It’s early Saturday morning and I cannot sleep. It’s still dark outside in Sienna Plantation. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday this week we were out the door by 7 AM on our way to MD Anderson for blood work, review, and transfusion or appointment with my oncologist. On Thursday, I was on my way to La Grange, Texas for a Quilts, Inc. Executive Committee meeting. Today was my day to sleep in. I love to sleep late, but not today. There’s too much on my mind.
Was it the excitement of yesterday’s blood work revealing my platelets count went up since Wednesday’s results? Or was it the fear of needing a stem cell transplant if my numbers don’t elevate to at least 20,000 over the next few weeks?
Yesterday’s results were reason to cheer and hug with my two favorite Physician’s Assistants. However, just last week we were nervous and worried about dipping to 3,000 platelets until it got to 1,000. Starting back up, instead of dropping lower, was reason to cheer. I was on a high when we got home even after a stop at the Quilts, Inc. office for a few hours of work.
Over the last few months I haven’t felt like concentrating on anything in my studio other than an order from the Texas Quilt Museum for collage cards and design packets. When I got home yesterday late afternoon, I went into my studio and decided it was time I spend some time creating or catching-up on adding merchandise to my etsy shop. Or maybe I start with straightening my design wall clutter and work table mess.
My whole studio is a far cry from the order it was in for the photo shoot of my work space for the publication, Where Women Create. My studio is featured in the Nov/Dec/Jan2015 issue. What a fun day with my kind friend, Jo Packham, the editor of the magazine.
So last night I had the energy and desire to add to my etsy shop two little frocks I made early this year. When our children were here for Easter, our granddaughter, Madison Murrah modeled the frocks while another, Lindsey Huebner photographed them. The garments have been hanging in my studio since then. It was good to get those posted last night. The pattern I used is Simplicity 1080. The frock on the left is made from a vintage cutwork tablecloth. The frock on the right features a 1930’s embroidered hostess apron I imagine was worn by the hostess for a bridge party. Both pieces are in excellent condition.
I have collected vintage linens, laces, patchwork, and trims since I started having an interest in sewing and embellishing when I was in my twenties. I have boxes and closets full of everything you would ever need for a lifetime of stitching and creating. Madison would take all those things in a heartbeat, if she weren’t just 19 and going to college.
Where did all this begin? How did a young woman with a degree in Elementary Education, who just wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and wife to an executive husband have a life-time career as a teacher, author and show planner?
It all started when our youngest son, who is now 41, was an infant in arms. His brother was 6 and his sister 2 1/2. I was sewing fabric squares together to make quilts when I had a few minutes to myself. There were no books to follow, but occasionally an article in Women’s Day or Woman’s Circle on quilting.
One lucky day I learned of an antique shop teaching quilting classes at night. What joy I found that one night out each week that I could be with other quilters and learn how to make a quilt. In a little over a year, my first full-sized quilt was hanging at Great Expectations Quilt Show, and my quilt was featured on the advertising postcard. There was no turning back.
Quilting and creating became my passion. I started teaching classes in a Continuing Education program at our church while Todd was in second grade, Holly was in pre-school, and Troy was in the Mother’s Day Out program at our church. I was actually using my degree. As a thirty-three year old young woman, I loved teaching women many years older than I how to create something beautiful. They were of a generation where women did not work outside the home. For many it was the first time they were so proud of their accomplishments. It became a mission for me.
Quickly the word was out and I started teaching at a couple of small shops. I sewed well into many nights once I had the children to bed. I couldn’t get enough of it. Oh, to have just a little of that energy today.
It wasn’t long after that that I had a meeting with the owner of Great Expectations, Karey Bresenhan. She had added fabrics to her antique shop and wanted me to make some samples for her. That led to teaching classes for her on how to make tote bags, bibs on pinafores, notebook covers, etc. from the quilt blocks I had learned while taking classes from her mother, Jewel Patterson. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t taken that first meeting with Karey. I have worked for her for 40 years now.
My career took off. Wait a minute…I didn’t plan to have a career. Remember I am raising three little children. I’m a mom. Somehow I was propelled and soon teaching at Quilt Fair ’78, designing a garment for the first Fairfield/Concord Fashion Show which later became the Bernina Fashion Show,
designing and creating large fabric pieces for a debutante ball, being published in magazines, becoming VP of the Greater Houston Quilt Guild, part of a two-woman fashion show,
creating special decorative items for antique shops from vintage quilts and linens, designing and making rodeo vests for a trendy dress shop, etc.
Then in 1982, my husband moved us to Victoria, Texas, so he could run an independent bank there. Did my career or my association with Karey Bresenhan end there? Guess again. She did not want to see me go, but that didn’t mean she let go. Shortly after we moved, I came back to Houston to a wonderful surprise going-away party Karey had in her shop. I was presented with a quilt full of hearts and signatures from my students at Great Expectations Quilts. I continued to go back to Karey’s shop to teach a full load of classes.
What’s next? It wasn’t long after I arrived in Victoria, Texas that I started teaching quilting and related decorative classes at the Open Door Creativity Center.
Quilting caught on quickly. The classes were popular and it wasn’t long after that that Susan Manning and I formed the Quilt Guild of Greater Victoria under the umbrella of the Nave Museum. I was their first President and remained active in the Guild for 20 years. I also became very active in the Victoria community. Soon one of the Guild members opened a quilt shop where we gathered for classes. I taught there and in a shop in Edna, Texas on a regular basis for many years.
During that time teaching picked up in other towns, more of my designs were published in books and magazines including Virginia Avery’s book Quilts to Wear. In 1983, I took charge of the Education program for Quilt Festival and Quilt Market and became first President of South/Southwest Quilt Association which is IQA today.
Later in the 80’s we started taking Quilt Market to other cities in the summer. Not long after that, we took Quilt Market to European countries along with Quilt Expo. That made for lots of over seas travel for 20 years, but what a delight to see all those European countries and to meet so many wonderful people. Life was busy and children were growing older.
In the early 90’s I was approached by the Editor in Chief, Barbara Weiland, of That Patchwork Place to write a book on the garments I was creating. I had started a series on collage patchwork jackets about that time. After much hesitation, I did write the first book, Jacket Jazz. A series of 6 more books and a pattern line followed over the next 10 years. The first two books put me on the teaching circuit map. I began teaching all over the country for many years. That was gratifying, but hard, exhausting work. I also designed a line of fabric with a Jacket Jazz flair during this time.
Kids continued to grow, went off to college, graduated, married, had babies. I quit teaching in 2006. We moved back to Houston in 2007. Since then my life has been filled with being with my husband, VP of Education and Administration for Quilts, Inc., mother and Grammy, and active in our church.
Now my focus is on getting well so I can enjoy these golden years, play in my studio, be with our family and travel with my husband. I want to be able to manage MDS. I know the only cure is a stem cell transplant, if it’s successful. Please keep praying for more platelets. Your prayers sustain me, and I am so thankful for you, my friends. God bless you all. Judy