Tell us a bit about yourself..
My name is Esther and I’m married to a great guy named Jeff. We have 2 cats (Buddy and Mouse) also known as my “sewing assistants” and the creation of my company name Quilted Cat Designs. I started pursuing the art show circuit about 5 years ago at the urging of my husband. He is very supportive of my addiction to fabric.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I was in Human Resources for 20 years and the sewing/creative thing was always my “other life.” After taking my last HR job and being miserable after only 6 months, my husband said “that’s it.” I had been contract teaching for Husqvarna Viking prior to taking the job and they had wanted me to work for them full time, but I said no. Now my husband said I had 2 weeks to call them or he would. So the story goes, I worked out my arrangement for job with them on a Friday night, left the next morning for a week long cruise, came back and quit my HR job. I have no regrets. Don’t miss it one bit. I am now part time at Viking, doing shows and doing sewing side jobs. Funny, I don’t come home crying anymore and my name isn’t on any lawsuits or EEOC charges.
Where do you get your creativity from?
My head is always spinning. I’m not into mass production of anything, everything is always different. It might be the fabric telling me what it wants to be or if I see something and mentally take it apart, I figure out how to make it. I always tell my students to look at things not for their intended use.
What got you into the craft hobby?
I started as a garment sewer as a child learning from my mom. I then taught myself to quilt. My dad use to do upholstery so I also know how to do cushions and other home decor things. I got frustrated with clothing patterns not fitting me properly, so I got away from that till about 3 years ago. I took some classes on flat pattern, and designed some garments that really taught me how to deal with fitting issues and making my own patterns.
How would you describe your creative process?
It just kind of happens. I see something or get out a piece of fabric and it tells me wants to be. Really, fabric does talk to you. If it isn’t talking to you, today is not the day to cut it. It also takes a lot of peanut M&Ms. For Christmas this year my husband bought me a motion sensor candy dispenser. That might explain the 5 pounds I gained this year.
What is your most favorite item that you have ever produced?
I don’t know if it is my favorite, but it was my most rewarding. My best friend Karen and I bought a vintage tablecloth at a flea market. It was sewn up 2 sides like a pillowcase and had stains on it. The guy at the table didn’t even know it was his. I think I paid maybe $5 for it. I bought it home and my husband said what are you going to do with that, I’d used it for a rag in the garage. I ripped out the stitching and went to work on the stains. I got them all out and it was beautiful. I hated to cut it, but had already decided I was making a jacket out of it. My only regret is I didn’t take a “before” picture of it, so you could see how really bad it was.
How did you get your business off the ground?
Started doing the shows first, then built my website and working where I do I meet a lot of people. People want to have something done custom, altered, repaired and don’t know where to go.
What are your goals with your business?
I would love to have my own shop, but figure that’s not going to happen. So just keeping my eyes open and always looking for new opportunities to get involved with.
What do you do in your free time?
I run or walk 5 miles most days and take an exercise class 2 days a week, but have had an injury that has sidelined me lately and it is killing me not to workout. We also have a motorcycle that we like to ride.
What's the message behind your work?
Don’t look at things for their intended use. Challenge yourself to make something out it. I put myself on a fabric diet this year and really trying to use up straps of fabric and what I have. Now that’s a challenge!
Check out Quilted Cat Designs this fall at the Avant-Garde Fall Art & Craft Show on Sunday, October 23, 2011 at the Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church at 5500 West 54th St. Parma, OH 44129. Show time runs from 10:00am-5:00pm. This eclectic show will feature 65 of the areas most talented artisans and crafters. A portion of the show's proceeds will be donated to the North East Ohio Make-a-Wish Foundation. For more information or to become a vendor, contact Becki Cooper, Event Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.