Isabel Russell

My New Fusion

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The story is, at this point in time, undergoing a major transition. More on that a bit later. First, here is some background as to how I got to where I am now.
I hail from a line of women skilled in needle arts. My English grandmother enjoyed embroidery and was a talented seamstress. My mother, an expert knitter, remembered her remaking World War Two army uniforms into beautifully tailored suits in order to supplement their clothing coupons. My sister is also an accomplished seamstress and
knitter. I learned to sew my own clothes as a teenager (where else do you get bell bottom pants in a small town in the early 60s?) but knitting was something I could not master.
While living in Australia and pregnant with my first daughter, I decided to take up the national pastime and turn some of the beautiful Aussie wool into a layette set. After making six booties, all different, I gave up. When I returned to Canada, my mother asked
me tactfully, if I minded if she took out my efforts and used the wool, as it was “too beautiful to waste.” She made the layette set and I used it for my two daughters and passed it on to my first grandchild. Although not a knitter, but loving fabric, I became a quilter in the early 70s, cutting and sewing patches by hand and wondering why my squares were always a little off kilter. As time passed I continued sewing clothes for my
family, but quilting was replaced by making dolls and their clothes, skating costumes, and curtains. Sometime, I knew, I would get back to quilting.
That time came as I approached retirement. I purchased a new sewing machine and enrolled in quilting classes. How things had changed! I learned to use a rotary cutter and
chain piece! I loved making the quilts, but found pushing the finished quilt through the sewing machine just too tiring. My shoulders ached, but I hated the idea of someone else finishing my work. I started researching longarm machines but was discouraged by the
size, the maintenance required, and the price. I saw the HQ Sixteen at a show and fell in love with it. It was totally unintimidating – changing the bobbin and oiling it were exactly the same as on my sewing machine. It was attractive, could be adjusted to fit my small space, did not require that I become a mechanic as some of the other machines did…and it was affordable! I could even write my name with it!
The HQ Sixteen was the first toy that I bought for my pending retirement, and I was busy
making quilts for my daughters’ friends’ babies, great nieces and a nephew and then my own grandchild. I looked forward to working on bigger projects and finishing quilts for myself and friends, once my teaching career was over. But of course, just when you think you have life all figured out, it throws you a curve ball. I found myself a divorcee in my late fifties and retirement was financially not possible. I continued teaching and tried to get my life in order. Quilting on the HQ Sixteen became a respite, something that brought needed sanity into my world. I made several quilts for my church and in doing so
reconnected with a group of women who went out of their way to include me in many activities. The death of my brother six months later resulted in my mother coming to live first with me, and then in a seniors’ home nearby. While she became less and less the woman she had been as dementia robbed her of the ability to enjoy the final years of her
life, I treasure those last years with her. She and I picked out bright scarlet and turquoise flowers on a black background for a quilt to brighten her room and she watched as I created this on my HQ Sixteen. Now I can smile as I remember how often she commented on
how pretty the quilt was and then asked who it was for. After her death my sister took the quilt back to Switzerland with her, as a reminder of both my mother and me.
Again my life changed, this time in a very positive way. An old high school friend retired here and friends reintroduced us. Pete and I have embarked on a process of rebuilding not
only our lives, but also a house. The design for our renovation was driven mostly by the need to create a wonderful space for me to set up my quilting and sewing equipment, and to make this new room a place where I am comfortable and content.
This is where we are in our lives – the point of transition that I referred to early in this story. We added a new living room and a new master suite – bedroom, bath, and closets - which
look out on the mountain upon which we are situated. In the level below we built a large and well-lit sewing space that easily accommodates my sewing and quilting machines.
Our project is not yet completed – in fact we will have a few more months of work ahead of us. But the sewing room is done. It’s a gorgeous room– everyone who sees it has nothing but the highest praise. Pete put hours of work into this room, saying that I deserve such a special area to enjoy my passion. Of course, he’s absolutely right! And it houses not the HQ Sixteen, but a new HQ24 Fusion bought with a legacy from my mother. I
had tried out the HQ24 Fusion at a dealer’s and was taken with its smoothness – like butter! I stood and played on it; doing feathers and flowers and gathering an audience of other quilters who were impressed enough to ask me if I would quilt their quilts. I had to tell
them, “It’s not really me; it’s the machine!” But I do plan, at some time in the not too distant future, to begin doing longarm work for friends and clients.
My new HQ24 Fusion and my new quilting and sewing haven symbolize both a new
beginning and a continuation of a family tradition of needlework. Fittingly, my first project will be a quilt for my new granddaughter!

I own the following HQ machines:

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