Quilts are my passion. If you don't know me, read on to understand why.
My hope is that a timeline of sorts possibly will provide the best view of what is to be.
In order to understand why you need to look at the big picture. Here's some history.
You see, my Mom was a 4-H Leader. 4-H is where we have the opportunity learn "how-to-do" many things.
For me, sewing at eight years old was my start. Pillow cases, skirts, but not quilts. She taught me on her Singer.
And, by the way, she still uses it today.
However, I did not start quilting until, my son, Shareef arrived.
That was 41 years ago. At 19 with no quilting experience, I was able to make my first quilt from 2" squares. It consisted of wool, silk, polyester, cotton/blends and whatever else I could find at the time to use (didn't know anything). Being self-taught, I didn't have any experience or knowledge in what I was going to make. I did have my powerful Mother's influence, so the sewing skills were helpful.
So, I just sewed all the squares together. Now, looking back, it is NOT something I'd have wanted to share with anyone.
It really was awful, but I loved creating it. Should have kept it, but think it was used by our door as a rug. At least, it was used! Actually, I really should not call it a quilt as there was no batting and it never got quilted. It was a quilt top.
At that time, we lived in Yakima, Washington. I worked at Bailey Corporation, on the hemline, because I was fast with my hands. There, learning about "factory production", was very interesting. You see Bailey Corporation made plain pocket pants, denim type pants for JCPenney. Spent some of my lunch hours, dumpster diving for zippers and thread along with a few others. They were free and you know recycling is good.
We moved back from WA and going back to school was needed. While at MTI for computer skills, I started looking for a job, closer to graduation. Going to interviews, being nervous and not sure if this is what I should do, really had me thinking.
Before long I had a job before graduation at Golden State Business Systems in Sacramento. It was a fun job. With awesome owners (Collen and Doug), I drove around town selling calculators and HP computers. It was a great learning experience. My boss Hal, was a very good teacher, taught me a great deal, but we had a little personality clash. Not a bad thing, I just learned so much the personality thing didn't affect my work. In my travels, I met Jean and Ernie Navarro. Ernie (an Angel) asked me if I wanted to work for them? He wanted to pay me more. But, I was already employed. So, for him to see how smart I was. He asked if I could go find out what the "wholesale" cost was on an Apple II E computer system if so I had a job. I found out and was hired. At the time the Apple IIE was hot and it was hush-hush how much it cost. I'm very grateful to those who helped me with my computer skill building because I use them every day now.
But, just selling computers, it wasn't my passion.
There was Tupperware. Taped the new station wagon pictures (that you got as a manager) from the catalogs all over our apartment on the mirror, by my bed, in the bathroom kitchen everywhere. The new station wagon that you get when you become a manager was the coolest thing, I thought...wow a new car. Tupperware has a great program, but it only lasted about 2 years. You learn about people, selling and all the extra bonuses, trips and making $$.
But, it wasn't my passion.
An AVON lady, it was fun, I loved the perfume, bubble bath and lotions. There were 225 homes in my territory (when they had specific territories).
But, it also wasn't my passion.
At this time in my life I was a little stressed (didn't know anything about OCD) obsessive compulsive disorder, but soon realized, yep I have it too.
I went to a nearby church to talk to a pastor. I walked because it was only about two blocks from our home. When I got there a maintenance man (John) riding a big lawn mower directed me to the Pastor. I met Pastor Kirk, we talked he helped by just listening as I sat crying. He invited me to come to a service and was very kind. Pastor Kirk was not only the Pastor of the Church but the Director of the UGM.
The Sacramento Union Gospel Mission (UGM) does not take government county or state funds, it is operated solely by donations from individuals. I volunteered there for a couple years. It was a bit depressing seeing the clients come in for clothes or a meal knowing they were just going back out on the street. The UGM has the mission to give people the "Spiritual Message", before handing out food, clothes or other services. They have lots of programs, not just food and clothes. After a couple years of volunteering with the women's ministry Pastor Kirk (an Angel) asked me if I wanted a paying job in DEVELOPMENT. "Sure," I said. Already being familiar with the operation, that made it easy, PLUS I would get paid. I just had to learn about fund-raising. How they did it as a non-profit.
January 1989. So, I assisted Pastor Jones in development not sure if I was a secretary or assistant..but I learned what was needed. Quilts, cookbook, coloring books, car washes, and a myriad of projects all in fundraising efforts. The UGM newspaper "The Clarion" is what we published, did almost all of it in-house. It was all about the UGM activities. The programs and what was coming up.
Oh, I'll also need to say "John" on the mower he is the father of our 3 boys. Too much to say here just a timeline of sorts.
