Jan Potter & Bonne Swett – Inspired2Sew Duo

By | 09/22/2021

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #4, April 2014. Written by Rita Farro.)

Jan Potter and Bonne Swett

Jan Potter and Bonne Swett

The dynamic duo of Jan Potter and Bonne Swett are two sewing buddies best known as the “Inspired 2 Sew” girls at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington. They attend Sew Expo, shop, take classes, and decide which fabric, pattern, book, or technique will be the basis for their “challenge”. They don’t reveal their finished creations to one another until the day they arrive at Sew Expo — the following year!

Jan and Bonne’s friendship only happened because they shared a love of sewing — and their story should be an inspiration to all of us.

Jan Potter says:  My dear mother was a great seamstress and taught my sister and me to sew, embroider, knit, and crochet.  My degree is in Graphic Design.  Art-Create-Sew!  That’s my life and what I’ve always wanted to do!   We live on a remote mountain ranch in Oregon — my husband logs and develops property and I am a retired Graphic Designer.  

Simplicity pattern 1932,I’m driven to sew and garments are my passion!  Color is dominant in everything I sew – the bolder, wilder, more vivid, the better!  I love combining unusual colors and patterns and trying to make them work!!  Do you see that word “trying”?!!  Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I just cut it up and go a different direction!  Joy and fun in the journey is the most important part of creating and sewing for me!!

Bonne Swett says:  As a teenager, I was introduced to sewing when I was invited to join the local 4-H club, and I was hooked!!!   My husband and I own and operate an equipment rental business and my life is about keeping things in the proper order.  I have a business degree and an accounting point of view.  I love to sew just about anything — it’s my “me time”.  I follow the rules, I believe in symmetry and pattern instructions. 

When my kids were still at home, finding space and time to sew was a challenge.  Nancy Zieman’s book 10-20-30 Minutes To Sew was what kept me from giving up. It was a true light bulb moment for me.  I often think of what I would have missed out on had I not read that book.

How did the unlikely partnership of the wild artist and the organized accountant become the Inspired2Sew duo?

Click HERE to read the full story

Do SCHMETZ Needles Work With My Machine?

By | 09/15/2021

Sewing Machine Logos

Whether you’re making a three-layer quilt with artistic stitching or tackling the somewhat tricky task of sewing thick denim, SCHMETZ has the ideal needle for every home sewing project, ensuring you achieve the best possible results for your self-made masterpieces.

SCHMETZ works with all these sewing machine brands!  SCHMETZ engineers work with sewing machine manufacturers around the world to ensure that the SCHMETZ needle performs properly in your home sewing, embroidery, and quilting machines.  Most home machines use needle system 130/705 H, so check your owner’s manual or ask your machine dealer.

Sew SCHMETZ!

www.SCHMETZneedles.com

 

Machine Embroidery – Lisa Shaw

By | 09/08/2021

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #90, June 2021. Written by Rita Farro.)

Lisa Shaw

Machine Embroidery - Lisa Shaw

We cannot talk about machine embroidery and not talk about software, that digital link between the computer and the embroidery machine. The software proved to be a difficult learning curve, especially in the beginning. It would be impossible to discuss or evaluate the various software programs that have come and gone. Instead, we turned to one of the most popular pioneer teachers in the field. Lisa Shaw has been teaching third-party embroidery software for over 25 years and she has a gallon jar full of dongles to prove it. She has taught software classes at the biggest consumer sewing shows in the world, and the lucky girl makes frequent teaching trips to Australia. On her website, www.Sew-Bubbles.com, she shares her knowledge and love of all-things-embroidery-software.

Because of her geek tendencies, Lisa was ahead of the curve when the Covid pandemic hit. She was already doing an After-Hours tutorial every week on her Sew-Bubbles Facebook page. And she has taken those tutorials, and added additional recorded classes to the mix, to her VIMEO channel.

