Currently a local radio station is running an ad offering “passionate advice” on a product they are promoting. That phrase—Passionate advice—always catches me. Recently while I was working --for probably my 25th hour-- on a charity raffle quilt I was quilting for my quilt guild I thought, that’s what I am, a passionate machine quilter! If I don’t have a quilt for myself or a customer to quilt, I go looking for stuff to do on my HQ18 Avante. I quilt charity quilts for the Sioux Falls guild, I work on raffle quilts, I quilt “recycle bags” which I then sew up and give to friends, families, customers, and new members at guild. I’ve lost count but since 2008 when I started this recycle project, I’m sure there have been at least 250! I’m doing my part to eliminate plastic bags in our landfills. Through all this quilting practice, I have discovered my quilting skills are improving!
I started a beginning quilting class in 1995 and after quilting my first sampler quilt by hand—I have quilted all my other quilts by machine. It was a progression from my domestic machine, to putting my own sewing machine on a Handiquilter carriage, to a HQ Sixteen in 2004, and finally to my purchase of the HQ18 Avante June of 2010. I have loved my new machine! I’ve gone from using the manual controls almost exclusively to using, on the HQ18 Avante, the precision cruise. It works so well! I am less and less afraid of ruler work and stitching around appliqué. Of course I talk to my machine—I say I’m praising you Miss Avante, now don’t let me down. I have realized that I am very lucky to have a mentor/distributor (Kathy Harrington) and machine mechanic (Chris at Fonders) in my city. They have both helped my when help was needed, and they give “passionate advice!”
One day this summer, the phone rang. From the caller ID I saw it was Maude Daniels (age 86 and quite a character with a passion for life) . I said Hello, and Maude's first words were, "Kristi, Dee said you could quilt my quilt!" She was talking about her latest appliqué creation that Dee (her friend from Wisconsin) had prepared and pieced for her on which Maude had done the hand appliqué. I was a bit taken back because I knew that Maude did beautiful appliqué work and wasn't quite sure I could do justice with my machine quilting. Maude's rather offhand vote of confidence in me made me decide to take the job. I knew that the quilting would have to stay in the background but at the same time, really set it off. I carefully stitched around each appliqué shape and echoed for a couple rows before "McTavishing" in the center areas. I did the border with a "hooked on feathers" stitch. I used my embroidery machine to put stars within the pieced stars and did a little stitching within the biggest appliqués. At this point I was deeply in love with my micro-handlebars. Maude did a hand quilting stitch around each of the flower centers. I was very proud of how I had complimented Maude's work and my biggest regret is that I didn't get a picture of Maude and myself at the quilt show standing by the quilt. You see Maude recently passed away after an emergency surgery. Now instead I need to put Maude's obituary in my scrapbook next to that quilt. I know the quilt was special to her and an intended wedding gift for her granddaughter . I am happy I was able to contribute to the quilt’s beauty
Another thing that I have enjoyed this past year is a machine quilting small group that is an arm of our quilt guild. When I attend these meetings, I spend time with others that share my passion for machine quilting. We help each other with quilting dilemmas, we watch quilting DVD’s, we get to try hands on lessons, we dabble with what design to use on various blocks, we also made a “quilt as you go” whole cloth raffle quilt. I also value a chat group on line where machine quilters ask questions and get helpful answers.
I still piece quilts and I do general sewing for customers such as curtains, alterations, teddy bears, and t-shirt quilts. My husband and I make bean bag games. He does the boards, I do the bags. They are better money but bean bags aren’t my passion. I do all these other things but I find I need to get my long arm fix. Since my machine shares the basement family room with the television and the computer, sometimes she (Miss Avante) has to sit empty—you know football season is coming soon! I am finding I do love to machine quilt and like the feeling that I am getting better at the skill. I hope I can continue to spend quality time with my machine for many more years.
I own the following HQ machine: HQ18 Avante