About one year later, Pastor Jones resigned. Pastor Kirk asked me into his office and I was a little paranoid. At first I thought I was going to get fired, that was just my crazy thought. But, instead he asked me if I was willing to go to school, that they would pay for it, so I could learn more about "development" (fundraising) and jump from an assistant in development to Director, would I? Okay, so it was challenging.
The non-profit sector and the for-profit sector are two different animals totally. Now, I really enjoyed my job, but what I didn't like was dropping off the boys at the babysitter and waving goodbye. She was great, but it was the loss of being with our boys, they were small.
John decided to leave the Mission and went to truck driving school to make more $, and I feel like his only being home once a month, kinda gypped our boys of time with their father.
So, we talked, decided that if I'm going to work I should work at home and that way I'd be with our boys. So I got a Daycare license for 6 children. I love kids. Need to mention this, when I applied and started going through what you have to do "the training", for daycare in your home, I was told that if you quit it's not the kids which you would think it would be them. It wasn't the kids, it was the parents and that's what they told me... the parents will be the reason you quit.
Okay, so after one year my worker came out to re-license and I told her it was interfering with our family life that I was not going to apply for another license. I promised John if the daycare interfered with our family life, I'd quit.
I had been machine quilting for others about two years as a part-time thing but decided I'd have to beef it up.
So, the internet site Equiltsusa.com became my work. Renting a space was the only way to get my quilt stuff together and have the business separate from our home and family. I needed help though I didn't know what I was doing. Quilting, that was a given, but I didn't know about the internet and website stuff.
Shareef my son, is an IT specialist and doesn't build websites for a living, but he was able to help me get mine started. And, then there's where that computer education at MTI came in handy for me.
There have been three different quilt "stops". The first was about 5 minutes from our home. It was great had a super landlord, Howard. Had a heavily trafficked storefront. And the rent, believe it or not, was $300 a month. The entire "stop" or "shop" if that's what you want to call it was only 300 ft.², really small actually crammed.
While there, there was a list on the wall, because customers coming in were wanting to join a quilt Guild, but they didn't want to go to the big one in Sacramento, but there wasn't anything local. So, I made a list and as soon as there were 12 names on the list of those that were interested, I started doing research. I had been making a few baby quilts and donating them to the local church, but with others, wow, if there were more we could make a lot of quilts.
It didn't take long, the 12 names were there. So research time. I couldn't find any books on how to start a non-profit quilt Guild, so off to IRS. And, I have to say this again, if you want to know something you go to the source you find out the facts don't just listen to what somebody says or they think they know. Every state is different, so if you are thinking of doing this starting a Quilt Guild in your area, check with your local IRS/laws first. And, wrap your heart in soft cotton balls and put it on a shelf, then you will be prepared for what might happen. We spent a year of doing guild stuff, before getting our non-profit status.
We had a meeting, well, I should say it was more of a gathering of those that were interested in forming this group. It was surprising, 125 individuals signed up to join. We actually had to meet outside as there was no room for everyone inside space we set up. And, our local newspaper "City Times" published a good article about what we were going to do.
For about a year we had meetings, didn't know anything (about how the Guild should really operate), but we did make a lot of beautiful quilts. We took sewing machines to the library and made fleece hats for Maryhouse, Sacramento. Our goal was to make 250 in one day. We set up at Sylvan library and made 251 hats. Success!
In 2003, We set up at the Teen Center and made FLAGS for the service workers families. Had an "All-Nighter-Quilt-a-Thon", and the guys really joined in. Not to go on and on what we did, but it was a very active Guild.
We had board meetings and they were not boring. It's amazing what a group can do collectively.
Those wanting to learn how to quilt and those that were already quilting, those are who would be interested.
When our membership grew to 225 we decided we should have two meeting times one during the day one at night. So much happened over these eight years that I'm pondering writing a book about it. It'll be a How-To Instructional Guide. Things happened that were beyond anyone's individual control. Example, our fabric was stolen and kept for ransom, our first-year opportunity quilt was also taken and hidden so we couldn't sell raffle tickets for it. You see to be legal you need to REGISTER with the state if you are going to hold a raffle, we did. I believe it was POLITICS, where does politics fit into quilts. Well, it does. (but it should not)
My Mission Statement "to promote education in a non-competitive environment among people who have a common interest in quilting and performing charitable community service through the making and donating of quilts".
During its operation we donated quilts to several local churches and shipped also to St. Jude Research Hospital 58 the first year with help from Hancock Fabrics. We supplied quilts for the beds at the Eagle's Nest Ranch (UGM's half way house for the Men who want to help them self by going through their program and getting their life together).
