Frances Rice-Farrand


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Historically, quilting has been romanticized but was often used to ease the separation, as a bedding necessity, protection from the elements or even attacks, and even to help slaves escape. As one visits historical sites, quilting is very evident and often gives folks a sense of connection and helps tell a story. One can see how perhaps they were used to sustain the body and spirit as they faced challenges.
For me and my friends, quilting is a hobby to perfect, an escape from reality, and opportunities to give creative and unique gifts to family and friends. The hobby might be a little extreme when you drive more than 1000 miles on a quilt run with a car full of friends collecting fabric and good memories all the way. The hobby has also taken possession of a 20 x 20 bedroom plus walk-in closet which is now fondly called the studio and everyone hangs out. Lastly, the hobby necessitated the purchase of Handi Quilter long arm.
The story actually begins in the mid 90’s when I was first introduced to quilting by a good friend after being a long-time sewer. I found it a great way to use up all those scrapes and at the same time allow me to play with color, designs, and my creative energy. I soon got involved with a bunch of ladies with the same compassion and we formed the “Friday Friends” since that is when we meet. Rain or shine, tired or energetic most of us would show up every other Friday sometimes to only moan and groan about the week, to gleam ideas from the talented members, or just for the social outlet. Through this common interest, we still meet today although we have lost some members and gained new, it is what brings us together. Our passion for quilting is relentless but has led us to greater horizons and the purchase of many items. One such item is the HQ Pro-Stitcher which makes our lives incredibly easier.
It was when we came to the realization that pinning a quilt to shove under our traditional home machines was creating much back pain and minimal completion of quilts that our desire to find an easier way became a necessity. We looked at several machines, talked with fellow quilters who had quilting machines, and spent hours comparing price and features of the different long-arm machines available. It wasn’t till one Halloween shop hop that we meet Richard and realized that the Handi Quilter was now at the top of our list since it was American made, less temperamental, computerized, and of course came with Richard to answer all of our questions.
Well, the whole drive home the girls and I talked about the sales pitch to my husband. We came up with a wonderful list of positives…. such as he wouldn’t have to rub my back or neck anymore after I pulled and tugged a quilt through my Bernina, psychotherapy at home, no more scooting around on our hands and knees as we tried to pin a quilt, and after all the Handi Quilter would do everything and much, much more. So while we were safe in the car, I called my husband and gave him the first pitch which he agreed that it might be a good idea. How much he asked? Well, I took a deep breath and said just a few 0000’s and it would be coming out of my salary. He asked, “Are you sure about this?” to which I replied, I think so. Richard gave me all the facts and information which I will be glad to share when I get home. Well, we all took a deep breath in the car and said, step 1 accomplished.
My, our dream became a reality that January when we purchased the HQ18 Avante. We had the perfect place for it to go, upstairs in what was now being called my quilting studio. All of the best quilting buds where there for the delivery, set-up. It was as if we were giving birth! The excitement was contagious, it was very difficult to be patient while the machine and table got set-up but somehow we managed to stay out of Richard’s way. That night and the next days that followed, we played, experimented, and literally started rummaging through unfinished projects to see what we could finish the fastest and put on the machine. My family thought I had deserted them since we only came down stairs for bits of nourishment and quickly retreat to the studio and the Handi Quilter. It seemed as if we couldn’t get enough! Indeed that is true, we have completed over 70 plus quilts, we are constantly searching for new digitalized patterns, or creating our own, and just love the sense of accomplishment that we have created a one of a kind memory. In fact, we are so often found in my studio, my family has affectionately named it the ‘sweat shop’ which of course as turned into the “Sweat Shop Friends”. The Handi Quilter has brought together lifelong friendship, an endless supply of unique gifts for every occasion, and a world to escape to when the harsh realities of life are too much.

I own the following HQ machines: HQ18 Avante, HQ Pro-Stitcher