Let’s jump to 1980…actually New Year’s Eve. With sons ages 2 and 4, my husband and I had no plans for the evening. I had talked to Mom and told her I wanted to make twin bed quilts for the boys. She told me what I needed to buy and off Gary, the boys, and I went to the fabric store. I got my fabric, and on New Years’ Day Mom helped me get started. She made me a sand paper pattern for a bow tie quilt and I started tracing the pieces on the fabric and cutting them out with scissors. I found myself a basket (just like Mom) and I would sit after the boys were in bed and work on my quilt blocks. I don’t know how long it took me to get enough blocks for one quilt, but when I did, Mom helped me piece together the top and mark it with stencils she made from cardboard. We set up her old quilt frame in my basement and she helped me put the quilt in the frame. From there, I didn’t get far. The basement was unfinished, cold, and dimly lit, and it was hard and time-consuming to make those even stitches. After several months I took the unfinished quilt out of the frame and boxed it up. I told myself I would finish it and the unfinished blocks for the second quilt later. I got busy raising the boys and then my daughter who came along two years later, and I never did get back to those quilts. They were put away but not forgotten.
Now fast forward 22 years later to 2002! My youngest son and his wife were expecting my first grandchild. Mom had passed away in 1999 and I was suddenly wondering who was going to make MY grandchildren quilts like she had done. I decided I would pick up where Mom left off, and off to the fabric store I went again. My how things had changed! There were rotary cutters and I didn’t have to use scissors! I bought a log cabin pattern and then realized I didn’t have a sewing machine! I couldn’t bear the thought of hand-stitching or hand-quilting so my next stop was to purchase a DSM. After much creative debate, I decided to “stitch in the ditch” on that new DSM because I figured I could sew a straight line easy enough. It didn’t take me long to see that it was not fun to try to work the rolled-up quilt through my sewing machine and it was only a baby quilt!
Two years later, I needed a baby quilt for my oldest son and his wife. This time I wanted to look at options outside the “log cabin world” and see what was out there. I bought books and magazines and searched online to learn more. I discovered AQS in Paducah and convinced my husband that we HAD to go. I was in heaven in the vendor mall as I had no idea the magnitude of quilting resources available. I didn’t even know about long arm machines until there, I first saw the HQ16. I wanted one but deemed it as financially out of my reach. (But, I could dream.) In the meantime, I developed a passion for quilting and spent all of my free time sewing and learning. I continued making baby quilts for our extended family (just as Mom had done) and found a local quilt guild and immediately joined.
Then, two years ago I went on a Shop Hop covering several stores in Southern Indiana. One shop had a long arm machine displayed and I struck up a conversation with the owner. I told her my dream of owning a long arm, and she said I needed to talk to a friend of hers who had a lot of experience with Handiquilter. I called her friend who told me about some machines used at the Paducah show that would be available through a local dealer. I started getting excited because I knew I wouldn’t find a machine like this for a better price. It was now or never.
The rest, as they say, is history. I purchased my HQ Sixteen. I can now try quilts larger than a baby quilt because I don’t have to fight to get them quilted. I can try quilting designs other than “stitch in the ditch”. I still have a lot to learn and much room for improvement but that will come with time and practice. However, I don’t like unfinished projects. So, since I now have my HQ Sixteen, I think it’s time to bring out the box with the now 30-year-old unfinished quilts. I believe my Grandma Mom would love to know I finally finished the quilts she helped me with and I will carry on her tradition of making quilts for my family and friends.
I own the following HQ machines: