Tag Archives: Handi Quilter Moxie

Yay! It’s Quilting Day!


In honor of National Quilting Day today, I’m going to bring you up-to-date on my long arm (really mid arm) quilting adventures.

If you’re a regular reader of ARHtistic License, you know that last November I got a HandiQuilter Moxie. Then I had six private Zoom lessons with a HandiQuilter educator to learn how to use it. I made a practice piece to try out free motion quilting and also the ProStitcher Lite robotic quilting software. The piece was not good enough for a human being to use, but I thought it might work as a quilt for Ralph.

Ralph's quilt

Ralph was not impressed. (Yawn.)

Ralph with his quilt

At the same sewing and quilting festival where I ordered my Moxie, I’d bought some fat quarters of designer fabric. I added some fabric from my stash to it, and I pieced a top for a lap quilt. This was to be my first “real” quilt quilted on the Moxie.

Andrea's lap quilt

Man. I had a time of it. I knew what quilting pattern I wanted to use, but I couldn’t get it to run. The error message said the pattern was larger than the frame area, though it didn’t look like it was larger on the screen. I couldn’t figure out how to make the design a little smaller. I tried setting it up multiple times, but I couldn’t get it to run, so I tried a different quilting pattern.

I didn’t realize how much smaller this new pattern was until I began running it. I didn’t like it, but I figured it would be a good lesson. It was, but not in the way I expected.

I did two passes of the pattern, and then it was time to advance the quilt (shift it so that I could work on the next unquilted part). It was then that I discovered the bottom tension was all messed up.

Tension problem

It’s funny–as the design repeated, the tension improved, but it was still not good. I decided to take it all out and start over. The only good thing about bad tension is that the stitches are easy to pull out.

While I was pulling out those bad stitches, I had plenty of time to ruminate, and I realized that I had watched a video about resizing quilting patterns. If I could find it, I could use the pattern I originally wanted.

But first I had to fix my tension. I reread the section of the manual on tension, and I watched a lot of videos. I followed all the instructions, but no matter what adjustments I made, it didn’t seem to affect the tension at all. I worked on it for days. I must have tightened the little knob 30 rotations, and I still had what looked like couching on the back of my quilt. (It looked like a thread lying on the surface, held in place by small stitches.) One instruction on one of the videos made no sense to me: the instructor said that the thread should snap between the tension discs. I couldn’t make it do that. So I took a picture of the tension discs and texted it to the store technician I’d ordered it from. He told me the discs were too tight together, and I need to loosen the knob at least 10 rotations.

Yep. He was right. I loosened it severely, and then I was able to snap the thread between the discs. It still took a long time until I could get the tension to look acceptable. It’s not perfect, but much better.

I figured out how to tweak the quilting pattern so that it fit within the frame area, and in one day I quilted the entire lap quilt. I wish I could say everything went smoothly; it did not. I forgot the “drag and drop” sequence when I advanced the quilt, and I had to figure out how to make the machine start quilting at the right spot again. I don’t even know how to explain the problem and the solution, but if that ever happens to you, watch this video, starting around the 5:30 mark. (I don’t have the same machine or the same frame or the laser light, but by following his “drag and drop” directions, I got my machine properly lined up.)

I just have to finish hand-stitching the binding to the back of the quilt, and then it’s ready to be my new TV-watching quilt. (Yes, I like to be all snuggled up in a blankie when I watch TV.)

So here’s a sneak peak at my next quilting project, some blocks for quilts for our new granddaughters:

Blocks for a baby quilt

The babies came over on Tuesday.

Me and Etta:

Grandma and Etta

Greg and Robin:

Grandpa and Robin

Do we look like we’re at all happy to be grandparents?

Moxie Longarm Question

My new Moxie

My new Moxie came with a sheet of stickers. Some are piecing related: flying geese, stars, etc. Some are cute sayings, like “Stitch like a boss” and “Quilt your heart out.” They are meant for decorating your machine. This should not be a big deal, but I’m paralyzed. I can’t think of a creative layout for these. I’ve tried googling it and searching on the HandiQuilter website and on YouTube, but I can’t find anything. I know I should let the proverbial chips fall where they may and just stick them,  but I really want to see what others have done with them.

So, Moxie owners, help! What did you do with your stickers? Can you take a picture, post it on your blog or social media, and put a link in the comments below?

First Lessons in Quilting with the Moxie


I have now taken five of my six one-on-one introductory lessons with a Handi Quilter educator, Cheryl, via Zoom. (Apparently that was a Back-to-School promotion that I didn’t even know I was eligible for.) The manuals that came with my machine only go so far to tell me how to actually quilt with Moxie. The manuals are supplemented by series of videos on the Handi Quilter website and on the Pro-Stitcher website. Plus, many quilters post their own video tutorials on YouTube.

Having the live Handi Quilter educator is great, because I can ask Cheryl my questions and get a direct answer. I love Zoom. Cheryl lives in Ontario, Canada, and I can see her sewing room, and she can see mine. Magic!

