I stumbled and fell into my Handi Quilter Story, literally. Concentrating on my grocerylist, I caught my toe on a step and nearly hit the ground right in front of Howell?s Sewand Vac. Displayed in all its glory in the front window was the first HQ Sixteen I?d ever seen!Naturally, it was Sunday, and the store was closed.Waiting, not so patiently until Monday, to put my hands on that gorgeous white machine,made me reminisce about my sewing roots. Growing up in a sewing family, my sisterand I wore homemade clothes, and were always dressed alike. At Christmas, wheneverwe received dolls, even they were adorned in outfits matching ours.One summer while visiting my aunt on the coast, too foggy for the beach, Aunt Barbaratook me material shopping and taught me how to make a top! We never were trendy orbrand-name oriented, and in high school, I became known for my one-of-a-kinddresses. Being blessed with a young, stylish, slender mother, we?d take turns makingnew dresses after school or work and switch off wearing them. We can thank GrandmaJane for our dressmaking habit. She could turn curtains into a cocktail dress, completewith buttons down the back!Back in the early 80s, Grandma Jane got a new sewing machine with all the bells andwhistles. It had so many stitch choices and was so user-friendly, we jokingly teased herthat she had her machine trained by voice to “just sew” and gorgeous garments werespit out including added bling.Grandma Jane, Aunt Barbara and my mom were my quilting inspiration, my roots. I?dyearned to learn to quilt, but didn?t know where to start. The process seemed sointimidating. After thirty years of dress making dedication, I gave up my Kenmoremachine and bought a new Janome. Instantly my enthusiasm for sewing was renewed.We moved to a wonderful country community in Auburn, CA, where our new neighborsinvited me to join their weekly “Stitch and Bitch” night. They patiently taught me to quiltand make nice points.My first quilt project, a toy quilt, was made for my grandson, Colton. My humbleneighborhood group either quilted using stitch in the ditch or hand quilting. I knew thehandwork was out for me. After 20+ years as a court reporter, those tiny, skilled motormovements weren?t left in my fingers, so I tried stitch in the ditch. It was all right, but Ireally wanted to do more.I signed up for a machine quilting class at our local quilt shop. Now, that was a nervewrackingexperience! One lady in the class said it all, “Anyone have a quilt I can ruin?”The whole concept of moving the material under the needle was daunting andfrustrating. It reminded me of moving paper under a pencil! It truly was not for me at all.I attended a quilt show, my first, and was star-struck by the display of talented artistry.The piecing was incredible and the quilting phenomenal! And there were vendors anddemonstrations!! I saw a gentleman moving a sewing machine across fabric that wasrolled on poles. He let me try it, and I loved the sensation of drawing with thread acrossthe blank canvas. The next day, I went back to the show and bought my first free-motionmachine and table.I had some issues and difficulties, but I was determined to master quilting. The machinewasn?t regulated, and I found out quickly about consistent movement. I also had to keepmy thumb on the power button while moving the machine. I fumbled through a few topsto completion, but not my best work, for sure!Seeing that gleaming white HQ Sixteen at that time wasn?t an accident, and I could hardlywait for Howell?s to open on Monday. I walked into the shop, walking straight up to thatbeautiful machine. When asked if I wanted to try it out, of course, I said, “Yes!”I was hooked the instant I could move the handlebars and the machine came to life. Andhaving light aimed at the needle was a huge plus. The table size flexibility was perfectfor my sewing situation, being able to keep it small for storage and large for big projects.I couldn?t wait to go home, sell my other set-up and become a new Handi Quilter owner.My sewing space doubled as our guest room. Our most frequent guests were thegrands, so I decided a wall bed would be perfect, since the bed was used a lot less thanthe HQ Sixteen. It was the perfect solution! Then my wonderful husband remodeled anotherhouse (around the corner) for us to move into that had a basement studio for me! I cansew or quilt my heart out, and come upstairs and close the door. No one can see mymadness or my mess.Since the HQ Sixteen has come home, I?ve quilted over 70 quilts. I?ve taught myself tomeander, do feathers, loops, leaves, echo and now I?m working with pantographs.Working at the back of the machine and then seeing the design emerge, I feel Grandma Jane smiling down on me and saying “just sew” and I know my hands are being guidedby the master. I?d love to learn and perfect micro-quilting, but that opportunity hasn?tcome to my town, yet.Best of all, I love to teach my friends how to quilt on my HQ. They always leave with ahuge smile and a beautiful quilt. Teaching others is a true gift that keeps on giving.Last year, at my husband?s urging, I joined our local quilt guild. The theme for theannual quilt challenge was something I couldn?t pass up, “Something Old, SomethingNew.” I entered, not realizing the entries were automatically displayed at the annual quiltshow. I never felt “good” enough to enter anything in a show before. My biggest fan, myhusband, encouraged me to enter two other items.At the end of the show, I gathered my quilts and was dumbfounded when I saw aSecond Place ribbon on my challenge quilt! As I was handed my wearable art entry (aquilted vest I?d made for Mom?s 75th birthday) I saw a First Place ribbon dangling fromthe collar. By then I was a blithering idiot, and started walking to my car and out poppeda Third Place ribbon on my quilt honoring our Keeshonden (dogs)! One, two, three formy first show! I don?t think I can top the elation, but I?m ready to master precision andgrace, all thanks to my Handi Quilter!
I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sixteen