JUKI Spotlight: An Inappropriate Quilter with Leslie Bercher

Known for creating beautiful quilts, sharing tips and tricks for your sewing rooms, and her quilting podcast with co-host Rochelle Rice, we’re excited to spotlight Leslie Bercher, Quilter and podcast host for Inappropriate Quilters! Joining us for this month’s spotlight, we got to interview Leslie about her journey in quilting, the podcast’s beginning with co-host Rochelle, and how she created her brand.

It all started with Leslie’s grandmother, Helen. Helen was a member of a church that held Auxiliary Meetings where other members would quilt, crochet, and embroider. It took Leslie several years to watch her grandmother attend these meetings and see her create beautiful projects before picking up the hobby. So it was 2018 when Leslie, with two of her best friends, decided to take a class called ‘Quilt 101’.

“My first quilt was a log cabin, and I made two immediately. That was the beginning, and I haven’t looked back.”

Leslie began sharing her work online, finding a passion for creating and taking the time to build these quilts and designs. It was after a friend recommended she create a profile on social media, explaining she was missing out by not joining the online community when she opened her account. Opening herself up to the idea, she began posting and sharing her projects, excited to see how many beautiful quilters were out there in the world.

It was online that Leslie found a supportive community in her projects and offered her the opportunity to network and build relationships with new people! Consistently supporting one another in their ideas, and encouraging those who have lost their “sew-jo,” as Leslie says, has made the community, unlike any other group she’s been a part of.

This community has also been the inspiration for countless projects she’s created, inspired by other creators on social media. While not a modern quilter, she finds inspiration in all their designs picking from their color selections, patterns, and quilting textures. She also focuses on who she is creating, letting that drive much of the inspiration.

At one of these quilt retreats with the quilting community, she met Rochelle, someone who, according to Leslie, “has never met a stranger.” Leslie and Rochelle were placed in the same group, and their group’s theme was chickens! With their organized and over-the-top decorations, they couldn’t resist having a group mascot, Leon, the rubber chicken.

One day, during the retreat, Leon went missing! Leslie convinced Rochelle was to blame for the Rubber Duck disappearance, and she took it upon herself to ‘borrow’ Rochelle’s foot controller from her machine when she wasn’t looking. The joke would fall back on Leslie when Rochelle returned to the retreat the next day after a nice early night in, unaware her controller had been taken in the first place! They were fast friends after that, bonding over jokes and laughter.

 A couple of years later, the podcast topic would come up between the two friends. During a dream quilt vacation, a sewing retreat where two of their favorites, Camille Roskelley and Angela Walters, would attend, they were having breakfast when the idea popped into Leslie’s head.

With only an idea and some research, Rochelle purchased all the equipment while on their retreat and had it shipped to her home for when they arrived back in town. Excited about their new project, there was only one thing missing, a name! But, as their friends joined in on the conversation, one name stuck out. Walking away from their breakfast table, their friend Angela turned around and offered up “Inappropriate Quilters,” the perfect name for the inappropriate duo!

“Angela was getting up from the table and casually said, ‘oh, I know what you should name it. Inappropriate Quilters.’ We looked at each other and said, “that’s it!”

From there, the show project was on! Weekly episodes, released on Saturdays, became the norm where two quilting friends could join together to discuss life and quilting. With no script in hand, the two friends meet at Leslie’s studio weekly to record before she finishes editing and schedules the episodes Saturday morning. Finding their way into other quilters’ studios through their speakers, their show focuses on just two friends who love quilting, allowing listeners to feel like they have friends in the room with them when they’re creating.

One topic Leslie loves to cover is the process of creating and organizing your studio space. As quilters and sewists know, having a space that encourages creativity and allows you to move and build your projects is important! As an advocate for ‘Function and Beauty,’ we asked Leslie what recommendations she can offer to those building their studio space today.

“You have to start with function. But if it isn’t cute, it better have a very good reason to take up your space!”

What else can you find in Leslie’s studio? Her JUKI! With her Haruka TL-18QVP, named Camille after Camille Roskelley, Leslie has been able to create beautiful quilts and projects she loves. With 95% of her projects involving straight-stitch, she chose a machine that fit her needs. Her top three features at the time were: consistent straight stitch, an automatic thread cutter, and speed! Her best recommendation to sewists and quilters looking for a new machine is to focus on what features are important to you, figure out what type of stitches you plan to create with, the speed, and visit your local dealer! A local dealer can listen to everything you may want and offer machine recommendations and test-sewing.

Leslie’s quilting has opened up a community for her, allowing her to be creative, meet new people, and enjoy her hobby! As she’s transitioned to a content creator and business owner, we asked what advice she’d offer to someone trying to build their brand. “There are so many little things that you didn’t plan. Be gracious with yourself in the process.” Setting up the government business aspects of a shop, like tax ID, sales taxes, and even finding a partner, can be challenging, but the final product is worth it when you love what you do!

We’re so excited to continue seeing Leslies’ brand and content grow, especially with possible plans of opening a YouTube page for creators to join! Listening to feedback from the community she’s created is vital, and she trusts them to lead her toward new and exciting project ventures. So even with her reservations about being on camera, you can expect Leslie to meet her community in the middle and find a way to join the video world!

From quilting to running a podcast, we had a great time getting to know Leslie and going behind the scenes for her projects. If you’ve enjoyed getting to know Leslie and want to keep up with her and Rochelle’s podcast and future quilt projects, join us in following her socials and websites below!

Blog: read here!

Instagram: follow here!

Linktree: Find Leslies channels here!

YouTube: watch here!

Podcast: Inappropriate Quilters – available where you listen to podcasts

Inappropriate Quilters Shop: shop here!

Catching Up with Rob Appell

You may recognize this month’s spotlight from “Michael Miller Fabrics Making It Fun” or “Man Sewing,” we’re so excited to spotlight our JUKI Ambassador, Rob Appell, during National Sewing and Quilting month! In today’s blog, we get to speak with Rob about his journey in quilting, his passion for the craft, and how he came to be where he is today.

Robs journey in quilting began when he moved back home from college, spending his free time outside and snowboarding. His mother, the manager and eventual owner of the local quilt shop brought Rob into the business, where he started as a clerk. When his mother began bringing in machines to sell, Rob eventually shifted to machine repairs, and here is where he started falling in love with sewing!

Creating fun Hawaiian shirts as his uniform for the quilt shop, he found himself having fun making them and eventually began looking into patchwork quilting. A fun and easy way to pick up quilting, he began testing his skills in free motion quilting his projects. Again, finding himself loving the hobby. The rest, as they say, is history!

Since he began to quilt, Rob has accomplished a published quilt book, starred in and hosted multiple quilting YouTube shows, created a community for his teachings, and so much more! His videos encourage new quilters to be creative and enjoy their projects! With a focus on basic techniques, his hope when he’s creating for viewers is that they find something they can take away from his lessons and learn how to make their versions.

Recently starring in ‘Michael Miller Fabrics’ Making it Fun,’ you can follow along with his high-energy videos and view the different patterns and free motion quilting techniques Rob uses. While he offers some design patterns and templates for quilters, his work mainly focuses on organic creation. Going with the flow, his work often doesn’t follow design patterns; the finished design patterns he has sold usually come from these organic works he’s completed after the fact!

“The Free Motion Quilting, I prefer to go freestyle, no pattern, sometimes a plan, but usually pretty random and free.”

Quilting didn’t take him away from the outdoors he loved. Combing two of his favorite things, Rob is known for his landscape quilts. These beautiful pieces focus on nature and showcase views in bright colors. In fact, in 2009, Rob created 12 different quilts that featured faces of endangered species. Using the patterns from his work, he was able to fundraise and advocate for these species through sales that went toward endangered species charities.

