More of your long-arm quilting questions answered

HandiQuilter 150x150 More of your long arm quilting questions answered

Me at my Avante machine. (Photo by Luke Cavanagh)

Here is part two of our blog about Handi Quilters and long-arm machine quilting. Thanks for the awesome questions! Feel free to keep them coming on our blog or Facebook.

Thank you to Brenda Groelz, Handi Quilter’s Director of Marketing and Education, who was kind enough to provide answers.

Q: Will the Handi Qulter eventually offer the fabric advance and hydraulic lifts to the table? With a bad back and neck, it’s a necessity for me.

A: At the moment, Handi Quilter does not offer fabric advance or hydraulic lifts with our table and frame systems. We understand why they’re so important to some quilters and we have shared this information with our engineers.

Q: Can you do very small intricate designs easily?

A: Absolutely! Handi Quilter quilting machines run so smoothly, you can handle small designs easily. Many HQ owners like to add the optional HQ Micro Handles to their machines, to get their hands right down close to the quilt when they’re doing micro quilting. HQ Micro Handles are fully integrated into the machine and feature the same fingertip button controls that the machine has on the handlebars.

Q: I am in the process of getting a grant and they want bids form long arm companies…lowest bid is the one I get I guess! Who would be the person to go to for a bid on a long arm?

A: The best place to start with Handi Quilter is to contact your local HQ Rep. You can find them by going to our locator page. But, since we’re visiting here, I’d be happy to help. Just email me at and I’ll hook you up.

Q: The machines are wonderful with all the bells and whistles and the tables are second rate. Why?

A: I’m not sure exactly what you mean when you say “second rate”, so I can’t address your particular concern. If you’d like to write back with a detailed question, I’d be happy to answer it.  Tables and frames have one purpose: holding the quilt sandwich in place during quilting to achieve perfect stitching. This does not require over-engineering or heavy industrial applications (more expensive to build and ship). Frames should be simple to put together, easy to use and load, and should not get in the way of one’s quilting. The proof is in the quality of the stitch, and Handi Quilter delivers beautiful quilting.

It might also be interesting to know a little bit about the background of Handi Quilter. Our founder’s intention was to provide a portable system that could be shipped at a reasonable cost and could be taken down and stored when the space was needed. We still offer the HQ Adjustable Table and Portable Professional Frame for quilters who have space constraints. Today’s HQ Studio Frame and HQ Fusion Frame both feature larger, more robust poles and a heavy, sturdy table, with the Precision Glide track system. Today’s HQ owners love these tables.

Q: I have been wondering about the HQ sit down machine. I tried an HQ frame with my Juki but wasn’t satisfied with that. I think the frames take up too much space for my home and I don’t like the extra time spent on loading the quilt and turning it all the time. Does HQ do all that training for the sit down models as well as the frame models? I imagine you’d miss out on the wonderful pantographs available.

A: Training on running and maintaining your machine is a part of every Handi Quilter purchase. It’s why Handi Quilter requires that all HQ Reps come to our facility in Salt Lake City to be trained. We have over 300 reps across the country, so we work hard to have reps near where you live. Your training will take place either in your home or at the rep’s store (at the rep’s discretion). The HQ Sweet Sixteen Sit-down machine offers the same high quality engineering as the stand-up models and is very easy to use. Two minutes of training and you can be on your way. And actually, there is a way to use those beautiful pantograph designs. Watch the Handi Quilter channel on YouTube for more info (not yet available, but our educators are working on it.)

Q: I’d like to know exactly how much space you would need to have one and be able to work with it. How much space do you need behind it? How much space in front? Can you move it out when you need to use it and then push it back, or is it too heavy and cumbersome? How heavy is it? You can tell I don’t know ANYTHING about them, but I am sew interested!

A: You’re smart to ask these questions. Longarm machines take up a lot of room and you want to be comfortable while quilting. I can give you a short answer and a longer answer.

The short answer is that at MINIMUM, you will want to have a space of 8’ X 14’ for the HQ18 Avanté or 9’ X 14’ for the HQ24 Fusion. This assumes that you will place one end of the table up against a wall, and allows only two feet to pass to the back of the machine on the other end of the table.

If you plan to work both in front of the machine, as well as in the back, you’ll need more space than a quilter who works only from one side. However, if space is limited, you can purchase optional casters (heavy-duty wheels) to put on your new HQ Studio Frame, enabling you to roll the machine away from the wall when you want to work from the back side.

Obviously, more space is desirable and more comfortable, but I’ve been invited to some prolific quilters’ studios and know people who work well in their tight spaces.

About Kelly M. Smith

Kelly is Senior Editor of Quilters Newsletter.
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10 Responses to More of your long-arm quilting questions answered

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention More of your long-arm quilting questions answered | Inside Quilters Newsletter --

  2. k. gilbert says:

    Is there a way to keep the batting from poking through on a dark backing? I am using Hobbs 80/20 batting and a 16 needle with mono thread.

  3. Hi K,
    You can buy black batting, but if you’ve already starting quilting, then I don’t know. I use Hobbs 80/20 almost exclusively and I’ve never had a problem with it bearding. Maybe someone else will see your question and have a solution?

  4. Debra k. Lamb says:

    I would suggest black batting also. I’ve never had this problem, but, I would suggest you check the bottom tension, as that might be adding to the problem. Good Luck!

  5. There are times when there’s nothing you can do about it. If the fabric (either backing or the fabrics used in the quilt top) are of a looser weave, the batting will sometimes poke through. Keep your needle fresh, even if you have to change it half way through the quilt. I’ve heard people say to spray some Static-Guard on the batting but I’m not so sure about that one. In the future, there are some wonderful black batting products by Legacy/Pellon, Hobbs 80/20 and Quilters Dream. All really good and eliminates that pokey thing.

  6. Bonnie BuBolz says:

    I would like to know if there is a step by step DVD on edge to edge quilting with the pro stitcher. I am having a difficult time understanding the directions in the instruction book. I am frustrated and really want to learn this machine. I bumped the machine on the top bar, is that going to do damage to the machine, I immediately turned it off when it happened?

  7. Hi Bonnie,
    I didn’t get to use the Pro-Stitcher when I was at Handi Quilter for my classes, so I don’t know anything about how it operates. If you need specific information you should contact Handi Quilter directly. I do know that they put out a number of good how-to videos. You can reach them at 1-877-MY-QUILT (697-8458). I hope this helps!

  8. Inge Brunner says:

    I hear about Teflon washers for the bobbin what do you think about it or do u recommend them if yes were do u get them

  9. Judy says:

    I ordered Teflon washers for my Bernina machine expecting to stop the “birds nest” upon starting each seam but they wouldn’t even work. When I asked the store owner of the machines, I was told to “put a small extra piece of fabric before the seam to catch that birds nest.” Needless to say, I found this very disappointing based on the cost of the machine. I have no issues with my Avante 18 longarm and, therefore, see no need to add these to a bobbin case….just my opinion anyway. When you bring the bobbin thread up before beginning a row, it eliminates any problem of the thread tangling underneath the quilt.

  10. Jan says:

    Has anyone changed the needle bar champ? How did you do it on the HQ16.

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