Meet Maggie Szafranski quilter and Nurse Practitioner. Maggie blogs at Maggie May Quilts. Maggie & I met through The Quilt Show and hope to meet in person sometime soon. I do love her name, I have a niece named Maggie who is enjoying learning how to sew when she can.
How long have you been quilting, and how did you get started?
Maggie: I offically started quilting when I was in 7th grade. At the small school I went to, the 7th and 8th grade separated the boys and girls in the morning first hour. The boys took industrial arts, and the girls did crafts. Miss Sybil Morgan had each girl hand piece quilt blocks. We had two years to complete the blocks for a quilt. The background was white, and the colored patches were scraps of fabric found in our homes. The pattern was four 4-patch blocks with a central square and 4 rectangles. Put together, it would make a scrappy simple Irish chain. I hate the pattern. I wanted to make a crazy quilt! See, I was a rebel then! The first quilt that I remember was one that my Aunt Ruby had given me. It was a string quilt made of men’s suitings and ties. It was very heavy, but kept me warm in our drafty, poorly heated farm house! No, I don’t have either quilt!
I think I was predestined to sew. When my mom was pregnant with me, my dad came home from a farm sale with a used sewing machine. He just knew that I would be a girl, and that my mom should have a sewing machine to make things for me, and to teach me how to sew. Well, mom did not sew, and I taught myself with some help from my Aunt Zola when I got into High School. I did not take home ec, as I was taking math and science courses. I was even in “Boys” 4-H.
You mention you were a “rebel” even then which leads me to ask, do you modify the quilt patterns you purchase either with fabric choices or changing it up a bit?
Maggie: I don’t like to make a quilt that looks exactly like the picture on the pattern. I sometimes h.ave a hard enough time just following the pattern! I recently made a queen size quilt for my hubby at his request. He had seen the quilt in a local quilt shop and wanted one exactly like it. I was so tremendously bored doing that quilt. There was no excitement with how the fabrics and colours were going to play against each other. It was like watching a movie for the second time. I didn’t feel as if I had a part in the creative aspect of the quilt. I was just the craftsman who was putting the pieces together.
My ultimate goal is to be able to establish my signature look/style. Something that will set my work apart.
Favorite quilt pattern and colors
Maggie: I can truly say that I love them all! I love the old fashioned patterns, especially the log cabin patterns. I love star patterns, especially the lone star. They all truly fascinate me! I have no favorite color for quilting, as they all have a purpose!
Can you share a photo of a quilt you’ve made and a little of the back story behind it? Maggie: My Masterpiece (as my hubby refers to it) is Circle of Life. The pattern was designed by Jacqueline de Jonge. I first saw this quilt and pattern at the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2010. I was looking for a pattern to make a donation quilt for our local refuge center. I wanted something that represented the diversity of life. I fell in love with the pattern. But by the time I was done piecing, I knew that I couldn’t give this away. This was too special. So another quilt was donated, and Circle of Life went on the quilt show circuit. It has won best of show, three blue ribbons, a red ribbon, hung at National Quilting Association show, and was juried in and hung at Paducah 2012! But the icing on the cake is that one of the local quilt shows that is run as a benefit for a local children’s home used Circle of Life for background for a lot of this year’s advertising! Seeing my quilt on a billboard in town has been an awesome experience!
Favorite part of the quilting process
Maggie: I love the time at my sewing machine! Holding the fabrics, pinning, becoming one with the machine as we take these small pieces and turn them into larger pieces! I think it is a total Zen thing! The same happens when I am free motion quilting. That is why having a machine that you are comfortable with is so important. It doesn’t have to be the latest or most expensive!
What machine do you have? MaggieYou mean, machines! Until recently, I was strictly a Janome girl. My first Janome was a 6260, which led to getting the 6500, which I still have and dearly love! The 6500 is a workhorse and has done everything I have ever asked it to do. We really would get into a zen thing! I have the 7700, but she has been a very fussy machine, in regards to needles and threads. So I recently replaced her with a Bernina 550QE! Her name is Earline, and we are in love! She is an amazing stitcher, and the BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator) is awesome! I am hoping this will definitely help me take my quilting to the next level. I also have a Janome 11000SE which I use to do machine embroidery.: I love the time at my sewing machine! Holding the fabrics, pinning, becoming one with the machine as we take these small pieces and turn them into larger pieces! I think it is a total Zen thing! The same happens when I am free motion quilting. That is why having a machine that you are comfortable with is so important. It doesn’t have to be the latest or most expensive!
Do you quilt with an open or closed toe foot?
Maggie: I generally use an open toe foot, but sometimes a closed foot is in order.
Maggie: My favorite fabrics are batiks and dyes! I am not wild about the new big print fabrics. They definitely serve their purpose, but not in the type of quilting that I like to do. 30s repro and Civil War prints don’t trip my trigger, either. I like strong colours that make a bold statement, that are fearless in announcing “I am ORANGE!”
Do you design your own quilts or use patterns?
Maggie: I would like to get more into designing my own patterns, but I like to use other people’s patterns, especially if it has a new twist on an old favorite design. I do get creative with baby quilts, and generally don’t use a pattern for them.