He also authored a pattern book, “Making Waves … Adventures of a Surf Quilter,” a self-published print book featuring his landscape and seascape quilts. Early in his quilting journey, Rob was known for his scenic creations. Then, using free motion quilting and applique, he would add fun designs like fish, coral, rocks, lighthouses, ships, and more! Then, bringing in his love for surfing, he created a piece that intertwined surf terms with quilting terms, going above the average and setting himself apart.

Now, as someone who’s been quilting and creating those quilting videos we love for years, we asked Rob what keeps him going. “Videos are free and can be viewed over and over again if you’re learning from them. I love to present my passion for quilting.” Rob likes to focus on basic quilting techniques because he’s often reminded of how many new quilters have emerged in the community over the years. Thanks to video cameras and social sites like YouTube, where Rob hosts, he can teach how to construct quilts and the basic skills all quilters want to know. Keeping himself motivated with fun fabrics and the creative process has pushed him to bring that energy into each episode’s studio. Thankful for the following he’s gained on YouTube that keeps him going!

Rob at his studio with the J-350QVP & J-150QVP

He recently created a new quilt, the “Synergy Remix,” designed by Kristie J. Smith in her pattern book, “Splice Magic,” that he loved! Always excited to try out new and different quilting techniques, like he encourages his viewers, Rob locked himself in the quilt shop, Stitchin’ Heaven, his latest collaboration where he’ll be hosting new quilting episodes, and went to work! In one night, he created a quilt and video, maligning the entire project and finishing it. Yet, this project places a smile on his face when he thinks about it.

While Rob has gone on to try other ventures, like his work in textile design with Free Spirit Fabrics, he vouches for his love of quilting. Sharing his love of fabric and free motion quilting, he focuses on his desire to quilt the top to push him through the construction process. Recently, he’s begun focusing on improving his precision in his patchwork! By creating little half-square triangles and trimming them up, he’s found joy in practicing his skills.

Always learning and growing, Rob has begun a new journey in his quilting career with Stitchin’ Heaven! As their new YouTube manager and Content presenter, he’ll be able to create a team of quilt lovers like himself who can share their passion for the craft while teaching others worldwide. Stepping back from handling all processes by himself, he’ll now have quilting friends who will help him create new and exciting projects for viewers like you. We’re excited to see the different techniques and quilting styles that will emerge from this new partnership!

“The thing I love most about the quilting industry is that there is so much for everyone.”

With the quilting community constantly growing as new members find their passion for the hobby, we asked Rob what advice he has for JUKI Quilters. “Get to know your machine, spend 7me learning the nuances, understand what the different feet do and when to use them. Then, remember – this is a hobby, not a race. Please slow down to enjoy the process.” When you enjoy the steps to what you’re creating and take a moment to appreciate each technique you’ve picked up, you’ll truly enjoy the finished project. As Rob mentions, so many people need something positive in their lives. Take the time to find your passion, teach and work with others in your quilting community, and enjoy the process.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Rob with us, and we hope this inspires you to join him on an online video one day and check out quilting! A hobby for everyone, we hope everyone enjoys National Sewing and Quilting month with a fun new project!

Quilting Basics with JUKI

Today we’ll go over some essential tools and presser feet you’ll need to create a quilt from start to finish. When we start a hobby, we might want to grab every item we see at the shops, so follow along as we share the important ones you should grab first!

Tools to Have in Your Kit

Rotary Cutter: Shaped like a pizza cutter, the rotary cutter is perfect for cutting out your fabric pieces. If you’re using patterns for your work, using a rotary cutter is an easy and quick way to correctly cut the fabric piece to the size and shape you need. These come in different sizes, ranging from small cutters that are great for tight cuts and a large one for big projects! For quilting, we recommend purchasing a medium-sized one.

Scissors: Besides your rotary cutter, ensure scissors are designated for cutting fabric. You want to keep these separate, so they stay sharp for cutting thread and fabric cleanly. So often, when we mix our scissors and cut items like paper, cardboard, or more, this dulls the blade, fraying your material in the long run when you use them.

