I pray that you ready this reflection I had and please leave a comment. I would love to hear your stories as well.
I have been reflecting a lot on my journey through the sewing/quilting world which started at the age of 9. My mother would get me embroidery kits to work on. I also surrounded by makers from my grandparents to my parents. My grandmother (dad’s mom) was an expert seamstress, knitter, crocheter, and tatter. My grandfather on that same side of the family was a wood worker and created many amazing items. My grandmother on my mother’s side was an excellent cook/baker, crocheter, seamstress. My mom would sew clothes and my father started his own upholstery business.
My sister and I would take scraps of the fabric that my mom was sewing clothes from and creatively wrap our dolls in the scraps.
In 7th grade home economics class, we were going to make a pillow the same dimensions of an owl rug hook that I had just finished. I asked my teacher if I could make a pillow using that rug hook. She said yes and told me how to do it. I also ordered a few of the hand sewn stuffed animals which I would do in my leisure time. In 9th grade, I took a sewing class during the summer. I don’t remember what everyone else made, but I made dress pants with a fly, zipper, button hole and button; skirt with zipper, button and button hole; and a vest. Of course, I did not want to only make a single sided vest…..I wanted a reversible vest, so once again, I asked my teacher if it could be done. She guided me through the steps of making it into a reversible and I wore that outfit for many years. I loved it! Looking back, I was thinking out of the box and searching for someone to guide me on the steps.
I remember at high school age dreaming of me having my own sewing business. I even designed the card in my head…..white card with a running stitch and needle printed on it.
Then I went to Bryant and Stratton for business and had a few jobs in the business world. Sewing was kind of pushed aside while I was defining who I was as an adult. When I got married, my husband gave me my first sewing machine for a Christmas gift. That started to slowly stir my creativity once again. I used it a few times getting back into sewing from a pattern. Around that time, I also learned how to crochet and knit from my grandmother.
In 1993, I had my first child, dusted off my sewing machine and started making PJs, sweats. By the time my second child was born, I was sewing a lot of their clothes, scarves, hats, and mittens in my spare time. I was staying at home and babysitting from my home. My mother saw what I was doing and encouraged me to start a business and fronted me the money for my next sewing machine. This helped launch my fleece hat, scarves, mittens craft show booth and my alteration business. Around that same time, my mom, sister and I would go to the Original Quilting and Sewing Expo in Cleveland (which we attended for a bunch of years). These shows were amazing! I took a seminar during one of our very first visits on how to start a sewing business. That same woman also had books on doing alterations which really helped me learn how to do the alterations correctly. Also, my brother (who is a fashion designer) shared a lot of his knowledge with me and helped me learn the ins and outs of apparel sewing. My sister was learning how to sew quilts between her college studies.
My alteration business was flourishing until 2007. The market was volatile and my husband was going through treatments for the cancer he had. My alteration business took a nose dive. During this difficult time, my mom and sister took me to a quilt retreat in Chillicothe, Ohio. I Was not going to learn how to quilt! Instead, I brought the little alterations work I had. Creations Sew Clever (Rita Fishel owner) was hosting the retreat. Of course, we had to see her shop. It was amazing! That was the time that the one block wonders were just starting and I saw it more as a piece of art. This inspired me to learn how to quilt! Rita helped me the entire weekend by teaching me how to cut and sew the fabric, figure out how much fabric for border and binding and backing. Within one weekend, I finished a laptop quilt!!! It definitely had a lot of sewing errors that I didn’t mind, because I learned a ton!!!!
The alteration business never really made a full recovery. So, I reached out to our high school to make costumes for their musicals and did that for 4 years. I also decided it was time to work outside of the home again and accepted a job at JoAnn Fabrics working on the cutting counter, cashier, and later education coordinator.
I was learning through books, online classes, and other classes trying to gain as much knowledge as I could about different techniques and types of quilting. Then I made my very first art quilt (FACE TO FACE) and entered it into the Erie County Fair. I won first place in that category! My self confidence grew. Shortly there after, I started working for a local quilt shop (Aurora Sewing Center). I was there for one year.
I felt like there was more in me for quilting and/or sewing, but I had to explore it. At both of these places, I did teach quilting, so teaching was a direction I was following. I also was playing with the idea of making my art quilts and sell them. Do I want to travel and teach? Can I develop patterns? I had a lot of questions and paths that I could journey through, but which one was the right path?
The only thing I knew was if I was not in my basement quilting, I was not going to discover my path. I started to babysit for this amazing family 3 years ago which has allowed me to work on my quilting and finding out my path for now at least.
I keep making competition quilts and entering them into contests. They get accepted at the very least to winning best of show! My latest one (PAPA’S DOOR) was accepted into 6 national quilt shows! Many years ago, my brother would encourage me by saying, “Enter competitions, write articles and patterns. You may get “no’s” and that’s ok. You will learn from them.” I decided that I’m ready for hearing those “no’s”.
I called AQS (American Quilter’s Society) which is a national quilt organization that puts on quilt shows and does a lot on the education front. I told them that I entered PAPA’S DOOR and the woman (Liz) on the other end of the phone said, “I know that quilt!”. I informed her that I have quilt teaching experience, and starting to design and write my own patterns that I would like to teach. She encouraged me to propose some classes on their website. So I did! I was so excited that my quilt made an impression on someone!!!
After a few months, I called again to see if Liz received the proposals and if any of them appealed to them. I worked with her and tweaked a few things and she invited me to teach at the 2019 Spring Paducah show. I felt so honored to be on the teaching side of a national quilt show!!!! By the way, I believe it was about a year ago that this all was decided.
Since then, I have put many hours creating and writing new patterns, filling tiny paint jars, and finding all the other perfect items needed to run my classes efficiently and effectively. I even taught these same two classes to some local quilters who learned a lot.
Now, both classes are filled (20 in each) and my car is all packed and ready to go. Monday I will be leaving to pick up my mother (my helper) who is going to be on this week long quilt journey with me!! I am so blessed to be on this journey so far and to be called a National Quilt Teacher!
Thank you for all of my friends and family who have supported me and continue to support me on this journey. Thank you to all of you who have read this now very long blog of my story.