Each Wednesday throughout the summer we’ll hear from a designer about a pattern or book that caused them to head in a new direction and helped form their career. This is the third post in the series. You can read all of them right here.
Mollie Johanson is an embroidery pattern designer and blogger. Mollie’s patterns have a signature style that’s totally adorable – everything she draws has a sweet smiley face. Her blog, Wild Olive, is a positive, upbeat and caring place to visit each day. Mollie organizes terrific stitching clubs in which subscribers (myself among them!) receive an embroidery pattern each week along with instructions to create a clever quilting project. Her 50 States Stitching Club has just begun if you’d like to jump in. Mollie’s first book will be coming out next year with Lark Crafts.
Today I’m very excited to share Mollies’s story about the pattern that changed her life.
About two years ago, I developed a quilting obsession. The only trouble was, I didn’t really know how to quilt. Also, I was afraid to try. Sewing on a machine had caused me such grief as an adult, even though I had done plenty of sewing as child. The whole process overwhelmed me. I envisioned messing up blocks and not having things fit together.
Fortunately, Wendi Gratz saw my plight and sent me a copy of her Buttonholes quilt pattern to try. She reassured me that it was designed for a beginner like myself, and that with zero points to match up, it would be difficult for me to mess up.
It still took me a couple of months to work up the courage to jump in, but then I did. Within a short amount of time, I had made a quilt and gave it to my baby sister for a birthday gift.
Wendi’s pattern is forgiving of beginner mistakes, which makes it good to get started with, but she also doesn’t want you to get into bad habits. She addresses this idea specifically in the pattern, and this note about what to do if your seams aren’t quite right is what makes it all less scary: “Note it, move on, and see if you can get it exactly right by the end of the quilt.”
The Buttonholes quilt pattern changed two things for me. The first was that it was presented in a way that made it clear that I didn’t need to be afraid, and so I found that I could sew with success (and a few failures!). Fear no longer grips me when it comes to pulling out the sewing machine! The other thing that changed my whole sewing and quilting mindset was that Wendi includes videos for the basics of making a quilt. This may sound silly, but I hadn’t considered that I could watch video after video to learn how to get through this challenge I faced. Now I just hop onto YouTube any time I need help with a sewing issue!
This “Semi-Patriotic Patchwork Potholder” is one of Mollie’s original machine-sewn quilting designs. It’s a free pattern on her blog.
Just after I made this quilt, it was time for me to make all of the projects for my book. My plan was that I was going to have my mom do most of the sewing, but instead, I was able to do most of it myself, which of course, I am so proud of. I’ve also made a few smaller quilts, and have brought more sewing projects to my blog because what was scary is now comfortable. And it is definitely thanks to the Buttonholes quilt, which was a big project, but one that was attainable and perfect for building skills and confidence.
The Buttonholes quilt is the pattern that changed Mollie’s Johanson’s life.
What is the pattern that changed yours?