Originally posted on March 5, 2018, by Cheryl Sleboda
Tell us a little about when you first learned to sew. When did you make your first quilt?
I learned to sew as a relatively young girl, probably age 8 or 9. First my mother taught me to do basic embroidery, but in junior high school I learned sewing on a machine. THAT was back in the day when all of us took Home Ec classes! Throughout high school I sewed all types of clothing, learning that I could have the wardrobe I desired if I helped to stitch it.
When I was 20, I received a sewing machine for Christmas, and sometime in my senior year of college, I pieced my first quilt. It was granny squares in the fashionable colors of 1987, wedgewood blue and rose. Seriously, it was all kinds of ugly! (See the below picture as proof!). I tied the corners of the quilt because I had not really learned much about quilting yet. It was the drop of super glue I placed on each knot that made the quilt extra-special. I say that jokingly… it was so scratchy you could not lay on top of it!
What advice would you give to a beginner in machine quilting?
I teach beginners regularly and love how open they are to absorb information. That is one aspect of my job which is so fulfilling. Many get discouraged when they realize it really takes considerable practice to quilt new designs. The short duration of a quilting class is rarely sufficient in length to help anybody master a motif. I tell students to keep an unlined journal, and to spend 10-15 minutes each day practicing sketching. Whether they are learning to master feathers, or some other freehand motif, time spent drawing is never wasted time. The hand to brain coordination that drawing creates is directly transferrable to driving a longarm over fabric. You are creating muscle memory either way, and paper and pencil are cheaper! The other thing that is critical to newer quilters is just to practice quilting. Load a couple yards of fabric and “play”. Regardless what they are working on mastering, after quilting it for an hour, there will be improvement.
Her first quilt © 1987 Margaret Solomon Gunn
What kinds of fabrics are your favorite to work with?
This is a tough question. I LOVE color. The bolder modern prints make me smile. The conundrum though is that as a quilter, I really want my quilting to show. Many of the quilts I have made in the past 5 years have paired bolder prints with the subtle elegance of silk Radiance. It seems to satisfy all my needs, since nothing shows off the quilting better than the sheen of silk. Now, if Kaufman was not discontinuing the Radiance my world might be perfect! (Yes, I stockpiled two dozen yards of Radiance when I learned this sad news!)
What kind of projects are you working on next?
I am the consummate starter of quilts. I have at least 3 started right now. Actually finishing seems to take longer, and isn’t as much fun! The one I am most smitten with (that is code for “it is not yet in a bag”) has a challenging monochromatic color scheme, something I have never tried. It has lots of turned-edge hand applique, which I truly love, and combines cottons and the silk Radiance. My goal is to get the top to the “ready to quilt” stage before my kids are out of school in June. Who knows, maybe it will make its debut in 2019.
I always have ideas brewing around for possible new classes, as well as a new book. Over the course of the spring I hope to find time to ponder these a bit more. I just did another quilt with my daughter, too, which will make its grand reveal in April.
Many are surprised that I still quilt for clients as well. Though the number of these quilts is down from 4 years ago, my clients always send me fantastic and creative tops to work my magic on. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!
Thanks for chatting with us, Margaret! To see more of her work, visit www.mainelyquiltsoflove.com. To read about how to get started with the feathered wreath above in your own work, check out the March/April 2018 issue today!