Please join me in welcoming Vanessa Wilson as today’s guest blogger. She shares with us her very busy family and quilting life. She’s also giving away two patterns to two lucky winners that leave a comment here. See below for details.

Hi there! My name is Vanessa Wilson. I am the wife and mother behind Crafty Gemini, a blog dedicated to creativity on a budget! I post dozens of my FREE step-by-step text and video tutorials for beginning sewists and quilters. I also host giveaways, quilt alongs, and post product reviews of quilting devices, notions, etc.


So, who am I and where do I come from? I am a 27-yr old, wife and stay-at-home mama by day and a college law professor by night. My family is from the Dominican Republic. I was born in Queens, New York and grew up in Miami, Florida. After graduating from high school I attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL (GO GATORS!) and received a BA in Anthropology. Since I couldn’t do much with that degree I decided to attend law school at UF as well. After one year in law school I was in desperate need of a creative outlet.

Having always cooked, baked, decorated cakes, thrown pottery, etc. I really needed to get back into some kind of artsy hobby. So, I called my mother and (once again) begged her to teach me how to sew. I was 22 years old and had literally been asking her since I was 8. She always refused because she thought I was going to sew my fingers! The trauma behind that is that when my mother came to the U.S. at age 14 she worked in a clothing factory in New York city. She was such a speedy seamstress that sometimes she would sew her finger. OUCH! After her experience she didn’t want us to make the same mistake. Understandable. I assured and reassured her that at 22 years of age I was pretty sure I could keep my fingers away from that needle! She agreed and brought over a 1966 Singer sewing machine and taught me how to thread it and sew straight stitches. That was the beginning of my new obsession.

I immediately began repurposing old jeans into purses, and shirts into aprons, etc. A few weeks later I discovered a sewing/quilt shop in town and signed up for a pillow sham class, then a Christmas stocking class, etc. One day, an employee at the shop recommended I try quilting. I was completely lost and literally asked, “what is that?” Can you believe it?! I didn’t even know what a quilt was. I know.. I know… shame on me. But where I come from I’ve never heard of or seen a quilt. In Miami, I rarely even slept with a thin bed sheet. In Dominican Republic, of course, no one uses quilts. It’s just way too hot in the Caribbean. Anyway, I was enlightened and have been hooked ever since I made my first pink & purple nine-patch lap quilt. I remember rushing out of my law classes to make it to my quilting classes on time. My friends thought I was crazy!


In May 2008 I graduated from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, and soon after met my husband. After a few months of dating he saw how serious I was about quilting and offered to buy me my very own longarm machine! I knew then he was a keeper! Shortly after that we married and went on a fabulous Costa Rican honeymoon. The next year we welcomed JRW, our son, two days before my husband’s 30th birthday and have been enjoying our little family every day! I love these guys so much! We recently went to Crescent Beach to celebrate JRW’s 1st birthday and my hubby’s 31st. We had a blast!


Now, I spend my days chasing JRW during the day, teaching law classes in the evenings and blogging, quilting, drafting patterns, and designing new quilts late at night (think 10pm- 2am after everyone in the house is fed, bathed and asleep). I have a few e-patterns for sale in my shop now and am continuously working on new ones. I also offer longarm quilting services for which I do all my designs free-hand.



Sometimes when I’m really busy I even get a helper!


My goal is to eventually have my own quilting show! In the meantime, I post video tutorials to spread my love of sewing and quilting with the world. My videos cover a variety of subjects from how to make toddler pants out of a t-shirt to loading a quilt on you longarm frame. My YouTube channel has had great success with almost 180,000 views and about 1,150 subscribers worldwide.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about my fabulous and crazy life! To follow more of my quilty ventures check me out at the Crafty Gemini blog.

Now for the giveaway!

I wasn’t ashamed to show you a picture of my first quilt. The piecing itself was near perfect but I tried to quilt it on my regular sewing machine and well…. it puckered up everywhere! Now, it’s your turn. Leave a comment telling me about your first quilt. What type of design? what fabrics? colors? Was it perfect or a hot mess? Tell me!

