Meet the Maker - Quilter Laurie Meyers March 19, 2016 07:00 1 Comment

I have never met Laurie Meyers in real life as she lives far away in the US. However, we have become friends through Instagram, and I am pretty sure that we would get along very well if our paths were ever to cross. 

Laurie has been the most supportive and kind "virtual friend" during my 2 years of sharing craft related projects through my favourite platform. Laurie is full of enthusiasm, always encourages and is a huge inspiration with the quilts that she creates.

Although I teach I do also spend a lot of time working alone on my projects at home, I find the possibility of sharing progress with other makers extremely useful and rewarding. Pre-Instagram I would have bits of sewing or new fabric in my bag at school pick-up to  my friends, especially if I was a little over-excited. 

So I thought that my blog would be a great place to introduce you to some of the crafty people out there doing amazing work with cloth and thread.  When following Laurie what strikes me the most is her extreme kindness: she is forever piecing and hand quilting beautiful quilts for other people.  I hope you enjoy reading the interview below and please share it with your friends on social media. 

J: How did you discover Instagram and why are you Laurie3.14?

L: I discovered Instagram in May 2014 after reading several writers who said  that they were neglecting their blogs and switching to Instagram.  I was intrigued.  When I got my first smart phone I had my daughter set me up on Instagram, which I found easy to use.    I initially wanted to use "lauriepie" as my user name which was my nickname in college.  I used to motivate myself with positive self-talk (before that term was even invented).  "You can do it Laurie pie" I would think.  Apparently at times I would say these things out loud and my friends started calling me  Laurie pie too. Fast forward 32 years - I thought lauriepie would be a great user name, but it was already taken.  So laurie3.14 was my second choice.  As it turns out I do love to use math to motivate myself.  I particularly like to calculate the percentage of a project that I've finished.  Due to my username and these "percentage posts" on IG many people think that I'm a "math person".  I have embraced that notion.  Quilters do use a lot of math and women can be just as talented at math as men. 
J: When did you first learn to quilt and who taught you?

L: My maternal grandmother was a passionate quilter.  She lived on a wheat farm in northwestern Kansas and I used to go visit her for a week each summer when I was a teenager.  I learned basic sewing skills from my mother (who was artistic but not a quilter) and my home economics class in middle school, but it was my grandmother who helped me first piece a pillow top.  My grandmother sewed her quilts on a Singer treadle sewing machine which was made in the 1930s. When I was 17 my grandmother made me a quilt for my high school graduation, and I helped her with hand quilting it on her large quilting frame.  I should note that she had to rip out many of my hand stitches since they were not up to her standards! 
J: Why do you choose to quilt over other stitch based crafts?

L: I was an obsessive knitter in my 20's.  My mother taught me to knit mittens when I was 7 or 8 years old, but she never knit a sweater as she thought sweaters were too difficult.  Once I got my Master's degree it finally occurred to me that knitting a sweater really couldn't be more difficult than getting a Master's degree, so I tried to knit a sweater.  While it wasn't perfect, I figured it out and started  knitting all the time.  Knitting is portable and very relaxing.  I knit a lot of things for babies when I was in my late 20's and early 30's, since I had many friends having children.  However I switched to quilting when I was pregnant with my son, since I felt strongly that mothers should make their babies a quilt.  I made my son a simple 9-patch baby quilt, and I began to quilt, albeit slowly.  It took me two years to make my second quilt.  I love the fact that you don't really have to worry about size when making a quilt, like you do when you knit.  To me quilting has more artistic possibilities than knitting does and the finished product can be enjoyed for decades, while a sweater wears out much sooner.
J: Have you discovered anything about your nature/ personality through quilting?

L: I definitely don't like to follow rigid rules and rarely use patterns.  I particularly like scrap quilts since I love the unexpected mix of colors and fabrics.  I've never made a quilt with just one fabric line in it, since I dislike things that are too "matchy-matchy." 

I used to have a large fear of the quilt police, due to stories I heard growing up.  Apparently people would criticize my grandmother's quilts since her stitches were "too big" and her quilts were not as perfect as her mother-in-law's quilts. This made me upset as I dearly loved my grandmother.  I think initially this made me fear that other people would judge my quilting harshly, and I was surprised that there was such a positive response on Instagram to my quilts.  Over time I realized that what matters to me is not making "perfect" quilts, so I no longer worry that others will harshly judge my quilts.   I mainly give my quilts to non quilters and they are thrilled, not judgmental.

J: Where does your quilt inspiration come from?

