Janneke Van der Ree

Jasper(9) with his charity quilts

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I started quilting to get to know people when I moved to the States 16 years ago. I loved and still love it. All my first quilts were handquilted, there was no way I could fit all that fabric under my then sewing machine.My first machine was from England so I had to log a huge adaptor (to convert the 220 to 110 volt) with me whenever I went to classes.Then I bought a machine from a friend.This machine only sewed backwards after a while. Time to get serious.I bought my first machine with all the bells and whistles. My productivity increased, and since I made hundreds of baby/child size quilts for Quilts for Kids, I managed quilting on my machine. When I started making custom quilts and big school projects I needed something bigger.And I fell in love with the HQ Sweet Sixteen. Perfect fit,sit down sewing and affordable. My 10 year old started practicing on it and is ready to quilt his self pieced quilts.I had to laugh about the name; Sweet sixteen. My daughter (now 18) commented: why did you get a big sweet sixteen present, and I did not. My next adventure will be working with the HQ Sixteen quilting machine as an instructor. I can not wait.

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sweet Sixteen

Mara Mesa

Quilting on my HQ Sixteen

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I am an accidental quilter. I had sewn all my life, first from necessity when I could not afford the clothes in “tall girl shops,” and then later, even when I could afford them, I found I could make more of them and better than what I found in the stores. But I had never made a quilt. I didn’t know anyone who quilted. In fact, I had never even seen a quilt until I moved from New York City to northwestern Pennsylvania in my 20’s. That all changed when my trusty domestic sewing machine died and no longer had parts available for repairs. I bought a new machine with all the “bells and whistles,” and then had to take classes to learn how to use it. One of the classes I took was taught by an inspirational teacher (who now also owns an HQ Sixteen) who encouraged me to try quilting. It was love at first sight. To paraphrase a Texas expression, “I was not born to quilting, but I got here as fast as I could.” I have been quilting for nine years. As my skills progressed I was invited to teach quilting classes at the shop where I had learned to quilt. One day the shop owner showed me a new machine they were now carrying – it was the HQ Sixteen. It was a manageable size, glided effortlessly across the fabric, and looked like it could handle any size project. But I reasoned that it was meant for serious quilters, not for someone like me who quilted only for pleasure. I had no reason to buy such an awesome machine. So I just kept on admiring it. My admiration changed to necessity while I was working on a quilt top of elaborately appliquéd chickens, each composed of many, many pieces of fabric. It had been a huge undertaking and I was finally close to the end. I finished quilting it on my home sewing machine when, to my dismay, I discovered that I had pulled the backing fabric too tight making the chickens mound and bulge on the top! It took me hours and hours to take out all of that quilting and re-do it again. I had had enough; I had found my compelling reason to buy the HQ Sixteen! I brought my HQ Sixteen home and expected to dive right into my next project. But a surprising thing happened – I was afraid to get started, afraid to make a mistake, afraid I would not master the machine. I inspected it daily, moved it around, practiced on muslin, but could not begin a quilt. Christmas was approaching, there were gifts to be made, but I was still paralyzed for fear that my first HQ Sixteen quilt would not be perfect. I finally decided to take “the plunge” on a T-shirt quilt for my brother. If it was a disaster, it was only T-shirts. I finished the quilt in time. It was NOT a disaster, and it was NOT perfect, but my HQ Sixteen and I had become friends. The quilting process had been a pleasure not a chore. There were no aching shoulders from pushing the quilt through my domestic machine, and no more puckered backings or bulging tops. I gave the T-shirt quilt to my brother at Christmas and was overjoyed to see his eyes light up at the sight of it. His admiring gaze made me think, “He’s admiring my quilting!” until he softly and wistfully said “Oh, how I remember that T-shirt! It was from my first marathon.” The moral of the story here is that though we are all made happy by the same quilt, it is not for the same reason.

