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

CecilAnn Spencer

Jimmie & CecilAnn Spencer

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Hi, my name is CecilAnn Spencer. I grew up and still live in a small town, Kerens,in Central Texas that is 60 miles south of Dallas Texas. My love of quilting started at a very young age. My Grandmother hand pieced and hand quilted. Grandmother's sister was a seamstress and made clothes for the public. The scraps of fabric that were left over were given to my Grandmother. Grandmother would sit for hours cutting and hand piecing until she completed a quilt top. Then came the time to hand quilt. Grandmother's quilting frames hung from the ceiling in her dining room. She always used cotton batting, and "brown domestic" (muslin) as the backing. Our family were cotton farmers. Grandmother made beautiful quilts of many different colors that were given to her children and grandchildren. I was always amazed that something so beautiful started out as a piece of cloth that someone was going to throw away. The first quilts I made were machine pieced but hand quilted. It took forever to complete a quilt. I worked, was a wife, and mother of a very active son. This left little time for hobbies. After 31 years in a very stressful law enforcement career my husband retired to take care of our small farm with cows and llamas. I was still working in that same stressful law enforcement career but could see that retirement was not far away. I started looking for a long arm quilting machine. I did extensive research via internet, magazines, quilt shops and any other places where I could find information. I decided to purchase the HQ Sixteen and the Pro Stitcher. My husband and I made a trip to Plano Sewing Center in Plano, Texas. When we walked through the door we were greeted with smiles and such friendliness we felt as if they were family. The shop had just what I wanted and we purchased the machine that day. I still was limited on my time for hobbies, but it was amazing how fast I could get the quilt completed. I only make quilts for the "special people" in my life. My quilts are not the traditional type. If it is different I'm probably going to like it. My passion is creating living memory quilts that include photos, sports, school names or whatever the grandchildren, nieces and nephews are doing at the time. I have an embroidery machine and always embroidery their name on the quilt. I've also made themed baby quilts for family and friends with the new baby's name on them. I have finally retired after 30 years in law enforcement and am looking forward to getting training and lots of practice on my HQ Sixteen and learning to use my HQ Pro-Stitcher. I have done so much with this machine but still have so much more to learn. In closing I would like to recommend the Handi Quilter to anyone wanting to purchase a long arm machine. The machine is easy to use and the support you receive is the BEST!!!! You can not go wrong with Handi Quilter.

