We have just completed the fourth annual Handi Quilter’s Academy: Quilting Elevated, our premier educational event focused on machine quilting. This year we welcomed more than 150 quilters, who chose from 63 classes — both hands-on and lecture-demo. We had an international group — including five from Spain, four from Australia, and one from the Philippines. (Plus, of course, the US and Canada.)
Even before the official kick-off of HQ Academy, more than 90 quilters opted to jumpstart their learning with an optional one-day boot camp focused on either HQ Pro-Stitcher, longarm quilting (taught on the HQ Avanté), sit-down quilting (taught on the HQ Sweet Sixteen), or Art & Stitch. They were then more than prepared to take on the deep dive into specific topics throughout the rest of the conference.
Because we knew that quilters love to mingle and were eager to start their HQ Academy experience, we prepared the HQ Sampler, a set of tutorials about the latest Handi Quilter products and gadgets. Quilters could visit the tutorials, that included the new HQ Stitch sewing machines, the HQ Simply Sixteen on the HQ Little Foot Frame, the “new and improved” Easy-Fit Ruler Base, the Electromagnetic Channel Locks, the new Pole Cradles and Super Clamp, as well as see a demonstration of the couching feet from Helen Godden (the “couching queen”).
They could visit the vendor showcase and see products from Anne Bright Designs, Karlee Porter Designs, SewBatik, Superior Threads, Wasatch Quilting, Winline Textiles, and WonderFIL Specialty Threads. And, of course, try out some tasty hors d’oeuvres and a chocolate fountain.
We began Thursday’s activities with a general session, featuring a keynote address from Bruce Magidson, founder and owner of SewBatik. Bruce taught us all about the centuries-old processes for making batik fabrics. We got up close and personal with examples of the tools used to fashion the wonderful batik designs, and certainly grew to appreciate the workmanship that goes into these beautiful fabrics we all love. And thanks to CEO Mark Hyland for joining in the fun by modeling a batik sarong.
Classes then began — with seven classes going on simultaneously. There was something for everyone: HQ Pro-Stitcher hands-on, stand-up longarm quilting hands-on, sit-down quilting hands-on, Art & Stitch, HQ Pro-Stitcher lecture demo, and two quilting technique lecture demos for all quilters (regardless of whether they quilt on a stand-up and sit-down machine).
For those who still had energy to spare on Thursday evening, we offered three excursions: a quilt shop hop, a downtown Salt Lake City experience (complete with the opportunity to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse in the historic tabernacle), and for the truly adventurous, a visit to the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island.
After another full day of classes on Friday, we relaxed with a banquet, followed by our banquet keynote speaker, HQ ambassador Kimmy Brunner. Kimmy’s presentation, titled “Grandma’s Girl: The Story of Three Quilters”, told the story of her great grandmother and grandmother who quilted out of necessity to help endure the difficult Minnesota winters, and shared that love of quilting with a young girl who has embraced those traditions and added her own machine quilting excellence. We loved seeing Kimmy’s own journey into quilting, and reminisced with her about our own quilting origins and inspiration.
We are already planning for 2017 and figuring out how to make next year’s Handi Quilter’s Academy an even greater experience for quilters. Mark your calendars for June 21 to 24, 2017. Class information and registration will open on the Handi Quilter website the first week of November.