Have you heard of the Quilt Halo? While investigating tools designed for free motion quilters, this one caught my eye. It is so simple; a plain, red, weighted circle with a rubbery coating that lightly grips a quilt top. The minimal design makes it look like Ikea had a hand in it (it was actually designed by quilter Sharon Schamber). The Quilt Halo is intended to help you grip and guide your quilt without gloves during free motion quilting. I asked the makers for a Quilt Halo to try out and they agreed! I tested it with some practice stitching and off and on for the quilt along.
To use the halo I slid it under my darning foot. I was excited to be able to start quilting without having to figure out where the toddler took my quilting gloves! I immediately noticed that my hands felt more relaxed than when I flatten them against the quilt surface, as I do when quilting with my gloves. It seems just as easy to maneuver the quilt with the halo as it does with my hands, and sometimes I felt that I had better control with the halo than I do with my hands, probably since my hands were in a more natural position. There is a wider area to work within the ring than with how I normally place my hands, so I didn't need to stop and reposition as often as is typically necessary. This lent a nice flow to my stitching.
While stitching I occasionally found that the ring would bump into the back of my darning foot even when it seemed like there should be room for me to stitch. Remembering to allow for some space in the back between the foot and the ring was hard for me but I did get better over time. The picture below shows the point at which the foot would begin bumping the ring.
The only serious difficulty I had with the halo was how it behaved at the edges of the quilt. To stitch along the edges of the quilt one side of the ring would be off the quilt top. The grip along this edge was therefore reduced and sometimes the batting would slip out from the halo's grip, making it hard to keep the top flat. Additionally, while the halo exerts downward pressure on the quilt top, it is not possible to apply outward pressure as I can with my hands. This made me feel nervous if I worked in an area with seeming extra "fullness" in the fabric. While no puckers actually developed during my test drive, it made me feel apprehensive to not have the same amount of control as I do with my hands. Again, this problem was worse on the edge where part of the ring was off the quilt top. The perfect solution for this problem would be to only use the halo in the center areas of the quilt and to use my hands on the edges. That's fine if you're working with borders but my quilts often don't have them. And unfortunately, once you've started stitching with that ring under the foot, you'll have to stop and cut the thread to get it back out.
I did not have any problem with the halo bumping against the right edge of my machine, but if you have a smaller space under your machine arm you might encounter that issue. Also, I was only quilting a small quilt so I don't know if there are any problems that might arise with a larger quilt, where you have more bulk under the machine arm.
I enjoyed the opportunity to use the Quilt Halo, but I didn't feel it improved my stitching. I would recommend the Quilt Halo for someone who is not satisfied with the grip they currently have on their quilt top while free motion quilting. If you suffer from joint problems or pain, the Quilt Halo might allow you to be more comfortable or to quilt longer. You'll have to figure out how to manage the quilting along the outermost edge of the quilt though.
If you'd like to be entered in a giveaway for your very own Quilt Halo, leave a comment below. Make sure I have a way to contact you if you win. International entries are welcome. I'd be interested in hearing if any readers have tried the Quilt Halo. What did you think?
Entries for the giveaway are now closed.