Several years ago, I started doing a little genealogical research to discover the source of my fiber affliction. I remember my mother, grandmother and great aunts piecing and quilting. I have several quilts willed to me from mom’s side of the family. All of a sudden it struck me that the ‘heritage of fiber’ that I’m passing on to my daughter had yet to include quilting. So I decided to make it my summer objective to create a quilt with my 12 year old daughter. We went to the local quilt shop and picked out fabric that appealed to her interests. We ended up with basketballs, blueberry pie, polar bears, penguins, pandas - lots of bright colors. I picked out a simple pattern, cut out the pieces then laid them out on the floor assuming my daughter would give her seal of approval. Instead, she started moving everything around into a random pattern. So we spent a week with graph paper diagramming out patterns that would look good from close up and farther away. Eventually, we came to consensus on the layout and my daughter began to sew the shapes into blocks. As the blocks were done, I laid them out on a bed until we had every block positioned. At the end of the adventure, my daughter declared that she appreciated the making of a memory but she’d rather play basketball.
By working with her, I rediscovered my love for pattern and color in fabric. For the next year I worked on a king sized quilt pieced in a bear claw pattern and hand quilted in a lap hoop that I inherited from my great grandmother. When I was finished, the quilt was too precious to use! No dog was allowed to curl up on it. Even my daughter was sternly cautioned about appropriate ways to use the quilt. I had created an heirloom that everyone was afraid to touch. At that point, I realized that I needed a faster (and less painful!) way to quilt.
I had seen ads in quilting magazines about long arm machines but I had no idea what they were. Not far from my home, I noticed a shop that had commercial quilting machines on display. They signed me up for a class in machine quilting and explained that they offered rental time on the machines. So I began a 2 year exposure to long arm quilting through rented equipment. At first it was enough to quilt edge to edge with freehand doodling. I could knock out a finished quilt in 3 hours and was perfectly content with my technique. But the quilt tops started piling up as the available time to rent started shrinking. And I was to the point with my piecing where I wanted the ability to replicate a hand quilted design. That wouldn’t be possible in a 3 hour window of rental time. I knew that the machine I was renting was beyond any price that I could justify for an obsession that wasn’t going to yield any financial benefits.
Years before, I worked for the Viking Sewing Machine Company as a regional sales manager. Erica’s Sewing Center in South Bend, Indiana, is still in business. One of my machines needed service, so I packed up the machine and my husband for the hour’s drive to her store, knowing that she had a line of long arm machines. After we checked in my machine for service, I casually wandered over to the HQ display. Not only were the machines ‘pretty’ enough to be in my house, they operated the same way as the commercial machines I had rented. I nearly walked away, assuming that the HQ would be beyond what I would consider spending. Fortunately, there was a price sheet on each machine. Every feature I wanted came included on the machine. Nothing was an ‘add on’. And the throat space I was accustomed to using was available on the HQ24 Fusion. Trying not to show too much excitement, I got back into the car and headed home. My husband was already saying ‘Buy it, you deserve it. You’ve saved money in your new car fund for years. Go ahead and use it for something you want!’
I consider myself a smart shopper. I pulled out all my quilting magazines and looked up every competitive brand on the internet. With the HQ as a ‘comparison’ model, it was easy to eliminate other brands on features, cost, and aesthetics. Eventually, it came down to only one question – WHICH model HQ did I need?
So I emailed Erica and asked for an hour to talk about the difference between the HQ options. We got together at her shop that Saturday and walked through the features of the machine as well as what she would do to teach me to use the machine. She also offered me membership in a user group that meets monthly to continue learning and sharing. All that plus a promotion on the machine and free shipping - I was sold. We wrote up the deal and I went home to wait.
The perfect spot for my new machine is a 12 foot expanse looking out over the living room. 10 days later, when the 11 boxes and set of 2x4’s arrived in our driveway, my husband called and said “What did you buy?” After we finally got it hauled up 3 flights of stairs, he started assembling it in the afternoons before I came home from work. By the weekend, it was ready for a ‘test drive’. I couldn’t wait to work on one of my quilt tops so I watched the video then loaded a twin sized quilt. I came up with a strategy to put some freehand butterflies and flowers into specific spaces, joined by curlicues. My daughter (now 15) has a talent for art and freehand drawing. She started showing interest in what I was doing and how the machine was sketching with thread. All of a sudden, another ‘golden opportunity to create a memory’ flashed into my brain. I’m going to challenge my daughter to do a freehand whole cloth quilt by sketching with the machine.
Here we go again!!
I own the following HQ machine: HQ24 Fusion