Janet L Smith

Jan and "Lucy" working on Charity Quilts for Quilts Beyond Borders!

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My HQ Story… Janet Smith My name is Janet Smith. I live in the suburbs of Chicago. I learned to sew when I was about 8 years old. At the time, my father worked in a clothing store in Michigan. One day, a few weeks before Easter, Dad took us to the store and instructed us to pick a dress from a specific rack of clothes. I drifted to a different rack and found a dress that I fell in love with! I wanted it so badly and I was so disappointed that I could not have it. Dad tried very hard to explain that he just could not afford the dress I wanted and in my eight year old mind I just did not understand it, I cried all the way home. Dad sat me down and he encouraged me to learn to sew. “I’ll buy you all the fabric you want!” he told me. Well before long, my sisters and I were all sewing and Mom no longer could get time to use the one sewing machine we had. So he bought a second machine and we had both of them humming while we made clothes. All the while Dad was keeping his promise and buying fabric for us. As a matter of fact, he carried fabric in his business until the day he died, 33 years later! We have always had access to beautiful fabric! I made all of my clothes for many years. When I married and had my children, I bought a Kenmore domestic machine and made all my children clothes. Dad had by then bought a Ben Franklin’s Dime Store and he added lines of fabric and patterns to his store inventory. We struck up a deal. I would make samples for him to put in the window and hang in his store. He would provide the fabric and patterns in my size and the sizes of my children. Before long these clothes were being worn by my children. Then I owned my own home and began making curtains, pillows and home décor items. I used my Kenmore for 23 years very nearly on a weekly basis! In the 1995, after remarrying and finding myself with three stepdaughters, I decided that It was time to look at a new sewing machine. Not for me but for my stepdaughters! I thought I would purchase a basic machine for the girls to learn to sew on. Since they stayed with us regularly, I thought they might enjoy learning to sew. I discovered that sewing machines had really changed and so had the things that people were sewing on them! That Christmas I bought a basic machine for my stepdaughter and a computerized embroidery machine for me! It was at a local fabric shop where I bought MY sewing machine that I discovered quilting. My interest in sewing once again took off like a speeding bullet train. I dabbled with machine embroidery on my domestic machine and eventually bought an industrial embroidery machine and started a small embroidery company. My day time career was in the computer industry and my evenings were spent learning to digitize. While I enjoyed embroidery, I kept drifting back to my quilting. Before long I was using my embroidery machine to quilt when I wasn’t using it to embroider. A few years ago, the company I was working for was closed and I lost my job. While I was unemployed and looking for work, I began to quilt even more. I found myself paying someone else to quilt my big quilts because it was too cumbersome to use my embroidery machine for anything larger than a lap size so I began to look at quilting machines. I went to several machine quilting shows and test drove machines. I would look at the prices and wonder how I could afford them due to my lack of employment. I would test them at the machine shows and dream about the day that I could afford it. I had been steered to the “big boys” by ladies who already had quilting machines. I looked at them …. the Gammill’, A-1’s, Nolting, Innova , APQS and others but I just could not see how I could afford the price tag. I had all but decided on an A-1 when I went to the 2010 Milwaukee Machine Quilting show. I tried the Handi Quilter and then I went back to the A-1 booth. Back to Handi Quilter and back to A-1. I decided at that time that Handi Quilter was the one for me. I also made another decision that day as well. I decided that I would look at gently used machines because of my background. I repaired computer equipment for years and have maintained and fixed my industrial embroidery machine on the rare occasions that it has needed to be fixed in the 11 years that I have owned it. A properly maintained machine will last for a very long time. SO last October I began my search for a gently used sewing machine, a machine that I hoped to be able to pay cash for. It was also important to me that the machine be local to the Midwest so I would not have to worry about shipping. I would drive to pick up my new baby myself! I found the perfect machine in southern Indiana, an HQ Sixteen owned by Kathy Morrison, who was upgrading to a HQ18 Avante with HQ Pro-Stitcher. She was working with Mike Giloman at “The Machine Shop” in Highland, Illinois. He took her machine in as a trade in and I bought it from him. He checked over the machine and in January brought it to me and installed it in my studio. I have named her Lucy and we have had so much fun getting to know each other. I am still practicing on my own pieces and charity quilts. I have several people who are patiently waiting for me to feel comfortable enough to quilt for them. I hope one day to add HQ Pro-Stitcher to my machine since my background is in computers. But it is important for me to learn how to use my machine manually for now. I have so much to learn! I thank my father everyday for teaching me how this hobby can blossom into a life long passion of learning new things. It is a passion which I depend on no matter what is going on around me. I find that when I am sad, if I sew, I will soon feel better. When I am depressed, if I sew, I feel that my spirit is soon lifted again! If I am anxious, when I sew, I am soon calm again. When I am troubled, if I go sew, I will regain my confidence again. When I am happy there is nothing in life that is more fun to than sewing! With this in mind, I have begun my latest new learning journey and I am so happy that Handi Quilter has come along for the ride! Happy Sewing! Jan

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sixteen