Member Spotlight: Jan H

Tell us about yourself, e.g. family, kids, pets, day job, have you always lived in MN?
I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, then moved to Minnesota for jobs after my husband and I graduated from college. I taught high school family and consumer science (home economics for all us oldies!) for 35 years and am now retired and enjoying life. I have a son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in the St. Cloud area.  Also a daughter and her fiancĂ© in the twin cities who are planning a wedding in my backyard garden this summer.

Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business? If so, please include a link.
I do not have a blog though it is on my bucket list for the future.  I often help my daughter with her craft business or Etsy endeavors and am often a silent sewer in the background.

Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
I am currently caregiving for both my mother and mother-in-law so there is not a lot of time for many other hobbies.  I spend a lot of time with family activities.  Spring means time in the flower garden. Someday I hope to travel to many places listed on that bucket list!

How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
My mom taught me to sew at age 14.  She and both grandmas were sewers, needle crafters and quilters. My first project was a skirt made of home dec fabric.  I think I wore that skirt out. I sewed the majority of my own clothes in high school and college, even my husband’s dress shirts when we were first married. I did a lot of “learn by doing” quilting in the following years.  In 2000 I took my first quilt class because I wanted to learn good basic quilting skills and was totally hooked. Once I felt “quilt-confident”, I added quilting and sewing projects to my curriculum and taught my students the basics.  It was fun to watch them learn and get excited.

How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
I worked on a quilt journal over the past year and counted over 120 quilts including wall hangings since 2000.  I probably have ten quilts in the unfinished stage.  I know there are two that are layered and ready to quilt that keep whispering “finish me” every time I walk by them.

How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
15 – 20   It is good therapy and the most relaxing part of my day.

Describe your first quilt.
The sampler quilt from my first class is still a UFO.  I love the quilt but decided back then I wanted to hand quilt it.  I have learned I am NOT a hand quilter and I work on it a bit every 6 months then put it away still unfinished.  The first quilt I finished was called Crazy Eights from a published pattern and was a stack and slash quilt and done in all calico fabric.  I had planned to do a piano border but was not pleased with it so set that aside.  Last year I took that piano border and made a coins quilt.  I then named the first quilt Big Sister – the traditional one and the coins quilt Little Sister – the contemporary one.

Big Sister                                                        Little Sister

Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why? 

It seems like every quilt becomes my favorite as I work on it.  I am most proud of the quilts that I give as wedding gifts (always a batik quilt), a baby quilt to celebrate a new family addition, or a comfort quilt to friends dealing with a troubling life issue.  Those have the most meaning for me.
My Son's wedding quilt
Granddaughter's baby quilt

Gary’s quilt for cancer treatment
Connie’s quilt (the wife needs quilt hugs too)

Accompaniments (music, tv, wine, etc). Add a photo if you are brave.
I have had various sewing spaces in my home depending on the family situation and the space available. (We quilters have always been an adaptable bunch – right?) Currently the basement family room has become the sewing space. I have added extra shelving for storage and it works.  It often looks like a sew-in when my daughter and her friends are there for a sewing night – sewing machines on portable tables, fabric and projects spread everywhere, a quilt being sandwiched on the carpet floor, the pool table set up as a cutting table and a raised end table as a large ironing center.

When I am sewing by myself, I like lots of light, a bit of chocolate, and a diet Pepsi.  A good mystery or crime program in the background is fine too.

Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
I love fabric!  When I first started quilting, I bought whatever I liked whenever and wherever.  Then I became more discriminating about the type of fabric. I also went through a phase of loving vintage fabrics and textiles.  I recently inherited my mom’s fabric and linens stash. My stash storage is full so I spent the winter sorting and folding (using the ruler method). Now the mantra is “shop the stash” and so far I have not had to spend much money on fabric.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
Hand quilting is not my favorite.  I do love all the other steps from the first sprout of an idea to the color and fabric selection, the piecing, and finally the binding and label attachment.

What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
The immediate goal was to join MMQG to get out of my box and try new things. I am so inspired by the wonderful projects, challenges, swaps, speakers and monthly show and tell. I am learning a lot and my box is opening up! My long term goal is to use up that stash.

What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
I have done a little free motion quilting but have much to learn and much practicing to do to become proficient.  The idea of free is still a bit intimidating so I need to just get started.

Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
I read a lot of quilt blogs (Amanda, yours has been a top choice favorite for many years!) I also like to attend quilt shows, both local and national to see what others have done. I have been to the quilt museums in Paducah, KY and Lincoln, NE and am inspired by our ancestors and their ability to do much with little.

What advice do you have for new quilters?
Start simple, learn good basics, find a mentor, get inspired and keep going!

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