on top of the fabric rather than settling in.... The blue however was perfect, it was easy to see and stayed in place without brushing off. Ultimately that same feature has become a bit of a problem as I'm having trouble removing the blue chalk.

In this case that is not a problem as I planned on washing the quilt anyway, so I don't mind having to wash it to remove the blue chalk, but if you are working on a piece that couldn't be washed, I would probably not use the pink or blue chalks.

Onto the stencils. As I said, I have used 2 different stencils on this quilt. One for the very middle of each block and one for the 'sashing'. I have also ditch stitched every single seam on the quilt. Stencils are hard to find... I have seen some online on eBay, or I highly recommend asking your Local Quilt Shop if they can order some in for you. They may have a booklet that you can order from.

I think ditch stitching is essential to get your quilt to lay nice and flat, so my first job is always to ditch every single seam. I spray baste my quilts so I don't use pins, but if you do use pins, you should also be able to remove them after ditch stitching to make free motion quilting much more fun.

Once the ditching is complete, you can lay your stencil into position. To apply the chalk, I leave the cover on the pounce and give it a tap on the table. This helps to feed the chalk through the pounce. You then gently swipe the pounce over the stencil 1 or 2 times. It often looks like the chalk isn't working, but after 2 swipes, lift up a corner of the stencil and you will be able to see if you need to continue or whether you have past enough chalk through the stencil.

There is a few other options if you don't want to use the chalk. For example you can use a water soluble pen or ceramic pencil and trace the design onto the quilt top. Someone asked if I like Frixion pens to mark my quilting. To be honest I don't like the frixion pens for marking my quilts. I have used them quite a lot and on some fabrics the line doesn't completely disappear, it sometimes turns a funny yellow colour. I have also had the ink from a Frixion pen return even after I thought it had completely gone away. A friend of mine recently used a red friction pen to mark her quilting lines on a white background and the ink actually stained her white thread a pink shade. So even after ironing, her quilt looks like it had been quilted with pink thread.... Personally I won't use the Frixion pens for marking my quilting lines anymore, but if it works for you... Go for it! :)

To be honest, the chalk pounce method is not my favourite way to mark a quilt, but it is definitely the quickest and is fantastic if you are lacking in confidence or have trouble deciding on quilting designs. In future blog posts I will take you through a few of my favourites, or check out my book ;)

For the actual quilting, I used my Sweet Sixteen and I had the whole quilt completely finished in 2 afternoons. The machine makes life so much easier. One of the things I like most about the Sweet Sixteen is the table. The table is so slick and smooth that the project you are working on just glides across the table.

When I first tried free motion quilting on my old domestic machine I thought it was just me and that I could just not do it... I had trouble getting the quilt (no matter how small it was) to move smoothly under the needle. This caused the quilting lines to be jagged and shapes were never smooth. Not to mention the stitch length...

Then I watched a few crafts classes, and sat down at a HQ Sweet Sixteen. Instantly my quilting was better! My stitch length was so much more consistent, my movements were smoother and the machine is at the perfect height, so I didn't get as sore, even after a big session :)
I found that my old machine surface was quite 'sticky'... well I guess sticky is not the right word, but the machine kind of grabbed hold of the quilt and wouldn't let it pass smoothly over the bed of the machine. So if you get a chance to try out a HQ Sweet Sixteen, I would definitely recommend it! It might not be you after all!

You can find your closest dealer at

I have made a video to show you the whole process, so grab a cuppa and have a look at how I quilt using the HQ Sweet Sixteen and stencils.

Hugs Paula xxx


  1. Great video! You make it looks so easy, and your quilting is beautiful! I recently bought the iron off Pounce, but have yet to try it. I guess I should take it out and give it a try!! Thanks for the good tips.

  2. Great video! Love it. Since it is YouTube can you try to add closed captioned to it so I understand what you are saying due to me being Deaf? Am still so jealous of you getting that machine. LOL! hugs