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sixteen

Ebony Love

Me with one of Mr. Darcy's Quilts

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Finally... A Machine I Won't Outgrow... I used to buy a new sewing machine every time I got a project that was too big for me to handle with the current machine. I'd bought three machines and a 10' frame through that process, but still I was finding my creativity and productivity limited by what I felt the machine could do. It was frustrating to feel like the quilt was fighting me for control, and our daily battles exhausted me and sapped my creativity. I started to hate working on anything bigger than lap sized, and it's a bad sign when you start to dislike the one thing you are most passionate about. There had to be a better way. A quilting friend of mine came over one day to help me through a particularly tough quilting problem, and she remarked, "That machine is not right for you; I think you've outgrown it." So I decided that September, once and for all, I was going to buy a machine that I would not outgrow, and the search for "Mr. Darcy" began. (Mr. Darcy is the love interest of my favorite character in my favorite book, "Pride and Prejudice.") I went to the Madison Quilt Expo in Wisconsin, and tried a number of different machines. Not knowing what I was looking for, I was soon confused by all the options and features, but after a while it started to become more clear. I found myself visiting the same booth over and over again; I liked the clean design, the all-inclusive features, and there was a certain machine that just "felt" better than others. But I couldn't make a $10K decision based on a feeling! So I didn't make a purchase then and there, but I started to take the idea more seriously. I was very lucky to meet an AWESOME local dealer (Sue Schmeiden) who offered to let me come to her shop and try out a machine for the day. That was much better than using a machine for 5 minutes at a show! During my time in her shop, I learned how to load a quilt, advance it, run out a bobbin, and get to know the machine and how easy it was to use. It seemed to fit me like a glove, and I started to have visions of all the beautiful quilts we could make together. If I wasn't sure whether I was in love at the show, I certainly was in love then! But you can't make a $10K purchase based on love! (Okay, maybe you can if you're buying a ring...) As an engineer, I relish facts and analysis, so I created a list of what I thought Mr. Darcy should have, and started comparing all the machines I tried at the show. At the end of that objective analysis, the HQ24 Fusion carried the day! All in all, I compared 7 machines, but I was secretly pleased at the final result, because it was at the intersection of my heart and brain; all along, I loved Mr. Darcy, and now my spreadsheet told me that he was the perfect machine for me. Once I made the decision to purchase, I figured that I would need lots of quilts to practice on, so I put an offer out on my blog to quilt for free anything that hit my doorstep by December 1. (One of the criteria for sending me a quilt was letting me have absolute say in what I quilted - what brave people!) I ended up getting quilts from all over the country, and it has been a true pleasure to work on those quilts, practice my skills, solve problems, try out new things and let the creativity flow from my brain to my fingertips! Based on the work that Darcy and I have done so far, I've been fortunate to be able to take in customer quilts, and just a couple of weeks ago, Darcy & I were awarded 6 ribbons at the county fair, including four 1st Place ribbons. It feels fantastic to know that instead of outgrowing Mr. Darcy, he and I can grow together. I never would have imagined a year ago being at this point in my quilting, but I love it, I love my HQ24 Fusion, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we do in year 2. Right now, the only thing stopping us is time!

I own the following HQ machine: HQ24 Fusion

Janet L Smith

Jan and "Lucy" working on Charity Quilts for Quilts Beyond Borders!

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My HQ Story… Janet Smith My name is Janet Smith. I live in the suburbs of Chicago. I learned to sew when I was about 8 years old. At the time, my father worked in a clothing store in Michigan. One day, a few weeks before Easter, Dad took us to the store and instructed us to pick a dress from a specific rack of clothes. I drifted to a different rack and found a dress that I fell in love with! I wanted it so badly and I was so disappointed that I could not have it. Dad tried very hard to explain that he just could not afford the dress I wanted and in my eight year old mind I just did not understand it, I cried all the way home. Dad sat me down and he encouraged me to learn to sew. “I’ll buy you all the fabric you want!” he told me. Well before long, my sisters and I were all sewing and Mom no longer could get time to use the one sewing machine we had. So he bought a second machine and we had both of them humming while we made clothes. All the while Dad was keeping his promise and buying fabric for us. As a matter of fact, he carried fabric in his business until the day he died, 33 years later! We have always had access to beautiful fabric! I made all of my clothes for many years. When I married and had my children, I bought a Kenmore domestic machine and made all my children clothes. Dad had by then bought a Ben Franklin’s Dime Store and he added lines of fabric and patterns to his store inventory. We struck up a deal. I would make samples for him to put in the window and hang in his store. He would provide the fabric and patterns in my size and the sizes of my children. Before long these clothes were being worn by my children. Then I owned my own home and began making curtains, pillows and home décor items. I used my Kenmore for 23 years very nearly on a weekly basis! In the 1995, after remarrying and finding myself with three stepdaughters, I decided that It was time to look at a new sewing machine. Not for me but for my stepdaughters! I thought I would purchase a basic machine for the girls to learn to sew on. Since they stayed with us regularly, I thought they might enjoy learning to sew. I discovered that sewing machines had really changed and so had the things that people were sewing on them! That Christmas I bought a basic machine for my stepdaughter and a computerized embroidery machine for me! It was at a local fabric shop where I bought MY sewing machine that I discovered quilting. My interest in sewing once again took off like a speeding bullet train. I dabbled with machine embroidery on my domestic machine and eventually bought an industrial embroidery machine and started a small embroidery company. My day time career was in the computer industry and my evenings were spent learning to digitize. While I enjoyed embroidery, I kept drifting back to my quilting. Before long I was using my embroidery machine to quilt when I wasn’t using it to embroider. A few years ago, the company I was working for was closed and I lost my job. While I was unemployed and looking for work, I began to quilt even more. I found myself paying someone else to quilt my big quilts because it was too cumbersome to use my embroidery machine for anything larger than a lap size so I began to look at quilting machines. I went to several machine quilting shows and test drove machines. I would look at the prices and wonder how I could afford them due to my lack of employment. I would test them at the machine shows and dream about the day that I could afford it. I had been steered to the “big boys” by ladies who already had quilting machines. I looked at them …. the Gammill’, A-1’s, Nolting, Innova , APQS and others but I just could not see how I could afford the price tag. I had all but decided on an A-1 when I went to the 2010 Milwaukee Machine Quilting show. I tried the Handi Quilter and then I went back to the A-1 booth. Back to Handi Quilter and back to A-1. I decided at that time that Handi Quilter was the one for me. I also made another decision that day as well. I decided that I would look at gently used machines because of my background. I repaired computer equipment for years and have maintained and fixed my industrial embroidery machine on the rare occasions that it has needed to be fixed in the 11 years that I have owned it. A properly maintained machine will last for a very long time. SO last October I began my search for a gently used sewing machine, a machine that I hoped to be able to pay cash for. It was also important to me that the machine be local to the Midwest so I would not have to worry about shipping. I would drive to pick up my new baby myself! I found the perfect machine in southern Indiana, an HQ Sixteen owned by Kathy Morrison, who was upgrading to a HQ18 Avante with HQ Pro-Stitcher. She was working with Mike Giloman at “The Machine Shop” in Highland, Illinois. He took her machine in as a trade in and I bought it from him. He checked over the machine and in January brought it to me and installed it in my studio. I have named her Lucy and we have had so much fun getting to know each other. I am still practicing on my own pieces and charity quilts. I have several people who are patiently waiting for me to feel comfortable enough to quilt for them. I hope one day to add HQ Pro-Stitcher to my machine since my background is in computers. But it is important for me to learn how to use my machine manually for now. I have so much to learn! I thank my father everyday for teaching me how this hobby can blossom into a life long passion of learning new things. It is a passion which I depend on no matter what is going on around me. I find that when I am sad, if I sew, I will soon feel better. When I am depressed, if I sew, I feel that my spirit is soon lifted again! If I am anxious, when I sew, I am soon calm again. When I am troubled, if I go sew, I will regain my confidence again. When I am happy there is nothing in life that is more fun to than sewing! With this in mind, I have begun my latest new learning journey and I am so happy that Handi Quilter has come along for the ride! Happy Sewing! Jan

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sixteen

Elizabeth Kretzer

Scott's quilt

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A couple days ago I was in the process of finishing quilting, an over size queen, quilt for a friend his wife started a few years ago. At the very end of the quilt, my HQ24 Fusion with HQ Pro-Stitcher stopped working, computer went dead. I did all the checks and read the manual back to front and front to back. Finally I called the HQ help line and Mark called me back in just a few minutes. Mark walked me through all the different things that could be wrong, then he had me look under the carriage to find the male and female hook that went to the computer, it had worked loose and as soon as I tighten it the machine was back working. This quilt has been a work of love for right after I started working on it, I came down with pneumonia, then had to have lung surgery, and his wife passed away. Now I am back to quilting and enjoying my HQ24 Fusion with HQ Pro-Stitcher. Thank you for all the help lines and online forms.

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