A Reflection from Carla
I began quilting in 1996 after retiring from my career as a teacher at a community college. My initial interest in quilting came from years of sewing clothes and home décor, knitting, and enjoying various other crafts. I quickly fell in love with the art of quilting and started teaching quilting techniques at a local quilt shop in 1999. During these early years, I also worked at a Husquvarna dealership where I gained extensive knowledge in the mechanics of sewing machines and trouble shooting problems such as tension thread and needles.
In 2000, I began organizing and teaching quilting retreats under the name Quilting Buddies. Each year Quilting Buddies ran a retreat, I would design a quilt around a specific technique that I wanted to teach, giving students the opportunity to develop their quilting skills and confidence while working on a novel pattern. These retreats spanned two weekends and, in total, were attended by over 80 participants from across Canada.
My teaching expanded when I decided to start travelling to international quilt festivals and conferences in the US. Since 2002, I have learned from over 20 different quilt masters and continue to regularly updated my knowledge and skills through classes which range from learning appliqué techniques with Elly Sienkiewicz and quilt design with Charlotte Angotti at the Chicago International Quilt Show to 3D Quilts with Karen Combs at the American Quilter’s Society Conference in Paducah, Kentucky. Most recently, I attended the Canadian Quilter’s Association (CQA) Conference in St. Catherine’s, Ontario.
Today I own my own small business, Quilting by the River, based in my home studio. Over the years, Quilting by the River has expanded into several different aspects of quilting. I teach 3 days a week to local quilters who come to learn and maintain a sense of community quilting at the studio on a weekly basis. I also teach regularly at the local quilt shop, Cindy B’s, where I am able to pilot my classes before taking them on the road. When I’m not teaching, I keep busy designing new teaching materials, building samples, and working with my APQS millennium long-arm quilting machine, finishing quilts for my clients from across Northern Ontario. Finally, because there are few quilt shops in Northern Ontario, my studio doubles as a small shop where I carry a selection of notions, fabric and batting.
In March 2014, I completed a week-long training course with Deb Tucker in her Pennsylvania studio to become a certified instructor in Studio 180 Design Tools and Techniques. Deb’s innovative approach to traditional quilting resonated with me, as years of tedious, complicated piecing had made me wonder, as it did Deb, “there’s got to be a better way!”. Deb’s innovative methods are based on a simple principle - strip piece it, make it oversized, and trim it down to square it up. This approach allows beginner quilters to access complicated blocks and for advanced quilters to improve their piecing accuracy and speed. Perhaps most exciting of all, the Tucker rulers have opened space for traditional quilters to add a modern flare to their designs, combining different pieces and scaling blocks to release creative design potential never before associated with conventional techniques for traditional quilting. My classes now focus heavily on the Tucker Rulers - the methods and design principles behind them, how to use them, how to “Tuckerize” other designer’s patterns, and advanced techniques for innovative quilt design.