Jacquie from Tallgrass Prairie Studio rounds out our latest Sew,Mama,Sew! Editorial Board with this fourth (and final) interview in this week’s series. Jacquie is already hard at work on a series of posts sharing basic quilting tips we can all learn from next month, and she’s been indispensable as we plan our upcoming Quilting Month. Jacquie will also share a little about her work with the The Modern Quilt Guild. Visit Tallgrass Prairie Studio for Jacquie’s amazing tutorials (right sidebar), lots of inspiration and keep in mind that Jacquie also creates very special quilts on commission and has a new quilt pattern coming out soon!

SMS: How long have you been sewing?
Jacquie: I come from a family of seamstresses. I guess I always remember sewing. My mom was my 4-H leader when I was young and she taught me how to sew. I even remember that first project, a kerchief. Those were pretty ‘in’ back then and I remember wearing it everywhere. As a teen I got a little snippy and thought ‘store bought’ was best and gave up sewing for a while. As a young mom, the sewing machine reappeared and provided the means to economically decorate the house and clothe the children.

A little over two years ago, I saw the Gees Bend exhibit, found myself without a job for the first time in my adult life, and I was inspired to dust off my sewing machine and start quilting. I made my first quilt a little over two years ago. I didn’t realize how much I missed a creative outlet in my life. I remember sitting down at my laptop to order that first box of fabric. Oh, and even better was the day it arrived. I folded and organized that fabric and a fabric obsession was born. There have been many more of those priority mail boxes since then.

SMS: What do you enjoy about sewing? What are your favorite things to make?
Jacquie: I make mostly quilts, pillows and things I can use around the house, but by far my favorites are the quilts. At an exhibit of my quilts last summer, a friend asked me if I thought I was always meant to do this. I think maybe I was. Designing and making quilts feeds my soul. I have so many quilt ideas floating around in my head. I can hardly wait to make them. I thought about using patterns when I started quilting and I have made a few quilts from patterns, but I’m not much of a rule follower. I work primarily improvisationally. I do my own thing and try to find and articulate my quilting voice. I enjoy the process: auditioning the fabric, cutting and piecing, the quilting, and even the ripping. I work on many projects at once… Sometimes I simply have to start a project to get it out of my head.

SMS: How do you find time to fit creativity (sewing and any other creative loves) into your life?
Jacquie: It’s a happier day for me if I can find time to sew. I’m lucky in a couple of ways. My two boys have recently left the nest, and for those of you who have children, you know that frees up a lot of time. Secondly, when my hubby is on the road, I can let the house, dishes and dust bunnies to themselves and be in the studio sewing. I sew early in the morning and late at night and work in between. I try my best to keep my studio and my projects organized so that I can pick them up at the drop of a hat.

SMS: Do you have a favorite sewing tip or skill that’s made things work better for you?
Jacquie: I love my design wall. It’s nothing fancy. I made it myself with foam core boards, flannel and lots of duct tape. I use it every day and with every project. It’s great for auditioning fabric and ‘seeing’ quilts come together. I’m not sure what I did before I had my ‘wall.’

Selvage Quilt by Jacquie

SMS: What’s a favorite thing you’ve made lately? Why?
Jacquie: I finished my ‘selvage quilt’ a couple of weeks ago. I’m pretty proud of it since it was such a long-term project. It’s special because it celebrates my love of fabric and was a collaborative project. I received selvages from all over the world from some of my blog friends and I collaborated with Angela Walters for the quilting. Angela brought another dimension to the quilt that I couldn’t have. I think it looks like those old tin ceilings that I love so much. It’s definitely a keeper.

Urban Garden Quilt by Jacquie

I also recently finished the ‘urban garden’ quilt. This was a personal scrap challenge for me. One morning I pulled a handful of orange, a handful of brown, and a handful of green from my scrap buckets and told myself I had to made a quilt using all of those. Farm fields viewed from the window of a plane inspired me, but as I worked the design evolved more into those community gardens where folks share little plots of land. I enjoy challenging myself in different ways and pushing myself to think creatively. Sometimes those challenges can yield great things, and other times it’s a miserable flop. I try to learn from both successes and failures.

Sheet Quilt in a tree, by Jacquie

The quilt top I made the other day is this simple quilt made from a vintage sheet and some Kona solids. I made this to remind myself that simple is beautiful, sophisticated and so satisfying.

SMS: Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
Jacquie: I’m a city girl living in the country. I’m a pretty good wife and mom, a lousy housekeeper (though I love a clean house), and an obsessive organizer and furniture arranger. I have a fabulous husband and two great kids. I’ve been an educator for longer than I want to tell you and I’m pretty passionate about it. My blog, Tallgrass Prairie Studio, is now my teaching platform and where I share my passion for quilting. I’m working on making quilting my full time gig. I’m a proud member of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild and so happy to be a Board Member for Sew,Mama.Sew!