MCM #9 – My Thoughts on the HQ TruStitch Stitch Regulator

(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

About Beth

I'm a wife, mother of two, and lover of all things crafty. I love to cook up new things in the kitchen and in my craft room, and sometimes get "licking the spoon" mixed up with "licking the fabric"!!
This entry was posted in Machine Quilting, Main Crush Monday, Product Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to MCM #9 – My Thoughts on the HQ TruStitch Stitch Regulator

  1. Stephanie says:

    Loved your post, thank you. I use the regulator and agree on the learning curve but I due have better results using it.
    Currently I have a problem with my tru stitch controller, it wont hold a charge. Do you know of a technical person who can help me with questions.
    I don’t have a local dealer and the out of town dealers I’ve talked are giving me conflicting advise.

    I would appreciate any help. Thank you.

  2. Sue J says:

    Your quilting is lovely with or without the stitch regulator. I have a Sweet 16 and I found your article very informative. Thank you for taking the time to write it. It’s much appreciated!

  3. Jasmine says:

    I do have the stitch regulator and I love it. The interesting thing is that I find it easier to use on bigger quilts. I don’t roll the bigger quilts. I just let them bunch and puddle up. I do keep two fingers on the regulator as I quilt to make sure it is moving, but have learned I have to keep both hands moving together at the same speed.

  4. Peggyinno says:

    I appreciate you taking the time to write this post. I have a HQ Sixteen (model before the Sweet Sixteen) and considered getting the stitch regulator. I sat down with one last Oct and I left that shop so frustrated. My stitches were awful!! As you stated, there is a major learning curve. And since I make more bed quilts than anything else, I think I will do without the regulator!! Thanks again for a great post.

  5. I own a Sweet 16 and L. O. V. E. it. I don’t own the stitch regulator. I really appreciate your post (wasn’t long to me at all – I was VERY interested in it) and it’s always important to hear about a product from someone who knows how to use their machine. I will probably never win a quilt contest as the different sized stitches just don’t bother me. Now, of course, I don’t mean crazy wide to bunched up tiny ….I am able to be somewhat consistent but there are times when I’m not. I think your work without the regulator looked great. But yes, I could see the difference with the regulator. I think you have options now. It’s great to have….but you’re not lost without it.

  6. dezertsuz says:

    That was really interesting. The one thing that this confirmed for me, beyond any small doubt I might have had, is that I want another stand-up longarm. I suspected that the sit-down, even with a larger throat space, wasn’t going to work the way I want, and you’ve confirmed it. I didn’t have a stitch regulator on my previous longarm, and I find that with one exception, they annoy me more than anything. =) Your stitching without it looks really good, and nothing I’d be concerned about. Seeing it without the camera close-up, 999 of 1000 people wouldn’t see any differences at all. I’m glad you posted this, thanks!

  7. Sandra says:

    This is really good information, Beth, and thank you for taking the time (I know how long it can take!) to write up such a detailed post. I go back and forth between regulated and non-regulated, (I have an Avanté) but I find I get my quilting flow-mo (like that term!) better with non-regulated.

  8. I don’t have the same system as you, you know this, but it’s excellent to find out how someone else’s works. Product knowledge across the board helps us all. Hope it continues to smooth out for you, Beth.

  9. Lisa says:

    Yes it is an interesting post…and I don’t even own a long arm.

  10. Great post, and I don’t mind it’s length at all even though I don’t own a long arm or um a stitch regulator either. But hopefully someone will have some advice for you. Meanwhile, your stitching sure looks good to me, but I get the curve business. They tend to do me in as well!

  11. Melanie says:

    Great post! Thanks so much!

  12. I have heard of stitch regulators before. Thank you for writing up the post, it was very helpful.


  13. Bonnie in Va says:

    I have a frame Nolting with Stitch Regulator. It does a great job but every once in a while there is a small group of stitches that are very short. I almost exclusively do computer run stitching and even that has its moments. The best thing to do is to look at your quilting a month later. Unless a quilt is in a judged show, people don’t notice the small variations on the stitch size. On the other hand, if a stitch could catch a toe — yep, we’ll all notice that one. I can’t imagine using a sit down mid arm after having the frame style.

  14. Tish says:

    Loved this post. I’m seriously thinking about getting a Sweet Sixteen this year. I know there is quite a price difference between buying it with and without the stitch regulator. When you purchase it with the stitch regulator is that what come with it as a stitch regulator or does it have an internal one? I just figured I would purchase one without the regulator, but maybe this is something to give a bit of thought to.

  15. Shellie says:

    I really enjoyed reading about this Beth. It was really interesting. Hope to see you soon!

  16. Paige says:

    Very interesting on how the stitch regulator works. I’ve never quilted with one but have heard comments like Judy mentioned, love’m or hate’m. Your quilting is beautiful with or without it!

  17. Judy says:

    I was very interested to hear your take on the stitch regulator. It seems that when I read reviews about them, people either love them or hate them and some have a love/hate relationship with them 😉 Is it possible that the use of the regulator will help you in obtaining even stitches through those pesky curves? I have found that by listening to my machine I can get more even stitches, maybe if the regulator is used enough that perfect balance between movement and sound could be achieved?

  18. I understand why you bought the stitch regulator.But after reading your post, I know it will never be perfect. We are our own stich police! Your quilting is beautiful and almost perfect.

  19. I really think your detailed post is going to be very helpful for others, Beth. I hope that someone out there will also be able to impart some advice on how to work with the larger quilts. Either way, your quilting is all looking so wonderful these days, and if you were doing a lot last week, that means I have lots of fun eye candy to look forward from you. 🙂

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