I've always been an avid reader. When I was young, I, like many of my peers, got caught up in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie series. (These were the books, not the television series!) While I never would want to have to live like Laura and her family did, the romance of a family working and struggling together, Mama sewing clothes and making quilt tops by the light of the fireplace at night appealed to the elementary-school-aged me. Thus began my love affair with quilts and quilting.
Always a determined person (my mother would say stubborn), I never took lessons, just jumped right in to quilt making. After all, I knew how to sew. I could read directions. What more did I need?
I made my first quilt in 1974 for a coworker. The Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam pattern came from, I believe, one of the original McCall's quilting magazines. Unbelievable now, it was two complete quilts--the top one with the applique (poorly machine done, I admit) and machine quilted--and a second quilt for the backing, complete with top, batting and backing, also machine quilted. The two were sewn together pillowcase-style, turned inside out, stitched closed, and tied to keep them together! All the fabrics were poly blends, and the batts were Mountain Mist polys, all that we had available at the time.
There was no stopping me after that! I taught myself how to quilt by hand in a 14-inch wooden hoop and eventually managed to get 12 stitches to an inch. I thought nothing of it until people started exclaiming over my "fine" stitching. And suddenly I was a quilt teacher. I taught beginners and advanced quilting classes in my home, then in the adult ed programs in my hometown and in two other communities in the area, as well as in area quilt shops as they began to spring up in the general vicinity. I covered a lot of quilting areas of the years: hand and machine piecing, applique, hand quilting and, for advanced quilters, pattern drafting.
Quilt-as-you-go that was all the rage as quilting really took off post-Bicentennial bored me. Ever independent, I started designing my own quilts and entered them in local and regional quilt shows. Even won some ribbons. Not bad.
As time passed, I finally started taking classes here and there with nationally known quilt makers who came to the area. By this time, quilting had gone beyond the simple 9-Patch and had exploded with all sorts of new techniques and tools--things that piqued even my curiosity.
I took a 15-year break from quilting from the mid-1980s to about 2000. I was burned out. Too much quilting intensity on too many levels took its toll. Plus, I had started my own editing company. (That's right. In my nonquilting life, I'm a red-pen pusher. Your worst high school English class nightmare come to life, only at the corporate level!) It was time to focus on that and on my growing family.
By 2000, though, I was ready to get back in and start fondling fabric again. I started slowly this time, didn't just jump in. In the fall of 2012, I started to look into phasing out my editing company and opening a quilt shop. By the next spring, I realized I could do the former but couldn't afford the shop, so I decided on Plan B--Flew the Coop Designs. Now, I design my own patterns, vend at quilt shows, do trunk shows, offer classes to guilds and run an online shop, www.flewthecoopdesigns.com. I get to meet people, do some traveling and have fun doing what I love! What a life! Nancy