Quilting and bag making for me is more than a hobby. It is a world of passion, art and self-expression.
Sometimes I get the opportunity to go through my quilts and bags, organize them, and take them to a guild or group that has asked me to speak. There, I tell the story of each one of them, all the while encouraging others to express themselves through quilting and sewing.
I have an online scrapbook of some of my quilts.
Since I discovered the world of design I have never looked back. I’ve created a good many quilt patterns but more recently have found a new niche – bag design.
Although my business began as a hobby it is now a full fledged operation with a line of patterns, and my own line of bag hardware, bag zippers and notions to support bag makers.
As well, I hold trunk shows and classes. I teach others how to make bags in person and with online video classes. I have even traveled as far away as China to teach and speak!
I started working out of the unfinished basement of our home but over the years, as I became more well known I have been able to convert it into a lovely studio space for my sewing and design work. Upstairs there are beautiful quilts and quilted wall-hangings in every room — bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, etc. And of course there are lots of bag samples filling all the spare bedroom closets. I still make quilts but not as often as before. Sometimes I’ll lay out my quilts on the living room floor to bind — and that can spell trouble with Harry the cat in residence!
The first quilt I ever knew adorned my bed when I was a little girl. Mrs. Archibald, a farmer’s wife in Seaforth Ontario, made it from bleached flour bags and calico. She gave it to my immigrant parents, who had very little of their own when they first came to Canada to work on the Archibald farm. I now know that it was made with a churn dash block and its variations (Sometimes also called ‘hole in the barn door’). That quilt saw a lot of use and was much loved and admired by me.
I learned to sew myself when I was very small. My friend Ingrid and I would make Doll clothes by hand. I came over so often, her mother told Ingrid that if I was going to come over to sew, I should bring my own thread!
Art was always my favourite and most rewarding subject throughout my school years, but that ended after my first year of college when the graphic arts program I was enrolled in was cancelled. When I applied to other colleges and showed them my portfolio, I was told that I had little talent for three dimensional depiction (i.e. sketching), and they refused to admit me.
Somehow I myself never made the connection between art and sewing despite my constant artistic pursuits! From Doll Clothes, I had graduated into making my own clothes. Sewing in Home Economics however was exceedingly dull due to the slow pace and lack of instant gratification when projects extended 10 months before seeing results.
When I married, I learned that my husband’s family was steeped in quilting tradition. Both of his grandmothers quilted, and even one of his grandfathers would quilt. Wes Miller was a London Ontario tinsmith who would cut block patterns out of tin; his quilting stitch was sure, swift and even. He and his wife Edna Miller would quilt into the long hours of the night together; they would sell their quilts to make a few extra dollars just to get by.
My husband’s mother’s mother, Edna Patterson, had a more rustic quilting touch; but she managed to create quilts for every child’s wedding, and every grandchild’s birth, up until the year she died. My husband’s mother, Estella Miller, and all of her sisters have carried on the tradition of quilting, and I feel privileged now to count myself among the many in the family who quilt.
Just prior to the birth of my own son I began my first quilt, using the books of Georgia Bonesteel, and the ‘Quilt as you go method’. I quickly completed two double-sized quilts. I did not quite catch the quilting bug at that time, however. I now had quilts for all our beds. That was enough of bed covering!
Time passed as I pursued other amateur artistic endeavours: stained glass, pen and ink, painting in watercolours, acrylics, oils, making many household objects, both crocheted and knitted, etc. I became president of the Strathroy Art Group, where I live. Through the Strathroy Art Group I met Tim and Shirley Bobier. Shirley is now the owner of “The Marsh Store”, a quilt store in Coldstream Ontario. Shirley was the quilter extraordinaire of the area who viewed quilting as an art form, not just a means of providing warm blankets.
It was through Shirley’s profound insight that I was able to finally put my love of art and my love of sewing fabric together, and I rediscovered quilting with renewed passion.
This website chronicles some of that passion.