Some of you will have seen the posts from others about the 1st UK Longarm Quilting Academy held by Pinhole Quilting, the UK HandiQuilter distributor.  What an event!.  As UK Ambassador for HandiQuilter it was so good to see two other Ambassadors from the US Kim Brunner and Kelly Cline, who are both fantastic quilters and educators and lots of fun to be with too.

The event saw 25 machines in total being used by 35 delegates. The machines included everything from a SweetSixteen which is a sit down machine, to the Infinty which is a standup machine with a fabulous 26″ throat space.

So the day before everyone turned up (Thursday)  we had to get all the machines up and ready to use. There had already been a hard days work put in as we had two box vans and a trailer full of equipment that we now had to empty and then start to set up all the machines (and fill the vans again with the empty boxes). Oh and two machines that I had brought from my studio.  We started emptying the vans at 1pm and didn’t stop until 7pm with some still to be done the next morning.

Next morning, we finished setting up the machines, loading them with thread, and testing each one to make sure the tension was correct and that they were all ready to stitch.  Some people had brought their own sit down machines and these were also set up and made ready for them.

Phew, all up, loaded and ready to rock and roll.  We also set up a small shopping area with lots of lush threads from Filtec, rulers, stencils, pencils, pens, and lots of other goodies, as well as a small amount of fabric.  This was all run by the lovely Denise who did a sterling job of keeping up everything and making sure everyone got what they wanted.

Delegates began to arrive and after lunch the fun began.  Two classes were held on the first afternoon and Abigail Sheridan De Graaff and myself were the class and tutor assistants, making sure everyone had what they needed and understood everything throughout the duration of the event.

After the conclusion of the first afternoon the delegates went off to have a break and a get together before going for dinner whilst we moved lots of the machines around so that all the sit down machines were in one room and the stand ups in another ready for the next few days.

Again, all the machines were cleaned, oiled, threads changed, fabric prepared and loaded where necessary and each machine checked for tension ready for the following day.  All equipment that would be needed the next day, rulers, marking pens etc were also made ready and available.

Next day was the first full day of input from Kim and Kelly and they had with them some of the most fabulous samples and Quilts.  Kelly is known for her vintage quilting and had brought the most fantastic quilt that started life as a table cloth.

Talk about inspiration.  This piece is stunning and hung throughout the course inspiring people.

Kim is known for her creative template/ruler work and brought some fabulous samples showing just what you can do with them

Checkout the fabulous pleather piece. How cool is that.

After a full day, packed with information and practice, delegates again went off for a little bit of brain de-frazzling time before dinner.  Myself and Abigail had been running round the classes making sure everyone had what they needed, sorted out any issues with threads etc, issuing equipment where needed.  We had two machine engineers with us as well and they were busy servicing customer machines that had been brought through.   Some of the machines were made ready for demonstrating as a few people were interested in upgrading their machines and the rest were cleaned, oiled, etc ready for the next day.  The demonstrations were held after dinner and the new Amara and the Infinity were definitely firm favourites for this session.  They have some great features and when you see them at the shows go and have a play on them, you will love them.

This took us right through to 10 o’clock at night, a long and busy day so it was good to see our beds that night.

The following day was another full-on long day, again with lots of practice and playing with rulers, and stencils and creating some fantastic work, pushing everyone to try something new and think about things in a different way.  And there was only one accident, but no-one was hurt 😉

Oops, how did that get there lol 

Again after the classes there were demonstrations in the evening, and all the machines were again prepared ready for the following day.  Another long day finishing at 9.30pm and a well earned walk to the bar.

On the last day there were more classes with Kim and Kelly in the morning and then after lunch delegates could choose to either attend a class with me, where we looked at different techniques for binding and decorative edgings, or go to a talk on machine maintenance.  Whilst delegates were at these all the machines were being taken down, the frames dismantled, the shop packed away and everything boxed and put away in the vans ready to be taken back.

And then a Q&A session was held with myself and Annelize Littlefair where a good number of items were discussed.  This also included a raffle in aid of a children’s charity and I was lucky enough to win a beautiful cushion that Kelly quilted especially for this event.

That evening saw the first Academy’s Gala dinner with Pauline Burbridge as quest speaker.  And it was an excuse for a little lighthearted dress-up time

Next day was time to leave.  Everyone was packed and ready to go however there was a little hitch. The trailer had a flat tyre!  Not an easy fix job. And as everyone else made their way home, I took the two machines home and the rest went back to Pinhole quilting where they were all taken out of the trailers and vans and put away.  Another long day for those working the event.

Lots of hard work goes into holding an event like this, all the organisation, booking, preparation of class samples, the class notes and presentations, fabrics, and lots lots more to make it the success that it was.

If ever you get the chance to go on one in the future, I would highly recommend it.

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