Monday, 11 September 2017

Getting to know the Handiquilter Sweet 16

I have been largely absent from social media for the last month or so due to the new machine and trying to get used to it apart from being busy with work and life in general.

I should have called the worst nightmare or something similar. Have had the most frustrating time!

Initially everything was pretty peachy. The machine arrived and I was able to finish one of my quilts with relatively little hassle. I then tackled my ruler practice quilt as I am part of the Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club. First I stitched in the ditch using Invisafil on top...

...and Bottom Line 60 wt in the bobbin
That worked well except for my inexperience in ruler work, but overall not too bad. Then tried the new Slice Ruler

Noticed some irregularities, particularly on the curves and devoted some more time just practicing on sample sandwiches and this is where that ended up
I have had the worst time, actually starting to seriously doubt my abilities...the problem was 1) the tension adjustment 2) the tension going out on the curves and 3) the tension not remaining the same across different speeds and 4) the stitches appearing different from left to right than they did from right to left...

Close up of flatlining in the back on curves
Not sure how well you can see this...initially I thought it had to do with my speed but after a while I was not so sure any more. Similarly, the issue of left to right and back again
How bizarre is this...I spent days on this thinking that it had to do with something I was doing, checking and re-checking thread path, needles, tension until I literally lost the plot....definitely was not loving this!

I had resigned myself to taking the machine back to the shop to ask them to check it over before resigning myself to that I was not able to quilt on this. Last weekend then I felt particularly chilled and had another go...checking thread path again, checking needle position, feeding it and also cleaning the bobbin area again. However this time I used a cotton bud for some reason and swished it once around inside the bobbin casing...well, caught a fluff ball and was wondering where the heck this had come from (as I thought I had regularly cleaned the area). When thinking about it I realized that my cleaning left a lot to be desired as I would usually go with the brush around the bobbin case gathering all the fluff and then often go once around inside the bobbin casing, therefore probably inadvertently depositing fluff in there I reckon (Duh!!!)

Well, not really realizing the significance I started stitching, this time using a prewound bobbin just for the fun of annoying myself a bit further...stranger than strange, my stitching was alright, so I kept going with that for a while changing the top thread to an Aurifil spool

Went well without a hitch...I then played around more with different threads on top and bobbin and the irregularities had largely disappeared! To my surprise, I realized that I knew by now (after one month of intense trialing and at times ready to smash the machine) about where different bobbin threads should sit with their tension and only needed to fine tune this a bit. Could not believe it and am not sure whether I truly trust this, but we shall least we are moving forward.

Cautiously optimistic!



  1. Karin, I feel your pain. The worst part of long arming is getting the tension correct depending on the thread you use. It is very frustrating. I have decided that it works best if I am consistent with my threads. I buy pre-wound bobbins so they are consistent. I pretty much stick with Glide thread. Yesterday I wanted a white thread and only had a Sew Fine in my collection. I had to really mess around getting my tension right. I know you will get over this hump. I really love seeing the quilting that you do.

  2. I had no idea longarm machines were so sensitive to tension. But when they are working correctly they do stitch so beautifully and have so much more expanded use than a domestic. Sorry for your hassles, but in the long run I hope you only have days happy sewing on this machine and what you learned thru this painful experience will pay off.


  3. Ahh the joy of knowing your long arm. I think we all start a little frustrated but in time you will adjust to tension. Some threads just don't work on my Hq16 so I avoid them. Take it one step at a time. It will work out!

  4. Sorry I’m late to the party on this one but your latest Post reminded me. I do admire your perseverance on this machine and your desire for perfection or as near as it gets. I’m glad that after all the frustration and heartache that you have found a solution. I tried the cotton bud technique and it was more effective than the brush. So they are something else I now keep to hand. I’m hoping your cautious optimism has come good.


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