Everything Embroidery Market, Appliqué Getaway

Before the 2020 all-stop, Lisa was a frequent flyer, traveling to sewing shows and conventions every other week. In 2021, she is only planning to do two shows, and both are very focused on embroidery-only consumer shows. She’ll be teaching at the Everything Embroidery Market in Biloxi, Mississippi in September and the Appliqué Getaway, July 23-25, 2021 in Irving, Texas. Lyndsie Salcido, the founder and Creative Director of the Appliqué Getaway, accidentally got into machine embroidery when she purchased her first sewing machine at Walmart, and it happened to have an embroidery element. Due to her youth and enthusiasm (she was in her 20s), she decided it would be easy to digitize her own designs and sell them on the web.

A driving force behind Appliqué Getaway was that Lyndsie realized home embroiderers loved sharing information, and she believed they would enjoy getting together. Since nobody else was doing it, she decided to create a conference, where they could meet up socially and have fun. They had their first event in 2013 with almost 500 attendees. They have social events, shopping hours, and classes. They provide a grab-and-go lunch option and focus heavily on the let’s have a fun element. For example, they had the 80s themed evening event where everybody dressed up like Madonna.

In 2020, the show was scheduled for June. In April, they moved it to November, but, in August, they decided to go to a virtual format. They were delighted to have 1200 people pay $25 to attend. All the events were recorded, so attendees had two months to watch all the classes. The show also did a completely Virtual Goody Bag, which included digital designs from vendors, as well as virtual coupons for vendor websites.

Lisa will be teaching for Embrilliance software at the Appliqué Getaway in Texas. But no matter what machine she is using or what software, her favorite sewing machine needle for embroidery is the SCHMETZ Chrome Embroidery 75/11. If she is using silk thread on silk fabric, she will switch to SCHMETZ Chrome Microtex to get that nice sharp point. If she is stitching on Neoprene (for Coozies) or marine vinyl for key fobs, she uses a SCHMETZ Super NonStick 90/14. It makes a nice hole for that bean stitch, for example, that triple stitch around the edge of a key fob.

On her website, Lisa says, Over the years, I have learned a lot about all things related to machine embroidery, the good, the bad, and the ugly. One of my favorite quotes is:

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
– Benjamin Franklin

Every project, every stitch out has some bit of knowledge that we can learn from. Our successes, as well as our failures, are valuable lessons.

 

Machine Embroidery – Reen Wilcoxson

By | 09/01/2021

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #90, June 2021. Written by Rita Farro.)

Reen Wilcoxson

Machine Embroidery - Reen Wilcoxson

Reen Wilcoxson was featured in Issue #40 of SCHMETZ Inspired To Sew magazine. That issue was all about In The Hoop (ITH) embroidery designs, and Reen is considered THE EXPERT in this exciting machine embroidery specialty. ITH designs are ones where you create a 3D item like a purse, wallet, keyring, etc. in the hoop of your embroidery machine. Designs are created in steps with stops. When the machine stops you add fabric, trim, manipulate fabrics, etc. When the design is finished it’s trimmed and turned to the right side as if you had sewn it using a sewing machine. Although nobody knows for sure who invented ITH, there is no doubt that Reen Wilcoxson is a pioneer in the field.

Reen designs and sells in the hoop machine embroidery files online through her website, www.EmbroideryGarden.com. She does all the designing, digitizing, instructions, web page work, and advertising herself. Like many entrepreneurs in the sewing industry, she does not have a staff, although, she does have many testers.

Reen says It’s important for me to have testers who stitch my designs and go over the instructions for accuracy. Their feedback is invaluable; because even though I always know where I’m headed with a new project, I need to be sure the directions are clear enough so that every home embroiderer will achieve the desired result.

www.EmbroideryGarden.com

 

Machine Embroidery – Oklahoma Embroidery Supply & Design

By | 08/25/2021

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #90, June 2021. Written by Rita Farro.)

