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