Friday, February 04, 2011

Sharon Dixon, Guest Quilter

Sharon's on the right, and that's me on the left ... 2009.
(We simply must take a more recent shot.)
Thanks, Cathy, for sending me this picture!

My very dear friend Sharon Dixon has agreed to appear as my Guest Quilter today.  She is a wonderful machine quilter, with a business in longarm quilting for quilt-top makers, as well as creating one-of-a-kind t-shirt quilts for her customers, called Katy T-Shirt Quilts .  She uses a special soft interfacing so that her t-shirt quilts come out nice and soft ... "real" quilts, not stiff and icky like some I've seen.  She has also now opened a new Etsy store to sell her own pieced quilts.  She has many customers from across the world.
Sharon's funky new layout design for t-shirt quilts
Interview with Sharon Dixon:

Sharon, how did you get involved in quilting, and how long have you been quilting as a business?
I can thank my mother for my quilting career.  She taught me a love of fabric and quilting at a young age.  After making my first quilt at age nine, I pieced and hand-quilted several quilts through the years.  Then when I discovered rotary cutters and rulers around 1989, I became a prolific piecer.  Since there was no time to get the quilts hand-quilted, I had to explore other options.  My husband Tommy sold a tractor he refurbished and gave me the money to buy my first quilting machine.  By 1996, I was quilting for others.  I hadn't really planned to start a business.  It just evolved from a part-time hobby to a full-time business. 

The simplest t-shirt layout.
Do you still piece quilts?  How do you manage your time in order to be both creative and a successful businesswoman?
I'm usually so busy piecing T-shirt quilts or other special order quilts for customers that I don't find much time to piece or quilt my own.  But I try to sneak in one of my own every so often.  Time management is my biggest challenge.  It's so easy when one is self-employed at home to get distracted and not use time wisely.  But I try to work all morning and then take a two-hour break in the afternoon to rest and re-energize before working until about 8:00 or so at night.  It helps a lot that I love what I do.  And I have to admit that I don't follow a rigid schedule every day of the week.  Having flexibility to spend time with my grandkids and quilting friends is important to me.  I would be remiss if I didn't credit my husband Tommy with a great deal of my success because he does so much to help me which allows me time to concentrate on my quilting business.. 

A very cool pieced layout for t-shirts.
What awards/ribbons have you won, and what publications have you appeared in?
I've won several ribbons in the West Houston Quilter's Guild quilt shows, but the one I was most excited about was the Judge's Choice ribbon.  I've been fortunate to have quilts that I quilted for Bonnie Blue Quilts appear in McCall's Quilting Magazine and on the cover of Quilt Mania, a French quilting magazine that is published in several languages.  Cynthia Regone's book Colorful Quilts, A Journey Through Fabric featured several quilts that I quilted for her.  And four quilts that I quilted were published in Simple Strategies for Block Swap Quilts by Lynn Roddy Brown.  I have been told that Lynn is releasing another book in August that will have my quilting in it, and another Bonnie Blue quilt will be appearing in a magazine this spring. 
A t-shirt quilt made for the AWTY International School auction.
What advice do you have for customers who have never taken their quilt-tops to a longarm quilter to be finished?
The most important advice would be to find a reputable longarm quilter.  One does not instantly become a professional machine quilter when she purchases her first quilting machine.  It takes practice to develop longarm skills as well as customer service skills.

Texas Aggie t-shirt quilt
What would you do with a year free to do what you wanted with no responsibilities or financial concerns?
I would spend more time with my grandkids and maybe take each of them on a special trip.  I would also do some traveling with my husband and quilting friends.  But most of the year would probably be spent piecing and quilting my own quilts!

One of Sharon's own pieced quilts ... gorgeous!
Thank you, Sharon, for being my guest today ... 

Detail of the quilt shown above.
Please visit both Sharon's Etsy Store and her Katy T-Shirt Quilts website, for contact information and to find out about having your own t-shirt quilt made.  I sleep under one of mine every night, and have others as lap quilts and guest quilts.  The best use of old-and-treasured t-shirts EVAH!