I have never called myself a quilter. I like to design quilts. I love the mixing and matching of colors and patterns and the sewing together of pieces. But I have never liked the quilting part. My mom was an expert hand quilter and my home is full of beautiful quilts she made for me, each one lovingly hand quilted with thousands of perfectly even little stitches.
My mom’s perfectly even hand quilting stitches
But the patience for hand quilting I did not inherit from my mom. I’ve tried machine quilting, but was never happy with my attempts at free motion machine quilting. Oh, I have made small quilts on my sewing machine, but the quilting was limited to straight line stitching, stitch in the ditch and anything super easy.
Over the years I have noticed long arm quilting machines whenever I have visited trade or consumer shows. They looked very cool and I would sit (or stand) at the machines and try them all out. But I just couldn’t justify investing in one. After all, I wasn’t a quilter. I love sewing and thread, but did I really need another machine that sews? Let’s see, how many “sewing” machines do I have here…there’s my faithful workhorse Pfaff that sews through anything (I have to confess that I did get the one with the computerized machine embroidery unit that I never really got the hang of despite several lessons.), my 30 old Bernina that needs a little repair work, two Elnas (one was my mom’s and one was mine – between the two of them there are probably enough parts for one machine that will work), a serger, an old treadle that was my husband’s grandmother’s (in case the power goes out and I have to sew?) and then my husband’s favorite sewing machine, the Embellisher for needle felting (“You realize that you just bought a sewing machine that doesn’t use any thread, don’t you?”) That makes 7 sewing machines.
As you can tell by the title of this post, sewing machine number 8 has joined the group. I am now the proud owner of an HandiQuilter Sweet 16 mid-arm quilting machine. On the last day I was at spring Quilt Market in Kansas City this past May, at the very last hour of the show, I had time to spare and found myself in the same aisle as HandiQuilter. Debby Brown was sitting at the HQ Sweet 16 demo machine and recognized me from a local show I had attended in NJ earlier in the year. So I sat down and sewed and we talked and then I heard “the voice”. You know, the one inside your head that makes you do things like eat chocolate chip cookies or say yes to the dress. But this time is was my mom’s voice, and she was telling me to “get it!”.
My mom passed away at 95 3/4 years old this past March. She loved to sew. Over the years, It was a creative outlet for her. She sewed everything from my Halloween costumes to draperies to my wedding dress to the patchwork quilts she pieced together but always hand quilted. As she got older, sewing made her feel like she was doing something useful.
So thanks to my mom’s advice, my HQ Sweet 16 is now home sweet home, and I am a quilter.
Granted, I have lots to learn, but I am so excited. My plan for the summer is to “play” as much as I can and practice, practice, practice. I am sure there will be much improvement over these first attempts.
My first attempts at free motion quilting on my HQ Sweet 16. I can write my name!
My mom would have loved this new machine. Thanks for helping me make the decision, Mommy. You’ll always be the voice that guides me. Love you. Miss you.