Member spotlight: Gina M.

Tell us about yourself.
I live in Falcon Heights with my partner Ross, two cats, and dog. I was born and raised here in MN, but moved to Vancouver, Canada 9 years ago when I went to graduate school for urban planning. From Vancouver, I moved to Houston where Ross took a job and we lived there for 6 years. Except for the job, great people and the quilt festival, we never really learned to love Houston and missed being near family. I took a job with the Minnesota Department of Transportation last year and we've been making the transition back "home" ever since.
Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?
Nope, I have a hard time finding time to sew as it is and try to limit my on-line time to reading other blogs and Flickr sites for inspiration. My flickr site is here:
Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
I like to garden, bike, run and hope to learn how to x-country ski this year since last year was a bust for snow. I've dabbled in knitting, but it seemed useless when I lived in Houston and now I prefer to sew/quilt
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
I grew up very close to my aunt who is an amazing sewer/crafter. She helped me make simple shorts and t-shirts when I was young and I would love to go to her house and pick out fabric and patterns. I continued to make things here and there as an adult, but started quilting about 5 years ago when a few things came together to lead me to the craft-- I got a sewing machine for Christmas, I discovered Denyse Schmidt's first book, I went to the Gees Bend exhibit at the Houston Museum of Fine Art, and I attended my first Quilt Festival in Houston. I got a free Sudoku quilt pattern from a Japanese quilt shop at Quilt Festival and set out to make my first baby quilt.
How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
I've only finished three quilts (number four is very, very close to a finish)! I have a lot of UFO's (including 3 finished baby quilt tops). When I moved to MN, I put them all in a very large bag and vowed not to start any new projects until these are finished. I didn't really keep my bargain, but I am plugging away. 
How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
It's pretty erratic as I really have to be in the right mindset to quilt. I have a hard time sitting down to quilt if I have an hour here or there. I typically wait until I have large blocks of time, which sometimes never come.
Describe your first quilt.
I made a baby quilt for a friend using the free Sudoku quilt pattern I got at Festival. It was pink and green and used the 40s reproduction fabrics, which I really loved before I discovered more modern fabric designers. Overall, I liked it, but really hated how the quilting and binding turned out. I can't find a photo, but I used the same pattern for my next baby quilt.
I laugh now when I realize I used this same pattern 3 times-- I had no idea that there was a world of online quilt patterns and tutorials and inspiration until I joined the Houston Modern Quilt Guild in 2011! Goes to show what happens to a new quilter in isolation!
Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
I made a plus quilt that I called "stay positive" for my mom who has stage 4 breast cancer. It has been a bumpy road for all of us, and when I saw this pattern it was a good fit for what I wanted to convey by making it. 

Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
Since we don't have kids, I have a spare bedroom that is my own. We just bought our house in July so I haven't done much to set up the space--except for shoving all of my fabric and notions in the closet. Luckily, the closet has these nice built-in drawers and compartments, so it's a really great room for getting the clutter out of sight (though it is by no means organized right now and finding things can be tricky).
Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
I hate to pay full price for fabric, so I usually buy fabric if I like it and it's on sale (with a vague notion of what I might do with it). I would probably spend less money if I only bought the fabric I need or really love and paid full price, but that would be too logical. I have most of my fabric folded in plastic bins, but that has spilled over into the general closet space of my sewing room.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
I love the potential of each new project and coming up with the idea for the quilt. I also find the patchwork rewarding as each new view unfolds. I dislike quilting, mainly because I'm usually disappointed with how it looks when I'm done.
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
I want to start making minimalist quilts. I love the modern aesthetic of Yoshiko Jinzenji, but haven't had a chance to try this style yet and feel that the quilts I've finished so far are more traditional than I want them to be. This is partly because I haven't yet made anything for myself, which is another goal-- to be caught up enough on gifts to make something for myself! I also want to start free motion quilting. I just bought Angela Walters new book and am in awe.
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
As noted above, free motion quilting. I'm afraid of it, but am halfway done stippling a baby quilt for the first time. I don't love how it is turning out, but decided I had to go for it because practicing on scraps is not the same as doing it on a quilt. I'm glad I did because I am learning a lot.
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
I'm amazed at all of the wonderful talent that is out there, in guilds and on-line. It was really inspiring to meet Jacquie G. in September. Aesthetically, I'm most inspired by simple geometric patterns that are made modern through the use of negative space and irregular placement (or wonkiness).
What advice do you have for new quilters?
Find other people that like to quilt. My quilting has advanced by leaps and bounds since I attended my first meeting of the Houston Modern Quilt Guild (and now MMQG) Having a community to inspire, teach and collaborate with is really important to keep you motivated and advancing your skills. I have found quilters to be very generous and enthusiastic with their knowledge both in-person and online. You don't want to get into a creative rut and make the same quilt top 3 times like I did ;)
Anything else you would like to share?
I'm really trying to work on not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Since most of my quilts are gifts, I have to remind myself that most people won't appreciate the "perfect" quilt and they probably won't see things like uneven quilt stitches and un-mitered corners. By pouring hours and hours into a gift, I need to give myself something back-- and that is not only the joy of quilting, but the opportunity to try new things and make mistakes in the process.


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