Mary Mulari — “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman with a Sewing Machine”

Mary Mulari

Mary Mulari

(Originally published October 2014, Inspired to SEW. Written by Rita Farro.)

 

One of the busiest sewing teachers in America — Mary Mulari is the author of 28 sewing books, most recently, All Occasion Fabric Wraps.

Growing up, Mary always thought she would be a teacher.  After college, she taught junior high English.  She and her husband also had a retail sporting goods store in Aurora, Minnesota where they sold sweatshirts.  In an effort to boost sales at their store, Mary was inspired to create a sweatshirt decorating class for local community education.  The classes became so popular, she self- published her first book, Designer Sweatshirts.

Mary Mulari and Nancy Zieman

Mary Mulari and Nancy Zieman

At that time, Nancy Zieman was living in Minnesota and she was also teaching community ed classes.  They became friends and stayed in touch after Nancy moved back to Wisconsin.  When Nancy started her mail-order notions company, Mary sent her a copy of Designer Sweatshirts. The rest (as they say) is history!!  Mary has been Nancy Zieman’s most frequent guest on Sewing With Nancy.  To date, she has made 52 appearances.

Where do you get your inspiration for new books or topics for Sewing with Nancy?

Mary:  I am an avid reader.  I love books, magazines, and catalogs. I am always sketching, even when I’m waiting in airports or on vacation at the lake.  Sometimes the stones on the shore will inspire me, or the carpeting in a hotel will give me an idea for a new design.  I usually carry a small notebook, but sometimes I tear out an article or sketch an idea on a restaurant paper napkin, etc.  I put those sketches or notes in a large tabbed three-ring binder.

aaimage-1If you had to pick your favorite project on Sewing With Nancy — what would it be?

Mary:  The ZIPPER RIBBON TOTE.  I still remember the reaction of the college students who operate the cameras because they were fascinated by the project.  Unlike anything I’ve ever shown — it brought them out from behind the cameras to see how it worked . . . .

Mary’s sewing inspirations have morphed and changed over the years.  Her interest in turning ordinary sweatshirts into stylish fashion garments led to an enthusiasm for appliqué, and she has been credited with reinventing machine appliqué.  At some point, Mary was inspired by vintage aprons, which led to her popular best-selling line of apron patterns.  Each apron is reversible and takes two one-yard cuts of fabric.  Her most popular pattern, The Church Ladies Apron, has sold over 60,000 copies. Her newest apron is called the Family Girls Apron Pattern, with sizes for mom, grandma, daughters, and dolls, and is available at a retailer near you.

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aa2014-09-17-12.54In November 2014, Mary made a guest appearance on Sewing With Nancy which focused on her new book, All Occasion Fabric Wraps.  Mary loves wraps or shawls that can be easily carried wherever you go.  Wraps also make wonderful gifts (one of her favorite topics). They are perfect for travel (she’s written several books about travel gear). They can be embellished or personalized with machine embroidery or appliqué (she is, after all, the Appliqué QUEEN). You can recycle wool sweaters or your mother’s vintage wool coat into a beautiful new wrap. (Recycling has been a recurring Mary Mulari theme for several years.)

What does sewing bring to your life?

Mary:   Sewing satisfies a need for me.  It produces a creative buzz in my life.  I don’t think there is anything more powerful and satisfying than MAKING a gift with your own hands and skills.  Sewing allows me to personalize any gift and knowing how to sew means I can fix things and solve problems.  One of my favorite quotes is, “Never underestimate the power of a woman with a sewing machine.”

www.marymulari.com

Eleanor Burns – The Most Famous Quilter of Our Time

(Originally published December 2019 in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #72. Article written by Rita Farro.)

 

Eleanor Burns, SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #71

Eleanor Burns is, arguably, the most famous quilter of our time. Eleanor has taught thousands of students, written over 100 books and her unique quilting methods revolutionized the quilting industry. She has received every accolade or honors any professional quilter could hope for, including being inducted in the Quilter’s Hall of Fame.

Her business, Quilt In a Day (QIAD), is an American success story . . . but it didn’t just happen.

