Quilting on a HQ Avante Quilting Machine - Needlework Monday

in art •  last year  (edited)

Last week, I was super excited to finish Gwen's quilt top so I could get started on quilting it. I made an appointment with our local quilt shop (in our tiny mountain town in Panama) to use their $14,000 quilting machine! I was able to talk to the owner and get everything together in time to get a few hour lesson in on Wednesday. Here is my review of the process.


I was super excited to try out the HQ Avante 14 foot quilting machine and whip together some quilts. The owner told me to bring in a quilt top that I had previously made and not finished or just some fabric to learn on. I had just the perfect thing, but I had to alter it a little bit. I had made an ispy quilt top years ago as well as a picnic blanket...and neither one had ever been finished. So I added some length to the quilt top and took them in.


I was told that ironing was very important for using this machine. I do not iron my pieces usually, so this was kind of annoying to the owner. I had to iron the top, but she later told me I still didn't press it good enough. The top, batting and back were loaded on to the machine. This whole process took about 15 minutes, which isn't bad. I can't make a quilt sandwich and pin it together that quickly. The thing I didn't realize at the time was that the extra (green) ant fabric I had sewn on like she told me to would mess up how the pieces lined up.


The first thing you must do is baste the quilt together on all three sides when you start off. Then, as you roll the quilt to the next part, you just have to baste one side and go from there. After that, you just go for it. I decided to start out with all over stippling which is my usual go-to method for quilting. It was a breeze on the machine...although I was concentrating hard and making a funny face!


The machine was set to sew when the handles were moved and stop when it was still. There is also a start/stop button and up/down button for the needle. The thread broke about 3 times while sewing and I ran out of bobbin. Each of these things takes a few minutes to be fixed and a helper is needed to walk you through the process.


I did some all over free motion quilting as well as other patterns. I tried writing all of my kids' names in there (even though the quilt top was on upside down) and used a pattern that I followed on the machine with a laser beam. It was a lot harder to do that than it looked! The machine stitches something like 1700 stitches per minute, so it goes through needles quickly!

Hotdogs and hamburgers

I am happy that I learned to use the machine. I was in the quilt shop for around 3 hours and almost completed the top. I have to move some fabric from one side of the back to the other side so that the back is long enough to cover the front. I haven't felt like doing that this week. I had grand hopes that this would be my new way of quilting everything, but I'm just not sure. I guess I'm more used to doing it on my little machine where I have a little more control and everything doesn't have to be 100% perfect. It was definitely easier to do free motion on this machine and a fraction of the time. One other concern is once it is on the machine, you can't stop and then pick it up another day. You have to start and finish all quilting that day...and sometimes I just don't have that kind of time!


It cost me $5 to pay for the helper and she charged me $2 for the thread I used. Since it was my first time, I did not have to pay the $2.50 an hour rental for the machine. This is an insanely cheap price to use this machine. You can buy fabric and batting at the quilt shop, but for this project, I had my own. I hope to use it in the future on larger projects and possibly practice some more, but I don't think it will become my regular method for sewing quilts. I'm glad I took the time to learn to use it though!

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Oh wow! That machine looks so intimidating! I commend you for going out there and giving it a try. It was nice to see pictures of you at work and concentrating. I can definitely understand why you feel this may not be your regular method of choice. Having a big young family demands a lot of time and attention. To have to be there for a few hours non-stop to get a project finished would be hard to commit to. Thanks for sharing your review of the process and your thoughts on using the machine.

:) Glad you liked the review. Yes, I could see myself doing it when I have more time...in 15 or so years. ;) Ha! Most of the ladies there were older with no kids here. They've got a bit more flexible time than I do at the moment. :) It was an amazing machine though. With quite a bit more practice, I could see myself using it more often. But I'll probably just stick to my little machine at home for now!! :)

Lol!! 15 years sounds about right Ha!!! It’s good you are sticking with what you are more comfortable with at the moment ;)

Aaahh, you are very lucky to have such machine rental in your neighborhood. It saves a lot of time using such a fancy machine. I did a quilting last week and gosh, it was very tiring and the result is not very good.