Two lucky winners will receive copies of BOTH my Delightful Tweets and Up, Up and Away quilt e-patterns! You have until midnight on Monday, October 11th to enter. Winners will be randomly chosen on Tuesday.

Meet Quilter Vanessa Wilson (and a Give-Away too!)
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55 thoughts on “Meet Quilter Vanessa Wilson (and a Give-Away too!)

  • October 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    My first “quilt” was made in 1970 with my college roommate. We were to dress up our dorm room for open house and decided to be different. We were :-) Large squares and rectangles in orange, lime green and yellow blatantly proclaiming the 70’s still today. We ran out of time of course because the open house was the night we started it but my dear granny finished for me years later with an amazingly thick batt…don’t know where she got that! and yarn ties. I still love it!

  • October 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    My first quilt was an overnight mystery quilt. I had no idea how to choose fabrics (light, dark, feature – who knew what that meant). I took a day off work to go shopping with someone who could help me. It was queen size and I hand quilted it. If I had known about sending quilts off to be quilted I would have done that but I was 3/4 of the way through when I found out about that. It is burgundy and cream and is on a quilt rack in our bedroom. For a first quilt I was very pleased with it.

  • October 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    My first quilt was made for my first neice… 18 years ago! Wow! Thanks for the chance at your giveaway!! Your little one is a sweetie!

  • October 7, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    It was fun to get to know you better Crafty! :-) My first quilt was a farm animal quilt and all applique, which I did by hand, but then decided that it wouldn’t be ‘sturdy’ enough for a toddler (the quilt was for my DS), so I proceeded to sew around each applique piece with my sewing machine! :-o It still turned out, but what a lot of work! :-o

  • October 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    My first quilt was a bear paw, two-color, pink and white. It turned out quite well, thank you. I quilted it on my sewing machine using a walking foot. I have been enjoying your blog for a few months now.

  • October 7, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I wish you the best of luck in getting your own quilting show one day. Until then, keep quilting. Kathie L in Allentown

  • October 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Boy, it’s been so long since my first quilt, I honestly don’t remember it. My first full-sized quilt was for my dad. I just remember all the marking and cutting it out with scissors! No rotary cutters back then!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  • October 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    My first quilt was only a couple of years ago, after sewing all my life. And, just like you, I was hooked! I was scared to change colors from the pattern (still sometimes am!) and, because the instructor measured wrong, ALL our quilt points didn’t line up. SOOOOO disappointing, but loved the process anyway. Your longarm stitching’s absolutely lovely! My hubby buys me embroidery machines & surprised me with a serger, so yeah, they’re keepers!! Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  • October 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Vanessa,
    You have the best of both worlds…
    I am so happy for the dream..YEAH…
    Your quilts are awesome….
    Keep up the good work…
    Happy Sewing,

  • October 7, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    My first quilt was a pair of spool quilts for my sister and her best friend for their college dorm beds. Thank you for this great give-away and thank you for sharing your life with us. Take care and God bless, Cory

  • October 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Loved reading all about your story. I too am a working mom (of 4) and loved my passion for quilting so much I started a part time retreat business so I could share my “obsession” with others. My first quilt was made when I was diagnosed with Cancer for the 2nd time. I figured a comfort quilt would do the trick. Coming from a long line of stichers….I decided it couldn’t be that bad, i’d made clothing and toys before… first quilt was made from the 2005 quest for a cure fabrics and is so crooked I can’t help but love it to bits and bits and bits. I now take it to every retreat to show ladies that no matter how many mistakes, your quilt with always and forever be loved!

  • October 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    My first quilt was started in a quilting class 26 years ago, but I never finished it!! It was a class where we used scissors and templates to make blocks. I never sewed the blocks together, BUT I did complete a Log Cabin quilt for my then toddler. I used Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day method and that changed everything for the better.

