(Note: This is a pretty wordy post. If you don’t want to read about the regulator, just scroll on down to the linky party. I totally understand!) 🙂

So, about a week ago I mentioned that I purchased the TruStitch Stitch Regulator for my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen. I wanted to get some practice in with it so I could tell you how it is working for me. I have been doing a lot of quilting recently, so I have had plenty of opportunity to work with it.

First, let me give a bit of background info. I have owned my Sweet Sixteen for almost 1-1/2 years and I have to say I absolutely love it. It has allowed me to get more tops quilted and really experiment and play with free motion quilting. When I originally bought my machine I didn’t order the stitch regulator for two reasons. The first reason – I had never seen one or tried to use one and I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to fiddle with while maneuvering a large quilt around. Because of that, and the cost, I decided to pass. I had read comments from many people who said that, with practice, a person should/could be able to get pretty consistent stitches without the regulator. I had my fingers crossed that was true.

Then two things happened within a few days of each other — let’s just say that the quilt gods intervened — and I found myself with the stitch regulator.

In case you don’t know, the system consists of a receiver that plugs into your machine. The foot pedal then plugs into the receiver. Then there is a controller that is the brains of the system. The controller is placed under the quilt sandwich and a magnet is placed on top to hold it in place. When you move the quilt while stitching, the controller sends a message to the receiver and the receiver speeds up or slows down the stitch speed, depending on your quilt movements.

TruStitch ControllerThis is the controller; the black knob on top is the magnet. (The red piece was quilted without the stitch regulator – I just wanted you guys to be able to see the white controller.)

As with anything, there is a learning curve. There are settings for the length of stitches (stitches per inch), and quilting speed. It takes a bit of practice to find your best settings, and then those will change depending on what you are quilting.

Tru Stitch Screen

You can switch between regulated stitching and manual just by pressing the Stitch Mode button.

Before the stitch regulator – I’ll admit that there are times when I am in a hurry to get a quilt finished and my stitches don’t look so good. They are long and short and just all over the place. Then there are the times when I think they look pretty darn good. You know, when you’ve got your quilty flow-mo going on and everything is good.

I took a couple pictures so you can compare my stitches yourself. This first picture shows my stitching without the stitch regulator and me thinking my stitches didn’t look too bad.

Manual Stitching without regulatorYou can see the shorter stitches I have pointed out. Overall, this piece looks okay, but those curves get me every time! Now, let me say – overall I would be happy with this. By the time this quilt is washed no one will notice unless they are the stitch police.

TruStitch Regulated Stitches

The stitches in the above photo are with the stitch regulator and much more uniform. There are a few blips, but that may be user error….. See how nice the stitches are in the curves of the stitched design?

So, even though I would be happy with the first picture, I have to say I really like the consistency of the stitches in the second picture.

Here’s my problem with this system though. That controller is a finicky little thing! It works beautifully on a mini quilt, where there is plenty of room for it to move with the quilt. But, when I’m working on a queen size project this is what my sewing space looks like:

Throat Space Queen Size Quilt HQSS

The excess is behind the needle and rolled up. So while the section under the needle is moving when I’m stitching, the quilt itself isn’t moving much which means the controller isn’t moving. And if the controller isn’t moving, there is no communication to my machine. So I may as well be in manual mode. See how much room I have with a smaller quilt:

Throat Space Mini Quilt

Plenty of room for the controller to move.

My concern that the controller would be one more thing to deal with while quilting on a sit-down machine is a reality. However, I am determined to find a way to make this work. If you own the TruStitch and have any tips or tricks, I would love to hear them!

I really think there will be a time to use the controller and other times not so much. Just like above – that meandering pattern in the green fabric with a thread that blends so well, I didn’t mess with it. I could barely see my stitches while working with the quilt, so I know that no one will notice if a curve has a few smaller stitches. Quilting a wallhanging, baby quilt, lap quilt, or mini would be much easier as the controller has more room to move, and I’m excited to try a mini whole cloth piece with the stitch regulator.

At the end of the day, I am glad I have the TruStitch and yes, I would purchase it again. I really admire the uniform look of the stitches whenever I’m looking at other quilter’s work and hope to achieve that myself. I’ve just got to get that controller under control! 🙂

I know this is a weird Main Crush Monday post. But I really wanted to share my experience with this tool with you – I hope you find it helpful if you are considering purchasing one for yourself. And that finish I was suppose to have done last week? Um, maybe this week….why is it so hard to find time to bind??

Now let’s see what you are crushing on this week! You can link up any blog post, Instagram or Flickr pic – here’s how:

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A great post with good pictures of stitching