After college, Eleanor became a Special Education teacher, a job she loved. She taught for six years in the Pittsburgh, PA area. She married her college sweetheart, and they moved to California so her husband could attend law school. They had two sons, Grant and Orion. Those were some lean years, and Eleanor needed a job. She didn’t have a California teaching certificate, so she went to the Parks and Recreation department and offered to teach a Stretch & Sew class.

That wasn’t possible because Stretch & Sew was a trademarked business, and their techniques were proprietary. But it was 1976, and it seemed everybody wanted to make a commemorative quilt. Parks and Rec asked if she could teach a quilting class.

Eleanor eagerly said, “YES, I’D LOVE TO.” She had never actually quilted, so she immediately went home and made two pillows. That’s when Eleanor’s experience in writing Special Ed curriculum came into play. She broke the daunting, complicated quilting process down into small steps. Her directions were concise and easy to follow.

Although she didn’t know it then, Eleanor Burns was about to revolutionize the modern-day quilt industry.

 

(Click HERE to read the rest of Eleanor’s story.)

Terry Austin – Quilts of Valor Volunteer

Last week we reintroduced you to Quilts of Valor (originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #10, October 2014). This week, we continue by featuring QOV volunteer, Terry Austin, who was also featured in the October 2014 issue. The article was written by Rita Farro.

Terry, 2nd from left, with a service member family.

Terry Austin from Moline, Illinois has been a Quilts Of Valor (QOV) volunteer since 2012. She has a long arm quilting business, which is how she first became involved. She says We have some quilt tops donated to us that simply need to be finished, otherwise we get together to make quilt tops once a month. I get them to quilters and then to binders — all volunteers. Anyone interested in helping or getting involved can go to the website, qovf.org, to find out about groups in their area. Our biggest need is for fabric and batting. I am blessed to be the one to deliver the quilts in our area. What a reward I get from each and every one.

Terry is from the Quad Cities area in Illinois and makes frequent QOV presentations to soldiers. Terry shares a few treasured pictures from her scrapbook.

WWII photographer surrounded by family and friends.
She outranked two of her brothers. A fun lady to meet.

Quilts of Valor presentation to
current soldiers and WWII and Iraq veterans.

QOV presentation.

Some veterans are quite emotional upon receiving their QOV.

Major in his DC-9 with a QOV made by his mother.

Two of five remaining brothers who served in WWII.
One served in the U.S. Army and the other in the U.S. Navy.

A Brownie troop used their hands to form hearts & an open hand for fireworks, then I finished their quilt. Each Brownie earned a badge while learning about war and the value of servicemen & women. The troop gave the quilt to a soldier in a ceremony. This was a special lesson while learning a new skill. It was fun for them and made me proud.

 

Please click HERE for a more recent article (WQAD News 8, Moline, IL) detailing the work Terry continues to do with Quilts Of Valor.

Quilts of Valor — Dedicated To Covering Service Members & Veterans

(Originally published November 8, 2015. Written by Rita Farro.)

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Quilts of Valor “at the ready” to wrap service members in comfort and warmth during the long, chilly medevac flight from the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) Ramstein, Germany to receive further care at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

Quilts of Valor “at the ready” to wrap service members in comfort and warmth during the long, chilly medevac flight from the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) Ramstein, Germany to receive further care at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

Catherine Roberts founded Quilts of Valor® Foundation in November 2003.  Born and raised in California, she did a stint in the Peace Corps, then settled in the NE corridor with her husband Chris.  She was a busy mom, raising four kids and working as a nurse.

She says, “It was after 9/11 that things changed radically for me.  In late 2003, I started QOVF as a result of my older son, Nat’s, upcoming deployment to Iraq as a gunner for his Humvee.”

Knowing that she was “10 seconds from panic” while her son was deployed, Catherine had a vision of a post-deployed warrior struggling with his war demons at 2:00 in the morning.  She saw him sitting on the side of his bed wrapped in a quilt.  That quilt not only comforted but warded off his war demons.  Thus QOVF was founded.  The mission was simple:  To cover all those wounded warriors with both physical and psychological wounds with a Quilt of Valor.  Originally, the focus was on warriors from Iraq/Afghanistan and many of the quilts were sent overseas, but the mission has expanded to ALL service members and veterans.

