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January 25, 2019
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February 13, 2019

A New Pattern For Life: Long Arm Quilter Crafts a Beautiful Life in Small Town Ontario

By Michelle Annette Tremblay

Manon Hunt is carrying on a tradition that started more than 60 years ago with her grandmother. The hockey-loving, motorcycle riding mother of three is the owner of ‘Mom and Me Quilting,’ a long-arm quilting and pattern design company located in Tweed, Ontario, where she’s helping other people discover and develop a love for quilting.

“My quilting adventure started as a young girl at my mom’s side,” says Manon. She remembers sitting on the floor, playing and chatting, as her mother carefully crafted beautiful quilts to keep her family wrapped up in love and warmth all winter.

“The knowledge has been passed down. My grandmother taught my mother, and my mother taught me – although it wasn’t until my twenties that I discovered just how much I love long-arm quilting. It’s creative and fun,” says Manon, who sells her quilts online, teaches quilting workshops, and plans to teach her own children to quilt as they get a bit older. “I chose to name my business, Mom and Me Quilting, in order to honour my mom in a very special way; an amazing lady who has always been a positive role model.”

Long-arm quilting is a bit different than regular quilting. The machine is significantly larger, and allows room for larger pieces of fabric, and for much more movement. Manon is known for her original custom quilting designs. Using her long-arm quilting machine, she adds intricate designs in her stitching by moving the machine over the fabric in a free motion technique .

“One of the things that sets me apart is the fact that my machine is not computerized or stitch regulated,” explains the expert quilter. “Many machines now are computerized and stitch regulated, but mine isn’t, so I control the designs free hand, as well as the stitch length. That’s a skill that needs to be developed over time. If I go fast, my stitches will be very long or loose, but if I go slowly, they will be very tight. This is where my expertise comes in.”

Manon’s website features photos of her many beautiful original all over and custom quilting done for others, as well as her original pattern designs. The larger machine also allows Manon to finish quilts more quickly than she could on a traditional machine, which means a quick turn around for her customers. She offers a full range of services to suit her customers’ needs and budget. From edge to edge designs, to custom/heirloom work, to everything in between including quilt binding.

For much of her life, quilting was just a hobby. But then Manon recognized an opportunity.

“I always knew that I wanted to have my own business one day,” reveals Manon. “Then I joined a quilting guild. A dozen people showed up at the first meeting. A few more at the next. The numbers kept growing. By the end of the year we had more than eighty members, and I realized, wow, this is a niche.

Originally from the Ottawa area, Manon ended up in Tweed partly because it’s her husband’s hometown, and partly because the couple wanted to be in a small town to raise their children.

“Our son was just a toddler, and I was pregnant with our twin girls. We knew then that we needed more space, and wanted to leave the city and raise our kids in a small town,” recalls Manon. “Tweed is just a great place for raising kids. Everywhere my kids go, they have friends. They go to a small school, where I know the teachers, and everybody is helping each other out.”

Located in Hastings County, Tweed is a pretty, small town, with tree-lined street and stately old brick buildings. Like other towns in Hastings County, it has been attracting a wave of creative settlers who want less stress and hustle, and more authenticity and community. Recently the Tweed and Co. Theatre has been celebrated for its original Canadian musical productions, and the local Potter Settlement winery (the first in Hastings County) has won international awards for quality. The town is a hot spot for creative entrepreneurs, artisans, and artists, many of whom participate in the annual Tweed and Area Studio Tour. There are lots of quilting enthusiasts, too.

“We always meet at the Tweed library on the last Friday of the month,” explains Manon, who adds that she feels completely embraced by the community. Like most residents of Tweed, she is committed to shopping locally, and supporting the health and vibrance of her community.

“They’ve taken me in with open arms,” gushes Manon. “I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do something that I’m passionate about, and to share that passion with amazing people. I feel honoured to quilt for them.”

Manon’s next quilting workshop is coming up on February 8, at the Tweed Library. Learn more about Mom and Me Quilting, including upcoming workshops, markets, sales and more at www.MomAndMeQuiltingCo.com

If you’re thinking it’s time to make a change like Manon and her family did, and leave the city, be sure to check out more stories about people who have chosen to make Hastings County their home at www.ILeftTheCity.ca