I grew up in a creative family. Three women in my early childhood influenced my creativity, my maternal grandmother, Luella, my Aunt Louise, and my mother, Beverly.
My grandmother quilted, however, she tied her quilts rather than quilting them. She liked to do a lot of Trips Around the World quilts which I have always wanted to try but have been a little intimidated by them. I didn’t live close enough to her to be tutored at her side. She definitely could have given me some pointers. She also loved to crochet and knit.
My aunt Louise was an avid quilter. She always had a quilt on a frame in her basement and all her girlfriends would come over and sit around those quilts and hand stitch elaborate designs in them. She was always encouraging my sister and I to learn to quilt. Unfortunately, I didn’t live close to her either, however, I have tried hand quilting and I love it. There is something so therapeutic about it.
My mom was a crafter extraordinaire! She could do anything and usually did, but she did not quilt. She was an amazing seamstress, and she could sew anything! She made most of our clothing (5 kids!) as well as bedding, curtains, stuffed animals and lots of Barbie and doll clothes. She often sewed for other people making maternity clothes and wedding dresses.
I dabbled in clothing construction but didn’t really enjoy it. From the time I was little I was using my mom’s scrap fabrics and making very rudimentary clothing for my Barbie's (they were really bad!) I sewed for myself and children as well, but my enjoyment came from decorating and making things for my home. Honestly, I’ve been sitting at a sewing machine for practically most of my life!
"Art to Heart" Books Started It All
When my husband and I moved to the Northwest, one of my girlfriends (shout out to Linda!) got me hooked on making small quilting projects from Art to Heart books by Nancy Halvorson. I own quite of few of those books! I would say that was the beginning of my journey into quilting.
Then I joined a quilt group with ladies from my church and I was hooked! However, it didn’t come all at once.
My very first quilt, I bought all the fabric and pattern for and then put it in the closet for about 5 years because I was so scared to start it. It had over 500 flying geese in it! No wonder! And that was WAY back before there was any such thing as flying geese paper or triangles-on-a-roll or anything else that made quilting a little easier. To say I was intimidated was an understatement!
But with everything else, practice makes perfect and each year that passed and each project I did, I got a little better. If it weren’t for my sister buying me my first quilting supplies (thanks Lisa!) and my sweet mentor, who I consider my second mom, (shout out here to Barbara Perkins!), I would not be where I am now.
My Journey Led Me to Longarm Quilting
During the pandemic, I made about 15-20 quilt projects, but my longarm quilter was so far behind due to the pandemic, that I waited almost 7 months to get some of my quilts back. It was then that I started thinking that I needed to learn to longarm quilt my own quilts. This is where the hubby comes in . . . to save the day . . . like prince charming!
I thought I was going to buy a Handi Quilter Moxie so I could “just mess around with it.” Oh no, my husband had bigger, better, grander ideas and we left that little sewing store with a BIG Handi Quilter Amara and a 10’ frame.
Two problems: I had nowhere to put a 10’ frame and I didn’t know the first thing about quilting on a longarm! And thus, a new journey began. It was the next step, really. It was time for me to learn something new and expand my knowledge and expertise.
Were there tears? Were there swearwords! Oh YES! Yes, there were! Lots of them! Remember when I said practice makes perfect . . . well, that applies here as well. And you know, it’s amazing how far I’ve come in a short period of time. I’m loving every minute of this journey! I have even mastered quilting on my domestic machine, and it is so fun and addicting that’s all I want to do now!
The Start of Mama J Quilts
Ok, enough of all of that! You want to know how I came up with the name Mama J Quilts. Well, it was really a no brainer. My teenage kids had friends. A lot of them. And I worked at a high school, in the business office, where all the teenagers hung out, signed up for sports, and paid their bills. And... I worked with teenagers at church. What did all those teenagers call me? Mama J.
I’ve been Mama J to a lot of kiddos, and it just stuck. My parking spot at the high school was painted “Mama J.” What can I say? So, there you have it. That’s how Mama J Quilts was born, and, like a child, it is growing. Won’t you follow along on this journey with me? I would love to have you as my quilty friend!