Seam Ripper: Make sure to keep a seam ripper on hand for those mistakes! Advanced and beginner quilters benefit from this in their tool kits since it is perfect for fixing those little mess-ups.

Self-Healing Cutting Mat: Keep your workspace safe from scratches and find yourself a self-healing cutting mat! This will allow you to use your rotary cutter safely and can be found in many different sizes.

Fabric: Sewing isn’t complete without fabric! There are many options out there for quilters to choose from. You can choose to buy fabric by the yard or purchase bundles! We recommend sticking to 100% cotton. Choose from mini charm packs, jelly rolls, jolly bars, and more, depending on the size of the quilt you want to create and what form of designs you envision.

Thread: Like your fabric, look for a thread that suits your project, like 100% cotton for quilting. Look for options that are durable and not too cheap. Here you’ll want to find a thread that won’t birds nest on you in the creative process while sticking to your budget. For quilters, we recommend Aurifil! Like we use in our JUKI Studio when creating, Aurifil is 100% Egyptian cotton and comes in many colors, perfect for your project needs. We recommend purchasing neutral colors when you begin, like tan, white and black; this way, you can easily bind most of your projects without worrying about the thread color.

Pins and Pattern weights: When you want to keep your fabric in place, using quilting pins and pattern weights is a great solution! Use quilting pins when piecing your quilts to keep the fabric from moving, and use pattern weights when cutting out the fabric with your rotary cutter! These two accessories will make your cutting and sewing experience easy and help you create a professional finished product.

For pins, try and look for longer options, as this will help you hold the fabric better when sewing through those thick pieces, and they are also much easier to grab! You can also purchase safety pins, which come straight and curved for the finishing stages of your quilt process.

Rulers: Clear-gridded rulers are important in quilting because measuring correctly matters! Helping you quickly and accurately cut fabric for your project, rulers come in an array of size options suited for your needs.

Presser Feet for the Average Quilter

While your machines will come with presser feet, let’s go over some basic presser feet you should have on hand when quilting and what they’re for!

1/4″ Presser Foot

Essential for piecing your quilts together, the 1/4″ Presser Foot allows you accurately piece your quilts together quickly and efficiently. This accessory is perfect for when you’re piecing and don’t have time consistently mind the bottom measurements on your plate.

Walking Foot

A Walking Foot is basically used for putting a set of feed dogs on top of the quilt sandwich, working in conjunction with the bottom feed dogs, and evenly helping you pull your quilt through the sewing machine. Quilting with a standard presser foot on thick fabric or hard-to-feed material like the ¼” Presser Foot, for example, could lead to tucks and uneven stitches; this is why we use a Walking Foot!

Free Motion Quilting Foot

Want to add designs and texture to your quilts? You’re going to want a Free Motion Quilting Foot! With a Free Motion Quilting Foot, you will drop, or lower, your feed dogs and begin moving your quilt under the foot, free motioning the design yourself! While it takes practice using free motion quilting and controlling the quilt yourself, it can be an enjoyable and rewarding skill to learn!

We recommend checking out an Open Toe Foot when looking for your Free Motion Quilting Foot. With a small space left open on the presser foot, you’ll have a better eye on the needle and be able to easily create your designs!

Get To Quilting!

As you begin your quilting journey, research what tools you’ll need when creating! These listed are perfect for setting up your workspace and machine, so keep these in mind while you’re at the shop. If you’re an experienced quilter, what presser feet and tools do you think quilters should keep on hand? Let us know down below!

Are You Ready To Upgrade Your Sewing Machine?

As we grow our sewing and quilting skills, we sometimes wish we had more features, feet accessory options, stitch options, and more. It can be hard to decide when it’s time to upgrade our beloved sewing machines, but an upgrade may be needed if you face issues like needle breakage, your machine stalling on large products, or not having enough space to create.

Today we’re going to cover upgrades in JUKI. From our beginner machines to more advanced options, we recommend the best upgrade options depending on your current JUKI. Whether you’re a quilter, garment creator, or focus on home décor, creating is best done when your machine is ready to handle your projects.

