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