Quilt Stories Archives - Handi Quilter

And I Quilt Personality, Dorien Keusseyan

This week we hear from And I Quilt personality, Dorien Keusseyan. Dorien is a hockey player, a mom, and she quilts. Before COVID, Dorien led an active, busy life as an athlete and mother, but always found time for quilting.

A pandemic has a way of changing what everyday life looks like. But it didn’t change Dorian’s love of quilting and giving. She dug deep into her favorite endeavor to find a place of peace. And she found a way to comfort a friend along the way. Here’s her story:

 

My COVID escape

Quilting keeps me going, especially in these most recent times of uncertainty. My hours used to be filled with a part-time job and sports, both playing and watching. When COVID-19 hit, and hit hard, it turned so many people’s worlds around, including mine. These freed-up hours left me with less of an identity in a way, too, and with no real good news on the news, unrest started to overtake me. I needed an escape. My Handi Quilter Amara did just this for me.

Dorian Kuesseyan and her Amara

Making masks

It was during those first few months that I, like so many of us with the gift of sewing talent, turned to my machines for mask-making. Making masks for friends, family, and donation kept my mind busy and made me feel like I was making a difference. I did make a difference. We all made a difference, a very important difference. I am thankful for keeping my family safe and share that with others.

Quilting

Once I made a few hundred masks, I turned to my quilting, a more artistic outlet. I have always been a better person when busy, so that’s what I did, I kept busy with Ms. Amara. Since the COVID shut down I pieced and gave away 9 quilts, most of them queen sized! Imagine, my husband thought I’d never use all the fabric I had. I continue to sew and quilt several hours each day. I also quilted many benefit quilts for my guild. I try to do ten each month.

I managed to quilt for hire a bunch of tops for some folks near me too. Quilting and spreading love and happiness puts me in my happy place. Buying my Handi Quilter was perhaps one of the best and most fulfilling things I have ever done. Not only is my studio my favorite place in the house, it makes me feel complete. I am part of a community, the Handi Quilter community, and feel like we are all family.

Focus

Quilting demands attention to detail and focus, which clears my head. This escape is amazing. I love creating and showing off the finished product, social media is a great forum for this. Cruising social media groups is also a great place for collecting ideas for projects. Often when I am stumped for an idea for a place to start with a top, I turn to the internet.

Bringing the community together

One of those nine quilts that I made during the early part of COVID really brought my community together when we needed it most. The school nurse at Arlington High School, Sarah Lee Bolt, who is a friend and neighbor, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I happened to be at the gym, where I worked as a personal trainer, with another friend and neighbor who informed me of this. This client at the gym mentioned to me that the signup genie was all full, so I thought, there’s gotta be something I can do for her, as she has done so much for our community and my sons in particular. I’m betting you can guess what I did? Yup, made a quilt.

It was a community effort though! I ironed muslin onto freezer paper. Thankfully, I had it on hand since all the shops were closed. And started an email and texting effort to get other friends and neighbors of hers to write inspiration and healing messages on these squares with fabric markers. I planned to put them together into a quilt.

A parade!

After a few weeks and lots of coordination, I had 48 blocks! I can’t tell you how many people who got the bag with the blocks were in tears after reading the finished blocks. It still brings goose pimples to me just typing this. Once complete, we neighbors organized a car parade that actually made the local news!

This quilt was incredibly uplifting for her and got me thru that first month, when I wasn’t sure how long things were going to be like they are – this new normal. My new normal includes escaping with everything quilting!

Thanks, Dorien! I think so many of us quilters can relate to your story. Keep on quilting, it’s a life safer!

 

Quilting For a Special Little Boy

Jeresther Thorpe, And I Quilt personality, Principal, Mom, and Quilter, joins us again this week with her story of quilting for a special little boy. She shared a couple of weeks ago just what quilting means to her and what she gets from quilting. Sometimes we are called to do something hard, something big, something important. Quilters have what it takes! Here is Jeresther’s story:

Quilting For a Special Little Boy

As I shared, I find healing, peace, joy, celebration, and life in quilting, which is why most of my quilting (completed quilts) are done and gifted to others. This summer, I was honored to participate in a “Dream Come True” room makeover project for a special little boy.

Earlier in the school year, I nominated a student from my school for this special project. He had lost both of his parents to gun violence, most recently his mother this past October. This little guy, six years old, had now lost both of his parents. Of course, he was struggling with sleeping at night, and he spent many days and weeks following his mom’s death in my office, curled up in one of my blankets or quilts for a short nap, a safe place to rest.

A service project for teen leaders

In my nomination, I wrote, if we could give K.S. a room or space specifically designed to provide him with a place to rest, dream, and hope, it would be life-changing. He needed to feel warmth, love, and security again; then, he could rest and begin to dream again. Needless to say, he was selected, and the project theme was formed. The “Dream Come True” Room Makeover Edition of the Southeastern Regional Teen Conference Service Project of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Teen leaders from 5 States raised over $4000 for K.S.’s room make-over.

Due to the pandemic, there were many delays with product and material deliveries. But it didn’t stop a determined mom, principal, and designer fueled by a group of teens wanting to make this happen!

Quilt for a specail little boy

Making it special

As we were getting to know K.S. and gain a better understanding of his home life, the sadness and loss was woven in the very fabric of their lives, his little brother, his grandmother now caretaker, and his life and living space. Even though we had connected K.S. to a special program and summer camp designed to support his grief and healing, as well as family counseling, the family was struggling with moving forward and managing his mother’s personal items and things. So the designer and I were asked to find a healthy way to honor his mother’s memory within his room design.

The designer created a memory box to house and display small keepsakes. I was asked to make a memory quilt for K.S. His grandmother had gathered a few of his mom’s clothing items; her favorite pajama shirt, a work shirt, a t-shirt, and her favorite comfy dress.

As a mom, principal, and quilter, my heart was overwhelmed with the honor of this request and the need to make it as special as humanly possible.  And then I had a quilter’s panic attack.

An important quilt

Oh, my goodness did I!  Now, remember, I find life and healing in quilting, and it was time to bring those energies forward. But all I could do was pray. For a moment, I was so afraid that I could not do it.

This quilt was so special and the fabric of his mother’s memories. At age six, he doesn’t fully understand his grandmother’s request.  To have these special fabrics, a shirt, PJs, and a dress, made into a quilt, but one day he will. And I thought, “Can I do it justice?” I am a newbie in so many ways; this quilt deserves a world-famous, highly experienced quilter. I started looking for my rolodex. And then I saw his little face. All those weeks he spent curled up with a quilt or blanket in my office trying to find a few minutes of escape from his sadness and loss.

 

I remembered why I quilt, and I knew I had to make him this quilt. More importantly, I knew it would be perfectly wonderful. Because in the many nights to come, K.S. would be able to wrap himself in a quilt that would bring him warmth, sweet memories, and dreams. Each stitch, pieced and quilted, was a prayer for K.S. that all of his dreams will come true.

With hope for a better tomorrow.

Thank you Jeresther for summoning your quilter super powers and rising to the task of quilting for a special little boy. And thank you for sharing your story. I know it will inspire our readers.

And I Quilt Personality, Jeresther Thorpe

This week we hear from And I Quilt Personality, Jeresther Thorpe. Jeresther is a school principal, a mom, and she quilts. All of us who quilt know the process of starting a project, bringing the fabrics together and and having the pieces fall into place to create that warm, comforting thing of beauty that we know as a quilt. It takes a lot of thought, effort, and time but in the end it’s all worth it. A lot of things in life are like that. Jeresther knows this very well……

And I Quilt

In the midst of the pandemic, like everyone, my life was turned upside down. As public school elementary teachers and principals, it went against the very fibers of our beings not to be in school. For educators, the spring semester is like the biggest Quilt Festival & Show all in one. All of our students’ excellent work and growth are on display. The pieces are coming together to make this beautiful quilt. We adjusted the pattern and dimensions along the way to make it “just-the-right fit.” Now it’s quilted with these beautiful designs, some strategic and some totally wild and free, but beautifully made. It’s a true celebration of accomplishment; we share our techniques and strategies as we begin planning for next year’s design.

Quilting for Healing

Just imagine the loss of not being together in person. Not celebrating the school year’s successes or closing traditions of one school year while planning for the next. In the midst of it all, we kept learning and moving forward. We changed our platforms and learned to navigate this new frontier of remote learning in a virtual world. As passionate and committed educators, we rose the occasion. At the end of many long days, I found myself in my sewing studio in front of my Sweet Sixteen, releasing and receiving energy through free motion quilting.

Jeresther thorpe

Allowing my mind to relax and wonder while learning new techniques and creating new designs. Thinking of the next steps for work. I have always valued Arts in Education. I genuinely believe it enhances students thinking and problem-solving skill development and supports cross-curriculum concept development. As a quilter, I see pattern pieces in curriculum development and design. You have to have foundational techniques to move to the complex-piecing, from a simple four-patch to the disappearing nine patch to a paper pieced hexagon-star quilt. We start at the necessary foundation, and we build the top, add in the supports, batting, and backing. Then we quilt the design, bringing the top, middle, and backing together to create something substantial and lasting. The thought and process is a healing experience that leads to the next design, to dream, to hope.

Thank you Jeresther!

I think many of us dove deep into our quilting as we navigated our way to deal with what is going on in the world. And you have inspired us to learn from our quilting experiences and apply them to the very fiber of our lives.

Please take a few minutes to watch Jeresther’s And I Quilt video which we are featuring this month. You’ll be even more inspired!

And I Quilt Personality, Kelsey Cooley

I am pleased to have And I Quilt personality, Kelsey Cooley, join us on the blog this week. Kelsey is a CPA, a daughter, and she QUILTS! Her Mom, Janie, introduced her to the art, and now the two are regular quilting buddies.

and i quilt Kelsey cooley

Kelsey joins us from Dallas, Texas, and she shares just why she quilts. And she has some very good whys!

