Monday, March 11, 2013

Introducing Mollie

After much research and thought, I have added a new machine to our family.  Mollie is a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen. And yes, I may be showing my age with her name.

 Thursday night Gus and I rearranged my sewing room. As I scan back over my camera, I realize how careful I was to not photograph my original decorating scheme which divided the room in two - to provide my husband with a desk/office area.  This was accomplished by setting up shelving across the center of the room.  While it provided storage space, it also made the room a bit claustrophobic.  So we cleared the center of the room and moved cubes and shelves to the walls.  Though as Gus rather pithily pointed out, it is already a mess again as I have boxes and baskets of fabric waiting to be put away now stacked in front the the bookshelves/technology center (printer/scanner/computer).  A future post will focus on the overall organization.

First: Move Trunk...
Let me take you on a journey.  Several years ago I was inspired to learn to quilt. An online friend has been posting quilts for years and had purchased a Handi Quilter 16 Sit Down.  I drooled over her machine from afar for a long time, and then another friend brought home a 16. Eventually I started test driving quilting machines at shows.  I like the idea of driving a machine over a quilt - but I don't like standing for long periods of time and I don't have the space for a frame, so the longarm on a frame option is really not feasible (though the Homesteader is a great machine and the price is right - as I recall it is made here in NC).

 In 2011 I test drove the Sweet Sixteen for the first time at NC Quilt Symposium and met Donna Sontag from Whatever's Quilted.  I tried out the Sixteen again at a few more shows and was totally hooked.  However, this is not a cheap purchase (over time I suppose it can be amortized over the number of quilts I don't send to someone else to be quilted...) so it took some time to decide to buy.  (This morning though, I had the epiphany that I've spent more on Gus's hockey fees in the past two years than I did on a machine that with care will last for decades, so I'm feeling pretty smug right now).

Second: Open Boxes...
This past Friday was the HQ Truck sale at Whatever's Quilted.  I sent my offer to purchase over on Tuesday (glad I did it early as I learned a bit about daily limits on bank cards and had to call to get that limit temporarily raised so that the purchase could go through).  I arranged to take a half day off work to drive to Wake Forest.  I spent last week practically vibrating, ready to go get my machine.  Friday I left the office and headed over to renew my license plates (must multi-task time off) and realized between Durham and Wake Forest that I was probably having a full blown gall stone attack. I'll spare you the details, but it definitely put a damper on my adventure.  I'm fine now and made it through the rest of the afternoon.  We filled out the final paperwork, picked out accessories, wound bobbins for the quilt I'll work on first as the Bobbin Winder is en route from Utah, and loaded everything into the Polar Bear (my Vue).  On the way home I started to feel better and recruited Gus and Mike to help me unload Mollie and her table.  Gus helped me with the machine head... The box weighs in at 53 pounds. Gus weighs in at 82 pounds. It was valiant of my young helper. Mike helped with the table - at 59 pounds - and 36 x 42 inches I knew that one would overwhelm Gus.

Saturday morning I took Gus to meet up with his Boy Scout Troop to spend the day rock climbing.  I returned home thinking I would nap before the Quilt Bee meeting, but was too energized.  It was time to unwrap Mollie and get her set up. The first thing I was faced with was the statement on the box to "not destroy" as it was reusable. Alrighty then, one possible helper is on his way to Pilot Mountain and the other would not be amenable to being woken to move furniture around at 7:00 a.m. ...  Executive decision time... since I would break the box down to store it anyway, I will simply release the glue along the one edge, so I laid the box down and opened it like a pizza box.  Success.  Double success as I got it leg side up. 

I started removing the shipping foam (which is now safely in the shed with the box) and opened up the legs.  Knowing that the legs are adjustable to get an ergonomically correct height, I decided to go ahead and extend them before flipping the table upright as I figured it would be easier to lower the height than raise it once it was rightside up..  Not knowing what my ideal height for the table would be I raised them to the 10th hole on each side. Tried the 13th, but even upside down decided that it would be too high.  For the record, on the 10th hole, someone of average height (5'5") could quilt standing up (note the amount of curtain visible under the table).  I was right - it was easy to lower it and eventually settled on the 4th hole.  An added bonus is that it is flush with my sewing table seen next to the trunk in an earlier picture.  I toyed with centering the table between the cutting station and the sewing table and decided that there was too much risk of getting a quilt caught between the tables, so the two sewing tables are butted up next to one another now.  It is a tight fit, but I still have full access to the cutting/pressing station to the right.

The table adjustment is actually pretty easy to do. There is a latch the crossbar for each leg that is squeezed together to release. I did lift the table marginally so that there was not opposing pressure from the legs to make it harder.  With a machine in place it would have been much less fun.

The table has a brace underneath the cutout that gets removed before inserting the machine head, I assume to minimize the possibility of damage during shipping.  As I removed the brace and looked face down into the cutout, I was a bit concerned that whomever had done the precision cutting had slipped. So I made a mental note to figure out how one might fill the gap, and was running through things like foam tape as the last thing I wanted to do was repack and reship the table.  However, once I placed the head in the table, my worry turned to being impressed as the cutout is quite precisely done.

Back to the chronology...  Now that the table is set and the height I want, I turned to Mollie's box.  How fitting, she arrives Pretty in Pink.  I alternated between sliding her forward and the box backwards until I freed her from her packing.

 Next came the task of placing her into the table.  As I was still the only awake human in the household, and the corgis don't have thumbs, I first placed a length of fleece on the table to protect it from bumps or scratches and then worked my way around to slide her in from the back. Must remember that there is a gap between the table and the windowsill right now, so that things don't get pushed off the back (but aren't 12 year olds here to crawl under tables and retrieve things for us anyway?).

After placing her in the table, I opened the box of accessories and other neat stuff (free thread from Superior along with a nice catalog).  It was at this point that I found the set-up instructions for the table...  perhaps those might be printed on a piece of paper and included in the box with the table? The final set-up steps included reading the getting started book and installing the power cord, thread guide, foot pedal and touch screen. Next came the first test drive, but as this post now resembles a thesis, our first stitches will be addressed in the next installment.


SandraB said...

Congratulations. So happy for you. Best Wishes with your first projects.

Dawn said...

Very Cool Purchase. I'm anxious to hear how it works, how you set it up, and what you do with it!
Off to go check out more details on this machine!

Jenny Squawk said...

Sweet deal. I played with one of those at QuiltCon. I'm wanting an upgrade.

Pat Merkle said...

How wonderful! Lucky you. Someday! ;)