SVMQG Member Spotlight | Cristin Grothaus

Author: Cristin Grothaus, 2021 Guild Secretary

I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands, and creating things. One of my earliest forays into sewing involved cutting up a purple nylon nightgown (not mine) and a piece of rabbit fur (also not mine) and making a “royal” cape for my childhood cat. She was not very appreciative.

Over the years, I’ve added crafts as they’ve caught my interest. I make jewelry, knit, and have dabbled in bookbinding and even blacksmithing. I stumbled across quilting, and was hooked.

My earliest attempts were not very successful. My color combinations left a bit to be desired, and I think I attached the binding to the front and then just stopped and left it unfinished. I suspect the cat was judging my skills, although she begrudgingly slept on it anyway.

my first quilt

I read a few books about quilting and design, and learned how to do proper bindings. After a couple years of making very simple baby quilts, I ran across paper piecing. On a whim, I bought a paper piecing pattern of a little fox, designed by Andrea Tsang Jackson of 3rd Story Workshop; the green gemstone block is also from one of her books. Paper piecing is a great fit for me; I really enjoy it, and it lets me create very intricate and precise blocks.

Most of the blocks and minis pictured were made for swaps, which I started participating in around the same time. I especially enjoy making blocks with things that aren’t typically found in quilts; I have a fantastic collection of paper pieced bug / insect patterns that are going to make a really interesting sampler quilt eventually. 

Initially, I was quilting using an embroidery machine with an 8×12 inch hoop, which was fine for baby quilts, but I eventually pieced a quilt that was just too big. It was probably 56 x 64 or so, but I struggled so much with that quilt that I signed up for longarm classes at TechShop. Their closure two months after my training led to the eventual purchase of my own longarm.

I’m not very good at following quilting rules, so the first quilt that I longarmed wasn’t a practice piece; I jumped right in with paper-pieced narwhals for a friend’s nursery, and continued on with my next few baby quilts.

In addition to impulse buying new patterns instead of sewing the ones I already have, I’ve started exploring hand piecing, inspired by some of the beautiful work that I saw guild members working on during our virtual meetings last year.

Before the pandemic paused in-person classes, you all inspired (and encouraged) me to take my first actual quilting class on collage quilting, and to try a block of the month. My goal is for every quilt that I sew to make me learn something new or practice a skill that I need to improve. The guild BOM gave me the confidence to try circles, so I decided to try a quilt full of curves. Maybe next time I’ll be brave and try some appliqué!   

my guild BOM quilt

Many thanks to Cristin for sharing with us!

Check back each month for more Member Spotlight blogs where we’ll feature one or more of our guild members who will introduce and tell us a little bit more about themselves and their quilting journey.

If you’re interested in being featured on our Member Spotlight, fill out the form on our Member Resources page and we’ll reach out with more info.

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