My mother taught me to sew at a young age, as her mother had taught her. Each time I sit at the sewing machine I think of her and my place in our family's history of sewists (I bet she'd laugh at that term)! The feel of the silky binding on a wool blanket, my many first-day-of-school dresses, my daughter's nursery window curtains are all vivid, precious visual and tactile memories to me.
Having accumulated many yards of beautiful new fabrics over the years, I'm now trying to use what I have and limit my new purchases (the production of cotton cloth is not a particularly clean or sustainable industry). My diminishing stash of truly precious fabric (pieces from my mom's apron, my dad's pajamas, dresses I made for my girls) is used sparingly but lovingly in most of the "scrappy" baby quilts that I make. Small bits may even find their way into some of my art quilts.
The first quilts I made were for my three daughters and then for friends' babies. I machine piece and generally hand-quilt these - a process that I dearly love.
I discovered early on that I got bored easily making block after block in a repetitive pattern with a limited selection of fabrics. Working improvisationally was a lot more fun and I typically use lots of different fabrics within one quilt. Sometimes I get into trouble due to this lack of planning, but often in those cases necessity pushes me to find creative solutions to those problems.
The daily, utilitarian nature of bed quilts still has a very strong appeal to me and I like being linked to this long history of "women's work." By incorporating scraps and pre-used fabrics I happily join the chorus who say "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"
I'm dedicated to making a certain number of "Benefit Quilts" each year which I donate through my quilt guild to local organizations that support women and children at risk. These quilts, in order to be strong enough to stand up to considerable wear and tear, are typically machine quilted.
I was first motivated to create an art quilt (a piece smaller than a bed quilt and made to hang on the wall) when asked to donate one as a fund raiser to my guild's annual show. Being able to start and finish a piece quickly was a real kick! It also provided an opportunity to experiment with a pattern or technique on a small scale before attempting it in a larger format. I soon began exploring with adding other materials and even small objects onto the surface of the fabric, something wholly inappropriate for bed quilts.
Thus began the age of the scavenger, which then led me to experimenting in 3-D assemblages (see Mixed Media).
When I started showing and selling my work, my small art quilts weren't framed, they were hung by a dowel inserted into a fabric sleeve on the back. However, I came to realize that for some folks in the general public these small, unframed textile pieces were mistaken for pot-holders! Therefore, in an effort to give my work more "validity," I tried framing some of the smaller pieces and like the way it gives them a certain formality.