quilting1.11 -gtg

No buyer’s remorse with my HQ Sweet 16
I purchased a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen mid-arm quilting machine in October. Several have asked for my opinion of it.

The features that convinced me to buy it:
1 — The table it sits in is compact, 30″ x 36″ — (I don’t have room for a long-arm machine.)
2– This is a sit-down machine, and the table height is adjustable for my comfort. I do not want to stand and quilt.
3–The machine stitches from 10 to 1500 stitches per minute, easily adjusted on a touch screen.
4–The generous space between the needle and motor, (16″) plus the roomy flat surface, gives me plenty of room for quilting even large quilts.
5–A heavy duty bobbin winder for the M class bobbins is included.
5–The machine is less expensive than long arm machines.
6–It’s manufactured and assembled in the USA, and each machine undergoes thorough testing before it’s shipped.
7–A local HQ rep came to my house to train me with my machine. She was patient, thorough, and a great teacher. The company knows that a well-trained owner of the machine will be happier with the product.
8–This machine can be upgraded in the future with handles, framework and a computer package to become a long arm, if I’m interested. I can also add a stitch regulator, if I decide to go that direction. (currently about $1000 to add)

I like to be prepared, trying to anticipate the future. I purchased extra bobbins, an open-toe hopping foot, a horizontal spool pin, mass quantities of size 16 and 18 sewing machine needles, and two 18″ extensions to add to the sides of the table.
That last purchase was not necessary. I quilted my first large project before I had an extension attached. I set up our standard card table on the left side. It was the same height as the HQ table and worked great! DH has since added the hardware so I have an extension added to the right side of the table. It can be extended to support the quilt, or it can hang down, out of the way.

[UPDATE: My extra, unused extension has since been sold to a lady in MN to use with her HQ Sweet 16.]

My impressions after using the Sweet 16 to machine quilt–

The visibility is wonderful! When quilting with my Brother 1500, an extended arm machine, I’m always dipping my head, craning my neck, peeking around the machine, looking to see what I’ve done, where I’ve been, where I’m going. With the Sweet 16, I just shift my eyes and I can immediately see my progress. A light ring with 28 LEDs aids visibility while stitching.

The bobbins hold a lot of thread, more than the standard bobbins I’m used to. On my first large quilt, I barely started a third bobbin. (I usually don’t add a lot of tight quilting, so that statement is relative.) Regardless of how densely anybody quilts, large bobbins save time.

The biggest difference, which I’m not used to — there is NO presser foot. I still reach around behind the needle now and then to raise the presser foot lever, and there is none. Oops!

Love the color touch screen. It’s a multi-purpose tool. I can change my speed easily, save 3 favorite speeds, needle up or down, change light brightness or volume of the beeps, troubleshoot with diagnostics that check quality of performance, and my personal favorite — keeping track of # of stitches. It’s like the odometer on a car. I reset the stitches each time I start a project, but the total stitches in the lifetime of the machine continue to add up. In a couple weeks, my total is over 300,000 stitches.

Maintenance is basic. One drop of oil in the bobbin case area after 2 bobbins’ worth of sewing. Gently brush lint away. Replace needles regularly. If there are problems, the diagnostics on the touch screen can help. The HQ rep is available to give advice, and there’s tech support available online or by phone.

Easy set up and take down. If I wanted to move it, I could do it myself, or DH would help. (So far, it hasn’t moved since being set up.) Machine is 53 pounds, and the table may be a similar weight. It’s a strong, solid table and does not shudder and shake when I’m quilting at a high speed.

This machine is not a magic tool for perfect quilting. I have to move the quilt under the needle– just as I did with my domestic machine. The Sweet 16 does not move above the quilt, as with a longarm.
I did not purchase a stitch regulator (though that can be added for an additional price). There are no plug-in pantographs. I’m responsible for the quality of my stitches. I’m responsible for the length and evenness and direction of the stitches. While quilting in the middle of a large quilt, I still have a lot of quilt to settle on my shoulder and/or chest and/or legs until I’ve quilted away from the middle. I’m in charge of manipulating the quilt, balancing its weight, and controlling those stitches. HOWEVER — that 16″ space and the flat surface make it so much easier than quilting with my domestic machine, as I previously did on our dining room table.