The best way to get to know the machine and the software is to use ALL of the resources. I started out by reading the materials, then watching the videos in between my sessions with Cheryl. She would cover her lessons and my questions, but the real learning came when I actually tried things out under her supervision and on my own. She stood by while I threaded the machine by myself for the first time and watched while I loaded my practice quilt onto the machine. But I’ve done my first stitching explorations on my own.

e's and l's

I first tried free motion quilting. The Getting Started guide suggested stitching cursive e’s and l’s for practice. That should be easy, right? But not for me. I did about five rows, right side up and upside down, and they look like chunky baseball bats. I tried to make them more slender, and more rounded at the top, but I just couldn’t. I see a lot of practice ahead of me.

Then I tried stippling. No. I have corners instead of curves. I think I’m moving too fast, too jerky. I think I have to go slower and concentrate on moving smoothly. Like I said, practice.


Then I tried the robotic sewing. There are lots of steps in setting things up on the tablet that holds the program. I watched some videos again and made step-by-step notes. Then when I tried it out, it wouldn’t work, so I watched the videos some more. There are so many icons, so many steps, that I missed small parts of the processes when the demonstrator talked fast or didn’t exactly stop and show which button she was pressing on the video. But after about three hours of studying and attempting, I was able to make a feathered wreath.

Much better than what I can do by hand.

Feathered wreath
Feathered wreath detail

On another day I tried a continuous line pattern, a connecting spiral, but I couldn’t find the video that shows how to repeat a design a few times (as opposed to setting up the whole quilt to be done), so I tried to figure it out myself. I decided to set up a rectangular area that I would quilt with two connected spirals. I thought I sized it perfectly. I lined the first up with the left hand side of my rectangle, and when it was done, I moved the design to the right hand side of my area. As it turned out, I did NOT size it up perfectly, and the second spiral overlapped the first. Oh well. I learned one way that doesn’t work. I asked Cheryl to explain the process to me, and I think I understand better now.


Clearly I need a lot more practice before I attempt to quilt an actual quilt that I want to use or give away.

Loading the quilt on the smaller frame is harder than I expected. It’s hard to get it straight. On the loft frame, you just ratchet it, and it rolls smoothly. With the smaller frame that I have, you remove the clamps, reposition the quilt, and reattach the clamps.

Maybe I’m too old to do this. This machine is expensive—what if I never get good enough to use it properly? Greg really encouraged me to go for it—he even gave me most of the money for it.

They say that one of the best ways to exercise your brain is to learn new things. Hopefully I’ll be continuing to exercise my brain in the coming years and actually get good at quilting.

Moxie is Here!

My Moxie with Pro-Stitcher Lite

If you’ve been following my adventures, you may know that I’ve been looking forward to getting a long arm quilting machine. One of my issues (besides expense) is the amount of space they require. Quilters often give up their living room or their dining room for one. I wasn’t willing to do that. My machine, then, had to fit into my writing study.

Which was crammed with boxes.

I’ve written about my six-week process of divesting myself of many possessions.

The machine was scheduled to be delivered two weeks ago, but when the installer came and saw my room, he said, “You’re not going to be happy with the eight-foot loft frame in here.”

I took out my tape measure and showed him. “I’ve got nine feet and two inches of free space here.”

“You didn’t think this through,” he countered. “You’re not going to be able to pull out your desk chair. You’re not going to be able to pull out your file cabinet drawers.”


My poor husband was heart-broken. “Get rid of the desk! Get rid of the file cabinet!”

He was trying to be helpful. But I’m not going to divest myself of what I need to write in order to get a quilting machine.

“Can I change my frame order to the five-foot Little Foot frame?”

“That’s a much better choice for you,” the installer agreed.

So my new baby finally arrived on Monday.

My new Moxie

It pretty much takes up the whole room. But it fits.

I am getting 6 private one-hour lessons with a Handi Quilter educator via Zoom—three on the machine and three on the Pro-Stitcher Lite robotic software. I had my first lesson Thursday, but I still feel pretty overwhelmed. I have a page of notes, and I learned how to thread the machine. Between now and my next lesson on Monday, I’m watching an hour-long video and reading the manual.

When the installer set up the machine, he did some test-stitching. He put a length of fleecy fabric on the frame and let the machine make a couple of designs—a flower on the left and a spider web on the right. He showed me a few things, but I’m not ready to experiment on my own yet—too intimidated.

Sample quilting patterns

I’m working on a lap quilt which will be my first project to get quilted on the Moxie. I also have a bed quilt for my son all ready to go that I’ll quilt after that. And I have two grandbabies coming in February whom I will be making quilts for.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship . . .

Do I Have the Moxie to Buy a Quilting Machine?

Do I Have the Moxie to Buy a Quilting Machine?

Last week I posted about my frustration with free motion quilting on my domestic sewing machine. (By, the way, that article is my most frequently viewed post this year, having garnered more than 1,370 views in just one week. There must be a lot of frustrated quilters. I feel your pain.) I mentioned that I’m considering buying a long arm quilting machine.

