Monday, September 17, 2012

My Quilting Story

My mother was an experienced seamstress and taught me to sew as a child.  What I didn't learn from her I learned through church groups, a season of 4H, and trial and error.  I tied a few quilts as a teenager and pieced my first top at the age of 17.  While I loved sewing clothing, I didn't consider myself a quilter until 7 years ago.

In 2004, I moved to Bountiful, Utah and was invited to a neighborhood sewing group.  A year into being a part of that sewing group, I was encouraged to attend a block-of-the-month class at the local quilt shop.  I turned the offer down.  I couldn't understand why ladies would want to make so many blankets.  However, the next year, one of the ladies in my sewing group made the pattern for the block-of-the-month class and brought the finished quilt to show our group.  I loved the quilt and the price, as I found out it was only $10 total if you finished the block each month. If you didn't finish each monthly block, you would pay $5 to receive the next month's block fabric.  Always one for a deal, I joined the class and finished the block each month.  That was all it took to hook me.  I signed up for several other classes after that.  I finally understood why "ladies would want to make so many blankets." It is a creative outlet!

After a few classes of making quilt tops I decided it was time to finish my quilt.  I started hand quilting one of my finished quilt tops.  That top is still only halfway quilted.  I didn't have the patience for hand quilting.  I was told to take it to a machine quilter.  When I found out how much it would cost me, I about fell over!  I didn't have the funds for that, especially when I only spent $10 on the quilt top.  Okay, they got a little more expensive with the other classes, but I still never spent more than $60 on a quilt top.  I couldn't imagine spending another $100-200 to finish a quilt.  This hobby was quickly becoming a money pit!  I was in a bind until one of the ladies in my sewing group purchased a quilting machine.  It wasn't a long arm machine, but we were all impressed with how fast we could quilt our quilts.

One night I woke up in the middle of the night with the thought that maybe I didn't have the skill to quilt other people's quilts, but I could teach other people to quilt their own quilts.  After all, it hadn't taken much for any of us in the sewing group to learn to control our friend's machine.  I decided that was the road I wanted to take.  I would purchase a quilting machine and start a quilting business. It took a while to convince my husband, but in 2007 I purchased my first long arm quilting machine for $3000, a used, first generation Handi Quilter on their very first quilting frame attached to a couple of banquet tables.  It was quite the setup, but the machine worked and that was all that mattered.  Now, I had to learn how to use it.

One of the reasons I chose a Handi Quilter machine was because I knew their headquarters was only a drive down the street, and I knew I would have a few questions as I was getting started.  Fortunately, at that time they offered a 2-hour training course in their facility.  This was mainly for the people who rented their machines.  I took the course intending to learn how to use my own machine, so I could likewise teach others and rent out my machine.  It was at that class that I discovered Handi Quilter has machine testers.  

After a few months and only one customer, feeling a bit stressed financially, I stopped back at Handi Quilter to inquire about being a machine tester.  It just so happened that someone had left and they were hiring.  After interviewing, I started working for Handi Quilter, where I practiced my machine quilting by testing their machines.  After 3 years of practicing freehand, I had the awesome opportunity to move into the Education Department at Handi Quilter.  The opportunities to interact with quilters were limitless as we hosted quilting retreats where ladies (and a few men) would come from all over the world to learn how to better use their machines.  I taught the "Basics" class, as well as freehand design.

What a wonderful time I had being a part of the Handi Quilter Team, but my heart turned to my 3 beautiful, and quickly growing children, and I knew it was time to return home full time.  In June 2012, I said my goodbyes to the Handi Quilter team.  I was looking forward to long summer days sitting by the pool watching my kids swim and doing custom machine quilting, but it was not to be.  My kids ended up taking care of me for the summer while I suffered through all-day morning sickness.

Summer has passed.  The kids are back in school.  I am finally starting to feel some life return to me, and I am ready to quilt again.  Onto the next stage in my quilting journey!

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