Tell us about yourself.
I live with my husband, my three children (one girl and two boys, aged 5, 4, and almost 2), and my two rescued shih-tzus in Minneapolis. I have had a few different jobs, but right now I am a stay-at-home mom.Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?
I grew up in Calgary, but then moved to Palo Alto, Boston, and then finally to Minneapolis about 5 years ago for my husband’s job.
I had a blog long ago, but let it slip when my second was born. I might get back to it someday as I kind of miss it.
I do have a non-quilty bead shop on Etsy. I don’t make a huge amount of money, but it pays for my crafting stuff, which is why I opened it in the first place. Beading was one of my main hobbies before quilting took over.Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
I think I have been crafting practically since birth, and have tried just about everything. I started out crocheting and sewing when I was very young. I also occasionally knit, paint with watercolors (even though I can’t draw), do beadwork, and do paper crafts like bookbinding and paper decoration. I also like to cook, but that is about the only hobby I have that isn’t craft related.How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
I have been quilting for about 6 years. My Grandma quilted for years but I thought it would be too hard to learn so I didn’t ask her to teach me. Sadly I started getting into it just as she decided she could not manage to do it anymore. It was actually a visit to my Mother-in-law’s that got me started as she convinced me that I should just try it. I taught myself how to quilt from books and the internet.How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs unfinished objects)?
I have made about 25 quilts so far, mostly large crib or throw sized. I have only made around 5 twin-sized quilts.
I have been working on my UFOs lately, and I think I am down to 3. One is a doll quilt or wall hanging from a "Piping Hot Curves" class I took in 2008. It would be easy to finish, but I don't know what I am going to do with it so it is kind of stalled. It might turn into a part of a backing as a surprise shock of color.
One is a full-sized raggy quilt where I didn’t read the directions right and is kind of a disaster—I cut the batting squares the same size as the fabric squares so the batting shows at the fringe. This might wind up looking fine when I finally finish clipping and washing it, though.
My last UFO is the first quilt I started, which is basted and I hope to finish quilting very shortly (photo below).
These are just the UFOs that are really started. If you count the fabric I have bought while thinking of making a specific quilt that is still in my stash mocking me, the number would be higher, maybe another 6-8 more? I don't have the heart to count.How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
This varies so much as my mood and energy level changes. Some weeks I get overexcited with a new project and put in close to 40 hours, and some weeks I feel burnt out and don’t touch my machine. I would like to aim for 15-20 hours and be more consistent.Describe your first quilt.
It was just a sampler out of a beginning quilt book. I absolutely hated it because one of the colors that I thought matched wound up looking hideous. It sat for years until I got into fabric dyeing and I actually painted dye onto the hideous color pieces to fix them (below, the green was an awful olive-y taupe). Now the color is better, but it still needs to be quilted. It isn’t really my style anymore, but I should just finish it.
Strangely one of my favorites is one of the simplest. The stacked coin quilt I made for the upcycle challenge for my middle son is incredibly soft and snuggly. I used men’s dress shirts for the front and flannel shirts for the back and it feels amazing. I had to include a photo of him in it :)
Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
I briefly had a sewing room when we first moved here, but I never used it because it was too far away from the rest of the family. Now it is my daughter’s room and I sew at the dining room table. We have a built-in buffet in our 99-year old house that I have pretty much taken over the top of for my quilt projects. It is very handy to sew in the middle of the house because I can sew a bit during the day as well if the kids are occupied. In the evenings when I sew I usually set up my laptop on the table and stream tv or music.Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
When I first started quilting, I would buy fabric just because it caught my eye. I quickly figured out that this did not work for me. When I look at a big stash of fabric, I don’t feel inspired, I feel overwhelmed. I also have a lot of trouble combining patterned fabrics so I like keeping my options limited—then I am not constantly paralyzed with indecision. It is much easier for me to choose from say 3 greens than 30 or even 300. I also find it very satisfying to “make do” instead of trying to maintain a fabric store in my small house.
I mostly stopped buying patterned fabric when I learned how to dye my own about 5 years ago. I also don’t tend to accumulate a lot of fabric because it takes work to make it, and after that work I don’t like to see it sitting around. I have one small rolling 6-drawer thing from Ikea that holds all of my thread, notions, and hand-dyed fabric, and that is my limit. When the drawers start to get full, I piece a back for my next or current quilt from them. When I dye a specific group of colors for a quilt, I try to use all of the scraps together too, often in the backing, because they are already grouped together and match.
The majority of my stash up until recently was my own dyed fabrics. I still have one Rubbermaid bin of fabric that I bought when I started quilting that now I will probably just turn into charity quilts as I am not crazy about the fabric anymore.
This year I also inherited my Grandmother’s fabric stash and thread, and while she didn’t have a ton of fabric, I am not really sure what to do with it all as she was a fairly traditional quilter. All the colors are muted and traditional. I am thinking of making a queen sized star block quilt for my parents with it, but that might be a 1- or even 5-year project.What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
My favorite part is designing a pattern and figuring out the best way to sew it. My least favorite part used to be basting before I discovered basting spray and my basting time was reduced to 15 minutes. Now my least favorite part is quilting. It is hard work to wrangle a quilt through the machine, and I still struggle with the quality of my quilting stitches.What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
I just want to keep improving. I want to get much better at free-motion quilting. I also want to keep designing my own quilts and possibly start selling the patterns (more than just the handful I have sold so far). I might have to wait until all my kids are in school to really try for that, though, which is still 4 more years.What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
I would like to try some smaller wall hangings and “art” quilts. It is tough for me to fight my practical side and make a quilt that is not actually functional.Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
I would have to say nature. From repeating patterns to color combinations, nature is a great source of inspiration. I also occasionally spend time on color porn sites like Design Seeds (although there are several good ones) as choosing colors is not my strongest skill.What advice do you have for new quilters?
I used to read quilting blogs and feel terribly inadequate, but often the people with quilting blogs sew a lot; some sew 40 hours a week or more. I wasn't putting in that kind of effort, so of course I was not going to get those kind of results.
And, if you are not great at first, stick with it—you will get better with every quilt you finish. I think it took me about 6 quilts before I started being happy with the finished results, and about 12 quilts before I started relaxing and improvising. I feel like I learn something and get a little better with each quilt I finish.
Also, I will repeat Lisa’s advice to ignore the quilting police. They would be horrified at some of the stuff I get away with and I don’t care :)