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Some of our customers buy the Avante for their own use and other make quilts for a living and Ulrike is in that category - her website has an interesting blog too. She takes commissions and has an outlet for her work at the Dedham Art and Craft Centre.
This is what Ulrike wrote about how she has found using the Handi Quilter Avante 18.
Quilting with the Avante is the best quilting experience I ever had and there are several reasons for that. Let’s start with the loading of the frame. The leaders are made of strong non stretch material and wide enough to be reached easily when pinning (in particular the back leader is still within easy reach). I know the instructions say you should pin and roll up the quilt top but if I’m quilting a smallish quilt I often don’t bother and just let it hang down at the front, together with the wadding. Still leaving the second roller in applies enough “pressure” to keep top and wadding in place when quilting. A few pins at the top edge to start with are all that’s needed. Easy! Threading the machine is no problem at all, access from both ends of the machine though is needed so don’t set it up too close to the wall even if you never want to use it from the “panto” side (as I call it). The display screen of the Avante gives you all the information you need to quilt: which mode you are in (manual or regulated), the speed (in manual mode) or the number of stitches/inch (in regulated mode), if your needle position is up or down when you stop quilting and you can choose weather the machine stops immediately when you press the stop button or if you would like it to do a couple more stitches. More you don’t need to know to start.
I would recommend to every one to start quilting in the regulated mode with a stitch length of 8-10 stitches, needle in the down position. In regulated mode the machine starts stitching when you start moving the machine! And how easy does it move! You can move the Avante with one hand (and that’s a definite advantage, because sometimes you need your other hand to hold threads out of the way or hold on to the quilt when quilting close to the edge) and you don’t feel the weight at all. It moves forwards, backwards, sideways with ease and without jerks or the feeling you are quilting “up hill” as some other machines do. The best test for every quilting machine are loops of different sizes. The Avante passed the test with flying colours. My longest uninterrupted time quilting with the Avante was 2 ½ hours and it was great. Only stop for the occasional bobbing thread change and a drop of oil and off you go again. No hurting wrists from holding on to leavers to apply pressure on pedals (like on the Grace frames), no hurting back or stiff neck from leaning over. If you were thinking about trying the Avante I can only recommend it. It has to be tested to be believed.