You have to post your quilt! Tomorrow on #needleworkmonday even! I'd love to see it! :)

Hahaha, I am kinda embarrased to post it, but I will next week 😁

Very nice for big projects & nice to see you in person @apanamamama :)

:) That's me! ;) It will be nice if I have a big project and a handful of hours to go and sew it. :)

I feel like I just gobbled this article up, and I'm supposed to be editing a document during a computer class right now😂

That looks so cool!!! I've quilted 2 twin sized quilts on my own machine at home, but all I did was stitch in the ditch between string-pieced rows, so I could roll up each side of the quilt to get it through the machine. I don't think I could squeeze a bigger quilt through. But I HATE all the pinning involved! I'd love to throw a bigger quilt on a machine like this. I have a feeling the price in the States wouldn't be anywhere near as reasonable though.

No, the price in the states is way higher. I've looked into it there before. That is if you can find someone who will let you USE their machine. It's not very common. I got quotes for them using their machine to quilt my quilts on it. I always decided to just do it myself. I've never done a twin size quilt on my machine, but I've done some that were larger than lap size. I almost always do all over free motion (stippling) on all my quilts as I find it is forgiving if I mess up a little or the corners don't exactly line up. :) Glad you liked this post!! :)

Oops. I totally did not mean to upvote my own comment. That is so lame.

Oh yes, very much :) I've never tried stippling, unless you count free flowing wavy lines across the width of a quilt. I actually like quilting with just tacking stitches the best....My neighbor has a quilting frame and offered it to me, so maybe in the future I'll do a similar post with a totally old fashioned twist 😂

Hrm. I wonder if you can make a quilt from a pixelated image. It would probably be a lot of work... lol

You could and it would be a ton of work. I bet there is someone out there who would make one for you (not me). ;)

Really nice job you are doing there :)

Thank you! Glad you stopped by.

This reminds me of my childhood days, most of our blankets share similar patterns. How much do you reckon you could sell one of those blankets for?

Oh goodness...selling them wouldn't be worth the time and effort put into them. I know a lady who used to sell hers for $250 or so, but they were a little bigger. I have only given mine as gifts, and I auctioned one off as a fundraiser once. It was similar to this one (ispy) and went for $250 I believe.

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Very interesting! It looks like fun learning to use that machine. I wonder how fast you could finish a quilt this way, compared to doing it at home. It seems like a good bargain and all the different stitches would be so cool...but I agree with you, doing it at home at your own leisure seems like it would be more relaxing.

Yes, I think you could get the quilting done rather quickly, but it still takes time to do the binding at home to finish it out. It is definitely a great deal and something I'll use on larger quilts in the future. :) I haven't ever made a twin on my machine, but I need to get something done for my daughter's bed soon! Maybe that is what I will end up doing.

Great to see it all coming together!!!

:) Yeah it was interesting to learn to use the machine.

@apanamamama thanks for sharing this. Till now i saw mother doing hand needle work, but never seen quilt making machine....something new to me...

Wow - that is a lot of work to do it by hand! It takes a lot of time! This was super fast!

I’d never heard of such a machine. It sure saves time. Your quilt is lovely with some interesting patches such as blueberries and a deer.

Thanks! Yeah, the whole quilt has really fun patches. You're supposed to "spy" stuff on it and have the kid point out the patch. Maybe I'll get it finished one day... ;)

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That is such an interesting machine @apanamamama. Was it very noisy ?
It is indeed quite an investment for that shop so they need to promote what they offer with lessons and 'access' to the machine... Really enjoyed learning about it. Thank you

It was sort of loud. The lady working with me wore hearing aides and said that she couldn't hear anything else when the machine was going. I was concentrating on sewing. It seemed to jerk some also because a little machine that was sitting on it for winding bobbins had loose parts. Yes, I think it's been in the shop for a few years, so it's no longer "new" to the women who go there. I think mostly the gringos use it.

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Wow, the shop is definitely an arts shop with beautiful arts just about everywhere in the pictures. This is the first time I'm seeing a quilt machine. Its really big and 1700 stitches per minutes is very impressive!
Oh my gosh you ironed a particular material twice😕 , I would've cried and cried if that was me, I suck at ironing and I usually beg my brothers to do it for me and when they do I hang that dress straight up to prevent any wrinkle.
You learnt at a really decent price and I like the aftermath of the work. I'm sure you'll be a regular to the shop soon enough. Nice work🙂

:) Thanks for the comment! Yeah, the machine is massive and impressive. I also hate ironing. The only reason I have an iron is for my quilting, but I usually don't use it. The lady was not happy that I didn't iron while I was sewing. All my seams went this way and that way on the back. She said it was too bumpy, but it worked out okay!