  • October 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Hi Crafty!
    My first quilt was a 9 patch. Bright colors-blue, yellow and red. Paddington Bear borders. I was pregnant with my first, and my brother was 6 months ahead of me with his first. I machine pieced, but hand quilted. The stitches weren’t perfect, but it has been washed a million times and it’s still looking brand new. My 2nd (for my child) has gone through 4 babies with weekly washings. It, too, is just as nice as it was 9 years ago!

    Hope to see you back on Quilting Moms soon!!

  • October 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    My first quilt was made for my son in 1991. We used templates to cut the triangles. Not sure what did wrong but after a few washouts the seems came apart. Needless to say it doesn’t get used much in fear of it falling apart more. He got a new one for highschool grad this year!!!

  • October 7, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    My first quilt was a log cabin Christmas wreath wall hanging. I think it was 1989. It ended up puckered and not entirely square, used the wrong kind of batting and the binding was a little primitive, but it was a learning experience for me. ( I’ve sewn since a child but never did any quilting.) I set about reading and learning about quilting. I was hooked and was absolutely fascinated by the expertise of quilts I would see at quilt shows! Now I quilt with great abandon. I don’t know where you find the time to quilt and at such a young age. Bravo!

  • October 7, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    I made my first quilt in Home Ec class back in 1975. It was all different coloured gingham squares on a ‘cheater cloth’. I loved that quilt for years then when my beloved first dog died I wrapped and buried him in it in 1993!

  • October 7, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    What a great post on you Vanessa! Could JRW be any cuter? Such a fun picture of him at the long arm! Future quilter, here he comes!!
    I guess my first quilting experience was making a Barbie quilt for my Barbie. Sewing little pieces of scraps together, I think it was to keep me out of my mom’s hair while she sewed.

  • October 7, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    My first quilt is still in a box waiting to be finished – a friend convinced me to do it and helped me with the piecing, then she moved. So I was left to figure things out myself, and I’m still working on it! But I have discovered rag quilts and have made a bunch of them – from baby to king bed size.

  • October 7, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    I made my first quilt this summer, actually, so I’m still learning. It is a baby quilt, and it uses pastel colors, and the backing is a nice orange. I absolutely love it and wish I didn’t have to give it away (my first quilt!!) but the baby girl (very soon to be born) I made it for will appreciate it :)

  • October 8, 2010 at 12:27 am

    My first quilt turned out pretty good except for the backing. I took a class and finished the top. Well when I went back to the last class to find out what to do with the top, batting and backing she said well your on your own. Well after much researching there were a few puckers on the back of the quilt and around the borders. but if you looked at the front it didn’t look to bad. My ex has it now as he claimed it right away.

  • October 8, 2010 at 2:57 am

    I loved your story and the pictures.
    My first quilt was a Ohio star and I made a little christmas quilt with 4 stars. It is hanging every year on Christmas time. The colours are red and green. I sew in with the machine but it was quilted by hand.
    This year I quilted a mysteryquilt with the machine. The results are acceptabel, my second quilt I turn out the border (OEF!!!!!) greetings from Liesbeth from the Netherlands

  • October 8, 2010 at 4:44 am

    I have followed some of your “Gemini” postings – love your long arm – and U-Tube. My first quilt was for my 1st baby 30 yrs. ago. It was a Holly Hobby panel and I tied it. The disaster was I tried to put a silky ribbon binding on and it was a slippery twisted mess. But my baby loved that feel and wore the binding off just fingering it constantly. I saved that little quilt and then when her 1st baby was due, I pulled out the quilt, removed the worn ties and machine quilted it, and put a new binding on it. She had a boy, but the quilt is kept lovingly in the rocker with her 1st (well loved) teddy bear.

  • October 8, 2010 at 8:05 am

    You are one busy lady–you go girl! My first quilt was a log cabin, in the 70’s. All little print fabrics and so 70’s! I still have it on one of the spare beds. Pretty faded and ratty looking. The binding was a fold over binding. What was I thinking! I’m sure I didn’t even know how to do the bindings that I do now. I’m so glad to have a hobby that I love then and now.

