Block 21 – Sweet Candy

Where there’s a will, there’s a way! I remembered why I bought a new sewing machine a number of years back. The old one needed repairs and when I took it in, the repairs were going to be more than what I had originally paid for the machine (it was a definite starter machine so not big bucks). I bought a new machine that day and over time forgot about it.


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Plan B was trying to use my HandiQuilter Sweet Sixteen as a sewing machine. I figured I would use a straight ruler as a guide, but a few steps in made me see that wasn’t a good plan so instead I drew 1/4″ seam lines on each block so I could use that as a guide to sew on.

At least this was going better than trying to use a sraight ruler.  In that case, the ruler would be lining up against the fabric, not on it and since it didn’t have anything to grab, it was sliding all around.  Here, all I had to do was sew slowly and gently pull it through.  If you have done any free motion quilting, the lack of feed dogs probably makes sense.  If you haven’t done your own quilting before, the issue with using a quilting machine is your hands move the fabric, instead of the machine moving the fabric.

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Issue number 2 would be to figure out, quickly, what the correct tension should be since there’s also no such thing as an automatic setting for FMQ on a Sweet Sixteen.  Normally it’s set for 3 layers, top, bottom, and batting.  I dialed it back what seemed like at least a good guess.  The next picture is the back of the fabric after I guessed at the tension.  Not bad!  The sewing lines aren’t perfectly straight, but all in all they aren’t that far off.

I had planned to take my machine into the sewing machine store near me where I bought it several years ago, but after a chance encounter last time, someone suggested another place nearby that they had a better experience with. Not sure what to do, I turned to my longtime friend for advice, and she said there is a woman in our quilt guild whose husband repairs sewing machines.  He’s been an authorized Bernina dealer and has a great reputation.  I have a call into him so hopefully I can talk to him tomorrow about it.

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I wouldn’t want to make it a full-time habit of using my midarm as a sewing machine, but in a pinch…it worked!

I quilted a couple of hours on my stained glass quilt after that, and then started hand sewing the inner pieces of my next patchwork of the crosses block.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Thread crazy says:

    I too have an HQ mid-arm and when you suggested using it instead of your sewing machine, I just invisioned major problems. Much to my surprise you did great!

    1. I envisioned major problems too – haha! It is much easier to sew on an actual sewing machine though; I can attest to that now. Do you like your machine? I’m so glad I bought mine.

  2. The block looks great and I hope your machine is repaired promptly!

    1. It turns out that it will be more like a couple of weeks but I did get my backup machine working again so it’s all good!

  3. I always feel inspired after reading your blog.

    1. Oh thank you! I really (really!) like making quilts!

      1. I know the feeling. It’s an addiction, I think.

  4. We quilters are a resourceful group and there is always more than one way to solve a problem. Happy Monday! Hopefully your machine will be fixed today!

    1. Thank you – me too!

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