APQS longarm giveaway winner check-in: Ralph and Deborah

May 14, 2021

In the summer of 2020, Ralph and Deborah A. of Berea, KY got the surprise of a lifetime when they won a new Lenni longarm quilting system from APQS. We recently caught up with them on the phone to see how things have been going with their new machine.

2020 was a tough year for everyone. For Ralph and Deborah, it included helping their young grandchildren through virtual learning due to COVID-19, cancer treatments and a death in their family. Their luck changed in September when they got an exciting call from APQS Education Director Dawn Cavanaugh letting them know they had won a Lenni longarm quilting machine in our summer Quilt Forever Contest. They had been entering the contest for years.

“We feel abundantly blessed,” Deborah said. “We’re so grateful to APQS for doing this. It came at the right time in our lives.”

Prior to winning their machine, Deborah was the sole quilter in the family, doing all her work on a domestic machine. Her husband, Ralph, had always been interested in creative endeavors. He used to have a career hand-painting signs and enjoys writing songs in his free time.

Now that they have a Lenni quilting machine, Deborah and Ralph quilt as a team, with Deborah doing the piecing on her domestic and Ralph finishing the quilts on their longarm.

“I love free motion quilting; that’s where my creativity led me first,” Ralph said. “As I continue to improve, I want to start using pantographs.”

Deborah and Ralph are intrigued by the idea of quilting for others, though they’re content with making them for family members at this time.

“The Kentucky Artisan Center is located right here in Berea. I’ve seen simple baby quilts sell for close to $200, so I’d love to get involved with the arts guild in the future,” said Deborah.

As a new quilter, we asked Ralph how the leap to machine quilting went.

“I thought my experience with sign making machines would help me get started on the right foot, but my first attempts involved a lot of seam-ripping,” said Ralph. “It was a bigger learning curve than I thought. I had some troubles adjusting the tension, but online APQS videos and articles helped me figure that out pretty quickly.”

Ralph and Deborah have finished two quilts with their Lenni so far, and they don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.