Meet Amy from Diary of a Quilter [the teachers interview series]
This week’s teacher interview is with the talented Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter. Her blog is full of tips, tutorials, and patterns that appeal to quilters of all levels. Whether you consider yourself a beginner or have been quilting for years, you are sure to find some wonderful inspiration. Let’s get to know Amy:
TSS: When did you start sewing?
Amy: I started playing with my mom’s sewing machine when I was 8 or 9 just fiddling with it. (Once I broke the needle and tried to replace it without her knowing, but I put it in backwards and the machine didn’t stitch right. My poor mom thought her machine was broken.) I learned to make a simple skirt (my first real project) out of blue gingham when I was 10.
TSS: How did you learn to sew?
Amy: My mom was a sewer and I was always interested in trying it myself. My mom taught me some basics and then I took classes from my neighbor Pam in her basement. I liked it and made some classic wardrobe staples like sear-sucker Bermuda shorts and a really boxy-Cyndi Lauper-inspired shirt. Later I learned how to make Units shirts and belts out of knits. (Someone please tell me you remember Units!) My mom taught me hand piecing for quilts about the same time that she learned when I was 12. I later figured out machine piecing but didn’t make quilts in earnest until after I had my first baby, 12 years ago.
TSS: What kind of a machine do you use?
Amy: I use a 35 year old Bernina Sport. It’s just like the one I learned to sew on in Pam’s basement and I love it. My mom bought it from the Rick’s College home ec department when they were replacing their machines 22 years ago. It’s all metal parts and works like a dream. I don’t do a lot of fancy stuff with my machine (mainly because I don’t know how) so a simple, heavy-duty machine is perfect for me.
TSS: Where does your sewing inspiration come from?
Amy: Oh, everywhere. (That narrows it down, right?) I’m a pretty visual person, so definitely from seeing things. Sometimes it’s fabric that inspires a new design, sometimes it’s other quilts, sometimes it’s just random design elements that make me think, “That would make a cool quilt!”
TSS: What sewing project are you currently working on?
Amy: I think I have at least 15 different projects in various stages of progress at the moment. I’m always working on a quilt. Usually the ones I’m making for other people get pushed to the front of the line, but I have a couple I’ve wanted to make for myself – including my Union Jack quilt – that I just need to find the time to work on. Maybe when the kids are back in school. . .
TSS: When did you join the online sewing community and what has been your favorite part so far?
Amy: I started reading blogs just over 3 years ago and it was like finding a whole planet of people who “get me” and like to do the things that I like to do. It was especially exciting to find so many younger sewers and quilters because I always felt a little bit like a granny in my sewing hobby, and rarely told people how much I enjoyed it. I started writing my own blog, Diary of a Quilter a few months later. By far my favorite part of blogging has been meeting other people who share my sewing interest. I feel like I have found some really wonderful ‘real life’ friends this way. And I’m SO excited to meet more at The Sewing Summit!
TSS: Do you have any advice or tips to share about blogging?
Amy: Do it because you enjoy it and you want to share with and inspire others. Don’t compare your blog (or yourself) to other blogs – that can be so discouraging. In other words, don’t make blogging into a competition. Keep it inspirational, not negative. Use it as an opportunity to get to know real live people.
TSS: You have a wonderful selection of tutorials as well as pattern for purchase on your blog. Do you have a favorite?
Amy: I think my favorite is my Chain Link pattern. I made this quilt for a friend who got married last summer. I feel like there are so many options with this quilt and it comes together so fast.
TSS: What’s your favorite part/step of putting a quilt together?
Amy: I think my favorite part is picking out the fabric and coming up with the design. But I also love sewing on the binding because it’s pretty much the only time I watch TV or movies – when I need to bind a quilt! Also, it means the quilt is almost done.
TSS: We know our readers are anxiously awaiting class details. Can you share a bit about what you will be teaching at The Sewing Summit?
Amy: I will be teaching a Quilting 101 – we’ll talk about quilting basics, using good tools, cutting fabric, seam allowance, piecing, squaring up, pressing, border shortcuts, – little details that will make your quilts look great but also help simplify and de-mystify the process. If people have specific questions or needs for this class I would love to hear them. I really want it to be a class that helps those who are coming! Feel free to leave any requests or suggestions in the comments.
TSS: What part of The Sewing Summit are you most looking forward to and what do you hope to take away from the weekend?
Amy: Wow – so many things I am looking forward to. I guess the main one is being with so many awesome people who share a love for creating, sewing and playing with fabric. I’m also excited to learn some helpful techniques myself – especially in the garment sewing department. Sewing clothes is something I would love to gain some confidence in. Finally, I’m excited for some time to just get away and sew! :)
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