Things to Consider Before Upgrading

Before you search for a new machine, sit down and think about what features, presser feet, stitches, and more you’ll want to use on your sewing machine. Keeping these notes in mind, you’ll be able to begin your search with a clear idea of what you need, and then you can focus on the more bell and whistle options that you want.

Workspace

Do you have a dedicated space for your sewing and quilting? Or are you commonly moving your machine around to create? An important thing to remember when shopping is your machine’s size and weight. For example, if you’re a quilter with a designated room, you can plan for stand-up or sit-down machine options with large workspace areas. However, if your workspace is your dining table on the weekends, consider a machine that can be easily moved and put away.

Features and Accessories

If you’ve been working on a simple beginner machine, chances are you’re working with a small number of stitch options and a few features. However, sewing machines are now equipped with many features and capabilities that can make your sewing experience fun and easy!

Depending on the type of projects you want, features like button sewing, zig-zag stitch, and more can help you build your skills and create professionally finished projects. If you enjoy quilting, finding a machine with a dual feed function can be extremely useful when creating, helping you enjoy the process better. If you’re a common user of heavy fabrics, you’d want to find a machine that offers durability and semi-industrial strength.

Completing a Test-Run

Don’t forget to try it out before your buy! If you can test-drive your dream machine options, you can see if you like the features, power, and size of a machine before purchasing. When we upgrade our sewing machine, we’re looking for one that will be durable and long-lasting, which means this can be an investment. Before purchasing, you want to ensure that the machine can handle your current and future project ideas while allowing you to learn new skills and techniques easily.

5 Features to Keep In Mind

Finally, before purchasing your sewing machine, we want to share five features we believe sewists shouldn’t live without! Making your experience easier, these features were created to help you create your projects easier and faster while teaching you new techniques.

  1. Needle Down/Up

If you’re creating quilts, home décor, or even garments having needle up/down features can be essential in creating clean finished projects. By setting the machine, so it stops with the needle down in the fabric, you now have greater control and can turn or pivot the fabric you’re working on.

2. Automatic Buttonhole

Any project requiring a button can be completed faster and more efficiently with an automatic buttonhole. Machines that offer this feature usually come with a small variety of buttonhole options, allowing you to create pieces for garments, quilts, or decorations. Test-drive the machine before purchasing, test out the button holes to ensure you like the options available, and check out how easy this feature is to work.

3. Needle Position

While some sewists may overlook this feature, being able to change the needle position can help you achieve particular looks on your projects. For example, you can change the needle position from left to right if your machine has a zig-zag stitch. In addition, some machines come with multiple options for needle positions, like our DX-4000QVP, which allows you to quickly move the needle to the ¼ position with a tap of a button.

4. Automatic Tension

If you’re quilting or creating a garment piece, you know that changing tension between your project pieces can be a hassle and time-consuming when you first begin. A feature sewists appreciate is the Automatic Tension. Allowing you to switch between fabrics with ease, the machine will automatically pick up the tension it needs to be at for you to create your projects and lower the amount of work you need to do!

5. Dual Feed

Lastly, a Dual Feed feature is perfect for you if you’re a quilter. By allowing the fabric to feed from both top and bottom evenly, this feature can easily handle fabrics that shift or are bulky. So now, when you’re creating your family quilts, you’ll have less stress in dealing with shifty fabric or those thick seams.

Upgrade Recommendations

If you’re planning to upgrade your sewing machine, we’ve created a list below of machine recommendations depending on your current model. Whether creating quilts, apparel, or handbags, having the right features as you grow your skills will help you make those professionally finished projects you’re aiming for.

Quilting:

Suppose you’ve found more room to create and a designated space for your machine to fill, look into a sit-down or stand-up quilting machine! While a table-top quilting machine is perfect for many quilters, upgrading to a sit-down quilting machine will allow your projects to grow and flourish.

