My quilting story is not as exciting as one would hope! Mostly because I have the memory of a gnat and most of the details are a little fuzzy. I will start from the very beginning and work my way up to where my life has turned in to all things quilting all the time!
So here goes…
For as long as I can remember I have LOVED fabric! Going into Joann Fabrics was never a punishment but an excitement! I have very vivid memories of being in the old Joann Fabrics store in the outskirts of the mall getting lost in the shiny bolts of fabric! Halloween costume shopping was the best time of the year!
My mom taught me to sew here and there, but it was not until my high school sewing classes that I really learned to sew. This is also where I decided to be a Family and Consumer Science Teacher. We started with a drawstring backpack, then pajama pants and zippers and I gradually moved through the levels of the clothing classes and was introduced to quilting.
So I guess this is where my quilting story really begins but it was awful!
My first quilt was made with some crazy loft batting. I printed pictures on to printable fabric to use as the center of my blocks, which has now since dried and cracked. The binding was out of control ugly, I must have cut a four-inch binding! As terrible as this quilt is, I love to see where I started and how far I have come in my quilting story.
Okay, fast forward 10 years
I am prepping projects for my own clothing classes, making the samples of all the projects we will make in class. Pajama pants, a zippered hoodie, a bag and eventually a quilt! I loved working on the quilt, a simple patchwork in pinks and yellows. Hand quilted with embroidery floss, not yet knowing the differences in my thread options. After making this quilt, I realized garment sewing was not for me, quilting was SO much better!
It was April of 2018 when my quilting story really begins and where entire life changed – dramatic, yes, but totally accurate – for the better! The International Quilt Festival came to Chicago.
I had no idea what to expect from a quilting convention, but I was excited to go! I even took a personal day from school! The quilts took my breathe away! The history, the technique, the colors! I had absolutely no idea quilts could be anything more than a simple patchwork.
I was specifically drawn to the hexagon quilts. How could these quilts be pieced with the hexagon shape and still look so cohesive?! Fast forward to the next day…
Grandma’s Flower Garden Quilt
The day after the quilt show, literally the very next morning, I was laying on my mattress on the floor, in a house that currently had no furniture due to renovation, researching these hexagon quilts. I was absolutely mesmerized.
- How could you make this quilt from paper?
- English Paper Piecing?
Some pinteresting, a lot of tutorial reading and watching and I was on my way to Joann Fabrics to get started on one of these awesome quilts. I browsed the aisles for what felt like hours, going back and forth on how I wanted the quilt to look, eventually grabbing a series of fabrics that were bright and pink and tropical.
I think there was one flamingo pattern that set the tone for the entire quilt! And I just had to choose a white glitter fabric that in hindsight was the worst (or best) choice ever as there was glitter everywhere for literally years, and I was off to the races!
A few hours of cutting hexagons from card stock and hole punching the middle, a few hours of cutting fabric squares by hand as I had yet to invest in the proper cutting tools, and every free minute moving forward spent working on this Grandma’s Flower Garden Quilt.
Little did I know this quilt would take all summer and then some, but in the mean time I was able to get my sewing room set up, a sewing machine borrowed, okay stolen, from my mother, and off to Joann Fabrics for the next quilt.
It is easy to say I was hooked!
The first machine pieced quilt I made was for my sister. A simple hour glass block from a free tutorial online. The front came together quickly and easily, but that machine quilting…I quickly realized it was hard and awful! But what else was there? You couldn’t not quilt the quilt!
The binding was also a little terrifying, but it did get finished in time for Christmas!
One thing led to another, more reading, more tutorial watching, and the discovery of Moda Fabrics, Riley Blake Designs, and pre-cut fabrics! This whole new world of quilting opened up to me and I could not get enough, fast enough! The day I placed my first order for two Layer Cakes from Fat Quarter Shop was literally the worst day ever for my credit card!
I was and still am absolutely enamored with quilting. I made one quilt after another, seams became a little more straight and even with each quilt. Points matched a little bit better with each quilt. Drastically improving in my piecing, but the dread of machine quilting rang true with every quilt.
- How did people get all the perfect quilting?
- How do people get all those intricate designs on a small machine?
- This has got to get easier??
I just could not believe it. Like how did people get so good at this? And I will admit, by the last quilt I machine quilted, the process did get a bit easier, but it was still all straight lines and still awful!
The pandemic started in March of 2020, school shut down, my part time job shut down and I was basically told I just needed to stay home and hang out with my sewing machine. Yes, please! While what was happening outside my home was absolutely dreadful, the little bubble I created inside my home was perfect. I quilted nonstop for weeks, really months, on end. My dreams of becoming a “professional quilter” were definitely solidified!
Eventually, the mask mandates were put in place and I started making a few masks, reactivated my Etsy account to see if I could make a little money and before you know it I had made and sold thousands of masks. THOUSANDS! I was literally sewing masks for up to 12 hours a day. With thousands of sold masks came a rather nice profit, which is where the next part of my quilting story began!
Somewhere in the middle of this whirlwind quilting obsession, I discovered longarm quilting. Ohhh, so that is how these quilters got those fabulous quilting designs! A whole new series of questions emerged.
- What does a longarm entail?
- How much does a longarm cost?
- How do I get one?
The answers to these questions were a little daunting. A longarm is a huge investment in both space and money. Money more than space! These machines are expensive!
I looked in to having my own quilts longarmed and quickly realized at the rate I was quilting it would be another large investment to send my quilts out for service. There also weren’t any longarmers in my area, at least they were not easy to locate.
I am not entirely sure how or when but at some point in the midst the mask making frenzy, the non stop quilting, and my desire for something different, I decided that I was going to buy a longarm by the fall of 2020.
And I did!
My machine was delivered in October of 2020! I purchased a Handi Quilter Amara with ProStitcher. The machine was delivered in four very large and very heavy boxes and I somehow managed to get it all in the basement without denting a single wall! The table and machine were set up within 24 hours (I was a little excited) and I was off to the races!
The shop where I purchased my machine kind of left me in the lurch, so I was on my own to learn and do with my machine. A lot of reading and help from the Longarm League and I was able to trouble shoot tech issues, learn how to load, roll and readjust pantographs, etc.
There was a lot of trial and error and a slight detour in the plan when my machine had a malfunction and had to be completely replaced. But…
Finally in April 2021 Buffalo Flatts Quilt Company was opened for longarm quilting services!
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on all things B. Flatts
It was months before I had my first customer quilt, so in the mean time I continued to practice on my own quilts, learned the importance of Instagram marketing, and got so excited for each and every customer quilt that came my way!
While I am now busier than I could ever imagine quilting customer quilts and I am still so excited to quilt each and every customer quilt that comes my way! I so appreciate that you are willing to trust me with your prized quilts!
This part of my quilting story is all a blur! So fast, so furious, and so exciting! My quilting story continues to grow and evolve everyday! I am still obsessed with all things quilting and fabric, oh yea, I did not even mention the fabric side of company! That is a different story for a different blog post!
My whole life is quilting – how cool is that?!
And the cross stitching. That got added into the mix somewhere in the crazy quilting story as well!
Check out one of the year long cross stitch projects – Temperature 2023
I never in a million years would have guessed this quilting story would be mine, but I am so grateful it is! I love it!