It was a quiet day in the middle of winter 1999. I awoke from a catnap with this un-deniable urge to make something…..mind you sewing was not on the ‘un-deniable urge‘ list but crafting something was….I had been walking around this Object in the middle of my living room for a few days, (ok a week). The Object was a 1960s Pfaff, given to me by a thoughtful Aunt that made lovely wall hangings and small quilts, she gave it to me, knowing she was just getting it out of her house and I had mistakingly said I didn’t have one……so home it came. I headed to Craft Warehouse and wandered the aisles looking for that one thing that I could call a hobby, something to do in my spare time, of which I had none BUT would make time for.
The kind ladies at the Fabric table were very skilled and persuasive and ‘saw me coming’. It only took that one question…”do you have a sewing machine ?“……Leaving the store 2 hours later, several bags in arms, I had the makings for a queen size Quilt, all the tools and gadgets, fabrics and patterns a ‘quilter’ needed. A Quilter?! Me? OK, I will make this quilt, promising myself that I would see it through to the end, then find another Hobby that may suit me better.
This was a Block of the Month Quilt. 12 months of blocks completed in 3 days, sewn together into my first Quilt top! I showed the Ladies at the Craft Store, they laughed because they knew… I was hooked….Within that first year I had made 20 or more quilts. They were pretty, but didn’t ‘amaze’ or challenge me.
Had to sign up for a Wedding Ring class being offered in a near by town. It was being taught by a woman who had taken a class from the owners of Jannilou’s Quilt Shop. Holy Cow, I was excited because this would be the ultimate and possibly my ‘Grand Finale’ Quilt… ‘A Wedding Ring in Grandmother’s Garden’, as it turned out it was only the beginning and would become my first Judy Niemeyer quilt. (FYI – I was in way over my head, this teacher barely knew the pattern or any of the techniques to complete this beauty, I’d say we were both in over our heads!)
Frustrated, I turned to the source of knowledge about Judy Niemeyer’s Quilts, Jan Bressler and Lou Shafer at Jannilou’s Quilt Shop. They knew the ins and outs of my project and suggested I put the Wedding Ring away for a while, and try a different pattern, one with the same amount of visual impact. During the next 15 years Jan would mentor me along with CI Shirley Scott. They would walk me through all the TOMs and many other lovely Quiltworx patterns. Jan and Lou represented inspiration, talent, kindness and patience. These are the attributes that epitomize great teaching. I try to emulate this same style of teaching today. Not just teaching the nuts and bolts of these beautiful designs, but building confidence in the students and helping them experience the reward of a successful completion of their Judy Niemeyer Quilt.
The Wedding Ring Quilt ? It had spent 18 years in a basket the cat used to nap on. With Jan’s encouragement I got it out, rolled off all the kitty hair and finished it, appliqué and all. It was as beautiful as I had always hoped it would be.
At present I am working at Jannilou’s Quilt Shop in Philomath, Oregon. I teach a class called “Judy, Judy, Judy” , one Friday every month. It is open to anyone working on a Judy Quilt that needs a little help or encouragement. My day starts at 9:00am till 5:00 pm. The attendance varies from 3 to 12, all working on different projects. It is a super fun class where I get to actually work on many different patterns at once!! Everyone gets a lot of exposure to other patterns, plus some help on picking out their next quilt project and fabric. My Calendar also includes a 2 day Twinkle Star class, starting in March. Lou is filling our Calendars with more projects for myself and Shirley Scott. I will be adding more teaching in 2018, not just here in Oregon but where ever the love of making beautiful Quilts takes me.
Twice a year we host a Judy Niemeyer Mini Retreat. Three days of solid sewing, held at our Yaquina Bay Yacht Club in Newport, Oregon. Accommodating 22 students we have one in May and another in October. There is always a waiting list for the next Retreat. We teach all skill levels and often have 5 to 8 ‘New to Judy’ Sewers. This is educational and all the sewers learn more than just their particular quilt nuances but good habits for all quilt making. These Retreats have produced some beautiful work and at our 2017 “Quilts by the Sea” Quilt Show, which has AQS Judging, we had 10 beautiful Judged Entries. I am very proud of those men and woman that won Ribbons and also happy to have been a part of their success.