True story- When I was 12 years old, I got strep throat. I was sick at home and bored to tears, and picked up my first Vogue magazine- the September issue, in fact. I was obsessed with fashion from then on. Sitting in my tiny bedroom in rural North Carolina, I daydreamed about moving to New York City and becoming a designer.
…graduated, and got a job in the textile industry, working for the North American licensee of Marithé and François Girbaud. It was a fantastic learning experience (and I even met my husband, Peter, there). Fabric and fit were integral to everything and I learned things there that I still apply to my work today. I moved on to design for other companies both on the East and West Coasts. I loved the industry. But when I was pregnant with my first child, I left it to be home with her full time.
The first quilt I ever made was for my daughter, when she was a year old. I wanted to “keep” all her beautiful baby clothes (fashion industry friends give the prettiest baby clothes!). Patchwork seemed inspiring to me, but I had never made a quilt before, had no one to ask, and no real idea what I was doing. The resulting quilt is clunky and “creatively pieced” quilt, but I was truly hooked. It was like a trip down memory lane all captured in my favorite medium. Fabric.
The internet and blogging was new, but I craved a creative outlet and started “Wise Craft” (named by my husband) in 2005. I wrote nearly every day- about my life with my kids, teaching them what they could make themselves, as well as recording projects I made for our family and our home. Time was short, but money was shorter. I learned to stretch my creativity in new and surprising ways. I loved (and still love) connecting with other creatives online and have made lifelong friends thanks to that simple plunge into the world of blogging.
I felt like there were so many creatives out there like myself, that wanted to try and beautify their own life without breaking the bank. I pitched a book idea and secured a book deal for Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love, which came out in 2014. That book featured 60 projects, all divided into 4 seasonal chapters with distinct color stories. Exactly how I work with and grouped color and design while working in the apparel industry.
I began to feel free time was a little more on my side once my kids got a bit older. I really wanted to explore what about quilt making intrigued me so. The celebrating of fabric? The memory tied up in cloth? The need to keep a textile so we don’t forget? It all greatly inspired me and I spent some time exploring what I came to call Modern Traditional quilting. I used modern tools, was inspired by modern life, but there was a love for the traditional meanings surrounding patchwork and quilting. I spent a lot of free time making many quilts during that time.
I created and pitched a new book proposal, all about quilting this time. I wanted to create a book that spun stories of meaning and memory around fabric that is important to our lives. New or old fabric didn’t really matter, it was about exploring modern quilting through beautiful collections of textiles and inspiring quilts with meaning. Wise Craft Quilts: A Guide To Turning Beloved Fabrics Into Meaningful Patchwork came out in 2017 and its still one of my proudest achievements.
Even though I adore quilts, there’s only so many quilts a girl can keep for herself. Wise Craft Handmade is now my full time business. I teach workshops, lecture, do online classes, create sewing tools, patterns, and kits. I can’t believe I get to do this for a living.
When you visit Wise Craft Handmade, I hope you feel inspired and excited about making patchwork. My goal is to give you the confidence, tools, tips, and motivation to use all those special fabrics in something like a patchwork quilt that will be out and used in your home and your life. To continue the story…
It has been quite a thrill to design and bring to market a product. Making as many scrappy quilts as I do, I saw a need to develop some sort of design tool to help show my students how to separate a stack of many fabrics by value. The Ruby Ruler™, my first acrylic quilting ruler and design tool, draws from the concept of Rubylith film, a trick that photographers and landscape painters have used for many many years to see the value differences so important to their work.
Looking at a stack of fabrics through the Ruby Ruler™ allows you to focus less on the print and color of any one fabric and more on the overall dark or light value. Then use that information to create form and beautiful design in your quilts! Read more about the Ruby Ruler™ and purchase one to play with in your own work!
Wise Craft Quilts Facebook Group is a private members-only group that joins together online for community stitch alongs and share knowledge and enthusiasm for quilting with fabrics that have meaning. Free to join, but please respond to the 3 questions you are prompted to answer when the request is made. We’d love to have you!