Karen Darrah

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The saying, “All good things come to those who wait” took on a new meaning for me during my long arm search. Approximately 3 yrs. ago I started to do research on the internet about long arm quilting machines. I had not used one before nor did I know of anyone that had one in my area.
I had been raised with quilting. My grandmother appliquéd all of her 23 grandchildren a Sunbonnet Sue or Jim quilt out of scraps of material that she saved. In the summer, when I would stay with her for a couple of weeks, I would weave black thread along the stitch lines of the children. To this day I have never seen quilts have that type of finish. Grandma would not do the quilting herself but have someone do it for her by machine. These quilts were given to us for our high school graduation. This quilt is very special to me as it was made with a lot of material left over from dresses that were made for me.
Later, I married into a wonderful Mennonite family where quilting was just part of life. This quilting was done by hand, and I really never felt like I had the patience to sit still for such a long period of time. Needless to say, I did not enjoy it.
After a motorcycle wreck in May 2005, I had to undergo a lifestyle change. I had enjoyed activities such as golf, tennis & skiing before the accident, but had to take up less physical activities. I always said that once I was “old enough” I would learn to quilt. Well, my body was saying I was “old enough!” I had also just learned that I was going to be an Oma (grandmother) for the first time…that was all it took! My first quilt was made for the baby nursery at my house. I wanted it quilted, so I asked an Amish lady if she would be willing to quilt it for me. She was delighted and did a wonderful job. But, something was missing for me. I wished I could say that I had made the quilt totally on my own from start to finish. I knew that hand quilting was not the answer. So, that’s when I started the research process.
A friend of mine, who owns a quilt shop, told me about a show that was to be in Kansas City. There were going to be lots of different companies there, so it seemed like a great time for me to “test drive” all the models. As we walked from booth to booth we soon found out which were our top choices. You would think that at my age I would not let peer pressure get to me. It did and I decided to buy from an HQ competitor. They actually had a “slightly used” model that was traded in for an upgrade. Perfect! I paid a down payment and they were to call me with a delivery date. I was to pay the balance before the delivery. I was so excited! I was reading everything I could get my hands on. I had quilts piled up just ready for me to quilt. The only thing that was missing was the machine. The delivery date was set. The training date was set. All I had to do was wait. The check was sent for the balance of the machine. Then, the delivery date was changed. Then it was changed again. Then a date was not even set. I had decided that I was going to postpone my training date until I actually had the machine. Good thing I did not make all the travel arrangements as I finally found out after 3 months of waiting that they had sold me a machine that they actually did not have! I could not believe it! My check which had never been deposited was returned but not the down payment money (to which I have still not received). All the corporate office said was sorry and to buy another machine at a much high price. I decided that this was a company that I did not want to do any further business with. So, I went with my other choice of an HQ Sixteen.
Within a week it was delivered to my door. My “baby” was finally home! I love my machine! It is so easy for me to handle with all of the permanent injuries that I have from the motorcycle accident.
As bad as the situation was, it has turned into a true blessing for me! I have the perfect machine and I will always recommend Handi Quilter as a very reliable company.
I also own a bed & breakfast where I host quilting retreats called “Time Out.” My goal is to purchase another longarm so that ladies can come and spend the weekend really having a good time quilting. When it’s time for me to purchase another longarm machine, you can bet that I will get another HQ.

I own the following HQ machines:

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