Machine Embroidery - OESD

The evolution of machine embroidery for the home sewer has been mind-boggling. In the 1980s, some sewing machine companies added lettering to their decorative stitches. The machine companies started to attach hoops to their machines in the 1990s, and in the early 2000s, sewing machines started to hook up to Windows Operating Systems.

In the beginning, the concept of machine embroidery was brand new to the sewing machine dealers who were selling the machines, so the home embroiderer was pretty much left to figure things out on her own. It was the early days of the internet, long before Facebook, YouTube, or Craftsy. Remember chat rooms and Yahoo message boards? That is where they came to learn this new art form. Through an awkward time of dial-up internet connections, and long downloading times, these pioneer machine embroiderers were eager to share what they were learning.

In those early days, the sewing machine companies created machines that were capable of embroidering, but the design choices were limited to the cards the machine companies were selling. Each company had its own system. Bernina had their own system, Viking cards only worked in Viking machines, Brother cards only worked in Brother machines, etc. A card with ten butterfly designs might cost $80.

The second revolution in machine embroidery for the home sewer came about when independent companies cracked the code and started to create designs that would work with ALL machine formats. Cactus Punch was one of the first companies to come to the market with ecumenical design packs that would work with every machine format.

Oklahoma Embroidery Supply & Design (OESD)

Oklahoma Embroidery Supply & Design (OESD)

Oklahoma Embroidery Supply & Design (OESD) is one of those heritage companies that has survived the ups and downs of the market. Now celebrating their 31st year in business, they are enjoying a super-strong resurgence. Their motto is YOUR CRAFT IS OUR PASSION. OESD is an industry-leading creator of machine embroidery designs and embroidery products. Their designs work for all makes and models of embroidery machines. Their 40,000 strong, superior design library is available online at Embroidery Online and Scissortail Stitches.

Karie Coffey is the Director of Marketing and Education for OESD. After getting her fine arts degree, she kind of fell into the embroidery world, working in commercial embroidery production for LL Bean. She spent ten years as a general manager for a top sewing machine dealer in Buffalo, New York. She relocated to the Midwest for the job at OESD.

OESD has been responding to the wants and needs of home embroiderers for over 30 years. Karie says, Our digitizing is all done in-house, right here in Oklahoma. Some of our digitizers have been here for over 20 years. We do about eight collections a month. Many of our designs are classic, but we work hard to pay attention to the trends, too. We are able to respond or pivot quickly. Our events are all planned in-house as well, and our event team travels all over the country. We listen to our customers, and what our dealers want, so we are not getting rid of physical media. We are committed to continuing to deliver designs in all three formats, CDs, USBs, or digital.

OESD has worked hard to develop and maintain a relationship with brick and mortar retail stores. Karie says, Our retailers are so important to us. For example, the OECD’s SPREE Club (Special Pricing Reserved for Embroidery Enthusiasts) is a special embroidery design savings club offered to OESD event attendees. Members get the newest exciting embroidery designs from OESD & Scissortail Stitches delivered directly to their local store each month on a ready-to-use USB stick.

OESD is a leader in developing 3-D embroidery designs. Karie says, Right now, in the hoop projects are very popular. Especially with the newer embroiderers. They like to have a finished thing. They can create a zipper bag or a stitch and turn doll. They enjoy having a complete project.

Oklahoma Embroidery Supply & Design

Embroidery Online

Scissortail Stitches

 

Recycle,Restyle,Refashion – Part 4 – Gail Yellen

By | 08/18/2021

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #47, November 2017. Written by Rita Farro.)

 

Gail Yellen, Upcycle, Recycle

 

Part 4 of the series: Recycle,Restyle,Refashion. For generations, women who sew have been recycling. They start with one thing and, with their sewing skills and imagination — a transformation results into a completely different thing. Patchwork quilting began because frugal women couldn’t afford to waste any bit of usable fabric. They needed to save money and had to “make do” with materials on hand. In the process, they created something useful and beautiful that would be handed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter.

