Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Tiffany Tuttle. She’s a young quilter, with a vast amount of teaching and presentation experience. I can’t help but feel inspired by reading her story.
Although quilting and other forms of needle work have been around for centuries, I believe it has developed immensely. Years ago, the purpose of quilting was to keep your family warm. One would use up scraps from articles of old clothing or perhaps even sugar sacs, in order to make their quilts.
Today, I believe quilting is more than a household hobby. It involves more than making bedspreads or making something with friends just to keep your mind off of troubling matters. Quilting has evolved into one of the most gracious arts I have ever seen. Some say it is a lost art, I half agree with this statement. Yes, some quilts are old fashioned, and yes, many people prefer to purchase bed spreads and clothes today, rather than making things themselves. The reason why I say that I half agree; is because I am currently doing something about it.
My name is Tiffany Tuttle; I’m eighteen years old and currently reside in Oshawa Ontario. I am a full time student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and am studying to earn a business degree. I have been an avid sewer since the ripe age of eight. No, I did not pick up the skill from my mother, or any other family member for that matter. I took sewing lessons for three years and learned the basics of making simple clothing for myself.
The summer I was twelve, I decided to take a quilting summer camp. I signed up to make a rag quilt; the instructor had informed my mother that it would take me a couple of weeks to complete the quilt if I worked on it daily. At the end of my first week of camp I had completed my rag quilt and made a pillow to match. After that week….well, I was hooked. I spent the rest of the summer taking more lessons and making several projects that ranged from patch work bags to aprons and Christmas stockings.
By the age of thirteen, my instructor, Carole Gould, who was the owner of the store in which I took lessons from, suggested I try my hand at a sampler quilt. The quilt included twenty blocks that used various techniques in which I hadn’t tried before. Carole told my mother this one would take me at least a year, "after all", she said "some adults in my class are still working on theirs, and they started them two years ago!" At the end of three weeks I had completed the entire top of my quilt. I received lots of praise from the staff who worked at the store and the adults who were still working on the same quilt.
For my grade eight graduation I made my dress, so it was exactly the style and colour I wanted, best of all I did not have to worry about having the same dress as someone else. At the end of that summer, I was hired as a part time quilting teacher for Carole’s store, I taught children’s classes on Fridays and Saturdays. On my occasional breaks from school I would even help teach the adult classes.
I remember being asked by one of the adult students, what I would like to be when I grow up. Carole had frequently bragged about me to her customers and always told me how proud she was that I accomplished straight A’s at school every year. I answered the question with utmost confidence, "I want to be the owner of a quilt store, just like this one". For several years Carole tried convincing me that I should take advantage of my grades and be a lawyer or a doctor, so that I would always have a steady income. As most entrepreneurs know, business can be risky at times. But there was absolutely no way anyone was talking me out of it. "Besides", I said, "Aren’t husbands supposed to provide the steady income for us?"
In December 2008, Carole was retiring and unfortunately the new owner did not want to have any children’s classes, therefore I quit. I knew teaching children how to quilt was sometimes chaotic but if no one passes on the craft, in twenty years or so we won’t have any adult quilters either.
That winter, I was entered into a young entrepreneur program called My Summer Company. Of the fifteen hundred applicants, I was one of the lucky twenty students who were selected. We were given workshops, mentors and advisors to help us operate a summer business. The business I started is called Quilter’s Workshop and although I was only supposed to operate for two months in the summer of 2009, my business is still operating successfully.
I teach three different sewing and quilting classes to children and adults, every Saturday. My students work on a variety of projects and all do an excellent job! I am the only business in my area that offers lessons to children.
On top of teaching lessons, I have presented my trunk show to multiple quilt guilds in Ontario. I bring as many of my full sized quilts as I can, and almost every wall hanging and small project that I can pack into my car. I enjoy speaking to guilds as it is fun to discuss a common joy with other people. I think it is great to share ideas and to inspire people with my work.
Since I’ve learned to sew, my life has transformed. Sewing is a skill that should be taught at a young age, I like sharing my love of sewing with others and teaching my craft because I know how useful it can be. Aside from being able to alter clothing or fix garments, you can use your quilting and sewing abilities to decorate your home, there isn’t a single wall or nook in my home that isn’t displaying a wall hanging or other quilted item!
I also enjoy making memory quilts or making pillows with pictures on them, as gifts to friends and family. I truly believe there are so many possibilities when it comes to quilt making and it is definitely a stress reliever!
I hope to one day own a full size quilt store and maybe even publish a few pattern books! Until then I will continue running my part time business, speaking at guilds and making lots of quilts!