articles, quilting

an Interview with Jake Finch

From the Cover of Jakes book "Comfort Quilts From the Heart"

Facebook has certainly made connecting with quilters so easy and such fun.  Working in a quilt shop I get to see all kinds of books come through and “Comfort Quilts From the Heart” is one of the earliest I remember as it arrived within a short period of time after I started working.  What prompted me to interview Jake is 2 things:

1) Jakes blog on the Generation Q Magazine website  where Jake describes her first quilt and her first sewing machine.  Megan & Melissa have also told the stories of their first quilts.

2) Jake, Melissa, Megan and Scott  have been writing an on-line magazine that will shortly be in print!  I mentioned their kickstart program here.

okay there’s really three, I find quilters interesting.  We come from a wide variety of backgrounds, we like a wide variety of quilts and have different quilt making styles.


Teri: I see that your first machine was a Singer from Price Club, what are you stitching on now?

Jake: I am a die-hard Janome fan. I have a Janome 6500 that I bought in 2006 and it’s a workhorse designed for a quilter. They should hire me. I’ve sold more than a dozen to students and friends over the years. In my fantasies, I own the new 7700 Horizon, but for now my 6500 will suffice. I also have two small Janome Gems and a Janome serger. The Gems are taken to classes and my daughter uses one of them.

Teri: What are the classes you like to take and the teachers you’d love to take a class or 2 with?

Jake: Okay, so believe it or now, I’ve hardly taken ANY classes. My story is that I am a self-taught quilter and I made quilts for 13 years before I finally came out of the stash closet. Coming out for me meant joining my hometown quilt guild, something I had tried once before this and ran terrified and intimidated from. But this time, I was 6 months pregnant and knowing I would be home from then on, I could attend meetings. So, in joining the guild, I was suddenly surrounded by quilters and the opportunity for classes (which I didn’t know existed) but now I had a newborn and no time to go to classes. Even today, with my daughter now 11, it’s still a “luxury” in my mind to take a class. I’d rather work through a book, pattern or tutorial at home and on my schedule most of the time.
Teri: Do you have a preference for hand, machine or check quilting?

I LOVE freemotion machine quilting. I love the speed, creativity and the flow it requires. I am a dense quilter and a lazy quilter. I hate marking. Even when I try to air out my quilting, it still contracts. But that’s the fun, eh? I appreciate good hand quilting, but I have carpal tunnel and a young kid, and that leave me little desire and time to do hand quilting.

Teri: What threads to you use for your free motion?

Jake: This is an important question. The secret to successful free motion quilting is to find the perfect formula for what works with your machine and hands. In my case, I SWEAR by two threads: Libby Lehman’s Bottom Line thread from Superior and Aurifil’s machine cottons. Both are supper thin and fill a bobbin with more thread that we are used to from other threads. Because of their thinness, they flow much better through the bobbins, creating less snags and jumps in our quilting. The bottom is way more important than the top threads in free motion. On the top, I will use just about anything. I really like rayons, the kinds used for embroidery, but have a huge selection of Sulky, Superior, Aurifil and other threads that have something a little extra. The trip with the top threads is found with the needle used. For most of my quilting, I work with a topstitch needle, and ALWAYS a fresh one. Never, never skimp on your needles! Change them frequently, especially with quilting.

Teri: Dark, milk or white chocolate?  In what form?

Jake: Milk, high quality, with nuts and something chewy at times is perfect. (Nougat, caramel…)

Teri: Quilting has been part of your life since 1989, what are two or three of the most significant changes you’ve experienced in the quilting community?

Jake: Changes are many. I love how our craft constantly evolves and grows. I believe strongly that this is why quilting is flourishing while scrapbooking, for instance, struggles. Changes I believe significant in the last 20 plus years are: art and modern quilting movements, variety of fabric available and the improvement of tools. Art and modern quilting reflects style shifts and the fabrics and tools (including computer tools) available enable us to exercise our creativity better.

Jakes Quilt Inspector Jane

Teri: I’m so excited about the GenerationQ Magazine!  When will the first issue be published?

Jake: Our first issue is scheduled to debut at Spring Market in May. We are launching our Kickstarter campaign this week to help raise the initials funds needed for print and Market travel. After that we should be fine on our own. Anyone interested in supporting us should visit our Kickstarter page. Pledges are rewarded with issues of the magazine as well as even better bribes like Moda towers, fresh quilt books, tools and other products. Kickstarter is an all or nothing method of fundraising so we have to be pretty aggressive about it.

Teri: Has being a quilting magazine editor influenced your own quilting in a particular direction?

Jake: As an editor for a publication that focuses on the modern and contemporary quilter I do see my choices in patterns and techniques following what I track. But, I come from traditional quilting and still do appreciate much of what I see in that style range. Still, I’m completely jazzed by innovation I see happening today and I love the simplicity of many of the designs. Fits my life-spot very well.

But, my first quilt class was with my now very good friend Rose Hughes, who is an amazing teacher and very nurturing. It was the start of a beautiful friendship for us. I’d love to attend a retreat center like Asilomar, but again, I have to wait until my kid is a little older.

Teri: What tools help you exercise your creativity?  Is there a tool or book that really gets your creative juices flowing?

Jake: All books and tools developed by Joen Wolfrom about color and design are my fave inspirations. Color is the most important tool a quilter has and learning about how color works and then being willing to experiment in your work is the cornerstone to all great quilting. Also, a huge box of crayons, selection of good quality markers and art pencils and a sketchbook are musts!

Also, an excellent sewing machine is so important. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive, but it needs to carry out your vision. Example: I had a new Pfaff when I ramped up my quilting 10 years ago. This machine loved to piece. That built in walking foot was brilliant and I tore through tops. BUT, this Pfaff was a pain in the butt and it hated free motion quilting. When a friend let me try out her Janome 6500, I knew I’d met my future and I haven’t regretted it since. This machine takes what’s in my head and on my sketchbook and enables me to recreate it in fabric.

Teri: Congratulations on the Kickstart campaign doing so well.  Can we tease the readers about what MAY be in the first print issue?

Jake: Oooh, I LOVE teasing! I’ll tell you that our covers will be different from the norm and that we enlisted the help to two of our fave people to dress up our first cover. Also, look for a huge fun factor and some in-depth pieces.

Thanks Jake!

Happy Quilting!


3 thoughts on “an Interview with Jake Finch”

  1. Teri – thanks for this great interview. Very inspirational…makes me want to go right upstairs and quilt. I have a project perking, this might be my ready-set-go moment.
    It’s nice to read about someone who thinks like I do – about taking classes (only if the teacher is really good), about being a quilting autodidact and who obviously loves her craft. Someone willing to take one more step beyond where she is now…now…and again.
    And thanks for bringing up the magazine site again. I put that on the back burner, and it’s still sitting there.. V

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