That's the HandiQuilter Sweet 16, which I have been lusting after for the past couple of years. It is basically a sitdown quilting machine with a very large flatbed surface to work on. You push the fabric around under the needle, unlike on longarm machines where you guide the movable needle over the fabric. There are no feed dogs and no presser foot. It is strictly for free motion quilting.
David Taylor is a true pro in this type of work, and is an official "Ambassador" for Handiquilter, sharing his expertise and passion for this machine.
He does detailed and meticulous pictorial hand applique, and then enhances the imagery with very close machine quilting, using hundreds of thread color changes along the way. (He likes the Sulky Blendables 30 weight cotton thread for this, by the way, because their variegations in color are random on the thread. Good tip there.)
Here is one of his quilts:
David's class was about "quilting organically". He does not mark his quilts, but intuitively responds to his imagery by quilting "the way things move and grow". I love that approach.....but as you know, I am not this kind of quilter. My agenda was to see if spending a day with a pro and the Sweet 16 would help me see if I could integrate this kind of quilting work with crazy quilting in any way. It has been an issue bugging me a lot. Can it be done?
My friend Debra Hardman is great at it, which is why I wanted her quilt in my book.
David started us out with a neat exercise.
He gave us some large scale floral fabric to practice on.
He also showed us how to handle a larger piece of work on the Sweet 16.
He emphasized how his lines are always curved, never in a set pattern of length. He demonstrated by doing a freehand animal face.
He slowed the machine down while outlining the eyes. The Sweet 16 lets you set the speed, a great feature. But it is not a stitch regulator. David again and again stressed that the movement of your hands has to match the speed of the machine. Like in driving, how you steer and how much you hit the gas are definitely related. He also said, "You don't watch the steering wheel as you drive, either...do you?"
You are always looking ahead to where you are going to stitch, and your hands will follow your brain's lead....like in driving.
Naturally, this takes lots and lots of practice.
OK, on to my sample. The jury is definitely out for me on this! The results were crude, but held possibility...
First was my crazy quilt block.
OK, next is the "Go Crazy" 4 block sample.
Then I tried messing with May the cat.
Next came the printed photo landscape. This got me excited.
Finally, my biggest rush of the class. I had brought one of the running figures from Mark's quilts to see how I might quilt that. I asked David what he would do, so he sketched out some quilting lines and then I sewed over them. I was thrilled with his idea.
While I won't go this detailed on Mark's quilts, I will definitely use the concept. I had to hug David, I was so happy!
Another thing I came away with was this: