Beryl Anderson

Ted and me in our garden

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Little did I know when I casually mentioned to my husband, Ted, “Honey, I
think I would like to get a small quilting machine so I can machine quilt
my own tops”, that I would one day have a thriving quilting business.

I bought my HQ16 about five years ago with no place to put it. We did
have an extra guest room and a huge living room that we never used. But,
we might need those some day. Ted said, “what about your garden shed?”
My part of the garden shed was 12 by 8 feet. My HQ would fit but I
wouldn’t be able to use it. The other part of the garden shed housed the
lawn mower and tractor, various tools, and even had been home to two
litters of puppies. When Ted came home the next day and said he would be
willing to knock down the wall between the two sections and that I could
have the whole shed – 12 by 20 feet. I knew my HQ had a home.

We remodeled, painted, carpeted, installed surround sound, and finally set
up my machine. I ordered thread, batting, and a few pantographs.
Thinking I would quilt for a few customers just until I paid for my
machine, I held an open house and advertised the first 30 customers would
receive 30% off. Within a month, I had my first 30 orders and I haven’t
looked back or stopped since. I really didn’t know what I was doing back
then, but it didn’t matter because the HQ was so easy to use, everything
looked better when quilted.

My business is called Garden Shed Quilting, for obvious reasons. I love
to make garden-themed and landscape quilts, but rarely have time to quilt
for myself. I typically have 20 to 30 customer quilts in line to do at
any given time.

Last year I decided to start looking for a bigger machine. I had narrowed
my search down to two, one of which was an HQ18 Avante. The Avante won the
toss. As I was discussing the purchase with the salesman, I just thought
I would ask how much more room I would need for a HQ24 Fusion. I went out to
the Garden Shed, measured and discovered if I moved a few things around I
would have just enough room.

It was a surprising spur of the moment decision to order theHQ24 Fusion
instead of the HQ18 Avante because I had always thought a 24” machine was too
big for my short arms. I’ve had my new HQ24 Fusion for a month now, and I’m
thrilled. I have a faster turn-around time, and the quality of the
stitching is remarkable. And, I have no trouble with the extra reach.

I own the following HQ machine: HQ24 Fusion

Tami Peterson

Me and my HQ Sixteen

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     I did not get the “quilting bug” until after a trip to Utah to visit my sister.  She had just begun her own journey into the quilting world and told me that she would help me make a “rag quilt” for my husband for a Christmas gift.  We worked on it for what seemed like hours, all the while trying to comfort my 3-month old daughter who was not feeling well and who only wanted to be held by me and no one else.  I kept wondering if all of the hours of cutting out and sewing it all back together would even be worth the hassle, but  I was so happy to see the completed project and could hardly wait to see my husband’s face on Christmas morning.  He did not disappoint me with his reaction…he loved it!  From that moment on, he was sold on giving and getting a “homemade” quilt and supported my new hobby/addiction.   In fact, about 3 years ago, my husband asked me what I thought we should do for our anniversary as far as a gift for each other.  In the past, we had gone on trips or gotten something that we would both enjoy, but on this particular anniversary he said, “I think we should get you a new HQ quilting machine.”  I THOUGHT I WOULD DIE.  While inside I secretly wanted to start jumping around like a crazy woman due to this recent statement made by my dear husband, I did NOT want to appear greedy, so I said, “Well, that wouldn’t be very fun for you, would it?”  To which he replied, “Yeah, right!  A quilt is the best gift you could ever give me or anyone else for that matter!”  Needless to say, it did not take long for this “newbie” to get all of her ducks in a row and start the ball rolling.  The cool thing, too, is that not only was my husband on board with the idea, but his brother who we farm with, wanted to contribute to the cause as well.  I feel like a pretty lucky woman to have two men in my life who are willing to support my “habit”. 
      Since then, I have been able to make countless quilts as gifts or for charitable causes.  I do some quilting for others on occasion for payment, but my greatest joy is when I pull a freshly washed quilt from the dryer and wrap it up to give to someone.    I enjoy making quilts that are not too detailed because I feel like I can get “in and out” quicker and move on to the next project and this method really comes in handy when I am in need of a quilt quickly.  I have literally lost count as to how many quilts I have been able to put together sometimes in just a day’s time that I have given to friends who have lost loved ones unexpectedly.   I try to consciously think of the recipient of each quilt while I am working on it because then it is pure joy.
      I had one experience this past year where early in the day I had been going through my fabric stash trying to “organize” fabrics into colors, when I came across some squares of beautiful flannel that I had previously cut up a few years ago thinking that “someday” I would make them into a quilt.  At the same time, I was listening to a song called, “If Today Was Your Last Day” by Nickelback, when my phone rang and my daughter told me that a good friend of ours had passed away.  I started to cry, thinking of his sweet wife whom he dearly loved, and how she would be alone now and feeling very sad.   I reflected on the words in that song and the wonderful life this good man had lived and immediately ran to the closet, retrieved the flannel squares and started sewing.  I honestly think I cried the entire time I sewed and quilted.  I had my iPod on the entire time, listening to the words of the song over and over, knowing that this dear man had always lived his life in such a manner that it wouldn’t have mattered what day he left this earth because he had made the most of every single day.
     I was able to finish the quilt by the same evening and went with my husband to deliver it.  When I put it in her hands, she literally melted and seemed genuinely touched by the gift.  As we visited with her, I noticed that she kept rubbing her hand over the soft flannel and I knew that although it would never take away the sadness she was feeling over the loss of her best friend, that it would at least offer her some warmth on the lonely nights to come and that she would always know each time she wrapped it around her that it would be like a “hug” from us to her.   Again the reason I had fallen in love with quilting was driven home to me.
     I am 48 years old and want to be found making and giving quilts until the day I die.   I am by no means, an expert on machine quilting, but I am in awe of those who are.  I want to learn more and become braver with the quilts I make.   I know it comes with practice and learning as you go, so I will just have to be patient as I gain more knowledge along the way.  One thing I know for certain is that my HQ16 has been not only a blessing in my life, but to many others as well and I know that it will continue to be as long as I am able to create.
I am forever grateful for a husband who not only works hard enough that I can continue on my quilting journey but also encourages me whenever I create something new… every. single. time.

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sixteen

Cheryl A Meadors

Lilee and Cheryl with their first quilts

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I’ll admit it.  I am a fiber-aholic.  I love the color, the texture, even the smell of fiber whether it’s raw fleece, roving, yarn or fabric. 
Several years ago, I started doing a little genealogical research to discover the source of my fiber affliction.  I remember my mother, grandmother and great aunts piecing and quilting.  I have several quilts willed to me from mom’s side of the family.  All of a sudden it struck me that the ‘heritage of fiber’ that I’m passing on to my daughter had yet to include quilting.  So I decided to make it my summer objective to create a quilt with my 12 year old daughter.  We went to the local quilt shop and picked out fabric that appealed to her interests.  We ended up with basketballs, blueberry pie, polar bears, penguins, pandas - lots of bright colors.  I picked out a simple pattern, cut out the pieces then laid them out on the floor assuming my daughter would give her seal of approval.  Instead, she started moving everything around into a random pattern.  So we spent a week with graph paper diagramming out patterns that would look good from close up and farther away.  Eventually, we came to consensus on the layout and my daughter began to sew the shapes into blocks.  As the blocks were done, I laid them out on a bed until we had every block positioned.   At the end of the adventure, my daughter declared that she appreciated the making of a memory but she’d rather play basketball.
By working with her, I rediscovered my love for pattern and color in fabric.  For the next year I worked on a king sized quilt pieced in a bear claw pattern and hand quilted in a lap hoop that I inherited from my great grandmother.  When I was finished, the quilt was too precious to use!  No dog was allowed to curl up on it.  Even my daughter was sternly cautioned about appropriate ways to use the quilt.  I had created an heirloom that everyone was afraid to touch.  At that point, I realized that I needed a faster (and less painful!) way to quilt.
I had seen ads in quilting magazines about long arm machines but I had no idea what they were.   Not far from my home, I noticed a shop that had commercial quilting machines on display.  They signed me up for a class in machine quilting and explained that they offered rental time on the machines.  So I began a 2 year exposure to long arm quilting through rented equipment.  At first it was enough to quilt edge to edge with freehand doodling.  I could knock out a finished quilt in 3 hours and was perfectly content with my technique.  But the quilt tops started piling up as the available time to rent started shrinking.   And I was to the point with my piecing where I wanted the ability to replicate a hand quilted design.  That wouldn’t be possible in a 3 hour window of rental time.  I knew that the machine I was renting was beyond any price that I could justify for an obsession that wasn’t going to yield any financial benefits. 
Years before, I worked for the Viking Sewing Machine Company as a regional sales manager.  Erica’s Sewing Center in South Bend, Indiana, is still in business.  One of my machines needed service, so I packed up the machine and my husband for the hour’s drive to her store, knowing that she had a line of long arm machines.   After we checked in my machine for service, I casually wandered over to the HQ display.  Not only were the machines ‘pretty’ enough to be in my house, they operated the same way as the commercial machines I had rented.  I nearly walked away, assuming that the HQ would be beyond what I would consider spending.  Fortunately, there was a price sheet on each machine.  Every feature I wanted came included on the machine.  Nothing was an ‘add on’.  And the throat space I was accustomed to using was available on the HQ24 Fusion.  Trying not to show too much excitement, I got back into the car and headed home.  My husband was already saying ‘Buy it, you deserve it.  You’ve saved money in your new car fund for years.  Go ahead and use it for something you want!’ 
I consider myself a smart shopper.   I pulled out all my quilting magazines and looked up every competitive brand on the internet.  With the HQ as a ‘comparison’ model, it was easy to eliminate other brands on features, cost, and aesthetics.  Eventually, it came down to only one question – WHICH model HQ did I need?
So I emailed Erica and asked for an hour to talk about the difference between the HQ options. We got together at her shop that Saturday and walked through the features of the machine as well as what she would do to teach me to use the machine.  She also offered me membership in a user group that meets monthly to continue learning and sharing.  All that plus a promotion on the machine and free shipping - I was sold.  We wrote up the deal and I went home to wait.
 The perfect spot for my new machine is a 12 foot expanse looking out over the living room.  10 days later, when the 11 boxes and set of 2x4’s arrived in our driveway, my husband called and said “What did you buy?”  After we finally got it hauled up 3 flights of stairs, he started assembling it in the afternoons before I came home from work.  By the weekend, it was ready for a ‘test drive’.   I couldn’t wait to work on one of my quilt tops so I watched the video then loaded a twin sized quilt.  I came up with a strategy to put some freehand butterflies and flowers into specific spaces, joined by curlicues.  My daughter (now 15) has a talent for art and freehand drawing.  She started showing interest in what I was doing and how the machine was sketching with thread.  All of a sudden, another ‘golden opportunity to create a memory’ flashed into my brain.  I’m going to challenge my daughter to do a freehand whole cloth quilt by sketching with the machine. 
Here we go again!! 

I own the following HQ machine: HQ24 Fusion

Karla Petraglia

Free Hand With Winnie

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I’m the proud owner of a HQ18 Avante, but it was my dog, Winnie, who really helped me to learn how to use it! I started sewing around 10 years old, in a home that was rich with the tradition. My grandmother was a tailor from Germany, and taught me a lot about sewing garments. I’m sure I’m the same as many women: periods of time during which I hadn’t sewn for a while, but have actually sewn my whole life long. I went back and forth over the years with sewing and crafts. Then, about 2 years ago, got back into sewing in a big way. My husband said, ‘If you’re going to do this right, you should get yourself a good machine’, so of course I took his advice! I bought a top-of-the-line combination sewing/embroidery machine, and set up shop in a spare room of our house. I found myself a regular visitor at the store where I’d bought my machine, which also specializes in quilting supplies and equipment. To learn my new machine, I started with a ‘Bag of the Month’ Club, and never thought too much about quilting. However, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful quilt-tops others were making there. They encouraged me to try it, and I took my first class in December of 2009. I took more classes, and my sewing room began to fill in with a cutting table and all the associated accessories, and of course, lots of fabric. Before long, I had pieced together four different tops, and had them finished by a local quilter. My husband and I were in awe when I would bring them home and how gorgeous they looked as finished quilts. That’s when I started researching longarms on the internet, taking a few months looking, reading and talking to users. I decided Handi Quilter was the machine for me and found my closest dealer, Elaine Gilmore at the Quilting Machine Shop in Bunnell, Florida. After a ‘test drive’ at her shop, I ordered the HQ18 Avante. At that time, I didn’t order the Pro-Stitcher because I felt I should learn how to free-hand first. Elaine had a show in Paduca, so I agreed to wait a bit for my machine; this gave me plenty of time to go crazy waiting and thinking! By the next week, I called Elaine and added the Pro-Stitcher to the order. Elaine arrived early on a Saturday morning, and they had the machine set up by noon. For the rest of that day, she trained me on the Pro-Stitcher. She was back Sunday morning, we trained some more, then we loaded my latest quilt-top, a day-bed quilt with a dragonfly theme and a hibiscus stitch design. It went well, though I had a few ‘user-errors’ which Elaine helped me with. A thread-break revealed how incredibly easy it is to get back up and running from the same spot! We got about a quarter of that top done, and I was on my own to finish it. I continued to quilt for myself and friends using the HQ Pro-Stitcher, because there’s always something to learn with it, but I did very little free-handing at first. Which brings me back to my dog, Winnie, all Yorkshire Terrier, all 4 pounds of attitude! I knew that if I was to advance as a quilter, I would have to develop my free-handing skills. Several months ago, I began to apply myself to it. It didn’t go well at first. I made the same mistake everyone else does: I was too tense, and tried to ‘muscle’ the machine along. My stitches were not smooth, not artistic, not pretty. The more time I spent at the machine, the more Winnie was at my feet, fussing for attention. At some point, I picked her up to quiet her down, and, while holding her, proceeded to ‘one hand’ the HQ18 Avante with the other. The result was something I would have never expected! This ‘one hand drill’ forced me to relax my grip, and my free-handing skills developed very quickly. Winnie has moved on to other mischief, and while I generally steer the arm with two hands, I ‘solo’ every day just to keep that touch. My HQ18 Avante was a great investment. There are just so many incredibly useful features. I love the ‘move’ function, which lets me see if my quilt is straight on the frame, and the ‘point-to-point’ capability if things aren’t straight on the quilt. ‘Rotation’ and ‘mirror’ are great, too, and returning to the exact spot on a top of any size is a breeze should a thread break. Still, the best feature has to the looks on visitors’ faces when they see come over and see my machine, and I show them what it can do! And of course, Winnie helps!

I own the following HQ machine: HQ18 Avante

Laural

Me with my featherweight.

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I first sewed on the HQ Sixteen at the Houston Quilt Market in 2007. It was my first time at market and my first time sewing on the HQ. I couldn't get out of the seat. I let the rest of the girls continue with the show while I drew pumpkins, swirls, my name. I got in a zone and didn't want to leave it. My dreams of purchasing and building a hand guided quilting business were put on hold when early in 2008 my 45 year old husband was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. I put all things aside including my love of quilting to take care of him. He fought valiantly and in March of 2010 he lost his battle with cancer. Through the fog of my grief I have had to find a way to support what's left of my family. I decided to go back to what I loved, and in December of 2010 I went back to the handi quilter dealer in our area sat back down at that HQ Sixteen and decided to part with very precious resources so that I could continue a dream that had started so long ago in Houston.

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sweet Sixteen