Quilting is my super-power but like every superhero I have a constant companion!
Everybody needs a super power right?
Well, quilting is mine...but I have a confession to make...I have a little help!
I’m just finishing off my third book which will be published by Pavilion in 2019 and it’s at times like these, when I’m under pressure to deliver beautiful quilts in record time that I appreciate my Handi Quilter Avante and Prostitcher even more.
I’ve always been an eclectic quilter...there isn’t a technique I haven’t tried and fallen in love with which is a big reason why my last book (and the next one!) have patterns for 100 quilts in each!
I make somewhere in the region of 50 to 60 quilts a year and my Handi Quilter HQ18 Avante Longarm and Pro Stitcher is my secret weapon! I’m often asked if I have UFO’s...the honest answer is no, never...every quilt I start gets finished and some days I’ll load, quilt and bind two quilts in a day!
No one wants to see a UFO in a book or magazine and even though I love to share my works in progress, it’s the finished quilts that really count! I’ve always loved the quilting process, bringing the top to life with thread and pattern is one of my favourite parts of the process but streamlining that process means I can concentrate on having fun and finishing more quilts than I ever thought possible!
Setting up to quilt can take as little as 20 minutes...backing on, top loaded and basted down, ready to go. Having the ability to set a plumb line with the Pro Stitcher channel lock takes seconds and results in a quilt that is loaded perfectly straight, setting the tension is easy, much easier than I’d imagined, particularly when you use really great quality thread.
I’m a huge fan of Glide 40wt Polyester thread for the top...so many dreamy colours, a vast array of neutrals and the whether I’m working on something very traditional or a super modern quilt, this thread always seems to suit...it’s a real “chameleon” thread...and Wonderfil's Decobob in the bobbin is the perfect partner. It’s an 80wt thread, very fine and soft and depending on the colour I pick can feature or virtually disappear. The two threads play very well together and the bobbins seem to last forever!
Picking and auditioning a pattern is simplicity itself and there are many lovely patterns already loaded onto the Pro Stitcher Premium. I’ve built my library of E2E patterns up nicely...all of the major quilting pattern websites have regular “themed” sales so it doesn’t take long to get a good range which will suit any project. Changing the density of the quilting and making it fit perfectly takes one touch of a button.
E2E patterns are my favourites, they are so fast, give a truly professional finish to my quilts and there is always a pattern to suit any quilt top, enhancing my piecing or appliqué and adding to the character of every piece. I’m not a naturally “tech savvy” person...in fact I’m positively old school and I’ll be honest with you, I was more than a little concerned that my lack of computer skills would be a problem. I need not have worried... the Pro Stitcher is wonderfully intuitive and easy to use and Liz is a fantastic teacher.
Longarming supremo, Angela Walters, gave me some great advice early on when she told me to just learn enough to get started...she gave me the confidence to step back, start simply and use those basic skills to finish a bunch of quilts. She told me I’d know when I was ready to move on and she was right.
The Handi Quilter Avante can be as simple or as sophisticated as I need it to be and it’s great to know that it’s ready and waiting for me! I’ve got the Pro Stitcher simulator loaded onto my laptop too so I can try out new ideas and build my skills from my kitchen table. Being able to “dry run” my ideas means that when I’m ready to quilt I can just crack on.
Within half an hour I’m enjoying a cuppa and watching Pro Stitcher quilt to perfection...while I plan the next quilt or three!
Stuart Hillard is a Handi Quilter Ambassador and uses a Handi Quilter Avante 18" Longarm with Pro Stitcher Premium computerised quilting system. For more information on any of these longarm products contact Pinhole Quilting - firstname.lastname@example.org