I've been getting used to the Pony, my HQ Sweet 16 sit-down quilting machine. The only way to get comfortable with a new machine is to use it, so I quilted two quilts on it during the past month. I've been saving up quilt tops to finish on the machine for the past several months. I also purchased a couple of quilt tops on eBay to practice on--a nice low-risk place to start. I started with a scrappy vintage bow-tie quilt top that probably dates from the 1930s-1950s. I quilted diagonal lines of flowers on it using beige/gold Aurifil cotton thread.
What I didn't fully realize when I got the Pony was that it only takes cone thread. You have to order a horizontal spool pin separately in order to use spools of thread on the machine. What I also realized, after reading info on the internet, is that a lot of long-arm quilters don't like to use cotton thread. They prefer poly thread because it is less linty and stronger. I've never used poly thread before, but after using cotton on the first quilt, I understand what they mean when they say cotton is linty. I did have one thread break incident, so I reduced the tension a bit and had no more problems after that. Anyhow, I've ordered cones of a variety of different poly threads to experiment with, as well as some extra bobbins and an extra bobbin case. I'm going to hold off on getting a horizontal spool pin for now.
The bow-tie quilt is nearly finished. Here it is, quilted and trimmed and with the binding pinned on prior to sewing it down. I also prepared a hanging sleeve for it.
The second quilt I finished using the Pony is one of my scrappy 1/4-log cabins. I used a smoky gray Superior SoFine 50wt poly thread. It seemed to slide through the machine easier than the cotton thread. I quilted this using an overall maze pattern.
I call this layout 'dragon scales.' I sewed the first half of the binding down this morning and prepared a hanging sleeve for it.
Overall, the Pony is working well. After finishing one or two more quilts, I'll post a review of the quilting machine.