I own the following HQ machines: HQ Pro-Stitcher, HQ Sixteen

Pat Alderman

My first wholecloth with on my HQ Pro-Stitcher using Anne Bright designs

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Pat Alderman’s HQ Story Owner of the HQ24 Fusion and HQ Pro-Stitcher I was born to quilt…it just took me a while to know it! Raised on a farm in Nebraska, it was a mother’s duty to share the essentials of daily life, one of which included sewing. Beginning in 4-H at the age of 9 years old I made a blue (with pink roses) ‘Quick Trick Skirt’ and a pink gingham checkered apron! I found out immediately that it wasn’t ‘quick’ but it was tricky working on a sewing machine that had serious tension issues. When it was all said and done I still remember how beautiful I thought it was and the amazing sense of accomplishment that I had in finishing that project. I experienced more sewing in high school home economics, I completed a garment, which I would not wear but did admire the work and skill that went into it. My mother and both grandmothers made quilts, and thankfully I inherited a few! After I married and was in the process of furthering my career as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist, I attended a conference in eastern Nebraska. I took a quick walk at lunch to get a little fresh air and walked by a quilt store and there in the window was a quilt, an Eleanor Burns Log Cabin quilt with a big heart in the center. I tried to quietly enter the store to get a closer look but of course the owner already spotted me admiring the quilt. She said, “That is a “Quilt-in-a Day” project, using rotary cutters and strip quilting! I was shocked because with my limited knowledge of quilting, I thought it would take years to make a quilt. I told her I had to leave the next afternoon and that I would like to sew that quilt but I don’t have a sewing machine. After a bit she said if I really wanted to do that, she would let me use her machine, stay open until 10:00 that night and I could finish up the next afternoon. That was only the beginning of how nice quilters have been to me! I decided to go for it and I have been hooked on the love of quilting since. I got home very late that night and my husband was ready to send the State Patrol to find me…but then I pulled out my quilt, with a big heart on it, he was so proud of me…and a bit amazed! Shortly after that, my husband’s grandmother, of 98 years, offered me her 40 year-old sewing machine, which she had used as a professional seamstress. It sewed straight and zigzag stitches and was the most remarkable machine… it never had tension problems… it made me love to sew! I sewed lots of quilt tops and was very content to have someone else quilt them and was amazed at what happened to my quilts as they came back to me so gorgeous. Then I saw someone “stippling” on a domestic machine! I wanted to know how they could do that…so I signed up for a Quilting 101 class and we went thru the basics…at last we came to the part that I wanted to learn called Free Motion. She said there are 2 basic rules: Feed Dogs in the Basement and put the pedal to the metal! Even though I have gotten use to some quilting lingo I found myself wondering what she was talking about. I did learn the technique of stippling, but found that I needed some practice to learn this…but practice I did and I can stipple now and much more! I quilted several small projects with my Walking Foot and Free Motion techniques and decided to do a Full Size Quilt. I had been reading Diane Gaudynski’s “Guide to Machine Quilting” and she looked so relaxed with her king size quilt and her little kitty purring at her side. I tried to do all that she had instructed but before I knew it I was jerking and tugging and I had quilt all over me and I was hot and felt like I was being strangled with the quilt that I loved! I realized that all the joy of quilting vanished and decided I was glad to have someone else quilt my larger quilts! Diane deserves the fame she has earned as a quilter. Then I went to another class…I saw this enormous thing near the back of the store. I asked what is that? Oh that’s our Long Arm…here we go again…what does that mean? She knew I didn’t know what she was talking about…she politely took be back and showed me 3 different sizes of HQ quilting machines…Long arm quilting with tables to roll your quilt on! I now knew that I had found what I didn’t even know had existed. I was on a roll now…I would go home and find out everything I could about Long Arm quilting machines. And that I did…researching many brands and sizes. I went to many Quilting Shows, where I could to try out as many machines as I could. I paid a fee to be trained and rent 2 different brands and quilted many quilts to determine which machine I would like, because by now I knew I was a quilter and not only to quilt my quilts but other peoples quilts as well…sounds like a business. As I learned and test-drove these amazing machines, these were things that were important for me in a machine: 1. First and foremost I wanted a machine that did not give me continuous tension problems and did not require a lot of maintenance. 2. A beautiful stitch on top and bottom 3. Smooth movement for free motion quilting 4. Computerized to import designs and digitize my own. 5. A large working area. 6. A sturdy table. 7. A machine that can handle different and picky threads For about six months I researched with intensity and growing excitement, I wanted to find a machine that I would love to quilt with like my grandmother’s machine that I learned to love to sew on. I knew what machine I wanted, but one last test…I heard my cousin, Jan Barnett from Greybull, Wyoming had a quilting machine…so I called her to see if I could come see her…I was shocked when I saw her HQ24 Fusion and learned that she has a HQ Story. What an inspiration and help she has been for me. My decision was made and I decided to buy a machine and began to enjoy quilting. We were living in Colorado and decided we were going to move to Florida…start a business quilting in Florida? Seems a little strange to someone from Colorado, but here I go. I bought my machine 8 months ago and have had less thread breaks in 8 months than I did in one day on one of the machines that I had worked on! I have quilted over 50 quilts and am becoming, as they say, “One” with my HQ24 Fusion and the HQ Pro-Stitcher. And by the way, I have found to my delight there are some great quilters and quilt stores in Florida and am on my journey of making more quilting friends here, a land of great opportunity! I am here to say that this is just the beginning of my HQ story…I have found what I enjoy doing and am looking forward to my next chapter.

