My Mentors


On a trip earlier this year, a friend of mine asked me who I considered my mentor.  I was driving and the traffic was heavy, so I didn’t give a very good answer to that question.  I have had many mentors, the chief one being my mother.  Sew I decided to pull an earlier post from my archives of my old blog, but looking at it, I realize I have added several additional mentors and so I put those into the post in blue text.  I am so thankful for all the wonderful quilters and sewists who have taught me so much across the years.  Many of them I have never met.


TITLE: Let us now praise famous women (and men)
DATE: 8/7/2011 9:35:54 PM
I don’t quite know why, but I have been thinking a lot lately about the
wonderful women and men who have handed down their skills and forged
paths in sewing, engineering, painting, fabric weaving and printing, and
development of all manner of tools and notions  that have brought us to
the fantastic opportunities we have now spread before us.   I thank God
for them.

Let us now praise famous men [and women], and our fathers [and mothers] that begat us.
The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through His great power from the beginning.
Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power,
giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies:
Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of
learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions:

Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing.
Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations.
All these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times.

There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported.

And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though
they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born;
and their children after them.

But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.

With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance, and their children are within the covenant.

From Ecclesiastics 44, King James Version

Several quilters and sewers have had a huge impact on my appreciation and love of sewing and quilting.  And you know, I’ve only actually met one of the most impactful of them besides my mother.

Zephana Bivens:  She was my dear incredibly brilliant talented mother, who was an advanced sewist and knitter.  She never made quilts to my knowledge, but she taught me to sew and knit and embroider from the time I was about 4 or 5.  I honestly can’t remember exactly when I began, but I do know I made my first dress, with a lot of help from her, at age 6.  Late in her life, she got interested in intricately carved woodworking using a scroll saw and made some wall art that I can only characterize as “wood lace”.  Sadly, she passed away at age 79 from cancer just as she was perfecting her woodworking, and she never got to see my quilting development.  How I would have loved to share it with her, but somehow I believe she knows about it.  She was not famous, but she was clearly an artist.

Martha Pullen: The other day, I was watching  “Martha’s Sewing
Room” where one of her guests (sorry don’t know her name), was showing a
way to sew something and turn it that was remarkable in its result and
simplicity, but required an engineering mind to figure out in the first
place.  Martha has provided some remarkable teaching from her program and I have learned a ton of new methods especially for heirloom sewing.

Sharon Schamber:  The first time I realized that quilts might be a fascinating “hobby” for me was about 7 years ago when I attended the Chantilly Sewing and Quilting Expo where they had one of Sharon Schamber’s quilts on display.  I was astonished and fascinated with her piecing and quilting techniques and, oddly, I didn’t even particularly like her overall quilt.  I realized, though, that she has a remarkable talent.   Since that time, I have studied many of her how-to videos on her network.  She taught me to improve my piecing, my quilting, and especially my binding. [Sharon’s videos are now available in DVD form on her daughter’s site Purple Daisies]

Alex Anderson:  Alex’s TV show Simply Quilts, which never seemed long enough to me but which introduced me to many new concepts and techniques piqued my interest.  Now she and Ricky Tims and their families and colleagues produce The Quilt Show, which has provided me with a huge amount of teaching through the shows, the classes, and the access to other quilters online.

Nancy Zieman: Over the years I have watched every Sewing with Nancy episode I could find and have bought a number of her dvds and books.  I improved my basic sewing skills from her teaching.

Diane Gaudynski: 
Diane is relatively new in my unmet masters.  I bought a couple of her books on machine quilting using a domestic sewing machine and they helped me to vastly improve my quilting. She helped me to realize I don’t have to have a long arm machine to do high-end quilting.

Laura Wausalowski, who I took a workshop from a couple of years back and she taught me how much fun quilting should be and how to improve my fusible applique.

Recently, I have developed a lot of interest in the techniques that are used by Caryl Bryer Fallert, which, remarkably, closely relate to many of my favorite methods, though our quilt subjects are so different and she, of course is the master, and I am just an explorer at this point.

Pepper Cory, from whom I have taken several workshops and with whom have an ongoing friendship.  Now Pepper is mostly a hand quilter, but her knowledge of quilt history, sense of design, and ability to deal with stencils (and other quilting design sources) have been an enormous help to me in seeing some directions I need to take in my future quilting.

Pat Holly and Sue Nickels, and their books Stitched Raw Edge Applique and Machine Quilting: A Primer of Techniques along with their video appearances on The Quilt Show.  I have only briefly met Sue Nickels at her lecture at The Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival this past February, but they are both such effective teachers that their books and videos have been enormous help in improving my quilts.

Everyone develops their own styles and methods, and often they are a mix of things learned from others…but it’s just wonderful how much is out there today to help us get there and we don’t even HAVE to go to their workshops to get that advantage…though it is much more fun if we can!

Have a great week everyone.


Betty Jo