At an early age I was influenced by my Grandmother in needlework, sewing, embroidery, crocheting, and knitting. As a little girl I would make doll clothes for my Barbies and as I got older I started making a few of my own clothes. As I entered high school my interest in sewing expanded into upholstery. I enjoyed working with my Dad and helping him restore a number of classic cars. He would work on the engines and I would work on the interiors. It was a fun hobby that later turned into a money making job while in high school.
After high school I went away to college and all these things came to a temporary halt. I went to Iowa State University, majoring in Computer Science. I met my husband, John at ISU. We both graduated and I started work, while he continued on into veterinary medical school. I needed something to do at night while he spent many hours studying. There was an adult Ed class on quilting and I thought it would be fun to go. So I did. I fell in love. This was in 1982. I was introduced to quilting using cardboard templates and then we graduated to the rotary cutter. My first quilting project was a sampler quilt. I learned how to appliqué, piece, quilt by hand, and sew on binding to make a finished quilt. I was hooked. I loved the rotary cutter. I made a few baby quilts and other quilted gift items, then life changed again and my time spent quilting became limited.
My husband graduated from veterinary college and we had 2 sons, John and Joe. My quilting hobby went to the side lines. I was working outside the home, raising 2 active boys and helping my husband at our veterinary clinics. Then in 2002, while attending the Iowa State fair and looking at all the beautiful quilts, I got the urge to start up this creative hobby again. I signed up for a retreat in Kalona in 2003, with my Mom, sister, and aunt. Our project was a Quilt in A Day project – Bears in the Woods, by Eleanor Burns. It was of course not finished in a day. But I was hooked again. That year I made lots of little quilts, wall hanging, table runners, placemats, baby quilts. Every place I went I had to stop at a fabric shop and buy fabric.
Each year from 2002 – 2008 I attended the Iowa State Fair always admiring the beautiful quilts. In 2007, I became a member of The Quilt Show, an online quilting community. I met many quilters from all over the world that enjoyed my passion. They were entering quilts in their local county and state fairs and sharing. So in 2009, I decided I would enter 5 quilts in the Iowa State Fair. I wanted to share what I had made with others too. Little did I know what would happen when you enter 5 quilts in one quilt show. I was hoping that maybe one of my quilts would be good enough to be awarded a ribbon but not all five. That is when everything changed. I won the American Patchwork and Quilting Sweepstakes award in 2009. I did not even know what that was when they told me. I was just entering quilts to share, not expecting any big award. I was now going to be featured in the Quilter’s Spotlight of the American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. I was told they have never in the history have had a first time entrant enter five quilts and win five ribbons. At that point I decided to branch out and started entering AQS shows and the big one, the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX.
In 2009 I started designing and making my own quilt patterns. I had always used a pattern but the next quilt I made, I wanted it to be special. It was going to be our 25th wedding Anniversary quilt. I finished it in 2010. It turned out so nice, I entered in the World of Beauty contest at the International Quilt Festival. It got accepted to be displayed in the show. I was thrilled. Then about a month later I received a phone call from the office at the International Quilting Association – my quilt had won a ribbon. They wanted to know if I would be present at the awards ceremony in Houston, TX. I was so excited. My special 25th wedding anniversary quilt would be on display for over 50,000 people to see. I was going to Houston and the International Quilt Festival for the first time.
At the show I met a number of The Quilt Show members. Quilting was starting to develop into a chance to travel and make new friends. In 2010, I was asked to join a quilting group. We called ourselves the Amazing 9. In 2011, I went with these new found quilting friends, to a retreat at the Ricky Tims Art Studio in La Veta, Colorado. There we discussed a new group project. It was the beginnings of our Koshare Indian Dancer quilt. We worked on the quilt all winter long and in 2012 we entered our quilt in the International Quilt festival. From 2010 – present, I have had 4 quilts juried in to the International Quilt Festival in Houston. These quilts have also been juried into the Des Moines AQS show, along with Road to California, and MQS (Machine Quilters Showcase). One of my quilts was featured in a special Exhibit, entitled All That Jazz at the Road to California show.
In 2012 I spread my wings again and went across the ocean and exhibited a few of my quilts into the International Quilt Festival of Ireland. What a fun time. It was always a dream to go to Ireland and what a better time to go and attend an International Quilt Festival.
In 2013, I was asked to be the Director of Quilt Exhibits for the International Quilt Festival organized by Jim West and Sew Many Places. I was thrilled at the opportunity. After months and months of planning, I journeyed once again over to the beautiful country of Ireland. What a wonderful Festival it was. A quilt show like no other, with themed exhibits. With this opportunity, I was then asked if I would like to teach on a cruise. It was an immediate, “YES”. I am now teaching on cruise ships and going as a helper for Sew Many Places and Craftours.
Times have really changed since I entered my first quilt show back in 2009 at the Iowa State Fair. I am now a long arm quilter and have started designing and making patterns. One of my patterns was published by Ricky Tims and is called Ocean of Dreams. My quilt Summertime Fun is featured in the gallery section of Ricky’s Kool Kalidescope book. My most recent excitement was being featured in an ad by Gammill Quilting Systems with one of my quilting friend and Amazing 8 group member, Dana Lynch. The Gammill ad appeared in all the major quilting magazines. We were even featured on the back of the show book at the AQS Paducah Quilt show this spring. I want to encourage everyone to enter their quilts, share their passion, and just have fun. You never know what exciting opportunities lay ahead.