My Other Classes at IQA Houston

I have not written much about this, but my friends have gotten an earful about the tremendous problems I’ve had with my Bernina 820. I bought because I was so sure that the stitch regulator would help with my free motion quilting and planned to use the machine mostly for that purpose. It didn’t go well. The store where I bought it in Illinois was sort of helpful, though their machine mastery classes left a lot to be desired. However, whenever I had a problem they were glad to have me come and someone would help. Then we moved to South Carolina. In January, I decided to quilt a quilt for the guild show and I spent about 6 weeks fooling with the machine. I had endless tension problems, I changed thread brands many times. I threaded and re-threaded the bobbin and the machine. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Everything would be fine in the morning only to be bad in the afternoon. I would quilt during the day and rip out at night. I called the local Bernina store repeatedly. The sales ladies were very nice and would say I could come see “the Bernina saleslady” and then someone would call me back to say, no, I couldn’t. The owner wanted me to take their machine mastery class for about $350… I said that I had already taken it and of course they spend only a few minutes on quilting because there is so much information to cover. But she kept saying that because I had not bought the machine there, they wouldn’t help me! {If I bought a new sewing machine every time we moved, I’d be broke!}

I googled Bernina stores in NC, SC and GA and in desperation, I called the Asheville Cotton Company, and begged for their help – – – and they said yes! It’s about an hour drive there, but I was so relieved that someone would help. The saleslady took everything out of my machine and oiled it and wound a new bobbin and proceeded to take me through the process. Turns out there was a whole lot of operator error due to poor instruction during the original machine mastery classes. I was not inserting the bobbin case properly. I was not oiling the machine enough (more than once every bobbin!). I did not have the tension even close to the proper setting. I took the machine home and have barely touched it since. And I had to tell the quilt show organizers that my quilt would not be ready for the show. {End of rant.}

Before I bought the Bernina, my friend Beth told me she thought that I ought to buy a Sweet 16. It’s been in the back of my mind and lo and behold there were several classes offered at IQA Houston featuring Handi Quilter’s Sweet 16. For you non-quilters, this is what is called a “mid-arm machine”, meaning it has a larger throat space than a domestic machine but smaller than a long arm. It sits in the middle of an adjustable table and does nothing but free motion quilting, meaning that it has no feed dogs. I took two classes on how to use the machine. The first day was a basic class on how to get set up and going. The second day was all about threads and tension – a topic that makes me very nervous and was the problem I had with the Bernina. David Taylor taught them both, and he is one of the many “big deal” quilters who own and love Sweet 16’s. The best part about the class is that each person had their own machine and there were 26 of us. (In many classes of this sort, it’s two students per machine.) I call this picture “The Sweet 16 Sweat Shop”! You should have heard the din when we all were quilting!

Sweet 16 class

The woman sitting beside me did not need to take the thread and tension class… Not only did she create beautiful patterns, she spent very little time adjusting either tension. She was quite nice though and had all sorts of tips for me. I aspire to quilt like this.

Quilting sample

And guess what? I liked the machine, I liked the salespeople I met in the classes and I really like the high level of support Handi Quilter offers. The website has videos and webinars and they have several national workshops. So here I am, buying the machine that I used in the classes. {Anyone want to buy a Bernina 820???}

New Sweet 16

Wish me luck!


6 thoughts on “My Other Classes at IQA Houston

  1. I bought a Bernina awhile ago, not for quilting because I mostly quilt by hand, but just to use–I loathed it. And every time I tried to get help from the shop where I bought it, they tried to sell me something like I hadn’t spent a mint already. I traded it for a Singer Featherweight and truly believe I got the better end of the deal!


    • Yes, the Illinois store where I bought it kept trying to get me to buy the embroidery 800… Which I would never use!!! From what I have read since buying the 820, is that anything in the 700 series is better and easier to use. This machine makes me so nervous and that’s no fun. Now to get it sold…


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