SVMQG Member Spotlight | Lisa Bourgeault

Author: Lisa Bourgeault, 2021 VP of Membership

A divorce can change your life in many ways, but in my case, it turned me into a quilter. 

I learned to embroider at the age of 5, and that led naturally to a bit of hand sewing. 

One of my first embroideries.
Hand-sewn bag circa 1971. I still keep my embroidery stuff in this bag.

Once my mom taught me to use a sewing machine, I got excited about choosing fabrics for simple garments – my first effort was a very ‘70s pair of wrap pants made out of wild fabric, with ball fringe – I wish I had a photo of those!  My whole adult life, I thought that if I ever had the time, I’d love to do some type of fiber art and just surround myself with beautiful fabrics. This was kind of a crazy dream seeing as I’ve never considered myself to be artistic. 

This is not your typical bridesmaid dress.

My sewing for many years was very utilitarian – curtains, pillows, a bridesmaid dress and a huge project making fleece ponchos for a charity sale – and every trip to the fabric store made me long to spend a lot of time shopping for and petting beautiful fabrics.

In 2014, when I got divorced, I decided to take the room my ex-husband had been using as his office and turn it into a sewing and game room for me and my two kids.  By the next year, my old clunky sewing machine gave way to a new very nifty one, and the games (and the kids) were banished to a different room.  

Did I want to sew garments? Make quilts?  I didn’t know at first, until a pattern drafting class just overwhelmed me and made me realize that I didn’t really want to pour my time into learning how to sew clothes when I could jump in and enjoy quilting at a beginner level very quickly.

I learned to free motion when I made my first quilt, in a class at Eddie’s Quilting Bee.

My daughter already loved sewing, so she came to a quilting class with me and quilting became something that we could enjoy together.

My daughter and I made this quilt together. It was supposed to be for her freshman dorm room, but we didn’t finish until her sophomore year.

Even my son, who was 8 at the time, started a small quilt for his beloved stuffed dog (however, it is still sitting in the UFO pile).    

I have to say I am not a fast quilter, but I’m trying to be patient with myself and just enjoy going at my own pace.  Baby quilts and throws are my specialty, because they can be finished fairly quickly and they are easy to quilt on my domestic machine.

One of my all-time favorite baby quilts, given to one of my all-time favorite teachers.
I had fun with the walking foot quilting on this charity baby quilt.

I like challenging myself to do something new with every quilt, and lately I have fallen in love with improv.  The fact that I’m not proficient at 1/4 inch seams has a lot to do with that, but I also love the look of improv quilts; It’s great that they don’t get boring since I’m not making bunches of the same block.  I love free motion quilting and have taken quite a few classes; I’m also in the Self-Guided Learning Team Deep Dive into Quilting, so I’ve been practicing a lot this year.  I just bought a ruler foot and a couple of small rulers, so I’m looking forward to trying those.

This year I’m also working on a series of quilts called “Springtime in Los Altos.”  For four years I’ve been taking photos of the glorious purple and pink flowers that appear on my walks around town in the spring, and I wanted to figure out how to capture the feeling of being surrounded by this beauty.  I’m very excited that the Self-Guided Team on Working in a Series has pushed me to take this idea that has been in my head and turn it into a reality.  My first two efforts didn’t do what I wanted them to do, but the current one is working out really well and I love it.

I’ve taken some great classes with the guild, including Giucy Guice’s class on Photography and Branding and most recently a class with Carolina Oneto. 

I photographed this quilt during Giucy-Guice’s class. Not a great photo, but it certainly showed me the importance of photographing in daylight and finding interesting photo shoot locations.

When the pandemic hit, the SVMQG really saved my sanity – I always look forward to our Zoom meetings so I can see my friends.  I’ve loved our virtual retreats and working on the 2020 and 2021 BOMs, too.  

I have so much fun quilting and hanging out with quilty people at quilty events.  I’m definitely a quilter for life.

Many thanks to Lisa for sharing her story 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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