If interested, you can read more about the HQ Sweet Sixteen machine on the HandiQuilter website. There are a couple introductory videos, Getting Started #1 and Getting Started #2. You can find the location of dealers (including Australia) and there’s a map of where machines have been shipped. (updated periodically) Plus quilters who have bought HandiQuilter products have sent their stories to the website.

BTW–I’m just sharing my comments and observations here. I have no connection with the HandiQuilter company, other than I bought one of their machines, and I’m very glad I did.

UPDATE: — If you’re curious how much I use my HQ Sweet Sixteen, quilt #87 was finished last week. A few of those were crib-sized, many were lap size, and the rest were twin size, full size, and queen size. The lifetime stitch count on my “Nellie” is currently 4,857,371. (yes–it’s approaching 5 million)

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I had my very first Singer for 10 years – bought it myself when I was still in High School. That’s when I started sewing “for real”. What I mean by that is – that’s when I started making ALL my own garments and doing all of Mom’s mending. Back then, it was mandatory to take Home Ec in school. I had already been sewing “a little” from what Grandmother taught me but my love of sewing blossomed after taking Sewing in Home Ec.

After my Singer, I bought my first true love that was my main machine for 25+ years – a Pfaff 1371. (and a used Pfaff 1471 came along later). I made all our girls clothes on that 1371 – EVERYTHING. It still runs like a gem and sits in my sewing room. It was “stationed” at my daughter’s home but she just brought it back here since we live so close. She says she’d rather sew here when “the urge” hits her since she can leave everything set out here in my sewing room. She doesn’t have that kind of space available in her house with the grandkids.

After sewing our grandson’s baby ensemble when our daughter was pregnant – everything from crib sheets to crib skirt to bumper pads to quilted wallhanging to door knob hangers to window treatments , I told hubby that I was “SEW” ready to look at other machines to take my sewing to the “next” level.

Want to know something? He never even blinked. All he did was to tell me to start researching on the computer. Oh my word, that’s when I discovered the “rest” of the sewing world. Honestly – I had NEVER done any research on sewing machines before because I was so happy with the wonderful machine I had.

I bought my Bernina 200 (which is now upgraded to a full 730). Believe it or not, I had intended to buy another Pfaff – why not – mine had NEVER given me one lick of trouble. But I found, at that time, Bernina had the better website. After googling Bernina, my husband went with me and we went to different Bernina shops. I had never even been to a sewing machine shop since that Pfaff 1371 so many years prior.

We walked into the first Bernina shop, which happened to be a bit farther away – and NOT ONE PERSON waited on us. And, here we were ready to buy a machine. NO kidding, not one single solitary person approached us. So while we were there, we looked around, looked at price tags, looked at how the employees were talking to other employees……we walked out. And, I thought to myself – okay – this is another reason why I want a Pfaff. BUT – hubby convinced me to go to that other Bernina shop that I had googled. Well, it’s history from that point on……………..

I immediately sat down at a “sewing only” machine, NEVER dreaming that I’d like embroidery. Heck, I didn’t even know embroidery was possible for the little seamstresses of the world like myself. Sheesh – another world opened to me. Never realized how many fancy stitches you could have built in ONE machine. Oh yeah, I did research – but seeing these machines in person – WOW! Well, then, hubby asked the saleswoman and salesman (the couple who owned the shop happened to be both there) what else they had in machines. YIKES – wrong question …LOL They lead us over to their newest TOL machine at the time – the 200. I immediately said there was no way I could learn a machine like that. It was actually my husband that said I could. Everyone who knew me knew I was a sew-aholic. I sewed EVERYTHING, yes, I mean EVERYTHING.