  • October 8, 2010 at 8:54 am

    My first quilt project was a tote bag. It was my first quilting class ever and it was class taught by you. I learned so much and decided to take a class that taught us how to make four patch wall hanging(a different instructor), after the class I kept making the blocks and it ended up being a full sized quilt. :>). I didn’t know any better. I finished it after a year and took it to Crafty Gemini to quilt and she reminded me that first projects are to be small. I can’t wait for your national show.

  • October 8, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Hello thnks for sharing your venture my first quilt was made from sheets as I worked at a linen store at the time it turned out very well it was a little difficult to hand quilt but I did it. I have it folded at the bottom of my spare bed it always reminds me of my beginning.

  • October 8, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I made my very first quilt totally by hand. Using templates and scissors!!! I also hand quilted it. It took forever but I enjoyed the process. By doing it by hand you can “ease” most any mistake in!!! thanks for the chance to win!

  • October 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    My first quilt was an “I Spy” quilt for my son. He was about 4 or 5. He LOVED it, and it wasn’t bad. I loved it too! He used it a lot. Unfortunately, we lost it in Katrina…

  • October 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    My first quilt was a nine-patch and rail. I can’t hand quilt and so I needed to machine quilt it, but I didn’t want to do it on my domestic sewing machine. I hadn’t even heard of free motion quilting then. It sat on the shelf for months until I decided to hire a long-arm quilter to finish it for me. She did a great job. The quilt isn’t half bad as I look at it now, and it’s hanging in my sewing room. I’m glad I made the decision to hire a long arm quilter because I was kind of stuck until I got “right” with that decision. I still hire long arm quilters, but I’ve free motion quilted some of my latest quilts, and of course, some are tied. It’s a great hobby and I try to sew at least a little every day.

  • October 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    My first quilt was made for my niece, about 8 years ago using vintage fabric from my mother and grandmothers fabric, which I found looking through an old shed! What a find! So now my niece has a little bit of family on the wall cause my sister was not gonna let her drag it around the house!! It was just a basic quilt, using 8 inch blocks, which made it easy to sew!! I did have a few OOps, which were with the trim, but it all worked out ok and my sister loves it!!

  • October 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    My very first quilt was part of a layette for my youngest. It was basically a square of the flannel I used for the receiving blankets and a square of gingham bound with bias tape and tied with yarn! But I wasn’t a quilter until my first peiced quilt. I used fat quarters of calico prints and made pinwheels, offset with solid squares. Ditch stitched. Had somewonky points and made good use of sashing to hide odd sized units, but, all in all, it turned out OK. My mom loved it!

  • October 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    My sister bought me a pattern for my first quilt – she had already been quilting for a couple of years … it was a pretty simple pattern similar to a Yellow Brick Road, but with black cats appliqued over it. It took me forever to collect just the right selection of flannel fabrics. I still have enough of those to make 2-3 more quilts … Then I took a rotary cutting class, a machine applique class and a machine quilting class. Then I started the quilt … the top came out fine, but I chickened out of quilting it myself, and my local longarmer did a wonderful job. I love it! And I am totally addicted!

  • October 8, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    My first quilt went to my niece. It was a sailboat quilt. They never let her use it. I don’t know if they think that it might have fallen apart or what. I just remember them asking me are all these thread/string suppose to be cut off. I told them no they needed to be buried. I ditch stitched and I guess there must have been a lot of starts and stops. It had a few puckers on the back also.

  • October 8, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I made my first quilt in 1981 when I was pregnant with my first son, Jonathan. The primary background color was yellow and the bulk of the fabric for the large squares was gingham. Within alternate squares I sewed various baby items such as bottles, trucks, beach balls, teddy bears, etc which I stuffed with batting before I sewed them down. I received a lot of compliments on the quilt although I know it was far from perfect. More important though is that my son loved it. During his toddler years it became a bit frayed in places but I still can’t bring myself to repair it because it holds so many happy memories of younger days.

  • October 8, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    My FIRST quilt was made in 1972 for a Home Economics class in high school. My family didn’t have the means to purchase fabric, so we solicited scraps. POLYESTER KNIT, hey after all it was the 70s! Let me tell you that quilt is so heavy and so very warm, and is still surviving today in our camper. Thank you Mrs. Arnzen!

  • October 9, 2010 at 1:21 am

    The first quilt that I made was a carpenters wheel done in lavender and cream background. It was just ok. I have learnt a lot since I started quilting 2 years ago. Mostle from your website and others. I watch everything I can about quilting on U-Tube to learn more . I have to say that my quilting is getting better with each one I do.
    So —hats off to you for your tutorials–they really help us who are new to quilting.

  • October 9, 2010 at 2:44 am

    You would not believe it but my first quilt and this was my very first dip into patchwork was to hand piece over papers a long hexagon (it was the only patchwork template in the shop). This made it to a double bed size quilt mostly made of polyester cotton fabrics as I knew no better. It was also hand quilted and as the book said ten stitches to the inch, that is what I did. Like everyone I have learnt so much since then.

  • October 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Wow, my first quilt wasn’t to bad. I used white squares and a very light beige colour with tiny flowers on it. It was a basic HTS, no thought whatsoever went into it. It was a case of making the blocks and stitching them together. I didn’t have anyone to show me how to do it, and no-one I could send it to for quilting. It was all done on my domestic sewing machine. By the time I made a second one, I was working out colours asnd their placement, and even had a walking foot that my Mum got me as a Christmas present. What a boon that was, me second quilt was better.
    I was ever so pleased to find your site and similar ones, I learnt so much from watching the videos. Thank you Vanessa for helping so many who want to learn.

  • October 10, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I’m not sure this really counts but my first quilt was actually a wall hanging that I did the first part in my Viking sewing class shortly after buying my very first Viking embroidery sewing machine. It had each month of the year embroidered onto the wall hanging and designs as well. And of course we had to quilt the entire thing as well. Sadly, the class time ran out so I was on my own trying to figure out something I’d never done before and trying to make sense of the instructions. It had been probably 15-20 yrs since I had done much of anything in sewing other than mending for my family so I was freaking out.

    I managed to figure it out and got it done and then after I finished and was so proud of it, I realized that I was supposed to have done the embroidery parts BEFORE putting the front to the back with the batting between. Keep in mind I mentioned the embroidery of each and every month with each day number embroidered. Yea, if you followed that hint, you now are ahead of me in realizing that I have a very pretty wall hanging calendar that when looking at the back, you can also see the very same calendar…….totally backward. ugh. :( I was so upset but I still hung it on my sewing room wall because it was purple and lime green florals and I can handle anything no matter how ugly as long as it’s purple. LOL

    Since then I’ve done many baby quilts and actually used the same instructions from that wall hanging after figuring out myself how to add rows and columns(sorry I know that’s not the correct terminology for quilting but for spreadsheets. lol) so it was enlarged correctly. They all turned out beautifully since then. I’m going to be doing something larger soon.

  • October 10, 2010 at 8:59 am

    My first ‘quilt’ was a small wallhanging using a schoolhouse block. I loved the piecing . . . . didn’t care much for the hand quilting. That was 20 or so years ago and now I love love love the hand quilting :D ! I enjoyed learning about you. I will be waiting for your quilt show!

  • October 10, 2010 at 10:14 am

    My first quilt was made in the very icy and wintry January 1994. My son was home from school almost every day that winter, we couldn’t leave our house because of the icy roads. Fortunately I had made a decision to try quilting right before the ice storms hit! I followed a complicated Debbie Mum cow pattern and used beautiful golds, greens and purples. The quilt has a downward slope because I really didn’t know what I was doing but it hangs to this day in our family room. I’m often tempted to take the top off and requilt it but it is a great reminder of how far my sewing has come!
    Love your photo of your son and husband on the beach!

