Fast forward to 1978. I saw a quilt kit advertised in a magazine. I had no idea companies cut up fabric and sent the cut pieces and directions to aspiring quilters. I ordered the kit and made my first quilt - it was a Log Cabin, but a version where you sewed and flipped the pieces so by the time each block was finished, it was actually quilted. I used the quilt until I moved to San Antonio in 1981. As my husband wasn't fond of the color yellow, I left the quilt with my sister.
Fast forward again, this time until 1986. A very good friend and co-worker was a quilter. I admired her handiwork everytime I was in her house. The quilting bug bit me, and bit me hard!!
My first officially all on my own quilt was a Single Irish chain from the Quilt in a Day series. I was hooked on piecing tops, but struggled mightily to machine quilt on my domestic sewing machine. I finally gave up and just sewed giant X's through each square.
I conitinued piecing tops and just folded them up and stashed them in my sewing room. I loved the construction, choosing the fabrics and cutting and sewing the pieces, but just couldn't get the hang of free motion quilting. I even tried hand quilting, but it just took too long to do.
In 2003, I joined an on-line quilt guild that made quilts for terminally ill children. It was a great concept - a quilt was designed for each individual child, based on the child's interests and favorite colors, and guild members would sign up to make one block. The blocks were sent to a central location, where the guild leader would piece the tops and quilt the quilts.
As you might imagine, the blocks got made quicker than the tops could be pieced and quilted. About this time, I saw an add for the Handi Quilter II, and my lovely stepmother gave it to me for my birthday. My husband built me a table to set it on, and I started piecing the tops and quilting them with my domestic machine on the HQII frame. What a difference. I could actually quilt designs - follow pantographs. I was in heaven. I thought the HQII was the greatest thing since sliced bread, until . . . . .
I was looking at the Handi Quilter website to see if I could find some handles for the Handi Quilter II so I could quilt from the front of the machine. Lo and behold, I saw the HQ Simply Sixteen. OMG - a mid-arm machine I could actually afford. ( Earlier on, I had looked at several other mid and long arm machines, and nearly fainted at the prices).
Hubby and I discussed it, because after all, it is a major purchase, and he told me to go for it. So I drove 30 miles from San Antonio to the Quilt Haus in New Braunfels, TX, where a lovely lady showed me a HQ Simply Sixteen in person. About 3 weeks later, I went back up and took a lesson, to make sure my back and knees could handle standing and quilting for a length of time. 3 enjoyable, educational hours later, I was sold.
On December 27, 2007, I drove back to the Quilt Haus and bought my machine. My hubby surprised me by building a 20 foot by 20 foot studio in the corner of his workshop. I spend most weekends in my studio, sewing and quilting away. My backlog of pieced tops is gone and most of my friends and family have their own quilts.
Thank you Handi Quilter.
I own the following HQ machines: