Cheryl A Meadors

Lilee and Cheryl with their first quilts

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I’ll admit it.  I am a fiber-aholic.  I love the color, the texture, even the smell of fiber whether it’s raw fleece, roving, yarn or fabric. 
Several years ago, I started doing a little genealogical research to discover the source of my fiber affliction.  I remember my mother, grandmother and great aunts piecing and quilting.  I have several quilts willed to me from mom’s side of the family.  All of a sudden it struck me that the ‘heritage of fiber’ that I’m passing on to my daughter had yet to include quilting.  So I decided to make it my summer objective to create a quilt with my 12 year old daughter.  We went to the local quilt shop and picked out fabric that appealed to her interests.  We ended up with basketballs, blueberry pie, polar bears, penguins, pandas - lots of bright colors.  I picked out a simple pattern, cut out the pieces then laid them out on the floor assuming my daughter would give her seal of approval.  Instead, she started moving everything around into a random pattern.  So we spent a week with graph paper diagramming out patterns that would look good from close up and farther away.  Eventually, we came to consensus on the layout and my daughter began to sew the shapes into blocks.  As the blocks were done, I laid them out on a bed until we had every block positioned.   At the end of the adventure, my daughter declared that she appreciated the making of a memory but she’d rather play basketball.
By working with her, I rediscovered my love for pattern and color in fabric.  For the next year I worked on a king sized quilt pieced in a bear claw pattern and hand quilted in a lap hoop that I inherited from my great grandmother.  When I was finished, the quilt was too precious to use!  No dog was allowed to curl up on it.  Even my daughter was sternly cautioned about appropriate ways to use the quilt.  I had created an heirloom that everyone was afraid to touch.  At that point, I realized that I needed a faster (and less painful!) way to quilt.
I had seen ads in quilting magazines about long arm machines but I had no idea what they were.   Not far from my home, I noticed a shop that had commercial quilting machines on display.  They signed me up for a class in machine quilting and explained that they offered rental time on the machines.  So I began a 2 year exposure to long arm quilting through rented equipment.  At first it was enough to quilt edge to edge with freehand doodling.  I could knock out a finished quilt in 3 hours and was perfectly content with my technique.  But the quilt tops started piling up as the available time to rent started shrinking.   And I was to the point with my piecing where I wanted the ability to replicate a hand quilted design.  That wouldn’t be possible in a 3 hour window of rental time.  I knew that the machine I was renting was beyond any price that I could justify for an obsession that wasn’t going to yield any financial benefits. 
Years before, I worked for the Viking Sewing Machine Company as a regional sales manager.  Erica’s Sewing Center in South Bend, Indiana, is still in business.  One of my machines needed service, so I packed up the machine and my husband for the hour’s drive to her store, knowing that she had a line of long arm machines.   After we checked in my machine for service, I casually wandered over to the HQ display.  Not only were the machines ‘pretty’ enough to be in my house, they operated the same way as the commercial machines I had rented.  I nearly walked away, assuming that the HQ would be beyond what I would consider spending.  Fortunately, there was a price sheet on each machine.  Every feature I wanted came included on the machine.  Nothing was an ‘add on’.  And the throat space I was accustomed to using was available on the HQ24 Fusion.  Trying not to show too much excitement, I got back into the car and headed home.  My husband was already saying ‘Buy it, you deserve it.  You’ve saved money in your new car fund for years.  Go ahead and use it for something you want!’ 
I consider myself a smart shopper.   I pulled out all my quilting magazines and looked up every competitive brand on the internet.  With the HQ as a ‘comparison’ model, it was easy to eliminate other brands on features, cost, and aesthetics.  Eventually, it came down to only one question – WHICH model HQ did I need?
So I emailed Erica and asked for an hour to talk about the difference between the HQ options. We got together at her shop that Saturday and walked through the features of the machine as well as what she would do to teach me to use the machine.  She also offered me membership in a user group that meets monthly to continue learning and sharing.  All that plus a promotion on the machine and free shipping - I was sold.  We wrote up the deal and I went home to wait.
 The perfect spot for my new machine is a 12 foot expanse looking out over the living room.  10 days later, when the 11 boxes and set of 2x4’s arrived in our driveway, my husband called and said “What did you buy?”  After we finally got it hauled up 3 flights of stairs, he started assembling it in the afternoons before I came home from work.  By the weekend, it was ready for a ‘test drive’.   I couldn’t wait to work on one of my quilt tops so I watched the video then loaded a twin sized quilt.  I came up with a strategy to put some freehand butterflies and flowers into specific spaces, joined by curlicues.  My daughter (now 15) has a talent for art and freehand drawing.  She started showing interest in what I was doing and how the machine was sketching with thread.  All of a sudden, another ‘golden opportunity to create a memory’ flashed into my brain.  I’m going to challenge my daughter to do a freehand whole cloth quilt by sketching with the machine. 
Here we go again!! 

I own the following HQ machine: HQ24 Fusion

Anita Emery

My granddaughter Esther on the quilt I made her

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There it was-the HQ sixteen long arm machine. My husband and I watch with great interest as a representative stitched away at a quilt top. My first thought were, “Wow, wouldn’t that be wonderful to have” but I didn’t express them aloud, I just wished. But my husband knowing me as well as he does, asked me what I thought. He knew I could no longer do free motion quilting on my sewing machine. My hands could no longer hold onto the fabric tightly enough and I definitely couldn’t hold a needle for quilting due to my conditions ( Lupus SLE, Dermatomyositis, Raynauld’s and Rheumatoid arthritis). So there I looked longingly at the Handiquilter and as I said wished. Knowing we couldn’t afford it I told him “one day” I would love to have one. Well we my darling husband saved up his money and “one day” happened. He and my nephew painted the spare room and soon the machine arrived. My husband’s goal was to give me something to relieve the stress from work and my disease itself and help me continue with my passion, quilting. Goal achieved-it works. I have sewn many quilts since then. I love my HQ sixteen and thanks to my husband I can keep on quilting. 

I own the following HQ machine: HQ Sixteen

Carol Albrecht

Carol at a HQ24 Fusion

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To get this (HQ24 Fusion)....You had to build ..... WHAT! The path to my HQ24 Fusion with the HQ Pro- Stitcher truly begins back when I was around the age of five or six. My Grandmother named Orpha Jane, was a garment sewer using old newspaper to make all of her patterns; my mother did very little sewing. I acquired my interest of sewing from my grandmother. She had got me into hand sewing but that was not enough. One day I asked my mother if she would teach me to thread and use the sewing machine which was an old Singer treadle. She did not have the time. In my persistence I kept asking her and she would always say no; so I told her I would figure it out. I was told I would not be able figure it out; I had to prove her wrong. Through trial and error, I figured how to thread and operate the machine by myself in just a couple of days. With that said, I learned my love for sewing. I did all garment sewing at that time as it was hard to find clothes that I liked that fit that had long enough sleeves, hem length & etc. After numerous 4-H garments with many ribbons and “Make It with Wool” contests, I proceeded to become a Home Ec. teacher (with emphasis in sewing) from UW-Stout, Menomonie, WI. I taught many years in Milwaukee, Hales Corners and Palmyra, WI. In 2000 I was in need of a new sewing machine and started looking and looking at many different shops and brands. Finally, I came across the Janome machines in 2001 and bought my first one, Janome 10000, from Kari’s Sew Unique from Whitewater, WI. From then on I have purchased many different machines from her and then later started helping out in her shop on an occasional basis. Gradually I started quilting small items and less and less garment sewing and getting into bigger quilts. Now it is either quilting or embroidery. In 2007, Kari’s started selling HQ Sixteen’s. I fell in love with the HQ Sixteen and the HQ18 Avante and then later the HQ24 Fusion with the ease of use and the smooth motion. After several years of using the shops HQ machines, I decided I wanted one for myself. In order to have place for my HQ24 Fusion, this spring I had to add a second 2 car garage to my existing garage and raise to roof over both parts of the garage to add a sewing room large enough for the HQ24 Fusion. The other option was to kick my husband out of his shop in the basement, but that was not practical or take out the pool table in the basement, but my kids and grand kids would not go for that either. It has been a fun and exciting process designing a quilt studio from scratch just the way I want it. Shortly, I will have a 35 x 24 sewing and quilting room with a another area of 10 x 24 to stash fabric & etc. However, it is not quite finished. As I write this story, the drywallers will be starting on Monday. I hope to start moving things before by Labor Day especially the machine; it is in the box that is in my dining room calling my name. Over the past 3-4 years I have used Kari’s Handi Quilter machines to finish many quilts; now I will have my very own machine to finish my quilts. My husband has nick named the new room “Carol’s Quilt Castle” but without a moat.

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

Darlene Cook

Hooked on quilting!

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Hooked! I will admit it; I am hooked! As far back as I can remember (I am 59 years old) I have had a love affair with fabric, thread, and ribbon, etc. Any kind of fabric, but I am especially drawn to cotton that can be made into quilts. When I see a piece of fabric, I immediately think of colors that compliment it and a pattern for a quilt pops in my head. My Mother sewed, from our clothing to costumes to quilts and anything in between. I remember going to bed many nights with that old Singer sewing machine humming in the background lulling me to sleep. I suppose this is where the love affair began. The first quilting class I took was in the back of a hardware store in a small South Georgia town. Our teacher had ink stamps of triangles and squares that we stamped on fabric and cut out with scissors. My, have we come a long way. There have been many more of those classes along the way. Each time we moved to a new town, I searched for the nearest quilt shop and signed up for a class. I also found the public library to check out their supply of quilt books. Several years ago during a December Open House of shops in downtown Moultrie, Georgia, I found Suzanne’s Quilt Shop and thought I had died and gone to heaven. The amount of fabric was overwhelming. I almost cried when we had to leave! I made the 60 mile round trip almost weekly and took several classes. When Suzanne began selling the Handiquilter machines, I knew I had to have one. I began pinching pennies. I decided that when I bought it, I had to pay for it in full. It took a couple of years but I bought it with complete joy and pleasure, a HQ Sixteen. Before I bought the HQ Sixteen, I tried out other machines and constantly researched longarm quilting machines. It was evident that the Handiquilter was the best value, not to mention the excellent training and support that came with it. It was perfect and just the machine I needed. It did it all, or at least that is what I thought until I recently quilted with an HQ18 Avante. Oh my, falling in love again and saving pennies again. I practiced on this machine at the summer workshop at Suzanne’s this past July. I went with all intentions of just learning new techniques for my HQ Sixteen, NOT buying a new machine. I cannot begin to tell you everything I learned at this workshop. I was a sponge soaking up any little bit of information I could use to make another quilt. I went home on Saturday evening and by Sunday afternoon had put a quilt in my machine, quilted it and then quilted five more by Tuesday. This workshop was absolutely the best class I have ever had on the process of machine quilting and the techniques to make the process easier. I was hooked again. By the next Thursday, I had sold my HQ Sixteen and ordered the HQ18 Avante with the HQ Pro-Stitcher! I bought it a great price, and a huge basket of accessories came with it – including micro handles. Suzanne and Ladd set up the machine on a Friday night and then returned for Pro Stitcher training. What a machine – smooth as silk. I have no idea how many quilts I have made in all these years, I stopped counting. I do know that I actually own very few quilts; in fact I only have two quilts that I’ve made. The greatest pleasure I have in making quilts is giving them away. Family members and friends have been recipients of almost all of the quilts; however, four years ago I began making quilts for girls at a local children’s home. I began making them myself but found I could not keep up with the demand. Every summer now, I host a sewing day with 6 -8 quilting friends who help make the tops. I provide fabric and patterns and the group sews the tops together. Voila, – quilts ready to be quilted! I am ready to roll! I quilt them and a friend in my church hems them. It has become a joint effort by family and friends willing to help keep this ministry going. So far, we have furnished 42 quilts for these girls as they come and go at the children’s home. In all this process of making quilts, I’ve found the most important thing is to keep learning. I cannot imagine cutting out shapes with scissors, or life without fusible web, or always quilting by hand. The quilting industry has changed with leaps and bounds during my lifetime. It is a privilege to learn as much as possible about anything that involves quilting. After participating in the recent Handiquilter workshop, I was so inspired that I just about live and breath quilts (my job might begin interfering with my play). I have to have a quilt in the machine! Yes, I am hooked! And it’s a good thing! I happily own the HQ18 Avante and HQ Pro-Stitcher.

I own the following HQ machines: HQ18 Avante, HQ Pro-Stitcher

Valerie Lee Funk

This is me quilting Dr. Seuss for my grandson

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My name is Valerie Funk and this my HQ Story. Several years back in 1998 I was accidentally shot while serving as an officer for the state of Indiana. I knew my recovery would be long and hard so began looking for hobbies to keep myself busy. Eventually I stumbled onto quilting and I was instantly hooked. I am a self taught quilter having learned mostly by way of YouTube videos and magazines. About a year ago I finally joined my local quilt guild in Osceola Iowa. The ladies there were an absolute wealth of knowledge. The long arm quilters within our guild were all very reasonably priced but because I was piecing quilts at the rate of 2-3 a month I decided that I really wanted to look into buying my own long arm machine. I had absolutely no knowledge regarding long arm machines so I got on line and researched the different kinds of machines and all the different options. After many weeks of research I decided that what I really wanted was an HQ18 Avante. It was just the right size for me and very reasonably priced. After finding my closest HQ rep I made the long drive up to her shop so I could test out her machine. I knew as soon as I tried the HQ18 Avante that was the machine I wanted. It was so smooth and the stitches were flawless! It was so easy to use. And since I had very little long arm knowledge, easy is what I needed. I received my Avante in early May and I have never been happier. I have quilted over a dozen quilts since then and I just love it! Quilting is very therapeutic for me. When I am finished making my quilts I like to give them all away. It makes me so happy to see others get enjoyment from something that I have created with my own two hands. I like to think of myself as an artist with fabric as my medium. If I would have know that long arm quilting could be so easy and fun I’m sure I would have made this purchase a long time ago!

I own the following HQ machine: HQ18 Avante