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An Interview With: Linda Nitzen

Sometimes when you meet a person there is something that simply clicks. I met Linda Nitzen, who was with Sizzix at that time, at a Quilt Market in Houston with Jake Finch, and Tracy Mooney. After a bit of texting between Jake and Linda, we, Tracy, Jake and I went down to the lobby of the hotel, got some ice cream and went to visit with Linda. It was a good evening. Over the several markets since Linda is always someone I catch up with both personally and professionally. I like to hear her take on where quilt world is, and thoughts on where it might be headed. We also check in with each other now and again. These conversations are part of my longing for the quilt world, that we connect with people and support them in whatever way we’re able.
Linda recently shared with me her new venture Sewing 101, and I in turn wanted to share this with you. As sometimes happens the process of interviewing is a little slow, giving Linda time to add more to the website, like this Fabric Analysis kit. I’ve got to say this is fascinating on so many levels and will help us improve our understanding of fabric, which will help us identify the better quality of fabric.

Linda’s first quilt – Log Cabin

TC: Tell me a little bit about your background in sewing, and quilting.
LN: My mom taught me to sew when i was about 9 on her Singer sewing machine. My Mom sewed everything from drapes to clothes. My younger school photos I’m dressed in her creations. I still have a fondness for Rick Rack. I learned most of my sewing skills from her and later took classes in jr. high. I struggled with tailoring clothing and would lose interest in the garment if it didn’t fit right away. I was in high school when I made my first quilt. This was a self taught adventure before the internet or YouTube, but I was hooked. Mom didn’t quilt. In my later 20’s my Mom, sister and me took a quilting class taught by an Eleanor Burns  instructor. I wish I could remember her name. She opened the door of quilting knowledge for me.  

 TC: Do you still have this quilt? (if so please send as one of the pics)
LN: Of course I do. LOL and will forward a pic this weekend.

TC: What are you stitching on these days?
LN: I love to quilt but enjoy all sewing. I’m writing patterns for Sewing 101 now. That is whats on my sewing table. I really enjoy piecing and wool applique. 

TC: Can you send a picture of some wool applique you’re working on? Add a few details: pattern, where are you getting your wool.
LN: Yes, I will forward pics over the weekend. I was getting my wool from Weeks Dye Works and another dyer I got at Sample Spree which I cannot remember the name. I’ll think on that for a name. They both have a beautiful saturation which is dreamy to sew with.  *Photo coming soon*

TC: First machine?
LN: My first machine was a used Viking which I didn’t keep long. I didn’t realize when I bought it, it was missing the cams. I soon after bought a new Elna which I used until I wore it out. It was a great machine!

TC: What machine are you using today? Fave features?
LN: I currently sew on a Bernina 570QE. This is an amazing machine! it has features I have not discovered yet, but the obvious best feature is the ginormous bobbin. I am anxious to really play with the free motion module with Stitch Regulator included. The Stitch Regulator was the feature that put me over the edge to buy the Bernina 570QE. Now I need a new cabinet to give her a proper home. LOL 

TC: What got you into quilting?
LN: It’s weird, but I have always liked blankets. Making something colorful that would keep me warm won me over. The fact that it didn’t have to fit my body like clothes do was a bonus! 

TC: Were you/are you a garment sewist?
LN: I like making clothes, but I don’t sew as many as I’d like.

TC: Do you have a garment you’d love to make?
LN: I bought a dress pattern and the fabric to make it early this summer. My Dad’s illness redirected my priorities of sewing for myself. I will check back in with the supplies over the winter so in the spring when it warms up again, I’ll be ready. I of course have plans to add a zipper to the pattern to be able to use the cotton prints I love so much instead of a knit. and Yes, I’ll send a pic of that too.  

TC: What is the thing you’ve made which still brings you a great sense of joy?
LN: My Mom and Dads 50th anniversary quilt. It is a Double Wedding Ring white with 50 golden rings: 48 on the front and 2 on the back. My sister suggested we make Mom and Dad a quilt for their upcoming 50th anniversary. It was January and their anniversary was in April. When she said it should be a Double Wedding Ring, I snickered and told her we’d need her husband and 2 kids and my husband and 2 kids to all work on it to pull something like this off. She said “I’ll call you back”. Five minutes later she called back and said “My families in. How about yours?” we immediately got to work. Hiding all 8 of us set up with 4 sewing machines on my dining room table was not easy. We worked with an assembly line process to cut and piece this quilt together. Everyone had a job and was willing to help. Did I mention my boys were 14 and 16. My sister’s kids were 21, a girl with sight issues and a boy 23. We all live close so  you never know when someone could just drop in on a Saturday. We pulled it off! I even made a decoy quilt to hang over the Double Wedding Ring on my design wall in case they came over.  It is still the quilt that brings me the most joy.

Linda’s Sparkling Star (yellow star, black background) in Pat Sloan’s The Splendid Sampler 2 Martingale/That Patchwork Place

TC: Have you ever tossed a project?
LN: Yes, a dress there was no hope for. I made a quilt once that didn’t have any contrast. I just placed a large applique over it and gave it away. 

TC: Favorite ice cream?
LN: Haagen-Dazs Chocolate chocolate chip, but am trying to go dairy free. So looking for a good substitute.  

TC: Beverage while you’re sewing?
LN: Water. I can’t be trusted to have anything else near my sewing machine. 

TC: Adult beverage?
LN: Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon. 

TC: Favorite meal.
LN: Not sure I’m trying a new plant based diet. Lots of good recipes. Non that’s a favorite yet.  Did you know that dark chocolate M&M’s are a vegan option?

TC: Who influences your sewing the most?
LN: When I was getting started it was my mom and Eleanor Burns. Today, I lead my own way. 

 TC: So Eleanor Burns helped get you started, now you’re leading your own way. Was there a moment when there was a big shift from following to working on your own?
LN: I’m not sure of the exact date when the epiphany hit me, but I had taken about 2 years worth of Quilt in a Day classes and patterns when it hit me to change them to fit my needs. I would take parts of the quilt and exchange them with others I’d seen. Remember this was the dark ages before internet. LOL.  I also really like a random piecing look with lots of color variation instead of the planned strip piecing or what I call “predictable-piecing”. Using the Sizzix products really helped me achieve the scrap look I craved. I also really like antique quilts. our grandmothers would cut shapes and arrange them to form patterns. With die-cutting, I can achieve that same creativity rather than strip piecing. Don’t get me wrong, I still strip-piece when it makes sense, just not all the time. 

TC: What thread do you sew with? Quilt with?
LN: I love Mettler Silk finish cotton thread, but have been interested in Aurifil lately. Not sure if there is a change in my future.

TC: Did you know you have the sweetest smile?
LN: It’s only because smiles are infectious and I’m looking at you! Thank you!

By the way you can find Sewing 101 on social media here, and here.

And I’m offering you an opportunity to win a fat quarter selection from my stash (again US only due to shipping); for my out of the US friends I’m offering a quilt consult – send me a photo of a quilt and I’ll give you quilting suggestions. Simply let me know your favorite ice cream by Monday January 16th, and I’ll draw a winner.

Happy Stitching,

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