Over the past four weeks you have met four women who are as different as the things they choose to recycle . . . but what they share is the desire to give new life . . . transforming the ordinary and familiar into something extraordinary. There are as many names for it as there are different ways to do it. Whether you call it recycling, upcycling, refashion, or restyling — the desire to create something new from something old has always existed in the soul of women and men who love to sew. And it is truly the perfect way for the past to touch the present and the future. The added benefit is that when you start with something like a sweater that your mother loved, or a shirt your Dad wore to work, or a doily your favorite Aunt embroidered — the project takes on a special meaning. It becomes a labor of love and a treasured memory gift.

********************

Gail YellenGail Yellen is one of the most popular speakers on today’s sewing circuit. Inspired To SEW has featured Gail before (http://tinyurl.com/ydha4k3c) … and, at this point in her accidental sewing career, is considered THE Serger Guru. Her book, Serger Essentials: Master the Basics and Beyond, published by Fons and Porter, gets rave reviews from serger owners, new or old. Her mission was to demystify the serger and help sewists get the most out of their machine!

One of Gail’s early successes was a project about recycling sweaters . . . well, we’ll let her tell it . . . .

Of all the projects and garments sewn over the years, this one is the nearest and dearest to my heart. My mother died in November 2008 and as my sister and I folded her clothes to donate to a local thrift shop, I looked at the stack of wool sweaters — a lovely palette of beiges, creams, whites, and taupes. A recycling idea began to take shape. I was fascinated with felting wool knits. The process is fun, uncomplicated, and produces amazing results. Felted wool is easy to sew and embellish, and the warmth of a felted garment is a big plus during Connecticut winters.

Why not take four or five sweaters, felt them, and create a collage jacket? I had recently designed the Counterpoints Jacket and it was perfect for this project. The collaged surface design became Template Set 1 in a series of three.

Counterpoints Jacket

Counterpoints Jacket

In 2009, the American Sewing Guild announced a contest — Remake, Reuse, Restyle. My jacket met all of the criteria. I filled out the contest application, sent the photos and it was one of the three winning entries. (I like to think that my mother had a hand in that!)

All patterns, interfacing, and template sets are available for purchase on her website.

www.gailpatrice.com

Recycle,Restyle,Refashion – Part 3 – Mary Mulari

By | 08/11/2021

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #47, November 2017. Written by Rita Farro.)

 

Mary Mulari, Upcycle, Recycle

 

Part 3 of the series: Recycle,Restyle,Refashion. For generations, women who sew have been recycling. They start with one thing and, with their sewing skills and imagination — a transformation results into a completely different thing. Patchwork quilting began because frugal women couldn’t afford to waste any bit of usable fabric. They needed to save money and had to “make do” with materials on hand. In the process, they created something useful and beautiful that would be handed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter.

Over a period of four weeks you will have met four women who are as different as the things they choose to recycle . . . but what they share is the desire to give new life . . . transforming the ordinary and familiar into something extraordinary. There are as many names for it as there are different ways to do it. Whether you call it recycling, upcycling, refashion, or restyling — the desire to create something new from something old has always existed in the soul of women and men who love to sew. And it is truly the perfect way for the past to touch the present and the future. The added benefit is that when you start with something like a sweater that your mother loved, or a shirt your Dad wore to work, or a doily your favorite Aunt embroidered — the project takes on a special meaning. It becomes a labor of love and a treasured memory gift.

********************

Mary MulariMary Mulari lives in the Minnesota Northwoods. In 1984, she got laid off from her teaching job. She started to experiment with various techniques for decorated sweatshirts and developed classes on that topic for community education programs in area schools. She couldn’t have known it at the time — but those early classes about restyling plain sweatshirts became the basis of a very successful career in the sewing industry. Mary is one of the busiest, most well-respected speakers in the country — and her seminars and workshops are often sold-out. She has written 20+ books on topics ranging from appliqué designs, zipper projects, machine embroidery techniques, travel gift ideas, and Sew Green projects. Mary became the most frequent guest on the popular PBS series, Sewing With Nancy. Her interest in recycling and upcycling has always been at the core of her love of sewing and creating memory gifts.