L: I am mainly inspired by color.  I have always felt that bright, saturated colors were the best antidepressant.  A few years ago I read about "tetrachromacy", which is a gene variant where individuals have an extra, fourth cone in their eyes which allows them to perceive even more colors than the normal person who has three cones.  Apparently 12% of women may have this gene (although it may not be expressed in all of the people who have this gene).  I told my daughter about this and she immediate said "We have it!"  While I haven't had the genetic testing to prove that this is true, I suspect my daughter is right.  Both my mother and my aunt left the Kansas prairie and studied art in New York City in the 1950s during the abstract expressionist period.  They also attended the famous Black Mountain College in North Carolina where they met and studied with many famous artists.  My aunt studied weaving with Anni Albers and my aunt ended up in New York as a textile designer for a major clothing company.  The fact that my mother and my aunt grew up on a wheat farm and ended up studying art at that level has always been an amazing story to me.
J: Are there any books or tutorial that really stand out for you?

L: The first quilting books that inspired me where by Kaffe Fassett.  I love his use of saturated colors which are often paired with more "traditional" patterns.  Other books that I love are "Quilt Improv" by Lucie Summers, "15 Minutes of Play" by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, "Liberated Quiltmaking" and "Liberated Quiltmaking II" by Gwen Marston, "Unconventional & Unexpected" by Roderick Kiracofe, "The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters" by Sherri Lynn Wood, and "Sunday Morning Quilts" by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison.
J: What is your favourite colour?
L: Growing up my favorite color was yellow, which always seemed so cheerful.  In that last few years I think turquoise is now my favorite color.  I sometimes daydream of having an entire wardrobe full of turquoise clothes.
J: Which fabric designers make you excited?

L: Unlike  a lot of quilters I'm not as focused on fabric designers.  While I do enjoy beautiful prints, I think I am starting to switch to using more solids in my quilts.  My favorite project from last year was the quilt I made from scraps that my cousin sent me.  My cousin lives in my grandmother's house, and he and his wife cleaned out the basement last year and sent me a giant box full of leftover scraps from her stash that had been sitting in the basement for over 30 years.  Lately I have been buying bags of fabric scraps in antique shops when I can find them.  I love the mix of the old and new.
J: Of the total quilts you have made, how many have you gifted to other people?

L: My current count is 53 quilts (baby size or larger) and 12 wall hangings.  Right now I have 13 quilts/wall hangings that I made in my home.  So I've given away 80% of the quilts I've made.  To me it feels wrong to keep a quilt unless I have a "use" for it, since there are so many people who don't own a single quilt.
J: Can you explain what feeling you get from presenting a handmade gift to somebody?

L: I am lucky that most of the recipients are very grateful to receive a quilt.  One of my nieces said it was the most thoughtful present she had ever received.  Giving a quilt is sharing a part of yourself with someone.  It is a wonderful feeling.
J: Has anybody ever made a quilt for you?

L: My grandmother made several quilts for me.  She made more than one baby quilt, since I was so attached to my quilt that I wore it out completely and she had to make me another one.  As described above she also made me a quilt for my high school graduation.  Her tradition of making a quilt for graduations inspired me to start that tradition with my nieces and my children.
J: Can you tell me the benefits of hand quilting over machine quilting for anybody reluctant to try it?

L: Believe it or not I've never even tried to quilt with a machine!  I stick with hand quilting since I find it relaxing in the same way that knitting is relaxing.  It also seems more economical to me, since paying someone to do longarm quilting is expensive.  While I think the longarm artists who do this quilting deserve every penny they charge, for me it makes more sense to just hand quilt it myself, especially since I am making 10 quilts or so a year.
J: Have you passed on your skills to anybody else?

L: Both my children have made a quilt for charity, but I'm sure my son wasn't hooked on it and while my daughter loves color it remains to be seen whether or not she will take up quilting later in life.  My daughter made a second quilt for her boyfriend last summer, so it is possible that when she has time later on in life she might quilt again.  My daughter loves quilts and has encouraged her friends to follow me on instagram.  One of them has started a quilt of her own which she plans to give to her grandmother.  Two of my nieces have said they would like to learn to quilt, but since they are still in school they don't have the time to pursue it just yet.  We will see what happens.  I do love to see how many people in college follow me because they love my quilts.  
J: Which people you have discovered on social media inspire your projects?


L: There are so many people on IG that have inspired me.  Chawne Kimber (@cauchycomplete), Hillary Goodwin (@entropyalwayswins), Tonya Ricucci (@tonyaricucci), Bonnie Hunter (@quiltville_bonnie), Amanda Jean Nyberg (@crazymomquilts) and Sarah Cooper (@coopcrafts) are just a few.
J: What quilt projects are on the cards for 2016? 

L: I am currently working on a quilt for my son's college graduation quilt which features his favorite irrational number ("e").  I am also working on a quilt using rainbow colors, which makes me very happy.  After that I hope to make a quilt using improv techniques for my niece who will graduate from college in May 2017.  She is very artistic so I think I can take a risk and try something new with her quilt.
J: If you are not quilting then what else do you love to do?

L: I love to read and I frequently read memoirs and books about the brain.  Both of those types of books help me with my job.  I am a clinical social worker and I have a private practice where I work as a psychotherapist.  I also love geology and love to travel.  Currently I have been to 45 of the 50 states in the U.S.A.  My goal is to visit them all!