Deborah Hipple

Allie and I completing my newest Granddaughter's quilt

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My Handi Quilter Story – Deborah Hipple I owe my love and appreciation of fabric and quilting to the skillful guidance I received from my Grandma when I was very young. Like many of my generation I learned to sew simple seams on a treadle machine and the power of controlling a machine to do what I wanted it to, lead me to create many wonderful articles of clothing, home decor and of course beautiful quilts of all sizes and patterns over the years. As I traveled on my fabric journey through costuming and production sewing, my love for quilting didn’t leave me but was shelved for awhile until time and money allowed me to pursue my chosen hobby once again. As my interest returned, my fabric stash grew with leaps and bounds and the stack of finished tops started to crowd out the closets. In 2008 I had to shelve my hobby again. In a span of two weeks we lost my mother-in-law and a sister-in-law, and my own Mom suffered significant heart problems. As I helped nurse Mom during her last year with us I found that when I returned home at the end of the day my sewing room was where I found peace. It wasn’t until after Mom passed away that I discovered just how much working with fabric calmed me, kept me from becoming overly depressed and allowed my grieving process to move forward. You see, my Mom was not a quilter, the kitchen was her thing but she continually supported me and encouraged me to follow my dreams especially where fabric and quilting was concerned. Needless to say I sewed up a storm. My stash shrank as tops were assembled, pressed and stored during that first year. Then reality hit! How could I ever afford to have all these tops quilted? Hand quilting was out of the question due to arthritis in my hands and wrists. Well, one trip to a sewing festival, many questions asked and time spent on a few long arm machines sold me. I had to have one of these machines, but which one? As I wandered around that show I kept coming back to the Quilt Shop display that was a Handi Quilter dealer. The HQ18 Avanté had everything I felt I needed, easy handling, a stitch regulator, large bobbins and especially a dealer within easy driving distance if I should need help, which I must say I have never needed for any problems with my machine but who has continued to answer all of my questions about the quilting process. The first quilt I tried on a friend’s HQ Sixteen was an art quilt of the Titanic which I had decided to enter into a competition in Tennessee. This quilt was to have quite a bit of thread painting as part of its design and I was not looking forward to managing the bulk of it on my domestic machine. As I played with many types of threads, it became really clear that I had made the right choice. The HQ Sixteen glided over that quilt smoothly as we thread painted and it was so rewarding to quilt this top in less time then I could ever imagine. I knew then that Handi Quilter had developed a machine that was up to any quilting adventure I decided to guide it on although I really wanted the Avanté with the larger throat. Oh, and by the way, “Destination: New York City” won the Blue Ribbon in the Non-Traditional competition at, A Mountain Quiltfest 2010, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, which is really neat since this was my first quilt competition and an international competition! Two months later, thanks to Mom and Dad, I picked up my Avanté with the Studio table and have never looked back. “Allie”, named for my Mom has been a wonderful addition to my sewing room. Each time I play with her, creating wonderful designs on the quilt tops that helped me through that terrible first year, I think of Mom and how she is still supporting me and my dreams. Just a year ago Allie and I ventured into quilting for others in our area and we have been able to learn so much as we contribute to our family income once again. I know that the easy operation of the Avanté has allowed me to gain confidence in my long arm quilting. The smoothness of the rails allows me to float over those quilt tops as I stitch marvelous pantographs and free hand designs and the low maintenance of this machine is just wonderful as compared to other machines that I had looked at. The adjustments available on the table are also great and my arthritis does not bother me as I use this machine, since such a light touch is needed to control Allie. My dreams for Allie and I are to continue stitching along, learning more from each quilt top as we go. Maybe one day we will be able to add Poppy, the Pro Stitcher to our happy little group and the micro handles will be a welcome addition when the arthritis flares. High on my wish list also is to attend classes offered in long arm quilting, hopefully at U of HQ Retreats to help fine tune our techniques but for now we will practice, practice, practice to our heart’s content as we quilt along. Thank you, Handi Quilter for developing such a wonderful, easy, ready to use machine that truly fits my “quilting lifestyle”.

I own the following HQ machine: HQ18 Avante