Sunday, October 16, 2011

My HQ story by guest blogger and hottie extraordinaire, my friend Michelle Banton

Please join me in welcoming my very first guest blogger, my friend Michelle Banton, whom I met about 9 years ago when she became a Squanicookie. Michelle recently was a national winner in the "My HQ Story" contest (you can read her winning entry here: and graciously accepted my begging her to tell us her story of the retreat weekend as a guest blogger. I know you will love it like I do!

The 14 national winners themselves

I feel like I just won a beauty pageant! After years of considering it, I finally bought a long arm quilting machine - test drove them all at MQX in Providence, RI last spring and decided on the Handi Quilter Fusion. Handi Quilter likes to use real people in their advertising, so I entered My HQ Story and was a national winner! Notice, I said "a" national winner, not "the" national winner. Fourteen total strangers were flown (ok, to be honest, the winners from Utah actually drove) to Handi Quilter's headquarters outside Salt Lake City for 4 all-expenses paid days of instruction and fun. In less than 24 hours, we felt like we'd known each other for years. (--- Editor's note: This is a fabulous video that will make everyone want to enter this contest just to have silly string thrown at them. Our guest blogger Michelle appears at 3:31 in the video, as well as being that gorgeous thing in the red top in the front row in the photo at the top.)

We were treated like royalty from the moment we arrived. Every time we turned around we were given gifts. Cool gifts. Quilt-y gifts. Rulers. Gadgets. Fabric. Quilt Magazines. Batting. Instructional DVDs...even an Accuquilt Go! Baby. Things we'd buy ourselves if we hadn't already spent all our money on those really nice HQ long arm machines. It was truly better than being in Oprah's audience! (--Editor's note - Seriously. Oprah's got absolutely nothing on this company.)

We each had our own Handi Quilter machine to work on as we were instructed by HQ's fine team of educators: Vicki, Mindy, Marie & Cheryl. Mark Hyland, HQ's CEO took us on a behind the scenes tour of Handi Quilter where we got to meet most of the HQ "family". He gave each of us a copy of his book, "Help! I Married a Quilter" (it should be required reading for any quilt spouse). He and his lovely wife, Suzanne Michelle Hyland, hosted us for dinner in their beautiful home. Suzanne gave us a tour of her "to-die-for" studio...maybe if I emptied the main level of my house, my studio could be as nice as hers. Then, because she knew we liked gifts (It doesn't take long at all to become accustomed to receiving gifts), she gave us her set of instructional DVDs. It's like we got to bring her home with us!

On our last morning there, Suzanne gave each of us a personal assessment on a quilt top we had brought - offering suggestions on how to quilt it, based on the design and colors of the top. She told me that my top would have to hang on her design wall for several weeks to inspire her. Maybe it was her polite way of telling me "It's really waaay too busy and bright. Perhaps you should keep your day job." Unfortunately, I don't have a day job that pays me money.

How should I quilt this? Or should I throw it away and try my hand at pottery?

The 14 of us will appear in Handi Quilter's print ads during 2012 in major quilting magazines. But, what's really exciting is that we'll get our picture on the side of a truck! Ok, maybe I'm a bit weird, but I think that's really awesome. I'd like to think that I am now contractually bound to appear at any and all quilt shows that the Handi Quilter truck will be driving to. At least maybe I can tell my husband that I HAVE to go - it's my duty as a HQ spokesmodel. I'll make sure to wear my tiara - look for me at MQX, Paducah, probably even in Houston next year.

Michelle Banton - longarm quilting service and retreat planning

Thank you, Michelle! I cannot wait to see your truck on the highway and scream at the top of my lungs "I KNOW THAT FAMOUS PERSON!" I am so proud of you and so glad you agreed to blog about your experience for us.


LateBloomer said...

I got to be Michelle's roommate. I was so nervous about meeting someone new, but we were so compatible! Love Her! I don't think I'll ever forget that Kodak moment of us staring into our laptops, first thing in the morning, no glasses, no makeup. Its a good thing Heidi wasn't around.

Grandnan said...

I feel like I AM a "late bloomer" and it was so much fun to meet these gals and feel like one of the gang. I guess its never too late. It was such a wonderful time.

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