On Thursday I went to the Scottsdale Quilting, Crafts, and Sewing Festival at WestWorld to explore the different options. I got a $2 discount off the $12 ticket, and I was happy about that, until I arrived and discovered that parking cost another $10. Although my admission ticket was good for three days, I now knew I would not be returning.

Incidentally, I wore my mask, but I’d say 70% of the people there were maskless.

There were many booths and many vendors, but by far the largest exhibitor was a local store chain (where I get my Pfaff serviced). They carry sewing machines by many different manufacturers, and they had company educators demonstrating the machines. These machines can do many things: embroider, make appliqués, and quilt robotically. The representatives varied in their helpfulness. I’m an introvert, so I dealt with the reps who reached out to me.

Brother Luminaire 3

The first machine I saw was a Brother Luminaire 3, a sit-down machine with automatic computerized quilting, a section at a time, within a frame. (I didn’t know a sit-down machine could do that.) 10 all-over designs are programmed into the computer, but you can manually program more. The show price for the machine was $16,999 (a discount of $4,000), but still way out of my price range.

Handi Quilter Capri

I walked down the gauntlet of booths and saw Jukis and Janomes and Huskvarnas and Singers and Pfaffs and I don’t remember what all. Then I saw the Handi Quilter Capri that I’ve visited at the store (and at a show price of $6495 instead of the usual $7995, I thought that was the one I wanted). But next to it was the Handi Quilter Moxie, an “entry-level” stand-up machine. The difference between a sit-down and a stand-up machine (other than the position of your body) is that with a sit-down, you move the quilt under the machine’s needle with your hands. With a stand-up, the quilt is attached to a frame, and you use handlebars to move the machine where you want to stitch. To me, that seemed a lot more intimidating. The representative asked me if I’d like to try it out, and I said yes. Surprisingly, the machine glides along easily, and while my stitches did not look amazing, I could tell that with practice I could get very good at it. The representative said it’s like signing your name: which is easier to control, moving the paper or moving the pen?

Handi Quilter Moxie

The Moxie is available with or without a computerized option, Pro-Stitcher Lite, which is programmed with 400 quilting patterns ranging from all-over designs to ones scaled for certain areas, like squares, rectangles, borders, corners, triangles, etc. Pro-Stitcher Lite differs from regular Pro-Stitcher in that it’s made for the Moxie, which has a 15-inch throat, as opposed to an 18-inch throat common for longarms. (I guess that means the Moxie is a mid-arm.) You can really only work on about a 12-inch deep strip at a time, which means more frequent rolling. The advantage to buying something with this limitation is price. The show price for the Moxie and frame is $4495, and for Pro-Stitcher Lite is $5495, both of them discounted $500 each. That makes it far less than the first machine I saw.

So, the show is now over, and these prices are no longer valid. Also, prices are predicted to go up shortly. Please don’t expect to find prices like these in your store now. Do your own research. Go to a show if you can.

I’m 95% sure that the Moxie with Pro-Stitcher Lite is what I want. My big question is, it comes with either a 5-foot frame (any quilt larger than 48” wide would need to be hooped) or an 8-foot frame (which can handle up to a queen-sized quilt). Do I even have enough room for either of these frames?

Since I don’t want to give up my living room, family room, or dining room, and there’s definitely no room in our bedroom, that leaves me my little study, which is jammed with boxes of stuff that for years I haven’t found a good place for.

I walked around the rest of the show and saw even more machines, including one from a small company in Utah. The proprietor said he is the inventor of the Handi Quilter longarm. I was tempted to order his machine, but I’d rather have a local resources for servicing. So I went back to my local Handi Quilter distributer and locked in my price for the machine by committing to a layaway. The shop owner assured me that if I decide not to go through with the purchase, they will refund my money.

So now I have a big chore ahead of me—I will have to reconfigure my study. Undoubtedly, that will mean getting rid of some of my stuff. I am bad at that. My husband thinks I should just move everything to the garage. Read The Garage of Doom and The Garage of Delight to see why I’m reluctant to do that. (Man, I wish our garage still looked like those “after” pictures; but it’s filling up again. I blame my husband.)

Vintage kimomo parts
Vintage kimono booth

By the way, there were lots of interesting fabrics, patterns, and accessories at the show. In addition to the usual offerings you would expect to see at a quilting, craft, and sewing festival, one booth had fabric, panels, and baskets made in Africa; another had parts of old Japanese silk kimonos, so you could make a purse out of a sleeve, a table runner out of an obi sash. One booth had very colorful fabrics and panels in original designs, not available in stores. The designer, P.Carter Carpin, travels around the country selling at shows and festivals. (She also has an Etsy shop.) Look at the lovely quilts she’s made from her fabrics! So simple, and yet so impactful because of the colors and patterns of the fabric. I bought 7 fat quarters (at $4 a pop) because they were so gorgeous and unusual.

P.Carter Carpin's booth
P.Carter Carpin’s. booth
Fabrics by P.Carter Carpin
The fat quarters I bought, not because I need more fabric, but because they were so beautiful.