A sit-down machine like the J-150QVP offers straight-stitch and quilting like your TL-18QVP. This way, you can create your quilt pieces while working on other projects like your garment pieces and home décor. The throat space is larger on this machine as well! Now you’ll have a 12-inch spacious throat space and a 30″ x 30″ table where you can open optional leaves for even more room and easily create larger quilts!

For an even larger workspace, we recommend the J-350QVP! Like the J-150QVP, you’ll have a 12″ throat space for creating. However, your quilt space has just expanded immensely! You now have the option to convert your machine to a 5′, 7′, 10′, and 12′ frame. This frame will allow you to create quilts as large as king size.

If your focus is quilting, and you have a designated space in your home for your machine, we recommend checking out the J-350QVP Stand-Up! Upgrading from the J-150QVP to the J-350QVP will allow you to upgrade your quilt size and use new features like the Quilt Creative Touch 5.

The J-350QVP Stand Up offers options in 5′, 7′, 10′, and 12′ feet frames. From twin-sized quilts to king-sized, you’ll easily be able to free-motion quilt designs onto your quilts and enjoy the new digital aspect of quilting. Thanks to the QTC5 program that you can get as an add-on to your machine, you can now free-motion quilt with the tap of a finger.

The Quilter’s Creative Touch 5 is a user-friendly add-on that allows you to easily design and layout your projects using a Windows tablet or PC. Powered by quilt motion, the system will stitch designs onto your quilt with over 220 options. You can also master creating your designs and personalizing your quilts!

Sewing:

Creating apparel is fun and exciting, but it’s best when you have the right machine! If you’ve been working on clothing projects and notice you wish you had more stitch options.

Compared to the 70-HW, which holds 80 stitch patterns and five buttonhole patterns, the F Series begins with 106 stitches, including 16 professional buttonholes and three lettering fonts! Decorative stitches are a fun and easy way to add personality and texture to your garment pieces. Line your skirts, add them to your handbags or use them in home décors like table runners and pillows. The lettering options let you go the extra mile and personalize your projects!

Another bonus of upgrading your machine to the HZL-F or DX Series is the accessories available to you. Now you can use presser feet like the 1/4″ Guide Foot, Invisible Zipper Foot, Smooth Presser Foot, and more. These accessories will help your skills in garment sewing grow and allow you to test new techniques you couldn’t do on your other model machine before.

If you’re looking for a machine upgrade that goes the extra mile, we recommend the DX Series! Using a touchscreen, you can easily master the stitches and feature options on your machine. Beginners and sewists can enjoy the large selection of options available for decorative stitches, letter stitching, buttonhole options, and other features like needle positions and automatic tension.

The HZL-G Series is an excellent machine for a beginner sewist. Still, if you find your project skills outgrowing the capabilities of your sewing machine, we recommend upgrading to the DX series. While both sewing machines are computerized, the DX-4000QVP offers a 7″ touch screen that goes the extra mile for sewists testing new techniques.

While the G series offers excellent features like the automatic needle threader, free motion quilting, and powerful feeding for heavy projects, the DX offers these features and more that can ease the creation process. Now, with the DX series, you’ll be able to adjust stitch length easily, presser foot pressure, combine decorative stitching, and much more.

Designed to help you create everything under the sun, the DX series is perfect for the sewist ready to dive into their sewing journey! With the ability to make home décor, quilt, and sew garment projects, you’ll be able to excel in new techniques and project types while enjoying the ease of sewing due to the intelligent technology used in the DX machines. With features like a bobbin thread sensor and the visualization of stitches on the DX-4000QVP, you now have a concrete idea of your stitches and designs before creating.

Whether upgrading to a computerized or a stand-up quilting machine, finding the right one that can grow with you is crucial! It can be exciting to test our skills and create projects we’ve been dreaming of, so make sure to have the suitable machine and tools on hand when you need them. If you were upgrading your machine today, which one would you choose? Let us know down below!

To find a JUKI dealer near you, visit us here today!