Recycling gives new life to memories.

Recycling gives new life to memories.

Mary has a hard time listing her favorite recycled project. One would certainly have to be the table runner she made out of vintage doilies. So many of us have our grandmother’s doilies, but they don’t fit in today’s world. But making a table runner brings them out of the drawers, and they become a topic of conversation. The handwork that went into making them is incredible, and it’s wonderful to be able to display and honor it.

Last year, Mary wrote Second Chance T-Shirt Gifts — 15 projects, all designed to use a family’s collection of favorite t-shirts to make memory gifts. The ultimate, recycled memory gift is Mary’s unique spin on the ever-popular t-shirt quilt. Instead of trying to stabilize the t-shirts, Mary applied the technique of flannel ragged edge quilts. Because t-shirt fabric won’t fray — it is the perfect recycle marriage. Use flannel for the backside of the t-shirt squares, and BOOM — it’s an easy weekend project. You’ve turned those treasured t-shirts into a soft, washable, useable quilt, with almost no extra cost (no batting, sashing, or long arm quilting required).

www.marymulari.com

Recycle,Restyle,Refashion – Part 2 – Luveta Nickels

By | 08/04/2021

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #47, November 2017. Written by Rita Farro.)

 

Luveta Nickels, Upcycle, Recycle

 

Part 2 of the series:  Recycle,Restyle,Refashion. For generations, women who sew have been recycling. They start with one thing and, with their sewing skills and imagination — a transformation results into a completely different thing. Patchwork quilting began because frugal women couldn’t afford to waste any bit of usable fabric. They needed to save money and had to “make do” with materials on hand. In the process, they created something useful and beautiful that would be handed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter.

Over a period of one month you will meet four women who are as different as the things they choose to recycle . . . but what they share is the desire to give new life . . . transforming the ordinary and familiar into something extraordinary. There are as many names for it as there are different ways to do it. Whether you call it recycling, upcycling, refashion, or restyling — the desire to create something new from something old has always existed in the soul of women and men who love to sew. And it is truly the perfect way for the past to touch the present and the future. The added benefit is that when you start with something like a sweater that your mother loved, or a shirt your Dad wore to work, or a doily your favorite Aunt embroidered — the project takes on a special meaning. It becomes a labor of love and a treasured memory gift.

********************

Luveta Nickels

Luveta Nickels

Luveta Nickels lives on a working farm & cattle ranch in South Dakota with her husband Steve. She started collecting jeans not knowing that someday . . . they would become her livelihood. Luveta says I’ve always loved the complicated workings of jeans — the zippers, tack buttons, rivets, and all those flat-felled, double-stitched seams. I experimented with ways to take them apart and keep those wonderful details intact while making something entirely new and different out of them. I would turn jeans into vests, jackets, skirts . . . .

She owned a fabric store and wearing her stylish wearable art around town sparked an interest with her customers. She started to teach classes about recycling jeans, and soon, sewing guilds asked her to teach techniques. Luveta found herself creating patterns for garments made out of recycled jeans. She closed her store because she was so busy traveling all over the country, sharing her love of recycled jeans!

Thick fabrics are easy to wrangle with the Big Jig.

Thick fabrics are easy to wrangle with the Big Jig.

Nothing is built like a sturdy pair of jeans, but many are afraid to sew on heavy denim. Luveta realized somebody needed to invent a device that would allow a sewing machine needle to easily pass through those heavy, reinforced seams. One of the original inventors of the Jean-a-ma-Jig, Luveta has gone on to improve the concept with her new Big Jig device. The Big Jig is easier to hang on to and features a much longer sewing groove for more efficient sewing over the thick seams. The Big Jig is available in two thicknesses.