One of our members told me early on, actually the first day we gathered that she also had started a Guild in another town and her advice was, "be careful those back stabbing bi_ch_s will take over". And, she is a very nice lady and a beautiful hand quilter. You know at the time I couldn't figure out how people can be mean or nasty when all we're doing is making quilts and sharing. I learned a great deal in those 8 years. There just isn't enough space to write what I'd like and this isn't the correct platform.
Yep, I'm a very emotional person, sat and cried the night before and the morning that we had our last meeting.
January 2009, it was at Stella's our librarians (an Angel) home. It was a sad day for some, I don't think anyone was emotionally devastated as much as I was.
I tried not to show it. But we talked, followed the dissolution of the Guild as we wrote in our Robert's Rules of Order and as our By-Laws stated what would happen if we had to stop.
It wasn't a regular meeting, no charm swaps, no sew-n-tell, no block drawings, no opportunity quilt to get tickets for or to work on, no upcoming events to discuss. Nothing to look forward to, it was over no future.
But, now I view those years and events that happened as training/experience, stuff I needed to learn that will help me and others in the future. Just getting through the reality that it was over was heartbreaking.
The second quilt "stop" was in Roseville. It was upstairs (no elevator). So, that lasted about a year. The most challenging part of that was getting my big long arm machine and 10-foot table upstairs around a winding stairway. There was fabric for sale, quilt block kits, fat quarters, quilt templates, the machine quilting business as a service, and students came for classes one-on-one. It was a "service only" business park and retail selling wasn't allowed. This I only found out AFTER moving in there. So, we moved everything back to my Moms. It is cramped, but it works for today.
I've searched but do not see any other place that can offer it all in one place. There are no architectural plans yet, so you need to envision a large facility. Similar to let's say a Community Center, various sized rooms with activities happening all the time. As a quilter over the years what I believe what really is needed is: A place where all ages can go to learn and experience quilt-making. Not a museum there are many. But, a place a 6, 10, 15, 20, 30 50, 60 years old or whatever age can sit at a machine learn how to put patches together to create a quilt. And, an elevator if needed. The "stairs" thing as we experienced is not good for anyone who is physically challenged.
If it's a wall-hanging, pot holder, Christmas Tree skirt, tote bag, potato bag, fabric bowl, bed quilt, lap robe, doggie bed, and the list goes on and it pretty much endless. Any age male or female. A place where students can work on group projects. A place where not only can they learn to make quilts, but to finish them. Machine quilting and hand quilting. Long arm machines will be there so it is an all-encompassing process. "How to do binding", if you read a quilt magazine or even some free pattern instructions they refer to how to do it, they say "Add binding". That's it. It takes me 11 steps to put on the binding, and most quilters do not like that step. Labels, I believe a label is like an Art Piece with a signature. In my past experience, many quilters don't see the label as part of the quilt, but it is very important.
There are so many techniques and fabrics, patterns, processes and the endless tools.
It's exciting to think about the different activities and projects that can be accomplished. It would create jobs, with encouragement - MORE QUILTERS and skills that a book really can't provide. There are about 1,200 books in my personal quilt library (why so many, OCD). We need books, reading is essential if you can follow instructions that are great. But, to have that help from someone with a pulse...now that is the best resource. The Scant quarter inch and the full quarter inch are different. (only by a little but regardless, they differ) No one told me about that I learned it on my own when making quilts. Like why we only want to use 100% cotton fabric? It is not that we're "snoody" about what we use, it's what happens in the process. Polyester is plastic, it shrinks, distorts and when it gets ironed, gets hard and stiff. It is always a choice we make. Let's give quilters the tools, so they can make a beautiful world.
My Dad was a perfectionist. He told me over and over, "do it right", no matter if it was cutting in the garage with the table saw, or holding the stick in his airplane (that's what made it go up and down), just do it right. If it took many times, I just had to keep doing it.
If you are reading this and thinking about "YouTube", you may be right. I love it, but not all have or want a computer. Most Quilters are very visual they need to feel and see the fabric so their imaginations can go to work. We love to share and if that is a chosen line of work, it can be profitable. Machine quilting is a good business as is the hand quilters skill. But, putting the business part aside. Just to be able to create with one's mind and then apply it to fabric, resulting in the beautiful original art in quilts, now that will be the ultimate goal.
If you read all of this, my hope is that it motivates you to do something. During the 8 years the Guild was in operation there were many helpers we never got to meet and hug to thank personally. Karen Lieberman in Michigan sent tons of fabric for our charity quilts, Addie Stedile (an Angel) pieced at least 200 hundred quilt tops, shipped them to us from CANADA so we could finish and distribute them. There are others we also give thanks to but do not want to sound like an advertisement, Hancock Fabrics, Nancy Zieman and others.
Thank you for reading and considering how you can help.
Please, If you need/want to get involved on the ground floor, tell me how you want to help, Patricia
Member - Johnny Cutting Tumblers