Friday, June 19, 2015

Meet Axel, My Avante!

My Big Secret has arrived, and it seems fit to make it this week's Friday Finish. May I say I never dreamed this day would actually happen? I'm bruised from pinching myself.

Axel , my new Avante by Handiquilter, was delivered Wednesday. I had to name it after all my friends with machines had given theirs names. Sandra at Musings of a Menopausal Melon has an Avril, so I stuck with the "A" names. Axel suits it.

I sweet-talked my daughter into taking a few pictures. It's all real here. Five huge boxes and two small were on that truck for me, and they were heavy!

We lugged most of them up the stairs ourselves, but 2 of the heaviest were more than we could handle. I was going to have to wait all afternoon for someone stronger to come home and help. I figured out that key parts were in those 2 boxes, and begged another daughter to help me. I think the adrenaline helped, because we got those up, too!

Most of the basic table was together by the time my more mechanical half got home. We worked together until I said I could finish on my own the next day. This was where I started in the morning.

Bungees, velcro, leaders. Finish adding parts to the machine itself, and all threaded. I was ready to load a practice piece. This is when I realized I hadn't raised it to fit my height.

Carefully remove 2 poles. Take off the machine and the carriage.

I will tell you I had a smaller person there with Herculean strength, and we raised that table up with the aid of packing tape to hold the catches open. I don't recommend this method.

This is where I hit the wall. I had no idea how to load a quilt, and I was so tired by this point that I didn't remember to watch the dvd's that contain everything you need to know. My quilt store was so understanding when I called half a dozen times with little questions including this one, and was wonderful at sending me PDF's to help. Even so, I pinned and repinned leaders 5 times before I could make it all work in my mind, and on the machine.

My first go at it. I had lots of tension issues at first, but the shop had already given me good instructions on how to remedy this with both bobbin and machine adjustment. Several phone calls to a good friend with an HQ Sweet Sixteen led to much better results. Beth at Cooking Up Quilts heard it running on the phone, and you would have thought we were cooing over a new baby between us! Seriously, we are adult women, but it just purrs!

I didn't buy this on a whim. I started looking at longarms last fall when I used one in a local shop. I was just new on the quilting blogger's scene, and it really wasn't something I needed. I investigated all the brands. I talked with and ran an APQS, Gammill, and Tin Lizzie. I looked for a used machine for months, and made many, many phone calls. Longarm University is a good source to look for all kinds of used longarms, if you're looking. When so many friends talked up the Handiquilter products, I decided there had to be something to it. The warranty is the best I've found, and we had many shops within 2 hours.

Sue and David at Quilt Trends in Columbus, Ohio were the best I found on price--they were running a sale along with an HQ promotion, and have been excellent in training. The day I travelled to actually look at the Avante, I spent nearly 3 hours with them in the store, and going over the machine. In home training takes place in a few weeks for me, and I hope to have some good experience before then.

After all the waiting and heavy lifting, and in spite of the fact it might not be the most flattering, can you see the Joy on my face? No buyer's remorse here. While something such as a longarm is a tangible thing, I see it as a way to express Joy in thread and cloth.

Did you ever have anything that was just so exciting, and you weren't sure why? You couldn't quit smiling, and when you woke up at night and remembered, it made you smile again? I'm a little speechless, and that's rare.

C.S. Lewis wrote some powerful words on his pursuit of joy,
and may help me express my feelings. 

"All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still 'about to be'."
--C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Linking up with~
Crazy Mom Quilts
A Quilting Reader's Garden
Quilt Shop Gal
Confessions of a Fabric Addict


This might be the best time for me, and YOU, too, to browse Craftsy tools and supplies. There is a BIG Weekend Sale with very tempting deep discounts on supplies through Sunday, June 21st. Up to 70% off! 
(I'm there already!)


  1. Congratulations! I'm so excited for you. I would be smiling like a crazy person if I were you! Now go quilt something!

  2. Congratulations! I would love a long arm, so go quilt for all of us who are long arm-less!

  3. WAhooo.....hip hip hooray.....I soooo look forward to seeing the joyous creations that come about because of Axel....

  4. Yippeeeee!!!!!! I know that very feeling! It is how I felt when I got my Avante! That was two years ago and I have not regretted a single moment! Your quilting looks great already. Have fun! BTW, I call mine, Harry. Harry Bell Avante. LOL

    1. This a family that infuses everything with puns. I LOVE this! Thank you, Katy!

  5. Congratulations! My mom has an HQ Sweet 16 that I use all the time and still need help with loading the quilt on the machine. :0)

  6. Congratulations, he's a beauty! I hope you'll have lots of fun getting to know him and wish you two all the best for a creative journey together. Have fun.

  7. Your freehand quilting is already gorgeous. Congrats to you, new mom!

  8. Wow - congrats. You're practice pieces look cool and you are going to have so much fun! Looking forward to reading all about it!

  9. Congrats, I have an Avante too, I call her Abby. I'm like you, no regrets, because I can now finish quilts. I've not done as many so far this year, but that is changing. I finished one this week and it feels so good to be quilting again. Good luck and I can't wait to see what you do with it!!!

  10. Congrats, your practice pieces looks very nice

  11. Oh wow, I'm jealous! How exciting!

  12. I am GRINNING from ear to ear here!!! UBER happy for you my friend! Love that pic of you, and I am saving that quote in my quotes doc. Very à propos for my world and feelings these days. And whoa Nelly, but I just love how you stitched out your name?!! Um FMQ extraordinaire or the floral FMQ motif too---the world's your oyster baby. ;-)

  13. Congrats- How very exciting!

  14. Enjoy! I've had my Avante 5 years now, and although still not as good as I'd like, I've improved so much!

  15. Well this whole thing just made me feel good--I got excited just reading it! The stitches are LOVELY. Have fun, fun, fun!!!

  16. How exciting! I'd like to invite you to come join the machine quilter's forum at for lots of inspiration, design help, and lots of new supportive friends.

  17. I am so excited for you because you look so happy! Enjoy! Hugs,

  18. I could feel your joy and excitement coming through in the words you wrote. I'm so happy for you! And I hope you have lots and lots of fun hours working with your new longarm.

  19. Yes, I see joy all over your face! I LOVE the pics of the UPS truck making the delivery - how fun! I know that one day he will come to my house too. :) I'm so excited for you, I am so looking forward to seeing all the quilty goodness you are going to do!

  20. Oh yeah! That is my idea of "machine quilting" ... So glad for you! :-))

  21. Oh my, Axel is a dreamboat! I see hours and hours and days of quilting fun in your future! Congrats!

  22. i feel your joy! Its been a little over a year since I got my used Gammill, but I can only imagine the thrill of a brand new avante! Good luck with your quilting!

  23. Congratulations on your purchase, it must be so exciting to have this to work on. A road I have not ventured down yet so really enjoyed reading your post. Is this machine for private use only or do you see it as turning into a quilting business?

  24. How exciting! I got my long arm a couple months ago so I understand well the excitement!

  25. Julie, I have been following your blog for a long time and I think this is the first time I stumbled across a post with your picture in it! It's great to see your smile! :)

    I'm curious about your longarm now that you've had it for nearly a year. Anything you'd do differently if you got to do it again? Any advice for someone like me who is currently in the lusting/researching/rationalizing stage?


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