My home is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a hillside refuge that my husband of 50 years and I call ‘The Given Place.’ We grow blueberries and tend a summer garden, as well as too many flower beds–now that quilting has taken a prominent place in my heart. It is truly one of my retirement joys. Other joys in my life are our 9 grandchildren and coaching people who are recovering from drug addictions and incarceration.
History has certainly shown that the love of quilting has passed from generation to generation. My mother was Dorothea, and her mother, my grandmother, was Lizzie Belle….both Southerners, both gifted with sewing hands. Mom’s skill was on the sewing machine, Belle’s was piecing with her hands. I remember my grandmother sitting at night in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace, quilting tiny pieces of fabric into shapes. Much of the fabric was from scraps left over from dresses my mother had made for my sister and me.
The love of sewing was indeed passed on to me. A “top of the line” Pfaff was a wedding gift from my in-laws many years ago, and miles and miles of stitches were sown over the years. One daughter recently commented, “mom, I would wake to go to school, and a new outfit that you had sewn the night before would be on my bed.” As you can guess, “sew it in one night” was a laugh when I started quilting.
But my quilting started in 2003 after I retired from a career as financial administrator for the U.S.Courts, Eastern Tennessee. Our daughter, who lives in Johnson City, TN, began taking quilting classes at Tennessee Quilts in Jonesborough. In the foothills of the Appalachian range quilters were coming out of the woodwork. I was amazed, enthralled, and excited with all of the Kaffe floral prints, and the bright batiks and the creative patterns. My first class and first quilt was Karen Stone’s Mississippi Wheel of Fortune. It took a year to piece, and another six months to free motion machine quilt. I ventured into Ruth McDowell’s paper piecing veggies and flowers. THEN, I met Judy Niemeyer through classes in Jonesborough. After all, my daughter lived there, and it was a good excuse to visit. More and more I continued to take classes from Judy and appreciated her creativity in both paper piecing techniques and pattern design.
About the same time that I was beginning to quilt, a delightfully quaint quilt shop opened in nearby Ringgold, Georgia. Sew Bee It has been the perfect location to begin teaching Judy’s techniques and patterns. Experienced quilters are eager to be challenged with more complex patterns, and yet beginning quilters can find creative juices flowing as they learn new skills. The opportunity to meet and greet and share with other creative women is a great joy and blessing for me.
My delight and eagerness to continue teaching and sewing Judy’s patterns was further enhanced when I attended the certification retreat in September 2012. Call it the Montana mystique—–or just the love of quilting, but productivity and creativity oozes from Judy Niemeyer Quilting.