Luveta turned her love of recycling jeans into a very successful career in the sewing industry. She is a respected inventor, an accomplished designer, and a popular teacher. For the last 30 years, she has been traveling all over the country, teaching classes and workshops at county fairs, sewing guilds, sewing machine conventions, and consumer events. Luveta took the FEAR out of sewing on jeans. Her easy-going, approachable teaching style makes you believe you can do it, too.

www.junkjeanspeople.com

Recycle,Restyle,Refashion – Part 1 – Michelle Paganini

By | 07/28/2021

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #47, November 2017. Written by Rita Farro.)

 

http://www.dictionary.com

For generations, women who sew have been recycling. They start with one thing and, with their sewing skills and imagination — a transformation results into a completely different thing. Patchwork quilting began because frugal women couldn’t afford to waste any bit of usable fabric. They needed to save money and had to “make do” with materials on hand. In the process, they created something useful and beautiful that would be handed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter.

Over the next month you will meet four women who are as different as the things they choose to recycle . . . but what they share is the desire to give new life . . . transforming the ordinary and familiar into something extraordinary. There are as many names for it as there are different ways to do it. Whether you call it recycling, upcycling, refashion, or restyling — the desire to create something new from something old has always existed in the soul of women and men who love to sew. And it is truly the perfect way for the past to touch the present and the future. The added benefit is that when you start with something like a sweater that your mother loved, or a shirt your Dad wore to work, or a doily your favorite Aunt embroidered — the project takes on a special meaning. It becomes a labor of love and a treasured memory gift.

********************

Michelle PaganiniMichelle Paganini always wanted to be an artist. After 30+ years working in the medical device field, she decided to pursue her dream. When her children went off to college, she did, too. She studied fashion design and also joined a local wearable art guild, PenWAG, Peninsula Wearable Arts Guild. These venues opened up a whole new world of creativity.

When Michelle learned that fashion is the second-largest polluting industry on the planet, she was shocked and decided she would no longer buy new retail clothing. She started to refashion thrift store finds. Michelle says, “Women stopped me asking about my clothing, and that is how I knew I had a business. I thought if I could write instructions to help others upcycle successfully, we sewers could use our magical skills to help green fashion.”

In 2013, I took a class from Susan Khalje at the Sewing Workshop in San Francisco. I wore my own upcycled designs. Susan, a contributing editor at Threads magazine, said she thought an article on upcycling might be a good topic and encouraged me to submit a proposal. I did and it was accepted!! Knowing that my article would be published in early 2014 started a fire under my efforts to start Paganoonoo.”

Peggy Blouse

Peggy Blouse

Ashlee (child), Patti (adult), Patti (child)

Ashlee (child), Patti (adult),
Patti (child)

The challenge was how to write the upcycling instructions for the Paganoonoo patterns. This was not something taught in school. Using “pattern” is actually a misnomer as there are no pattern pieces to cut out and pin.

What Michelle does is define disassembly and reassembly instructions. The Paganoonoo motto is “Upcycle Sewing Made Simple.”

Ellie T-Shirt

Ellie T-Shirt

Paganoonoo’s focus started with restyling men’s dress shirts, taking advantage of the high-quality fabric and beautifully finished details. Michelle starts with garments from thrift stores, sometimes eBay. The trick is to save those intricate tailoring details and use them in the restyled design:  the collars, plackets, buttonholes. The other point of focus is designing for baby boomer women, creating green fashions with plenty of hip and belly room that are both stylish and flattering.

www.paganoonoo.com

Joanne Hillestad – Fat Quarter Gypsy

By | 07/21/2021

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #54, June 2018. Written by Rita Farro.)

Joanne Hillestad
Photo by Bonnie McCaffery.

