May 21, 2011

U of HQ Retreat--the Basics

In October, Handi Quilter chose MY HQ story to be featured in their marketing campaign. One of the benefits of being chosen was an all expense paid HQ retreat in Salt Lake City. I couldn't travel then because I had pneumonia. Handi Quilter, amazingly and generously, offered me a retreat at a later time, whenever I could make it. I made the trip in January--what a treat!!

The night we arrived, there was a social and a light supper at the hotel. There were 16 of us.  Two women from Canada, one from Alaska, and two women who worked at quilt magazines. There were women who had their machines for years, and women who only had their machines for a few months. The two women from the quilt magazines didn’t own Handi Quilters, but they sure kept up in class. There were women who quilted for themselves, and others who quilted for hire. And I’m not exactly sure of the ages, but I bet there was at least a 40 year span between the oldest and youngest attendees.

We got to tour the building, and they allowed us to take photographs. There are quilts EVERYWHERE! Some made by the staff, some by other famous quilters, like Karen McTavish, Claudia Pfeil and Jodie Davis. You can see pictures here taken during my trip.  We were also lucky enough the last day to be there when a trunk show from Judy Woodworth showed up.  Yowser!  GORGEOUS!  Her wholecloth won a ribbon at MQX East in April.

The Handi Quilter staff was FABULOUS!  Vicki, Hatty, Cheryl, and Kathi are chock full of information and they don't mind sharing it.  They showed us faster, more efficient ways to use our time and materials to get the most out of our machines.  They ate meals with us, sharing personal stories and quilting information so we felt like we were all best of friends by the time the retreat was over.  Since I was the only one at this retreat that had my HQ story chosen,  I also spent some time with Brenda (the Marketing and Education Director), and Luke (I'm not sure of his official title, but he's the "man behind the camera") when they videotaped my HQ story, which you can see here.

The first class was on the basics of the HQ. They explained the controls on the handles and the displays, discussed cleaning and oiling the bobbin area, and threading the machine. We had a catered lunch all three days right in the classroom. For those who know me, they’ll understand why this was my biggest concern. I have no allergies, but I’m a very picky eater. VERY picky. Like a two year old. Anyway, the first day I had the best chicken soup I’ve ever had in my whole life. My boss at my day job was a chef at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC, so he’d be terribly offended if he read that since I’ve had his chicken soup. But hey, “I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em”. That soup was so good I think if I had pneumonia when I was there, it would have cured it!

In the afternoon, we had training on threads and tension. This (and feathers!) was the main reason I chose this retreat over others offered. They discussed thread qualities and assured us that we could use any thread at all on our machines, with some minor adjustments. Then they gave us a dozen or so different threads and a cheat sheet to help us. Some threads needed to be put on a horizontal pin, some needed to have fewer holes used in the thread guide, some needed to have a net over the spool/cone, some needed a larger needle. But they all worked! We quilted with silk, glitter hologram, monopoly, metallic, polyester, cotton. We even did some bobbin work—which was a heck of a lot easier than I would have thought it to be.

We had dinner catered at the hotel and then went off to spend some money at a local quilt shop.

The second day of the retreat instruction began with feathers. I adore feathers. I’d love to have the confidence to quilt heirloom feathers. I still don’t have that, but it was nice to practice them with no guilt. When I’m at home, I can’t seem to take time away from customer quilts to practice something for myself without feeling deep pangs of guilt.  Now that a few months have passed since I quilted these, I must say, those feathers don't look so bad after all!

We had chicken salad for lunch. I’m sure this is no big deal for 99% of the population, but those who know me will be super shocked that I even tasted, much less ate, this chicken salad.

In the afternoon, we were taught how to do pantographs. The majority of my customers choose edge to edge pantographs, so much of this wasn’t new for me. We did get detailed instruction on how to revise a pantograph to fit a specific area. I choose my pantographs wisely, making sure they interlock and will not be affected by having the pattern partially quilted on the top and bottom of the quilt. Even though I now know HOW to make a pantograph fit into borders and other specific areas, I believe I will continue to choose my patterns wisely LOL!

It's been a while, so I'm not sure which day it was, but we also used stencils.  I tried stencils when I first got my machine years ago, and wasn't in love with them.  I was happy to see how easy they are to use.  They're in my bag of tricks now!  Not bad, huh?

We ate dinner at the Mandarin in Bountiful. It was a beautiful restaurant and the other members of the class loved the food. Chinese is not on the list of foods I eat, but I was able to eat a little chicken. The strawberry daiquiris helped me forget about the food, and, let’s face it, missing a meal is definitely not going to do me any harm.

The next day we learned about trapunto, saw some gorgeous pieces quilted by the staff and made a simple little trapunto bag, all with the HQ Avante, loaded on the frame, right up to sewing the side seams.

I highly recommend investing in a U of HQ Retreat.  And if you can, add a couple days to your stay.  Salt Lake City is beautiful, but Handi Quilter is so adamant that you get your money's worth, that there isn't a second of spare time left for sight-seeing!

I'm sorry it took so long to get this posted, and sorry the post is so long.  But I hope you enjoyed the photos and the information.


  1. Wow! Thanks for the report.

  2. I know you had a super told me so! But ~ great story! And your feathers are superb in my book! The food issues ~ well I cannot fault you because as you know I have grass issues. Too funny, I posted about those today on my blog!
    You are the best!