A. I started writing The Quilt Ladies over 12 years ago. The "Ladies" started in about 1993. I was working at the Sioux City IA, Public Library and a mother of a little girl came up to me and asked, "Do you have anything like this for me?" she was holding up a popular children's book, that is presented in a series form. Our library had nothing. For days after she left I had it in my head. I could do it. I love writing and I love quilting. I put them together and I have The Quilt Ladies.
So, with the first three books finished I took them and the quilts to craft shows and did what teaching I could. At that time I printed, fold and stapled each book myself. Over the course of this time, 1995 to 2007 we moved from Sioux City, IA to Windom, MN, then to Spirit Lake IA to where we are now, Nebraska.
In the fall of 2007 at the age of 49 I had a heart attack at work (I was a bank teller). As the surgeon, pushed the wire through my body, he asked, “How much stress are you under?” “Just like everyone else.” And then he said it, “Are you happy?” Taking a very deep breath and trying not to cry, I said, “No.” And from the nurse who had said nothing up to this time, “You have a sad heart.”
That’s when I changed everything, my job, my outlook, everything, in one long hospital stay !
Husband asked one evening late in the hospital, “If you could do anything?” And I answered, “Take The Quilt Ladies national.” And that’s what I’m trying to do now. So, The Quilt Ladies became my focus.
Q. What are some of your favorite designs in quilting?
A. I like working with the traditional patterns and seeing what I can do to make them new or different. From the traditional patterns I have to say, the “Ohio Star” and the “Friendship Star” are my always go to patterns for a quick quilt. The words, quick and quilt, kind of an oxymoron.
Q. Throughout history, quilts have told stories, contained secret messages in times of turmoil, and were a form of comfort as well as decoration. Do you ever look to the rich
quilting past for inspiration? Where do you think quilting is headed in the 21st Century?
A. I love old quilts and I’m very lucky to own a few. I have a wonderful quilt my Great, Great Grandmother, made for my Mother’s 8th Birthday. I don’t use it and just recently pictured it and my Mother was here. It was a wonderful afternoon of stories and memories. I read everything I can get my hands on about quilts and quilt makers. It’s true each quilt does have a story.
Right now, quilting is growing in many directions, from design such as art quilts, all the machine quilting, over lays of patterns and textures. I love hand quilting and I hope it is not becoming a lost art. It’s easy to hand a quilt off to a machine quilter, write and check and it’s done. Those quilts have their place. But, I don’t think you can be a true quilter without taking a needle to the cloth. But, only when you crawl into your bed and under a hand quilted quilt will you understand. There is nothing better to me !
I teach a hand piecing class and recently had a 15 year old girl attend. Her grandmother was in the class too and I’m sure it was a gift to Grandma to have her attend. It was VERY slow going with her, but when the first couple seams and then a block came together, she was hooked. You don’t need a $3ooo machine to do quilts. They were done on wagon trains, by candle light and without a computer attachment. I think as Quilters or any craft person, we need to honor the traditions of the past.
Q. Have you found blogging to be another creative experience to embrace?
A. My blog started as a way for me to have friends and family watch me make my dream a reality. I had the books professional printed, ordered them ISBN numbers and gave them life. It is just 2 years of blogging and it has turned into everything I love quilts, decorating, food, family and laughter. My numbers keep growing and I’m honored to be included in someone’s daily life as they view my blog.
Q. Beth, we are really inspired by how you have combined writing and quilting. Do you have any upcoming creative projects that you would like to share with us?
A. The Quilt Ladies Books are my joy, heart and friends. They have taken me on an unbelievable ride and they will be with me forever. When I started them I never dreamed of 12 books. I never thought I would self -publish and be a solo business owner.
But, after seeing life through my mother’s eyes, moving to assisted living, the loneliness and the endless time, I hope The Quilt Ladies keep my life full through my 90’s.
I have a couple new projects. I’ve created a new EBook series, “Little Quilt Ladies” They are a quilt pattern series and to date I have 2 books. I’m always asked, “Why is it “Little Quilt Ladies?” No story is included with the “Little Quilt Ladies” just patterns. Without having to hold inventory of these books, I can give value and a wonderful product all in one. A new EBook will be available very soon too, From Traditional to Classic.
Little Quilt Ladies 25 quilt patterns with instructions to make into 9 quilts
Get to the Center of It 18 Patterns with complete instructions made into 6 quilts.
Next, is a book from my talk “From Dream to Reality” I’m always asked for it. Talking the talk has been easier than writing the book, but I’ve set a 6 month goal and I’m working away !
Thank you Beth for speaking to the history of quilting and sharing your wonderful books and point of view. You really inspire us to follow the thread of our own creative lives and to accomplish our goals.
Please visit Beth on the following links:
The Quilt Ladies Collection
Creating The Hive