Lisa Swigart


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The last six years of my life can be found in the quilts that I’ve made. A dreamy, comfortable quilt for my bed, quilted with a puzzle piece pattern, locking in the accomplishment I felt as everything fit into place. Deep, calming golds and rooted browns for my daughter, something for her to wrap up in during a time when she needed strength and health. I quilted navy blue joy and orange polka-dot anticipation into a quilt for my grandson, before I even knew who he was. The list goes on and on. Quilts I made to throw over the couch or warm up a wall, quilts for wedding gifts or baby showers. Then there were the quilts that said “thank you” or “I am thinking of you.” Through each block, every scrap of fabric, and every stitch I crafted a personal history of my dearest relationships and a deeper desire not only to begin quilts, but to finish them as well.
I began quilting because a friend of mine was moving away. She had only lived in the Berkshires for a short time, and she wanted to have something that would remind her of the time she had lived in New England. Gathering a few of her friends she asked us each to make a quilt block using fabrics that represented the Berkshires in the fall. I had never quilted before but was assured I could do it with a little help. I realized very quickly that these women took quilting very seriously. They had “quilt journals” of their past quilts, boxes of “UFO’s”, and fabric “from the best shops in the area.” I was in over my head. The group decided that we would each make a nine-patch. I wasn’t sure what a nine-patch was, but with the help of another friend I learned. I also learned how to use a rotary cutter, where to go for fabrics, and that I actually loved quilting! With each new pattern I tried I assumed I would eventually hit a wall and find the end of my quilting journey. It hasn’t happened yet. I love learning about the fabric, experimenting with color and scale. I love trying new threads to add texture, pattern or color.
I remember the first quilt top I took to the shop to be quilted. Holding that finished quilt, I was amazed by how beautiful and complete it seemed. It went from a simple quilt top, full of my efforts and mistakes and first-time successes, to an actual quilt. It was then I realized what quilting meant to me. For me, the process of piecing a quilt top is both calming and exhilarating; but it is honestly the finished quilt that I love! When I sent my quilts out to be quilted and they magically returned completed I felt as if I had missed the best part of the process. Although my first quilting goal was a simple 9-patch, it didn’t take long before I was devouring quilting magazines, challenging myself with new patterns, and soon my next goal became to enjoy that final part of the process in my own home, and be able to provide other people with finished quilts, as well.
As my interest in quilting started as a result of a friendship, it has continued to connect me to people around me; these connections brought me to find HQ Reps who were able to help me to realize my dream. I learned that they had studio time available and I could rent time on their machines to complete my projects. As thrilling as this was, the distance I would need to travel limited my access to this possibility. I remember the day I mentioned to my friend, the one who had taught me what a nine-patch was, that I just wanted to buy a long arm. It was the first time I had said it out loud, it was the day I started my business plan!
I decided early on that I would buy a Handi Quilter. I found a shop in Connecticut where I could take lessons and learn more about which long arm would be best for me. I was so nervous the first time I tried to quilt using the HQ Pro-Stitcher, but with the guidance of the shop owner I soon felt at ease and saw all the possibilities! I didn’t doubt for a second the Handi Quilter was the machine for me. It seems it has taken forever to reach my goal. The household budget was examined. My husband could see it would make me happy and help me to start my own business. I even questioned if it was just selfish of me to want such an amazing machine. My nine-patch friend gave me some great advice that helped me to reaffirm what I knew. This was not just a want anymore; it had become my passion and would allow me to work from home doing something I love. I am now the proud owner of HQ18 Avante which sits beautifully on my studio frame and is crowned with the HQ Pro-Stitcher. The reason I chose the HQ was simple, it was the knowledgeable representatives and continued education available once I bought the machine. I know if the manuals and DVDs didn’t have an answer for me I could pick up the phone and call someone who would. There are great classes to attend that advance my skill level. This last week I attended the Long Arm Club where we learned how to paint fabric with thread. It was wonderful! Another reason for HQ being my long arm of choice was the HQ Pro-Stitcher. I knew my novice skill level needed a boost and if I was to feel accomplished right from the start, the HQ Pro-Stitcher was the way to go!
I am not only able to complete my own projects but have been paid to do what I love! I love the ability to run my own home business and work the hours I want and actually love the work I do! Looking back on my quilting journey I can see I owe at least two very dear friends some free finished quilt tops!

I own the following HQ machines:

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