The Reason Why I Quilt

I became a quilter while I was in college and what began as a pastime soon became more. I am now a part of a unique community of quilters, I discovered an outlet for my creative side, and quilting brings a soothing comfort to my soul.

Community

Quilting allows me to be able to share something special with others. Growing up, I always knew that Mrs. Susan, my mom’s dear friend, was a quilter, but I had not yet discovered that I would also enjoy putting together different fabrics and piecing them together with a pattern. When Mrs. Susan, my mom, and I put together a quilt in a weekend, I was hooked. Not only did I learn the process of piecing a quilt top, I was able to laugh and spend precious time with my loved ones.

Soon after, Mrs. Susan introduced my mom and me to a bi-annual retreat where I soon realized that age disappears when you share something so unique. I was able to meet many different women with many different styles. These women have been quilting for many years and it is so much fun to sit and sew all weekend and share stories with each other. We give input to each other about different fabric choices and quilting techniques. We also keep up with each other and our families throughout the year in our private Facebook group. I never anticipated that I would have a community with this group of people. It is one thing that I cherish every day.

Kelsey Cooley

Interwoven by Lo & Behold Stitchery

Creativity

Spending hours selecting the perfect fabric and pattern, piecing a top, quilting the final product, and finally seeing the recipient’s face when they open your gift is the main reason why I do what I do. By nature, I am a task-oriented and analytical person whose favorite subject is math. Recently, I realized that while growing up I was always searching for a more creative outlet, but never was able to find my craft until I discovered quilting. Picking out fabrics allowed me to flex my creative muscles. By learning more about color theory, I have been able to push myself to use different color ways to create unique quilt tops.n

creative people quilt Happy Together by Sew Kind of Wonderful

Quilting breathes life into the quilt. At first, I solely pieced tops and paid to have them quilted. At times, I still consider having other people contribute to a specific quilt’s journey, but I wanted to learn how to do it as well. I started with ruler work on the Avanté and graduated to the Pro-Stitcher (highly recommended). Whether it is a subtle pattern that lets the quilt top shine or something more intricate that brings the quilt to life, quilting can bring out the beauty of a pieced top. I have enjoyed picking out quilting patterns just as much as picking out coordinating fabrics. What is even better is that my mom and I share an HQ machine, so we get to put our heads together and come up with a final masterpiece. It is so satisfying to see the finished product and know that I completed it from beginning to end.

Comfort

Living in the Texas climate, a quilt is not used for physical warmth very often. However, I find wrapping myself in a quilt warms my soul. When my favorite season, fall, does finally appear, I enjoy sipping warm coffee on a crisp fall morning with a quilt wrapped around me while watching Gilmore Girls.

Quilting is personal. It allows me to be a part of a unique, treasured community, where I can broaden my creativity; and I find comfort in it whether I’m physically wrapped in a quilt or shared moments that I can wrap myself in.

Thanks so much Kelsey! It’s so fun getting to know our And I Quilt personality and all quilters. What are your WHYS for quilting? Please share in the comments. And be sure to watch Kelsey’s full length video. You can find it here.

by Mary Beth Krapil

Quilt Stories

 

At Handi Quilter we love to hear quilt stories. How a quilt came to be, what techniques were used, how the maker came to quilting. This curiosity is the inspiration for our And I Quilt campaign. Getting to know quilters is fun and fascinating!

quilt stories with Lisa Walton

Lisa Walton is a textile artist living in Sydney, Australia and she is doing a series of YouTube videos called Quilt Stories. In this series Lisa is interviewing accomplished quilters from around the world. I’d like to highlight two of the quilters here. Both of them quilt on Handi Quilter longarm machines.

Birgit Schueller

Birgit Schueller is a Handi Quilter Ambassador from Germany, and she quilts on an HQ Infinity with Pro-Stitcher.   She’s an award-winning quilter who discovered piecing, patchwork and quilting by accident in 2001. She has been operating her successful longarm machine quilting business with an international customer base since 2005. Lisa talked with Birgit about her quilt The Sprinter.

Birgit quilted The Sprinter with her Pro-Stitcher. She digitized her own designs for this wonderful quilt. Check out the fabulous quilting!

quilt stories the sprinter

You can watch Lisa and Birgit here.

 

Margaret Solomon Gunn

quilt stories MS Gunn

Margaret Solomon Gunn is an award-winning quilter who quilts on an HQ Fusion. All of her work is hand-guided. Margaret’s studio is in Gorham, Maine. She has degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering, and nearly 20 years of professional engineering experience.  Her quilting is amazingly detailed and I’m sure her background in engineering plays a role. Margaret has been providing machine quilting services to clients for 10 years and somehow finds time to create stunning show quilts. Lisa talked with Margaret about her quilt, The Value of Violet.

Margaret combines template work with free motion quilting. Enjoy these photos of her quilt.

You can watch Lisa and Margaret here.

Lisa shares the stories of other quilters in her Quilt Stories series, so be sure to check them all out. They are delightful and I confess to binge watching!

by Mary Beth Krapil

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