Monday, October 30, 2017

October Desire to Inspire Challenger - Barbara Esposito is clearly inspired!

Meet Barbara Esposito, sewing friend of all the Jaftex companies. She shares projects often on Instagram and Facebook with our fabrics. In fact, one of our sales reps has been using Barbara's projects to show shops what great things you can make with our cute designs. For this month's challenge Barbara had "Hop To It!"  collection designed by Shelly Comiskey, and ships into shops in November.  Here is her story. Be sure to comment at the end and let her know how awesome her projects are, and how marvelous her photographer hubby is too! 

Hello!  My name is Barbara Esposito.  You can find me on Instagram @thequiltedb. 

This is Stitch and Snip and the day the fabric arrived for the Desire to Inspire challenge. 

I live in Southwestern Connecticut with my husband Joe (my camera guy, color consultant, and best friend), and my two cats, Roscoe and T-bone.  I love the fall in New England – my absolute favorite time of year.  When I am not sewing, you can find me baking or biking with Joe.  We love to ride to the beach.  When we take the “long way around” we stop for ice cream – Joe calls that striving for equilibrium.  We also love finding new Rails to Trails routes around Connecticut and New England.

I have been quilting and sewing for more than 15 years.  I was not born to sew!  

My mother was a very accomplished seamstress.  I tried to learn from her.  Really, I did.  But every time I went near her machine things got all knotted up.  No matter how hard I tried.  My last clear memory of an attempt to sew with her machine went something like this:
Mom: Where are you going with those pants?
Me:  To your sewing room.  They’re too long and I need to hem them.
Mom:  Oh no you’re not!  Just give them to me and NEVER step into my sewing room again!

OK, maybe not quite so melodramatic, but I was not of the sewing ilk.

Then in the mid 70’s (yes, I am that old!) my sister Nancy asked me if I wanted to learn to quilt.  Remember that the rotary cutter and quilting rulers were not available until 1979.  Nancy did lot of hand piecing.  And she used cardboard templates to cut up her fabric.  “Cut up the fabric and then sew it back together again??  That’s a bit insane, don’t you think?” I said.  Nancy rolled her eyes and never brought it up again.

Fast forward to early 2002 and a Pastor’s wife inviting me to join the ladies’ quilting group.  I had some friends in that group.  “I don’t want to cut up all those little pieces and sew them back together again!” I said.  “It’s easy.  There are fancy cutters and rulers that make it fast.” they said.  “And we have snacks after sewing!”  “Snacks??  OK it can’t be all bad” I thought.

I was hooked after my first meeting.  I will confess that it took me over four hours in the fabric store to pick out my fabric.  A friend with the patience of a saint was with me and the only reason we left after 4 hours was because she had to pick her kids up from school and threatened to leave me there.  “Eight coordinating Fat Quarters” meant to me that they all had to be the same color with no other colors mixed in.  They could be different patterns, but only blue and white could be in the fabric.

I am happy to report that things have changed and I have progressed.  Sometimes I even get all crazy and put stripes and polka dots in the same quilt!  Color is still my weak suit, and I am thankful to have Joe and my sister Nancy to use as my color consultants.  Sometimes I even drag my neighbor Lindsay into the mess.  I am of late, more apt to look to fabric collections to save some myself angst.  That is one reason I loved working with these Hop To It fabrics.  Henry Glass Co sent them and said, “Here…create!”  I knew the fabrics belonged together.  OK…I did still need to check in with my color consultants about placement and whatnot, but most of the color work was already figured out for me!

I love to teach beginners to sew and quilt.  Corny as it sounds, I really do have a Desire to Inspire.  It is so much fun to see a beginner’s reaction when they realize they can actually make something with their own hands.  They come to the sewing table with no pre-conceived notions about can and can’t.  They trust that you will show them and that they will do it.  Teaching beginners is one reason I love simple quilt patterns.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is a place in my repertoire for complicated.  I love to foundation paper piece.  I am addicted to English Paper Piecing.  I just pattern tested a quilt pattern for a designer that almost killed me because I decided to make it scrappy, but I loved the challenge.  Sometimes, though, simple is good.  Like when you have FOUR baby quilts due for December babies!  Yes, that’s December 2017.  Simple can be a good opportunity to play with pattern or color.

