I started sewing at the age of 10, when my mother got a fancy new sewing machine. I wanted groovy jeans with fly fronts and belt loops, not the elastic waisted pants that my mother made for me. By the time I got to high school, making my own clothes was a cheap, fast, and creative way of having the extensive wardrobe that I wanted. After my first child was born, I was no longer a "perfect" pattern size. Since I disliked doing pattern alterations, I switched to sewing quilts, kids' clothes, and home dec.
I started by making traditionally influenced scrap quilts and I keep coming back to them. Why use just 5 fabrics when you could use 50? But I've also done lots of applique, made whole cloth quilts, and dabbled in surface design. My favorite technique is a toss up between free motion quilting and precision piecing, but I'll try almost anything once. I design my own quilts, so it's always mystery to me where my next inspiration will come from.
My mother (a quilter since the 1950s) is my biggest influence because she opened my eyes to quilting. She's given me so much encouragement and free access to her amazing fabric stash, her extensive reference library, and her stable of sewing machines. The list of professional quilt artists who inspire me goes on and on, but here are a few: Ami Simms, Karen K. Stone, Debra Wagner, Diane Gaudynski, Jane Sassaman, Helen Godden, Jenny Bowker, Judi Madsen.
My favorite completed project is "Common Threads" which is a quilt made from blocks that my grandmother pieced before I was born. 50 years later, I finished it with help from my mother and daughter, and each of us (including Grandma Nell) has slept under it. There are four generations of family photos spanning 93 years in its borders. It won a blue ribbon in the "Group" category at the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2005 and was a finalist in the $100,000 Quilting Challenge.
I specialize in teaching machine techniques. Mostly gourmet free motion quilting, but also some really good quilt bindings stitched entirely by machine. The very best parts of teaching at QQ are the warm friendships that I've made with students and staff. I also love the dedicated classroom space. It's comfortable and functional for students in hands-on classes and the state of the art A/V technology is a dream to teach with.
I belong to Riverwalk Quilters Guild, Pride of the Prairie Guild, Professional Art Quilt Alliance, and a couple of small, informal quilt bees.
My husband and I love bicycling. We've bicycle toured all over the US, and in Spain and Italy. Now that he is retired, we are hoping to do more international bike tours. I'm a born and raised New Yorker, and I lived in Colorado and Texas before moving to Naperville about 15 years ago. In my professional career, I was an accountant, which may be why students get detailed, step-by-step handouts in most of my classes. My studio supervisor is a pampered puss named Turkish Taffy. She is also in charge of quality control, making sure that all my quilts are comfy for naptime.
Valli Schiller (on Facebook, I'm @ValliSchillerQuilts)