What You Need to Know About Kimberbell Clear Blue Tiles for Machine Embroidery Background Quilting


You've heard the buzz. You've seen the introduction video. And maybe you've even seen the musical number. But do you still have questions about Kimberbell Clear Blue Tiles™? Let's take a closer look at this (Yep, I'm gonna say "life-changing!") new product coming soon to your favorite quilt shop!

So...What Are Clear Blue Tiles?

Clear Blue Tiles are a complete system for quilting on your home embroidery machine. The stitching goes through all three layers of a quilt sandwich (back fabric, batting, and top fabric), with traditional, continuous quilting on both sides of your project. Clear Blue Tiles help you (easily!) achieve the look of custom quilting in-the-hoop, without having to worry about math formulas or carefully lining up the elements of a design. It all just flows, like you'd used a long-arm machine!

And all you do is place your tile(s), mark your fabric, and choose the embroidery file to match the size. Clear Blue Tiles have the same scale as all of the coordinating embroidery designs, so you can use a variety of tiles on the same project for professional, finished results.

How to Use Clear Blue Tiles



The Clear Blue Tiles system includes a variety of Finished Block Tiles and Finished Border Tiles that coordinate with Kimberbell background quilting designs. To use them, simply:

  • Prepare your quilt sandwich with top fabric, batting, and back fabric.
  • Choose a tile and place it on the top of your fabric.
  • Use the included water-soluble pen to mark the center dot, crosshairs, directional arrow, sides, and corners of the tile.
  • Write the size of the tile in the little window (as shown above).
  • If desired, continue marking your entire top with a variety of tiles.
  • Pick the embroidery file that matches the tile size and load into your machine (make sure orientation matches the directional arrow).
  • Hoop and quilt your project in-the-hoop! (Note: Each tile will need its own hooping.)

Tip: A quilt sandwich is stable enough to be hooped on its own (without stabilizer).

The Essentials Set



The Clear Blue Tiles Essentials Set includes everything you need to get started:

  • 14 Finished Block Sizes
  • 12 Finished Border Sizes
  • 2 Water-Soluble Pens
  • 2 Slap Bands
  • USB with six different finished block quilting designs (each design available in 14 sizes); 2 finished border quilting designs (12 sizes each), and size bonus "Bitty Blocks" (which are 2x2")
  • The exclusive Seasonal Table Runner project
  • The (very detailed, step-by-step) Clear Blue Tiles User Guide

Tip: The background quilting files on the Clear Blue Tiles USB are exclusive designs that you won't get anywhere else.


Why Slap Bands?

You may be familiar with the brilliance of Kimberbell Stabilizer Slap Bands. But why would you need them for Clear Blue Tiles?



Well, when you're quilting a large project in-the-hoop, chances are you'll have a bunch of excess fabric hanging off the side of your machine. Not only does this extra fabric get in the way, but if it's hanging down, that weight can pull and distort your design during embroidery. Use the Clear Blue Tiles Slap Bands to hold the fabric together and out of the way (as shown above)!

Tip: Clear Blue Tiles work best for projects that are 60 x 60" or smaller.


Seasonal Table Runner


Also included on the Clear Blue Tiles USB is a darling pattern for Kimberbell's Seasonal Table Runner!

Our exclusive background quilting designs include swirls, loops, border swirls, border loops, and delightful variations for winter, spring, summer, and fall. Also included are six “Bitty Blocks,” 2x2” designs that can be used in corners or as fun surprises in your quilting. With all of the designs and file sizes, there are 372 total quilting files included on the Clear Blue Tiles USB, and the Seasonal Table Runner gives you the chance to discover and delight in all the possibilities. 

Tip: Stitch the Seasonal Table Runner project to practice using your Clear Blue Tiles!


The Expansion Set


The Expansion Set is meant to add to and not replace the Essentials Set. Why?

Well, for starters, you'll only get the User Guide and the USB with the Essentials Set. Like their names imply, the Essentials Set is absolutely essential, while the Expansion Set simply expands your Clear Blue Tiles collection. Perfect for larger hoop sizes, the Expansion Set includes 20 Clear Blue Tiles and 2 water-soluble pens. Because they have the same scale, you’ll easily mix and match these larger Clear Blue Tiles with those in our Essentials Set.

Block-by-Block vs. Allover Quilting

Many have wondered which background quilting patterns on kimberbell.com will work with Clear Blue Tiles. To answer that, let's talk about block-by-block vs. allover quilting.

Block by Block Quilting

Block-by-block quilting is when each block of a project is stitched with its own quilting design. Blocks are quilted separately,  sewn together, and then quilted with a stitch-in-the-ditch method. When quilting block-by-block, the stitches do not show on the back fabric; only the top fabric has been quilted. (Note: Background quilting is done before any applique or embroidery designs are added.)

Kimberbell's block-by-block quilting designs include batting and tack-down lines and do not work with Clear Blue Tiles. Ideal for use with Orange Pop Rulers, these designs are often directional and include travel lines that are sewn into the seam.

Tip: Background quilting designs shown in ORANGE on kimberbell.com are block-by-block designs ideal for Orange Pop Rulers, not Clear Blue Tiles. Designs shown in BLUE are allover quilting designs ideal for Clear Blue Tiles (although they also can be used with Orange Pop Rulers).


Repeated Allover Quilting

Repeated allover quilting is using one background quilting design throughout the whole project. Kimberbell’s Clear Blue Tiles quilting designs do not have lines to match up, but they still look continuous. Background quilting will go off the edge of the quilt top and onto the excess batting (which is just fine, as you'll be cutting that off anyway).

Tip: All Kimberbell background quilting designs are digitized to the same scale. If other quilting designs are used, there may be gaps or overlapping in your quilting.


Custom Allover Quilting

Custom allover quilting is using several designs and sizes to accentuate different blocks or sections of the project. Like repeated allover quilting, these designs are stitched through the quilt sandwich. Pick the tile size that matches the section or block you want to quilt and choose different quilting designs for each block!

Not Just for Quilts...



As shown above, you can also use Kimberbell background quilting designs on a whole lot more than just quilts.  Clear Blue Tiles make it easy to add quilting to variety of Kimberblanks and other projects! (Perhaps you used a Clear Blue Tile to quilt the Dream, Plan, Do Folio from the Live Creatively Bella Box?)

Tip:  For projects (like Kimberblanks) that do not include back fabric, simply use Wash-Away Sticky-Back Stabilizer as shown in the Clear Blue Tiles User Guide!




Hoop Sizes

Another wonderful thing about Clear Blue Tiles is that you don't have to have large hoops to do background quilting in your embroidery machine. Clear Blue Tiles work with a variety of hoop sizes, from a small 4x4 all the way up to a 9x14. (The 9x14 size even works within the parameters of a 10x16 hoop!)

Our Product Development Team thoroughly tested Clear Blue Tiles on ALL machine types. If you have a machine with a narrow hoop, the wider Clear Blue Tiles may not fit as well; however, the longer Clear Blue Tiles will still work beautifully. If the Clear Blue Tiles embroidery field size is smaller than the hoop embroidery field size, the tile will always fit.

Tip: Even with larger machines, Clear Blue Tiles are the easiest and fastest way to perfectly align background quilting designs for seamless allover quilting. Machines with large hoops work very well with Clear Blue Tiles in stitching big areas at once without overlap or large gaps.


Coming Soon!

Kimberbell Clear Blue Tiles are coming soon to your favorite quilt shop! And once they're in your hands, the fun is just beginning. We'll be releasing helpful tutorials and educational videos to help you along the way, so there's a lot to look forward to.

We're so excited to see what you create with Clear Blue Tiles!

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