  • October 10, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I loved hearing about your life and family! There certainly is nothing more precious!
    My first quilt was a scrappy lap quilt. It is done in 1800 repro fabrics, no particular pattern, just triangles and squares. I quilted it on my sewing machine, not knowing a lot about it, but it is only an OK job. However, it is comfortable and snuggly, and I am happy with it.

  • October 10, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    My first quilt was a quilt I made for my first grandchild 2 years ago. I made it completely by hand and it turned out great. I used the original Winnie the Pooh fabric and designed it myself. It took me about 3 months to make. I have since learned how to machine quilt, but I still enjoy hand quilting. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • October 10, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    My first quilt was started when I was pregnant with my daughter. It’s pastel batiks, simple 4″ squares, hand tied. Daughter is 4 months old, and I just have to finish the binding so she can use it!

  • October 11, 2010 at 3:21 am

    My first quilt I actually had help with…..I sewed it but my good friend helped me cut it out. It was a zebra fabric that my customer had purchased…hence why I didn’t want to cut it out. It was only squares with plain sashings and border, and I only stitched in the ditch, but it turned out good and Jodie was happy with her quilt. For a first attempt at a complete quilt I was happy with it. There’s a pic of it on my blog…somewhere!


  • October 11, 2010 at 10:48 am

    My first quilt was a babyquilt (so not to be discouraged with a too big project!) for my brother’s little girl. Of course I used pink fabrics, to my delight I found lot’s of Disney baby-fabrics that were so cute! I also used an old bedspread so the Disney babies could show even more. I think she liked it, she is now 17 years old so I suspect it is placed in a wardrobe now a days…

  • October 11, 2010 at 11:33 am

    My first quilt was made with gingham in different pastel colors for a baby quilt. I cut out ALL TRIANGLES with a cardboard template and scissors. (Triangles for a first quilt…dah…no one told me I shouldn’t start with triangles!) I birthed that quilt, and quilted on my reg machine…nevery heard of a walking foot. Got puckers at alot of the intersections, so I also TIED with floss in the intersections to hide the puckers! I made like three like that for babies of friends that year…

  • October 11, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I discovered quilts by chance. Here in Portugal the tradition was kind of lost and i really never had seen no one doing quilts.
    But reading overseas bloggers made me realise that amazing quilting world and i decided to give it a try and make a big quilt for myself. This quilt is such a big project that is still a UFO. In mean time i got so addicted that i made baby quilts for the new borns in family.

  • October 11, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    My grandmother helped me start my first quilt when I was 14 years old. But soon after we moved away and I had to learn the rest on my own. I worked on it all through high school but put it away (unfinished) until after I graduated from College. It was made of all types of cloth from my clothing sewing projects — polyester even! I can look at a square and remember the blouse that was made with the same fabric. Over the years I kept making blocks so eventually it was king size. I didn’t know any better, so I tied it. Now, 40 years later, I’m considering taking the layers apart and quilting it with properly with thread. It will be a labor of love as this well used quilt has kept me warm for many years.

  • October 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I made my first quilt about 25 years ago. I took a six week class at a local quilt shop. It was a sampler quilt, cut out with templates. The quilt was hand pieced and hand quilted. It took me 2 years to complete the quilt. The colors were peach, hunter green and some baby blue. I now machine piece and use my Altos cutting board/or ruler and rotary cutter. Wow, so much faster than that first quilt.
    My first full quilt is now nicely displayed in my glass cabinet in the living room.

  • October 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    The first quilt I remember quilting…I was 12ish and my Mom had Dad make wooden stand frames to hold the quilt frame (usually suspended from the ceiling) so that she could “set up the kids in the yard” so we didn’t spend the summer in the house!!! It took us (4 of us) 2 weeks to sew 4 quilt tops. OH MY GOODNESS at the stitches. I’m talking toe hooks here. But we had a ball and we were outside in the summer time and I still have mine!!!

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