Two quilters are better than one

There is something very special about a two-person quilt — a quilt where two people have partnered on the process of completing the quilt. For more than 13 years I have been a longarm quilter and have personally completed more than 3,000 custom quilts for “quilt toppers” — quilters who love making the quilt tops but are not as interested in the final quilting process because they have already started their next quilt top.

These “quilt toppers” have become some of my very best friends. During the process of working on the quilt you lend each other emotional support. You learn and grow together as quilters which elevates your confidence and self-esteem. Lastly, the result is a beautifully finished quilt that you can both “ooh and ahh” over.

One of my very best quilt partners is Cheri Meineke-Johnson. She was once a customer and student of mine. We became good friends through this association right from the beginning. As a customer, she gave me the artistic license to do whatever I dreamed, leaving me wide open quilting spaces, never asking what I might have in mind. As a student, she was great with the freehand, but she never finished the technical skills class. She just did not like to stay in the box. That’s when she decided she liked to appliqué better than quilting anyway.

At first, she paid me to quilt for her, just like all my other customers. After one of the first quilts I did for her won many awards, our relationship changed. She approached me with a proposal: she would design and appliqué two of each quilt — one for her and one for me. That didn’t last long, in fact, it only happened once. The quilts are “Fly Fishing I and Fly Fishing II.” The appliqué flows from one quilt to the next and I mounted and quilted them on the machine at the same time so the quilting lines flow from one to the other without a break. They are so special that we both decided they should never be apart. Once they were bound Cheri whipped the bindings together to be hung as one quilt. So we discovered the problem with this idea is that neither of us wants to try and create two of the same quilt. The spontaneity is gone; it takes something away from the creativity and becomes mundane.

Cheri’s next idea (She’s full of them.) was to make a small quilt for me using the same idea and fabrics so I would have kind of a miniature of the original. Well, this happened twice and then sort of fizzled out because again, once you are finished with a quilt, it’s hard to do another one (albeit smaller) just like it. Finally, Cheri proposed the solution: she would design (All of her designs are original.) and appliqué whole cloth and I would quilt the quilt. Then she would bind it and put on the hanging sleeve. We would enter the quilt and if it won, split the prize money. After the quilt had been to several shows, we would eventually sell the quilt and split that money too. That sounded great to me, since I usually watched my hard work and creativity walk out the door with my customers. (After all, they own the quilt.)

So we realized the passion — I suppose you could call it the “high” for both of us — which comes during the creative process. Afterwards, we both love looking at the quilts, but we are anxious to move on to the next challenge. Throughout this process each of us has emerged to find our own unique style. Many people have told us that as soon as they see our quilts in shows, they know who the makers are. That is very gratifying to me — to imagine there is indeed some talent inside of me that I am able to tap into that is unique.

I know I am not alone in my love of partnering on quilts and I wish everyone the same satisfaction and success I have found as a longarm quilting partner.

Since summer is here, I thought some ideas on freehand insects might be fun to add to your freehand quilting library.

Linda V. Taylor is a professional quilt artist, master teacher and author. She is frequent guest on popular TV quilting segments. She has produced seven instructional videos and authored eight longarm quilting books including, The Ultimate Guide to Longarm Quilting produced by C&T Publishing. She owns and operates two longarm learning centers, one near Dallas, TX, and one near Jackson Hole, WY, which also houses deluxe retreat facilities for her students. Watch for her new TV program called Linda’s Longarm Quilting on your local PBS station. For more information or a free catalog, call 1-800-893-2748, or visit www.lequilters.com

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