The quilting partnership between piecers and quilters happened mostly thanks to Janet-Lee Santeusanio of MQX (Machine Quilters).  The volunteer partnering of long armers with piecers of quilt tops was where the magic really took hold.  Good pieced tops become beautifully quilted quilts thanks to the machine quilters.

Quilts of Valor now honor and comfort service members and veterans from all services and all wars. On Veterans Day after the wreath laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, two veterans from past wars were honored with Quilts of Valor. Charlie S., a Navy WWII veteran, was awarded “Anchors Aweigh,” and John L., a Marine during the Korean War, was awarded “Stars and Stripes.” The Scottish American Military Society (SAMS), Post #2, Post of the Potomac partnered with QOVF to award the quilts in a traditional military award ceremony.

Quilts of Valor now honor and comfort service members and veterans from all services and all wars. On Veterans Day after the wreath laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, two veterans from past wars were honored with Quilts of Valor. Charlie S., a Navy WWII veteran, was awarded “Anchors Aweigh,” and John L., a Marine during the Korean War, was awarded “Stars and Stripes.” The Scottish American Military Society (SAMS), Post #2, Post of the Potomac partnered with QOVF to award the quilts in a traditional military award ceremony.

This whole process started with one QOV going to Walter Reed Army Medical Center with the assistance from Chaplain John Kallerson (Lt Col) and his wife Connie, a quilter. In May 2014, QOVF  went back to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a symbolic ceremony at the new USO facility to acknowledge 100,000 Quilts of Valor.  At that ceremony, nine QOVs were awarded to military service members and veterans.

Quilts of Valor (www.QOVF.org) is an amazing grassroots, non-profit organization, totally run by volunteers.  They have approximately 10,000 volunteers nationwide.  Marianne Elliott is the volunteer who writes the newsletter for the organization.  “I retired from the Navy after 21 years.  My involvement with the Quilts of Valor started almost two years ago.  The last time I quilted — people were still using scissors to cut fabric.  So if I can be of service, ANYBODY CAN!  The QOVF website has lots of information about quilt patterns, criteria, local groups, award presentations, etc.

There is no one right way to create a Quilt of Valor. February 1, 2014 was the first National Sew Day — and 1,361 registered participants in six time zones made 586 tops.  Every year, the American Legion in Corning, New York lets the Southern Tier QOV sewing group come in for a 12 hour quilting marathon the Saturday before Veteran’s Day.  Local merchants donate food and prizes — and by the time it’s over — this small group of dedicated quilters will create 70 or 80 quilt tops.  Some groups meet on a monthly basis, and hundreds of quilts are made by dedicated individuals sewing in their own sewing rooms all over America.  The one thing that is a constant is that every stitch in every quilt is a labor of love  . . . ’ “

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http://www.qovf.org

Rob Appell – The Next Chapter

(Originally published November 2019 in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #71. Article written by Rita Farro.)

 

Some people think of their life as a book, and each year is a new chapter. Rob Appell thinks of his life as a surfboard ride, and each year is a new, exciting wave, accompanied by a Rock and Roll soundtrack.

And, just as he was riding high as the star of the popular YouTube channel, Man Sewing, Missouri Star Quilt Company canceled Man Sewing, so Rob was suddenly unemployed.

I was pretty low and heartbroken, but, after I settled into my new reality, I realized I had a whole new set of skills to take out into the world.

For starters, Rob knew he could make his own video magic happen. Content was never an issue. My head is always racing with a dozen ideas for new sewing projects. At Man Sewing, I came up with all the creative concepts and did the sewing. But it was filmed by a team of people running up to five cameras and microphones, plus a photographer and writer for patterns and magazines. I never touched a camera, mic or editing software.

Rob believes the beating heart of the quilting industry is the independent retailer. After all, he got his start in his mother’s quilt shop, The Cotton Ball, in Morro Bay, California. His new challenge would be to bring together his creativity and his new video skills to benefit those brick and mortar stores. Rob knew he could come up with the content, but he also wanted to film, edit, and write the music. To develop this ambitious platform, he knew he would need a partner. He didn’t have to look far. He realized the answer to your future lies in seeds from your past.

Click HERE to read about Rob’s next chapter.