My husband said it was high time I got the machine of a lifetime. He was, and is, truly my top advocate. I walked out with the TOL 200, the luggage set, embroidery module, threads, software, a couple extra feet and the biggest smile that you ever saw in your life – AND – the biggest fear that maybe I just bought something that I’d never use – the embroidery.

Nope, I use that embroidery – and now I have TWO embroidery modules that run side by side at many times. Besides my 200/730 I have the 630E and the 430 and the Bernina serger 1300. AND – a sewing room that I had never had before in my life. I always found a “corner” to sew or on the kitchen table and never complained. As long as I was sewing, I was happy – and the kids always had new outfits to wear – no, they weren’t store bought – but they were probably better than store bought. I knew they lasted longer…LOL

UPDATE: I also have the HQ16.
I dragged on …so sorry.

But, that’s my sewing machine story and I’m sticking to it.

===============gtg

“Quick” Curve Ruler — Product Review

I do love curves and I’m not a novice at doing them even if I don’t do them often. The first actual quilt I ever made was a Grandmother’s Fan. The most ambitious quilt I ever made was a paper pieced NY Beauty — 120 blocks of curved piecing. And I have taken a Double Wedding Ring class and made a small wall hanging.

It’s rare I buy a pattern or a tool. However, I’ve been loving these Metro Rings. Because Connecting Threads was having a 40% off tool sale I caved and bought the Quick Curve Ruler Ruler and the pattern. The pattern calls for strip sets so I decided to use coordinating dots, of course. I write on patterns and make notes to myself. The pattern calls for 2 1/2″ strips x width of fabric or a jelly roll. Then you cut the strips into 20″ – 22″ pieces. My strips were no less than 20 1/2″. Width of useable fabric depends on the size of selvedge as well as the manufacturer and if you pre-wash and allow for shrinkage. When I write patterns I allow for 40″ of useable fabric as it’s rare there is more than that. This pattern states the yardage is based on 44/45″ fabric.

You are to get 7 curve pieces from the strip set. I got 6. That means perhaps the yardage requirements might be off. I haven’t made an entire quilt using the pattern yardage so I don’t know this for sure.

The strip sets sewn together measure 10 1/2″ wide. However, before cutting the curves with the ruler you are to trim the strip sets to 10″ wide, so that’s 1/4″ off of each long side. I found out this has to do with the placement of the ruler on the strip set before cutting the curves. I found it a wee bit of an annoying step. This also means each outer strip is narrower than the rest of the pieces in the strip set.

The cutting directions for the pieces all make sense. That went pretty smoothly. Curves = bias. The pattern specifically says “you do not need to pin.” Well I found at least an initial pin very necessary to keep the two pieces from shifting before I got it to the sewing machine. Does this look like these two pieces will sew easily together?

Well you have to sew slow, needle down, and this ruffling does happen as you try not to sew accidental pleats. It actually did sew together fairly well. The pressing directions are good.

I did not end up with perfect curves but acceptable for a first block. I’m happy I used a darker, patterned background as imperfections would be glaringly obvious if I used a white or light solid.

This is the most confusing part of the pattern — there are diagrams but they sure didn’t make sense for this part. You are to square the blocks to 9 1/2″. Now a square is 4 equal sides. The width of the block measures about 10″. No worries as you’ll be trimming. The height of the block is 8 1/2″. How do you “square” it?

You are supposed to trim 1/8″ above the curve but when you lay the ruler on the block there is a reference mark going the correct direction on one end of the ruler but no 1/8″ reference mark on the other end. It could be my fault but I’m following the diagram here! There is fudging, eyeballing, or use of another ruler. With this entire step of the process I crossed my fingers, grabbed the rotary cutter and hoped for the best.

Now that you have two of these sections you sew them together. As you can see the edges don’t match evenly. You don’t know this until later but it’s ok. There is more squaring up later. The pattern just tells you to pair them up and sew right sides together with a 1/4″ seam. It needs to tell you to match at the seams, pin, then sew or this can happen. Oh and even if you pin like I did, this can still happen. I think it all goes back to that weird 1/8″ thingy. There are a few more confusing parts to the pattern and things I could figure on my own — like you should at least pinch pleat the corner triangle to center properly before sewing. I think the pattern was written with the “assumptions” that people know these things.

