Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen: Using bobbin thread as the top thread

29 04 2013

I had a devil of a time with a small spool of 100 wt Wonderfil Invisifil thread — it kept getting caught in the slot on the spool that secures the thread, or wrapping itself around the vertical or horizontal thread spool holder. It was the only spool of that colour that I had and it was perfect for the top stitching I wanted to do. But how to get it off the horrible spool and put it onto something that wouldn’t catch?

I had a lightbulb moment — I’d use the bobbin winder and wind the thread onto a bobbin then put the bobbin on the spool holder and I could use the thread without it catching every few seconds. Easy peasy. But not so fast, Batman…

Once I’d wound the thread off the spool and onto the bobbin, I was reminded that the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen has a thicker rod for spools than it does for bobbins! (that’s a silly design flaw, in my opinion — if the spool rods were a tad narrower they could take both spools and bobbins, not just spools). That meant that I couldn’t put the full bobbin onto either the vertical or horizontal spool holder. And I couldn’t wind the thread back off the bobbin and onto a different sort of spool as the bobbin winder can’t do that. Thwarted…

Except the previous day I’d rigged up a temporary lighting system for my Sweet Sixteen 😉 Surely I could do the same for the bobbin so I could use it as the top thread? Off to the sewing room, the kitchen and the shed to see what would work. I came back with an artist’s paintbrush, a roll of painters tape, and a satay stick. Well, the satay stick wasn’t going to work as it was way too thin. But the paintbrush was an option — the bobbin spun nicely on it, until I set it up, when I found that the 100 wt thread just wanted to spool off the bobbin and get wrapped around the paintbrush. So that was no solution.


This solution didn’t work as the thread kept coming off the bobbin and winding around the paintbrush

The problem was that there was nothing to prevent the thread from coming loose from the bobbin and winding itself around whatever makeshift spool holder I had. I needed a cap of some sort… Just like on my domestic machine. My husband brought out a screwdriver that was the perfect diameter — my domestic sewing machine caps and felt pads fitted perfectly. It was then a matter of attaching the screwdriver to the machine with painters’ tape and off I went!


This solution was perfect — the felt pads and the caps from my domestic sewing machine kept the bobbin thread where it belonged, and the diameter of the screwdriver was such that the bobbin spun smoothly.

So now my Sweet Sixteen looks like some sort of makeshift Heath Robinson invention! I have an OTT Task Lamp tied to the left side with twist ties, a floor lamp on the right, and now this screwdriver spool holder for my bobbin full of the thread I wanted to use 😉

This option would not have been necessary if Handi Quilter had built these machines with slightly narrower diameter spool holders that would comfortably take thread spools and cones, AND M bobbins. Such a small design change would offer more thread delivery options to users.



10 responses

29 04 2013

Very interesting. Nice MacGyver move.

30 04 2013

Just one of so many “flaws”, customer inconveniences that plague HQ’s product! And they say that there was much input from ppl who sew!!! I doubt it totally!! Just sayin’…….As always, you ‘nailed’ it!! LOL! Hugs, D

4 05 2013
Laura Davies

Nice job! Have you tried using those thread nets like a Serger would have? That is the only way I can use that looser invisible thread. I pop a thread net on the spool and it works out fine. How do you like your Sweet Sixteen otherwise? I’ve been looking at various sitdown longarms.

4 05 2013

Hi Laura

Thread nets are great for thread that slips off spools, whether they are on my domestic machine or my Sweet Sixteen. I don’t use them often, as most of my threads behave. I don’t think they would have worked in this situation as the bobbin is so small.

And I just LOVE my Sweet Sixteen!!! I tried quilting a small piece on my domestic machine just a few weeks ago as I was already sitting at it, but felt so restricted by the 10″ throat space!

9 05 2013
Sally Kirkwood

This is a great post. I am a new owner of Sweet 16and been trying to figure out how I can wind bobbin to bobbin….as thread holders don.t take bobbin. Now I have an answer !!! off to the shed to find screws driver and masking tape…. Thanks Sally K. NSW Australia

1 06 2013

Good for you!! Where there’s a will, there’s always a way, and you found it!
I’m printing your solution for future reference. I would have been shopping for a new, more slender thread holder and wrapping a rubber band around the base so it wouldn’t wobble in the hole, LOL. Kudos on your creativity!

7 06 2014
Handi Quilt Sweet Sixteen: Using bobbin thread as the top thread: Hack #2 | Rhonda Bracey: At Random

[…] in my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen. As the spool rods are too fat for the bobbins, I came up with a dodgy system using painters tape and a paintbrush. Since I posted that hack, I’ve read about another person’s method, using what we used […]

2 11 2015

just wondering if anyone has wound a sweet sixteen bobbin with wonderfil -invisifil thread. I tried once before to wind invisible tread on the sweet sixteen bobbin winder and it was a disaster. Appreciate any help out there.

5 11 2015

Great idea, Rhonda!

6 11 2015
vivian helena

I hope that Handi Quilter reads the ideas represented here! I am a new owner of a Sweet 16, and have a long way to go in learning what to do…

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