After being away from Ace Sewing and Vacuum in Pompano Beach, FL for a little while, I was pleased to be able to review something very different… the Handi Quilter.
This is a specialized machine, built for heavy duty quilters. The only place I’ve seen this type of machine is in places where quilts are made professionally.
Although some avid home sewers may have a quilting machine and frame in their homes, I feel confident in saying that they are few and far between.
- Straight stitch, quilt only machine
- Specialized machine takes up a large amount of space
- Not recommended for home use
At A Glance
I had seen quilt frames before – to be truthful, more than I can count. I had not, however, ever had an opportunity to operate one until this particular visit to Ace.
Although I had experimented with machine quilting a little while back and produced some beautiful freehand machine quilted appliqués, I do not fit my definition of a quilter by any stretch of the imagination.
At last, I was going to get a chance to actually work on a real quilter – frame and all – not a sewing machine with quilting stitches and features. The Handi Quilter comes in three different sizes, all based upon the length of the arm.
The Sixteen has a 16 inch throat; the throat on the Avante is 18 inches long and the Fusion is the largest with a 24 inch throat. I reviewed the middle sister… the Avante, with its 18 inch throat.
All Handi Quilter machines can be fitted with the following standard features:
- Tru stitch technology
- Needle stop up or down
- Sturdy metal construction
- Freehand sewing
Optional features, designed to enhance the quilting experience include:
- Pro stitcher computer system [includes full color monitor with screensaver]
- Ability to program quilt designs from one edge of the frame to the other
Working on the Handi Quilter HQ18 Avante
I must admit, at first I was a bit intimidated by the sheer size of the Handi Quilter frame and the dual handlebars that looked more like they belonged in an airplane cockpit than a sewing machine dealership.
The first steps to operating any sewing machine, winding the bobbin and threading the machine are much easier than I thought. In fact, threading the Handi Quilter is easier than threading most computerized sewing machines.
The thread stand is mounted on the back of the machine. A series if thread guides carry the thread in a straight line along the top right side of the machine and down to the needle.
The bobbin winder is located on the back of the Handi Quilter and is loaded onto the race hook beneath the needle plate.
The particular model that I reviewed was fully equipped with a 10 foot frame, a Pro Stitcher computer system and a double set of handle bar controllers which are used for freehand sewing.
The upper handlebars are used to create regular stitches while the lower set is used for micro-stitching. Each set of handlebars has matching control touch pads.
Start/stop and speed buttons are on the right and the needle up and down and stitch length adjustment buttons on the left.
When the Pro-Stitcher is in use, the handlebars are really not necessary. All you have to do is scroll through the design menu to determine which stitch pattern you want, select it, determine the size, the number of times you want the design to be repeated and press the start/stop button.
The Handi Quilter will automatically go on its own from one end of the frame to the other until your programmed design is completed.
When it is time to advance the frame, merely stop the machine, turn the wheel at the end of the frame until you have exposed the next section of unsewn fabric and return to the controls to resume sewing.
- Natural fibers/cotton-linen-wool
- Fine fabrics/silk-satin-taffeta/velvet
- Synthetic fabrics/blends-rayon-polyester
- Reptile skin
- Extra thick fabrics or multiple layers
- 10 or 12 foot frame
- Handlebar controls
- Micro handlebars which enable you to work on miniature designs within your larger design
- Assortment of quilting rulers and guides
|After each use||Monthly*||Once Each Year**||As Needed|
|Clean race hook and feed dogs|
|Wipe head with soft dry cloth|
|Wipe head with soft damp cloth|
|Service by sewing machine repair professional|
Tying Off The Loose Ends
The large Handi Quilter frames make it possible for you to create an entire king size quilt with ease. Although I have never before in my life worked with a quilting machine and frame, I found that working on the Handi Quilter was not at all difficult.
I wouldn’t recommend that anyone who does not already have good sewing skills even attempt to use the Handi Quilter or any other quilting machine of this type.
Since this is the first machine of its type that I reviewed, I do not have a reference point from which to form any comparisons. I can, however, tell you that the Handi Quilter is a good, solid machine.
The stitch quality is excellent and the process for identifying stitch designs is very user friendly. Perhaps my ease in understanding how to operate the Handi Quilter can be attributed to my many years experience on sewing machines.
Perhaps the sales associate at Ace Sewing and Vacuum should get the credit because she explained it so thoroughly. Then again, perhaps I caught on so quickly because the Handi Quilter is so very easy to use.
The bottom line is regardless of the model you select, the Handi Quilter is, in my opinion, a user friendly, easy to operate quilting machine that would be an asset to anyone who has the space and is interested in heavy duty machine quilting.
An additional asset to having a Handi Quilter is that owners have the ability to download software updates, access tutorials, attend webinars and much more via the Handi Quilter website.
Each of the attachments, the handlebars, the computerized Pro-Stitcher system and the frames can be sold separately or as part of a package.
I encourage anyone in the market for a dedicated quilting system and quilting frame to give the Handi Quilter very serious consideration. All of the package details and pricing information are available for review and comparison on the Handi Quilter website.