And this is one section of the Metro Rings. I made a football. I considered adding laces and stopping at just one but now I’ve made two. Two more to go to get a complete “ring” section. I do love the look. I’m in awe of those who have the math minds to figure these things out.

There is waste but perhaps no more than other rulers or templates or even in applique. So the waste isn’t an issue for me.

Final thoughts: This ruler is not for the faint of heart nor is it for the beginner. A class with a knowledgeable instructor would be very helpful. It’s probably also helpful if you’ve done curves before. Online tutorials are provided which I did not watch, yet. If I buy a pattern and ruler it should be fairly easy to follow with diagrams and written instructions. Now I will watch the tutorials to see if there is more I should know. I would love to make the entire quilt but I’m still sitting the fence…There are lots of possibilities with this ruler and there are many patterns available for using it. So it’s a multidimensional ruler and I feel it’s worth the full price, but best at 40% off price.

As with any product I choose to review, I do it of my own free will. I was not asked to do this review. I did read a review prior to starting this project and it seems I’m not the only person who has had some issues. I think honest reviews are beneficial and not those with sugar coating. I’d love to know if you’ve given the “Quick” Curve Ruler a try.

===================gtg

Packing sewing machines

THIS IS MINOR DAMAGE, I DON’T HAVE A CASE AT THIS TIME WITH SOME MAJOR DAMAGE BUT THIS LITTLE AMOUNT OF DAMAGE TO THE LID MAY HAVE BENT OR BROKEN THE SPOOL PIN ON THE MACHINE.

I REPAIR THESE OLD MACHINES SO I BUY AND SELL A LOT OF THEM AND I HAVE SEEN SOME REALLY POOR PACKING AND THERE IS NOTING WORSE THAN TO SPEND $100+ ON A MACHINE THAT YOU PURCHASED AND GETTING IT AND BECAUSE OF POOR PACKING THE MACHINE ARRIVES WITH DAMAGE AND THE SELLER SAYS “YOU SHOULD HAVE PUT INSURANCE ON IT”.

I WANT TO SAY TO EVERYBODY; “INSURANCE DOESN’T COVER DAMAGE IF IT IS CAUSED BY POOR PACKING, THAT IS THE SELLER OR PACKING COMPANY’S RESPONSIBILITY.

INSURANCE IS PAiD IF THE SHIPPING COMPANY IS RESPONsible FOR THE DAMAGE. OF COURSE THIS MAY VERY DEPENDING ON WHO THE INSURER IS.

WHAT I AM POINTING OUT IS, IF YOU PACK IT WELL IT WILL ARRIVE IN THE SAME CONDITION AS PURCHASED.

WRAP YOUR MACHINE IN BUBBLE WRAP.

DEPENDING ON THE CASE YOU MAY NEED TO TRIM WRAP SO MACHINE FITS INTO CASE PROPER.

THIS IS THE SMALL BUBBLES IF YOU ARE PACKING WITHOUT CASE CAN USE THE BIGGER BUBBLES.

I TAKE PLASTIC OR PLASTIC BAG AND WRAP AROUND ATTACHMENT BOX AND THEN RUN TAPE AROUND TO HELP SUPPORT THE BOX.

IF YOU HAVE OTHER ATTACHMENTS WRAP THEM AND YOU MAY BE ABLE TO FIT IN CASE UNDER THE SMALL TRAY BEFORE PUTTING MACHINE IN.

I ALSO PUT THE BOOK IN A PLATIC BAGGIE AND IF NEEDED PUT BETWEEN CARDBOARD AND CAN BE PUT ALONG THE SIDE OF CASE. IF THE ATTACHMENTS WON’T FIT IN

CASE WRAP AND PUT IN SHIPPING BOX. THE FOOT CONTROL CAN GO IN OR WRAP WITH BUBBLE WRAP AND LAY ALONG THE BACK SIDE OF MACHINE IN CASE.

