Maker Interview: Sue Schwabauer

Maker Interview: Sue Schwabauer

Today I’d like to introduce you to a very talented person.  I recently interviewed Sue Schwabauer who, I am convinced, can make just about anything.  She is one of my inspirations, and…she’s also my mother.  🙂

Maker Interview:  Sue Schwabauer

photo by Julie Shimer

Tell me about your current medium/media for creative work.  What media have you explored in the past?
My current medium is sewing and quilting.  Other mediums I have explored in the past  have been painting (both acrylics and oils), stamping, jewelry making, crocheting, knitting and embroidery.

Maker Interview:  Sue Schwabauer

jewelry by Sue Schwabauer
What project(s) are you working on currently?
Current projects are designing and making decorative pillows for my couch and making a cushion for a bench. I also just designed and made bridal shower invites. I am getting ready to make [one of my granddaughters] her big girl quilt and maybe make a couple of lap quilts for our family room.
What is the most exciting aspect of that?  What part(s) are you least excited about?
The most exciting part for me is designing and construction. The least exciting part is figuring out yardage for fabric and cutting it out.
How do you think your current work connects with/is influenced by your past work?
My current work connects to my past in a big way. As a teen I was unable to find tall size clothes so I learned how to make my own clothes from about age 14 or 15 on. As a young girl I loved to do embroidery.  So I have loved sewing and hand work for many years. Last year I did a quilted wall hanging that included hand embroidery, beading, and quilting. I really enjoyed that project.

Maker Interview:  Sue Schwabauer

heirloom smocked dress by Sue Schwabauer

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to try out sewing, and quilting specifically?  How should they start? 
For someone who wants to start quilting, I would say don’t be afraid of mistakes…get a good seam ripper and realize that everyone, no matter how long they have quilted or sewn, has to rip things out and start over. Take a beginner quilting course at a local quilt store…it helps so much. I still take an occasional course off and on and always learn something. Also realize that most quilts use a quarter inch seam for all the blocks, so invest in a quarter inch foot for your sewing machine…it makes life so much easier.
What are some of your favorite resources?
My favorite quilt author for a beginner is Eleanor Burns. She has very clear instructions and great illustrations, making it easy to follow her patterns. Another of my favorite books is: Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts by Mary Hickey.  She has the best and easiest quilt binding instructions of any I have ever used.

Maker Interview:  Sue Schwabauer

lap quilt made by Sue Schwabauer using a Flying Geese pattern by Eleanor Burns
How did you come to this type of work yourself?
I came to quilting in high school.  For one week every year starting my junior year we had a week where students set up the curriculum.  We had to choose two classes to take during that week.  One of the classes I did my first year was a quilting class.  I decided to do a cathedral window quilt.  I chose it because it used muslin, which was relatively inexpensive at the time, and this quilt used no quilt batting.  I also decided to not repeat any of the 2 1/2 inch squares of patterned fabric in the quilt, so I “raided” my mom’s fabric scraps, neighbors’ fabric scraps and my Grandma’s fabric scraps.  I did not finish this quilt in that one week.  I worked on it off and on through the remainder of high school, all through college, and into the early years of my marriage.  At one point, I couldn’t stand to look at it any more, so it sat in a closet for about 10 years.  During that 10 years I made my first log cabin quilt.  Then, when we lived overseas, [Lisa] asked me if I would finish the cathedral window quilt for [her] bed, which was twin-sized at the time.  I finished it, but left one side with the ability to add on to it at a later date if needed.  Well, [she] ended up with a full-sized bed a few years later, so I added on to it again.  Then [she] had a queen-sized bed, so I added on again and this time I finished the unfinished side so I would never have to add on to it again.  :o)  [Lisa has] loved that quilt, and it goes to show that eventually you can get the drive to finish just about anything.  I did not repeat any fabrics and the fabrics span from the 1950’s [or maybe even earlier] to the 2000’s.

Maker Interview:  Sue Schwabauer

Cathedral Window Quilt by Sue Schwabauer

Maker Interview:  Sue Schwabauer

Who/what are your creative influences?
My creative influences have been friends, family members, quilt shows, art museums, nature, and a variety of magazines and books.  Sometimes I even get ideas while reading my Bible and doing devotions.
Thanks, Sue (Mom) for sharing some of your creative history with us.  If you have any questions for Sue, feel free to leave them in the comments, and I will try to pass them on to her.

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