I frequently get asked how I went from being an accountant to a full-time quilter as that doesn’t seem like a natural progression. However the real story is how I moved from a craft imitator to a creative quilt designer.
I never considered myself a very creative person. If someone gave me a coloring book, I was the one who colored within the lines. I completely failed at Pictionary (the game where you had to draw clues to get people to guess a word or a phrase). My artistic ventures included paint by number kits, string art kits and eventually counted cross stitch projects.
In high school, my elective classes were business classes, not art or even home-ec. I majored in accounting in college and after graduating moved to Minneapolis to work for a large accounting firm.
In my late 20s, a friend persuaded me to take a quilting class at a local chain store which introduced me to using a sewing machine as I struggled through my first quilt. After that class, I went and purchased my first sewing machine – a Kenmore.
Here is my not so pretty quilt from that class -- never finished. If you zoom in, you can see the four stitches to an inch quilting.
A year later I walked into my first quilt shop and fell in love with a small double wedding ring wall hanging and asked the shop owner if I could take the class, and turn it into a queen size quilt for my bed. That quilt and learning the process to create it energized me in a way accounting never had done.
I began signing up for classes (a lot of them) and buying books, patterns and magazines. As I would look at a quilt, I would start to think about how I would like to make it different. Maybe change out the fabrics, maybe change to a more efficient piecing method, or maybe change the size. Have you ever had those thoughts?
I purchased some graph paper and tried to sketch out my ideas. But I couldn’t make it work, and I would quickly wear a hole in my graph paper as I kept modifying my design. And I had no idea on how to work with designs that weren’t based on a square grid.
In April 1999, I heard of a program called Electric Quilt and thought that might be able to help me. EQ4 was pretty basic compared to EQ8, but I finally had a tool that I could use to redraft blocks from my purchased patterns and magazines.
As I began to use the tool, I found that I got more and more comfortable branching out and trying new things that weren’t included in a pattern or picture. I would do a lot of “what if” playing. This really is one of the best features of EQ. The more I played, the more I gained confidence not only in using EQ, but in my own creativity.
On the right you can see one of my early designs.
At the request of a local quilt shop, I began teaching Electric Quilt. This was before laptops – so we just toted a bunch of desktop computers into the shop and put two students at each computer. This branched into doing Block of the Month and shop hop patterns and even a row by row quilt for a cookbook sponsored by a group of shops. All of this was done using Electric Quilt and Word.
I eventually formalized my business with the name On Point Quilter and created a website. I started blogging weekly and began producing videos sharing how to use Electric Quilt. Electric Quilt found my videos and began sharing them in their newsletter. They also asked me to create an online class for them and teach at their EQ Academy.
In May 2015, I made the very scary decision to leave my corporate job and become a full-time quilter. I began marketing some of my quilt patterns and began to look at options to expand my training of Electric Quilt.
With the release of EQ8, I made the decision to focus my quilting business on educating quilt lovers to using the software I had come to love and use every day. I introduced Tech Know Quilters (an online membership that provides both training and support for those desiring to master Electric Quilt). Electric Quilt published my first book EQ8 Drawing Blocks.
I now spend most of my days at the computer, developing new classes and videos and responding to questions on Facebook.
I have created hundreds of quilts, both from patterns and my own designs. All my own designs (and a large % of those from purchased patterns) were drafted (or redrafted) in Electric Quilt.
Whether you plan to “re-make” a pattern or design original works of art, I look forward to supporting you on your Electric Quilt journey.
Electric Quilt Expert and Educator and Pattern Designer.