IF YOU HAVE A FULL TRAY I WRAP FOOT CONTROL AND IF IT WILL FIT IN TRAY WILL PUT IT THERE OR LAY ALONG SIDE OF MACHINE BELOW TRAY.

NOW THAT EVERYTHING IS PACKED SAFE IN THE CASE I TAKE MORE BUBBLE WRAP AND PACK SIDES AROUND MACHINE AND ON TOP SO THAT WHEN I SHUT THE LID IT IS SNUG, NOW NOTHING IS GOING TO MOVE WHILE BE SHIPPED.

TAKE SOME BUBBLE WRAP AND WRAP OUTSIDE OF CASE AND PUT A LITTLE UNDER HANDLE TO PROTECT FROM LEAVING A MARK ON CASE.

AFTER YOU GET IT TAPED TAKE THE TAPE AND RUN A LINE ALL THE WAY AROUND IT TO HELP SUPPORT LID AND CASE, I USUALLY RUN A LINE ON BOTH SIDE OF THE HANDLE.

PEANUTS OR PACKING OF YOUR CHOICE ON THE BOTTOM

I LAY MACHINE IN ON IT’S SIDE AND SIT MACHINE IN BOX AND NOW PACK AROUND SIDES

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT PEANUTS IS IT GIVES THE MACHINE AN AIR RIDE, BUT BALLED UP NEWS PAPER, PLASTIC BAGS WILL DO SIMILAR AS LONG AS YOU USE ENOUGH.

I HAVE POSITIVE FEEDBACK FROM MY CUSTOMERS ON MY PACKING AND HAVE HAD ALL ITEMS MAKE IT TO THEIR BUYERS AS PURCHASED.

I ALWAYS SAY PACK IT LIKE YOUR PACKING FOR YOURSELF!

I HOPE THIS HELPS YOU AS A PACKER AND IF YOU ARE A BUYER OF MINE

THAT IT GIVES YOU A PEACE OF MIND ON HOW YOUR PURCHASE WILL BE PACKED.

THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME AND I HOPE I WAS HELPFUL!!

=========================GTG

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Goals are good. We all need goals. The start of a new year is as good a time as any to set goals. It’s a good idea to check the list from last year to see if we deserve a pat on the back. I didn’t do too badly. I see that of the 10 UFOs I finished 8. Only 2 remain untouched. Of course those 2 are the biggest and hardest to do. That is why they remain undone.

I did make 2 quilts from my bucket list. I can’t remember which two and I have no idea if I actually finished them or just added them to my pile of UFOs. I think I need to reassess my Bucket List as well. Some of these just aren’t going to ever get to the top of my priority list.

Knitting 2 pairs of socks was a lesson learned. I am not that crazy about homemade socks. And they cost too much.

I really could cross off the rag rug as done except I keep thinking I want to make it a little bigger. So it sits in a heap by the couch where every now & then I add a few more rows. It is by far the best way I have found to use up massive amounts of unloved fabric.

Keeping the strings & crumbs under control is an act of futility. I traded one problem for another. My solution was to stop saving the tiny bits (just toss them) and sew all the larger crumbs together right away instead of letting them accumulate. Now, instead of a basket full of crumbs, I have a stack of unused “made” fabric. The strings are a whole ‘nother story called The Spiderweb Quilt From Hell.

It deserves a blog of it’s own.

The orphan block goal has been my biggest success. All orphans now become hot pads, pot holders, fodder for crumb fabric, or parts of quilt backs. Problem solved.

So now it’s time to set new goals. Or maybe not. I’ve been wondering if a list is all that helpful. During the last year, whenever I started a new project that darn list sat there staring me in the face making me feel guilty. Sure, it’s a nice feeling to cross something off the list but that feeling only lasts for a minute or two. I don’t need a list to remind me of all the UFOs that I should be finishing. But I need to be in the right mood, you know what I mean? Right now I’m in the mood to start several new quilt projects.

May the New Year bring all my blog friends health, happiness, and may all your goals be met.

=====================GTG

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