Diane B Durr

My first ribbon winner using my HQ16

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I was facing the dreaded empty nest syndrome. Here I was in my late fifties and finally had time for myself. What to do? What to do? I was all alone in my great big house. I guess I could catch up on my housework, paint , redecorate the kitchen. Hmmmm….. What is that noise? I hear something calling out to me. What is it? It is my retirement stash of fabrics! All those boxes and closets and drawers of fabric kept saying, “Complete me. Complete me.” How could I turn down their plea. My mother’s instinct to sooth all woes came into play full force and I answered their call. I finally had time to make all those quilts that I dreamed about and make my fabric live in harmony with their sister and brother stashes.
I began quilting back in the stone age when I was a purist, hand piecing and hand quilting in the late 70’s early 80’s. I was ecstatic to finish a queen size quilt in less than a year. I never thought about machine quilting. Oh what a sacrilege! I was humbled in the 90’s when I was raising my two children and had very little time for hand quilting. Any sewing was making cute clothes and Halloween costumes. I started to look at my Bernina in a different light. It was my first step towards my transformation. Next, I decided to take a class on machine quilting at the local quilt shop after seeing the gorgeous quilts there that were machine quilted. I was in awe. They had beautiful feathers and straight lines and unique motifs and all had beautiful even stitches. I said, “I could do that.”
I know you are saying, “Not so fast. It may not be so easy.” You are soooo right. I did not realize that the quilts I saw were done on a longarm. I jumped into machine quilting with my stalwart Bernina armed with my nonskid gloves and extended sewing table. Oh how frustrated I became. Trying to move the fabric through the machine was like wrestling with an eight arm octopus. I felt like I was starring in my own world wrestling match whenever I sat down to quilt. I tried everything even quilting as you go so that I worked with smaller pieces. My work never looked like the ones I admired in the quilting store. My stitches went from small to large and to small and tiny and then to large. I could not control the stitch length the way I wanted to. There had to be a better way.
I went back to my local quilt shop looking for something to help me. I walked in and it was like a chorus of angels began to sing. I heard the sweet hum of the HQ Sixteen being used. It drew me instantly to it. It was love at first sight. It did not look like those huge big industrial machines that were out there. It was nice and white and clean and it had a bigger quilting area. I asked if I could try it. I was definitely intimidated with it at first but that quickly turned into joy. I could not get over how easy it was to move the machine all around in circles, in plumes, in lines. It was my quilting nivanah. I asked if they had a cd on the machine that I could take home. I was already plotting how I could gently introduce my husband to the idea of buying an HQ Sixteen.
I brought that cd home and watched it right away. When my husband came home, he found me oohing and aahing in front of my television. He became curious and that was his big mistake. I showed him how easy it was to machine quilt with an HQ Sixteen and how beautiful the quilting looked. I made my two children watch the cd too and made my husband watch it again and again. I was breaking him into the idea that this is something I really, really wanted and it wasn’t outside of the budget. You know men. They worry about that budget, except when it’s a tool or something of that nature.
Lucky for me, when my daughter went off to college, and those stashes started calling, I got my wish. I purchased an HQ Sixteen In September 2008. When I got it home, I grabbed some of my less than gorgeous fabric and started quilting. I could not get over how smoothly it all flowed. No more wrestling. No more gloves. No more uneven stitches. My quilting could look like the ones I saw hanging up in the shop. I felt empowered and I said, “Yes, I can do that.”
I was lucky too. The local quilt shop where I bought may machine had classes to teach how to use the machine, how to use rulers, and how to quilt different designs. It was the main reason why I bought an HQ Sixteen. I had local support from the dealer and from an HQ representative who gave many classes on its use. They were so patient too. I loved going to the HQ website and reading all the information it had. I did not feel like I bought a machine and was left alone. I was helped and educated all along the way.
It has been two years now and I just love what I am doing. I started my own business of taking in quilt tops for others and quilting it for them. I just love looking at all these quilts from other quilters and love the challenge of planning what quilting will enhance their work. I quilt in the front of the quilt, free motion quilting, no pantograms for me. It is so freeing and so creative. I have taken over my living room and am working on the dining too. My family and friends refer to me at my quilting frame as, “She’s in her liar again.” I am glad I have an empty nest so that I can fill it with my HQ Sixteen and all those quilts that I have made for myself and others. I refer to my stash not as my retirement stash, but my ongoing collection. Getting my HQ Sixteen changed my life. I am a happy busy. I have new friends. I have a business. I have a dream come true.

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