Hi, my name is Karen. I began sewing in junior high and quilting in high school. My Mom and Grandmother provided both instruction and inspiration. Together, Mom and I sewed many button down shirts for my Dad and six brothers, not to mention dresses for ourselves–check the photo of my Mom and me, taken when I was 12 years old. Those matching sun dresses were sewn from mattress ticking and trimmed in red. The second photo is, well, me and five of my six brothers all dressed up on an Easter Sunday morning.
Stretching the family’s dollars, my Mom and I sewed together 5″ fabric squares cut from scraps of the cotton shirt fabrics to make quilts. My Dad, a sheet metal journeyman by trade, constructed a quilt frame from lengths of 1×1-inch lumber connected at the corners with simple nuts and bolts. The frame was then balanced over the living room furniture so Mom and I could hand quilt those simple twin-sized quilts. Stretching Mom and Dad’s dollars even further, the “batting” for those quilts consisted of old, worn blankets–repurposing before it was popular! Oh, to have a photograph of that quilt frame balancing over the sofa!
The first quilt I made on my own was a wedding gift for my husband, Dennis, in 1970. Fashioned in the same way as the many quilts Mom and I had made, I pieced together 6-inch squares. The patches were put together with no particular rhyme or reason, just fabrics with complimenting colors. It, too, used an old, worn blanket as batting, making it a very heavy quilt. My daughter, Julie, appropriated that quilt … and will not give it back! Since that first quilt, I estimate I’ve pieced and quilted over 40 quilts of all sizes.
One of my favorite quilts, is a redwork quilt. Each block is a hand embroidered sketch, drawn by me, to celebrate the adventures of our family … homes we have lived in, the schools my children attended, places we have visited on vacation, and many more, 30 blocks in all. In this photo, you can see a tribute to my home state of California, the house where Dennis and I raised our children, the company’s logo, and the quilt’s album block. My oldest daughter, Beth, has claimed the quilt and will someday be its owner, loving the embroidery and the history it represents.
Another of my favorite quilts is a crazy quilt made of velvet and satin fabric scraps from the many fancy and formal dresses sewn for my two daughters. The sashing is satin and velvet, both from one of Julie’s winter formal gowns. They are sewn together to create a window pane effect. Favorite Bible verses are hand embroidered on all but five of the 12-inch blocks and hours of hand embroidery stitches decorate the seams. Five blocks are devoted to each of my children and my husband. I even copied my wedding invitation on a scrap from my wedding gown (that I sewed myself) alongside fabric from the ring bearer’s pillow (that I also sewed). Julie has this quilt, too. I gifted it to her, knowing how much she loves it.
I also teach quilting. My daughter, Julie, is holding the quilt I made for her while teaching the class I developed. The curriculum is designed to teach novice quilters how to make a sampler quilt using a quilt-as-you-go method all sewn and quilted on a domestic sewing machine. Students learn to piece 4-patch, 9-patch, several types of appliqué, picture blocks, sashing, and borders. Lessons discuss the choices of fabrics and colors and how they affect the quilt as a whole. Meeting once a month for 10-months, at the end, the students have a completed quilt. This quilt, as do all my quilts, has an album block in the corner. Julie’s name is embroidered in the center along with the date the quilt was made.
In April 2014, I retired from my job as a graphic designer and decided to take on a new challenge. After quilting on my Bernina 830 Record and Bernina Aurora 440 for so many years, I decided to purchase a long arm sewing machine and start quilting my quilts on a “big machine” designed for just that purpose.
After much investigation, I decided on a TinLizzie18 Ansley26 ESP with the Quilt Magician computer. This machine is designed for heavy duty work and the 12-foot table can easily accommodate a king-sized quilt top.
Bear Paw Long Arm Quilting opened in September 2014, and is ready and willing to finish those quilt tops others have created!
There is one last thing I would like to add. In addition to the hats listed on the website’s home page, I also wear the hat of faith-faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is He who has given me the talent to be artistic and to enjoy sewing and quilting. I thank Him for these gifts and talents and dedicate Bear Paw Long Arm Quilting to His glory.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority. before all time and now and forever. Amen,” Jude 24-25 (ESV)