Amy's Newest Quilting Adventure: Artistic SD16

I've always been a little leery of moving up to a bigger machine when it comes to sharing free motion quilting, ruler work (quilting with rulers), and offering up tips for machine quilting. Especially as I know most of my readers and students don't have huge machines.

But when it comes to quilting big quilts, there's no denying that bigger machines sure help. I hear from many folk that they've taken the plunge to a long arm or a larger domestic machine mounted onto a frame system. Some are delighted, others...not so much.

Artistic SD16

A sit down long arm breaches the divide for me. I don't have room for a long arm on a frame, I certainly don't have the budget for one, and I'm a confirmed "quilt pusher!" I don't have to change or adapt my free motion quilting skills to switch to this machine.

We've got a very large and active long arm dealership in our area, so even if I wanted to AND had the room, I'm not sure I'd bring in the new Janome long arm machines, though they are getting great reviews (they're no longer the Tin Lizzy clones). Plus pushing my quilts to quilt them is my forte, so it makes sense to stick with what I know best.

We've brought in the Artistic SD 16, which has a ton of room and also sits in the same orientation as a sewing machine. I love this! I can reach all parts of the machine with ease and I can push a quilt right to the back without running into the body of the machine.

It comes standard with a stitch regulator too. This is a big help for those with less experience with free motion quilting. My daughter loves the feature. Yes, I've been letting my 11 year old use this machine, with stern instruction to keep her fingers away from the needle.

I haven't spent a lot of time on the machine, being insanely busy keeping the shop all stocked and cute for the Christmas season and keeping customers happy. While my daughter loves the stitch regulator, I'd rather go without. But I'm trying it anyway as we plan on renting time on the machine for interested customers. I insist on knowing my machines!

Turns out that if you're experienced in free motion and used to slowing down your hands if the machine slows down while the stitch regulator slows the machine down if your hands slow down, you end up in a bit of a stand off!

The black button on the quilt above (my daughter's first big quilt) is resting above the stitch regulator which works much like a wireless computer mouse to tell the machine what speed to run at based on the regulator's motion. This is much different than the stitch regulator on a frame based long arm.

I've heard before that many long arm professionals prefer to work without the regulator and when I recently posted on Instagram about my stitch regulator stand off, I got several comments along the same lines from quilters using a sit down machine. Glad to know it wasn't just me or a problem with the machine.

It's been interesting using designs at a larger than usual scale for me. But the intricate quilting I love to do on my sewing machine isn't the thing for a nice cuddly quilt. These are 9.5 inch squares and I'm putting one large feathered flower in every other block. My daughter is planning on doing the rest of the blocks herself.

Above is my beautiful, creative, stubborn daughter. She's also apparently freezing. I swear our shop is a nice temperature, but you can't prove it with this picture. She helped with the basting of her quilt too. I'm looking forward to seeing her stitch on her quilt too. She seems to feel better about doing it on this machine than she does on any of our sewing machines. I'll keep you posted.

How about you? Have you tried these sit down machines? Are you using a stitch regulator?  Is anyone disappointed that I keep going up to bigger machines? 

By the way, if you are local to Lynchburg or within a reasonable drive, we are having our Christmas Open House Event this coming weekend (Dec. 8 & 9) with demos, sales, snacks, complementary scissor sharpening with minimum purchase. (Limit one free sharpening) We've got great deals on machines and exceptional support and service.


  1. I love my Artistic Quilter! I have a lower level model without all the electronics and no stitch regulator (I didn't want one anyway). My only issue with it is how low the ruler foot sits - I have a terrible time getting over seams because it's just a bit too tight. How do you deal with this?

    1. I believe there's an adjustment you can make on your Artistic 18sd for foot height. Consult your manual. I know the foot height can be adjusted on my version. But with these long arm type machines, it's not as easy as a thumbscrew on a sewing machine.

      I haven't done any ruler work on it yet as I'm ordering in a new, better ruler foot for it. I'll post updates when I do.

  2. Congratulations on the new sit-down machine. A couple of years ago I broke down and bought the Handi-Quilter Sweet 16, which is similar except that it is oriented to work at the end of the machine rather than the way you sit at a domestic machine. That hasn't bothered me, though. I also like pushing and pulling my fabric through the machine since that is how I learned. (I don't like the stitch regulator that comes with this machine, either. It's easier to just 'go with it" and try to keep an even speed on my own.)

    I love having the room to move my big quilts through! I've used the machine to learn a little ruler work, too, although I am very much a novice with that so far.\\

    1. Thanks! BTW, HandiQuilter has a new ruler foot for many of these machines.

  3. Amy, this past August I also purchased this machine and so far it has been great. Unfortunately, the dealer is 1 1/2 hour away and have had only 1 class. Hope to have another in January. I am struggling with the SR, but will persevere. Thanks for all you do for the quilting community.

    Sharon in Colorado

    1. It certainly takes some getting used to in manipulating the SR thing for accuracy!

  4. I DID buy the new ruler foot for my Handiquilter Sweet 16 and it helps a lot!

  5. I also took the plunge and bought a HQ Sweet 16 this year. Still getting used to it and somewhat grieving for my familiar DSM. However, like you pointed out, the space is fantastic, love that you can quilt at a bigger scale and am amazed at how fast I can finish a quilt. Also getting into ruler work which I find a bit easier on the larger machine.

  6. Hi Amy-- I have had the Artistic SD 16 for over a year now. Traded in a Janome 7700 for the SD 16 and the 8900. I absolutely LOVE both of these machines. Have you heard any more about the upgrade that is planned for the 8900 to work with ruler feet. I have quilted quite a few quilts with the SD 16 and I don't use the stitch regulator. It is too cumbersome for me. I hope you enjoy your new "toy" Robbi

    1. Roberta, you can do ruler work on a Janome 8900! In fact, both of my Craftsy classes were done on an 8900. The update for using a ruler foot is for the machines with automatic presser foot lift, like the 9400, 15000, S9 etc.

      All you need for the 8900 is the actual ruler foot which comes in the Frame Quilting Foot Set (It says for 1600P) which attaches to all versions of the Convertible Free Motion Foot Set, one of which came with your machine.

  7. Amy - congrats on your SD-16!
    I purchased an SD-18 a few years ago, and incorporated a lot of your teachings in my own 'self-training courses' with FMQ and ruler quilting. I love the SD-18, and am now to the point where my stitches are mostly uniform. PRACTICE.
    NO, I'm not disappointed you got a larger machine -- it's evolution! As a 'pusher' myself, I fully understand your progression. However, I never did learn to quilt with a domestic machine, so I'm spoiled. =)
    Thanks for all you do to promote this hobby. AND high-fives to you for making the machine available to rent time in the shop -- you will help so many! Congrats to your daughter for learning at your side!