The pattern I used for this challenge quilt is a freebie from Wood Valley Designs (  It is called, simply, “Picture Frame” and is one of their “Three Yard Pattern” designs.  With the simple patterns, beginners get a real sense of accomplishment and are not afraid to move on to more complex things.

So often I see quilters who compare their work to what they see on the latest blog, or You Tube channel and are discouraged because their project isn’t “perfect”.  “Look!  My seams don’t match up!”  “I can’t quilt it like she did!” or worse, “I’m afraid to try that _______ (new technique, pattern, style – insert what scares you) because I can’t do it as well as her or him.”  Let it be known that I am making it my personal mission to dispel the myth that only perfect is good!  I would love to share a crazy little story with you if you can hang on a minute or two longer.

My sister Nancy was having a conversation with a woman with whom she works.  They were talking about me (crazy, right?) and Nancy mentioned that we quilt together (she’s a good sister – she forgave my teenage snub from back in the 70’s).  It came up in conversation that I lived on Block Island in RI when I was younger and have a friend who owns several shops on the Island.  She told her co-worker that I had sold some quilts in my friend’s shop over the years.  Here is the crazy part:  Her co-worker has a 12 year old daughter.  The daughter received a quilt from a relative when she was born.  The quilt was purchased on Block Island in Rhode Island.  Can you see where this is going?

My sister asked for a picture of the quilt.  As she was telling me this story she said, “I don’t think it’s one of your quilts.  It is not your style at all.”  She showed me the picture, and can you guess?  It was one of my quilts.  At first I wanted to say, “Nope…you’re right…it’s not one of mine!”  It was not exactly one of my finest let me tell you! But then it hit me.  Someone thought my quilt was beautiful enough to buy for a new baby.  Someone was grateful for the friend who bought that quilt.  And someone loved it enough to keep it on her bed for twelve years!

Here’s the point:  Sew what you love from a heart of love, and love what you sew.  Finished and cherished is so much better than perfect.  Seriously.  It is. 

In closing, I would like to tell you all that I consider myself blessed to be offered this Challenge.  It is an honor to be allowed to share with you and I thank Henry Glass Co for this opportunity!

Now Hop To It and go sew up some love!  And be sure to tag me @thequiltedb because I really would love to see what you create!

Barbara Esposito


Quilting Tangent said...

Cute projects.

Lisa Marie said...

Loved your story and your projects Barbara! Your reminder about the joy of teaching beginners is perfectly timed as I will be teaching a girl a beginner sewing project later this week. She is excited to learn which makes her the perfect student.

anna brown said...

Very nice great job..

PisforPie said...

I'm proud to be the owner of some QuiltedB original pieces! And my mom is so glad to have a quilting buddy, since I did not inherit the sewing gene.

Vicki in MN said...

What fun projects!!

Janie said...

I love all of your projects! Very creative. I also enjoyed the sneak peeks over on Instagram. Thank you for all of the inspiration.

Danette Stankovich said...

Very nicely done!

Shelly Comiskey said...

Oh These are AMAZING Barbara!!! You did such a wonderful job!!! How fun to see these!!

Material Girl said...

I love Shelly's new fabric, it's about time someone came out with some cute Easter fabrics, look forward to seeing them in a quilt shop near me.


Material Girl said...

Forgot to mention those are some beautiful projects you made Barbara, I love the pillow case, pillow and bench runner.


Ariane Wallace said...

You are such a talented quilter, writer and teacher Miss Barbara! My daughter is one of the blessed recipients of your sewing lessons and is learning so much and having a blast at the same time. Your heart shines through each and every one of your beautiful creations! Love this pattern and looking forward to see what your imagination comes up with next. Great job, Joe, on the pictures!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Nice projects. I learned to quilt a year before you did.

Apple Avenue Quilts said...

Wonderful post!!!