Joanne Hillestad, of Fat Quarter Gypsy, has a motto: Life is too short not to have chickens.

Eleven years ago, Joanne was diagnosed with breast cancer. After undergoing surgery and chemo, she says, Something like that impacts your life. No way around it. It took me a few years, but I finally stopped worrying about how long I was going to live and started focusing on enjoying life, my family, and all the happy things around me. In 2013, I woke up on my birthday and my first thought was to follow my dreams! I called my husband, Mike, and told him I was going to start designing quilts! He said GREAT!

So, what do chickens have to do with designing quilts? Joanne always wanted chickens. She yearned for chickens! She felt like her life was not complete without chickens. But, even though they live on acreage in the country — her husband was not on board with the whole chicken thing. Shortly after Jo’s “follow my dreams” epiphany, Mike went out of town. That usually meant Jo would paint a room or dig up another section of the yard for a new garden. But, this time, she contacted a young man who was looking for a home for chickens from his 4-H project. When Mike got home, Joanne calmly introduced him to Phyllis, Bob Ross, Buffy, and Jane.

Joanne and Mike have been married for 24 years, and they have two sons, Ryan (21) and Nick (19). They live in Stacy, Minnesota on 55 acres of mostly swamp. It is a little heavy in the mosquito department . . . but we love it. Besides Jo’s beloved chickens, they also have Bugsy, their faithful golden retriever, and two cats — Sam and Barney.

Joanne worked as a database/business analyst for 22 years, but her creativity impacted her life every day. I became known as a problem solver. When a complicated project presented itself, my boss would sometimes ask me, ‘can you sleep on it?’ I would consider the issue and often figure out the steps needed to help solve the problem.

Stacking Pop-Ups Five fun sizes for assorted storage needs. Collapse for easy storage.

Stacking Pop-Ups
Five fun sizes for assorted storage needs.
Collapse for easy storage.

Being creative has always been at the center of Joanne’s life. She loves to garden — she has way too many flowers and every summer grows enough vegetables to feed an army. She also loves nature photography, camping with her family, and glamorizing her vintage camper (Shirley). But sewing has always been her #1 hobby. My mom taught me to sew when I was five. We made a red and white striped pillow. I was instantly hooked. I sewed a lot of clothes from middle school through high school including my prom dress. After I became a mom, I sewed clothes for my boys. They had overalls for every holiday. I also made a variety of storage solutions for cars, LEGO bricks, coloring, etc. I cannot imagine my life without sewing.

She was in her 30’s when her mother-in-law introduced her to quilting. My first two quilts were hilarious. I cut all the pieces with scissors and had no clue about using a ¼” seam allowance. But it really didn’t matter. Jo was in love . . . she had found her passion.

For many years, Joanne has attended a Girl’s Weekend with a small group of friends. In the beginning (10 years ago), Jo was the only one sewing — everybody else was scrapbooking. Jo loved to bring her sewing machine and a basket of fabric. She would experiment all weekend, putting together different combinations and patterns. During those retreats, her friends were always saying, You should design quilts! You should start a business!! On the morning Jo had the Follow Your Dreams epiphany, it was like somebody hit her in the face. That day she created her business — The Fat Quarter Gypsy.

The Fat Quarter Gypsy took up residence in the upstairs of Mike’s wire forming business, Nu Design, in Pine City, Minnesota. Their building is an old dairy creamer and dance hall from the 1920s. It even has a ghost named Ed. Jo and Mike carpool to work every day and they take their dog, Bugsy, along. The Fat Quarter Gypsy has a lot of space — including an office, a longarming room, a sewing room, and a big storage room.

The Fat Quarter Gypsy was doing fine. Joanne was designing quilt patterns, she had a website, and she was building a customer list of independent quilt shops. She attended business workshops and met other quilt designers. Her business was growing. THEN, as often happens in this life, there was a moment of convergence that nobody saw coming.

Please CLICK HERE to read the full article at issuu.com.