Monday, October 10, 2016

To Regulate or Not To Regulate, That Is the Question

When I decided to buy my Handi Quilter Sweet 16, the feature I was most excited to have was the TruStitch stitch regulator. I loved the idea that I don't have to worry about my stitch length and can concentrate on the design. The idea sounded pretty fabulous, because in the beginning, I was sure that consistent stitch length is the be-all end-all factor in the quality of my free-motion work. (I blame that idea on marketing.)

I've discovered pretty quickly that it really isn't so. It doesn't take very long to find a pace that produces stitch length that is good enough in consistency. What's challenging is everything else, which the stitch regulator doesn't solve. I find that I only use it for a little while when I haven't done free-motion for awhile, for it gives me a little boost of confidence that the machine wouldn't take off like a runaway horse. I usually turn it off after just a few minutes when I've gotten used to the sound of the machine.

The problem with TruStitch is how it works. It requires that the disc shaped sensor be moved at the same rate that the quilt top is moving, so that it can send a signal to the receiver that let's the machine know how fast to move the needle to produce a consistent stitch length. There are 2 modes for it:

1) Clip-mode - I clip the sensor to the side of the quilt and then can only hope that it will move at the same pace as the quilt itself as I stitch. Of course, this only works either on the edge of the quilt, or on very small quilts, as in mug rug sized quilts. I find myself adjusting it a lot even then, and at the end it slows me down. There are also times when the quilt top will prefer to fold than pull the sensor along, as the sensor is heavier than the quilt.

2) Magnet-mode - This is the most common usage as it's the only option for bigger quilts. I place the quilt between the sensor and the magnet, and then place my hand on top of the magnet to navigate the quilt which moves the sensor, sending a signal to the sensor. The problem with this is that I'm just not able to be as precise as when both hands are on the quilt surface, guiding it. So in this mode, my stitch length may be consistent, but it's harder to make the design look as good.

On top of that, when using TruStitch I definitely can't stitch as fast. The machine's motor whirs on and off, and can throw off my rhythm a bit, and sometimes, for reasons I can't understand, it stops working just for a second, and my stitches suddenly get really big, which sort of defeats the purpose.

Sewing machine companies and their marketing department has convinced a great many of us that stitch regulation is the key to free-motion quilting. It really isn't. While I like having TruStitch, it is not worth the extra money.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting and for your comments! I try to reply to comments, so if you don't hear from me, check if you're a no-reply blogger. Have a nice day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...