I own the following HQ machines: HQ24 Fusion, HQ Pro-Stitcher

Colette Perry

That's me with the four men in my life.

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My story really begins with another brand of quilting machine. I bought it from the quilter who quilted my first king size quilt. She was upgrading to a bigger machine and my wonderful husband knew I would love having her machine. But where to put it? Not HIS garage. I decided to fix up the shed on our property and set it up out there. I had used that machine for almost five years when Hubby and I were shopping at Meissner's in Sacramento. He called me over to see the new HQ Sixteen. WOW! We bought it, sold the old one and I have loved using it ever since. My shed is not fancy enough to be called a studio or even a shop but it's a quiet, peaceful place to do what I love. The only interruptions are when I need a potty break or Hubby comes out to admire and check my progress. I have made quilts for our seven grandchildren, neices and nephews, charity and lots of friends. I always charge my friends for the quilts I do because that way they will bring me more. They wouldn't keep me busy doing what I enjoy so much if they thought they were taking advantage of me. It's also nice to be able to support my quilting habit with a little extra cash.

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sixteen

Jolene Mershon

Jolene quilting with Sweet-Sixteen

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I've been quilting for about 20 years, but seriously quilting ever since I retired in 2000. I sew almost every day and am totally emersed in making quilts. I started as a hand quilter and still hand quilt some of my wall hangings. But, there are so many quilts I want to make and so little time. I knew I needed to learn to machine quilt. I took a machine quilting class for domestic machines from a local quilter. That got me started and I practiced a lot. In 2003 our guild started making quilts for soldiers wounded in the Iraq war. Those donation quilts gave me a great avenue for practicing my quilting. Then I bought a new machine with a stitch regulator, thinking that would keep my stitches perfect. But, I've found that nothing can replace practice, practice, and more practice. After taking a class with Harriet Hargrove I began to venture out with free form quilting. However, I felt limited to smaller size quilts. The largest quilt I ever quilted on my domestic machine was a queen-size T-shirt quilt that I made for my son. It was like wrestling a bear. That was when I began to play with the idea of getting a larger machine. I have a large quilting room but it's pretty much packed with other quilting needs such as cutting table, etc. I just don't have room for a long-arm machine and my husband refuses to give up his hobby room for my quilting. He already grouses that I sew "all over the house". The HQ Sweet Sixteen is just the right size to fit into my sewing room with the added bonus of allowing me to sit while I quilt. I bought my HQ Sweet Sixteen in May of this year at the quilt show in Arlington, Texas. I first heard about the machine while taking a David Taylor workshop three years ago. David really loves his machine and makes beautiful award winning quilts on it. After that class I searched for information on Handi Quilter and began to seriously consider purchasing one. I tried the machine at the Dallas quilt show in March of this year and also at the Paducah AQS show. I took measurements of the machine and measured where I thought a it might fit in my sewing room. I found I didn't have to give up any of my other quilting furniture or an antique table that belonged to my Grandmother, who was also a quilter, to accomodate it. That really helped me finalize my decision. I really liked the way it stitched and it had so much room under the arm. I felt I could quilt larger quilts without having to push and pull so much. When a vendor brought the machine to my guild's quilt show I tried it again and decided to buy it during the show. I've taken the class on my Sweet Sixteen and learned so much. I've been using a variety of threads so am trying to master the tension. I love thread just about as much as I love fabric. I'm working on increasing my thread stash and expect I'll be using all of it on some project at some point in time. Right now I'm quilting on an entry for a quilt show in September. The last few years I've paid a long-arm quilter to quilt most of my show entries. She does a beautiful job and I've won quite a few ribbons with that strategy. But, I'd like to totally own the work on my quilts. I'm hoping that I can successfully master the Sweet-Sixteen so that I can make it happen.

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sweet Sixteen