She loves the challenge of quilting
Deb Veshinfsky’s passion for quilting was sparked when she was a child.
“My grandmother quilted, and I was always fascinated with her quilts,” she told The Press. But it was not her grandmother, who lived hundreds of miles away, in Indiana, who taught her the basics.
The Catasauqua resident made her first quilt, a wall hanging, while attending a class at an area quilt shop about 25 years ago.
Since then, her expertise has been honed by attending other classes, seminars and quilt shows, viewing Internet classes and tutorials and attending quilt guild meetings.
A member of the Crazy Quilters Quilt Guild, she says she loves meeting others who share a love of the craft, because seeing finished quilts made by others is inspiring, and there’s plenty of help when you need it.
“If you get stumped with something, there’s somebody there that usually knows how to fix it because there’s a lot of experience at the guild,” she said.
There’s a good chance guild members come to her for support and inspiration as well. Her quilt entries have been voted by other members three times as the winner of the annual Crazy Quilters Quilt Guild Quilt Challenge, a friendly contest among members to see who can make the most impressive quilted wall hanging that conforms with an annual theme.
For Veshinfsky, the impetus for a new quilt project can come from some newly purchased fabric, a technique or new pattern she wants to try or a desire to use up leftover fabric or quilt blocks.
“Posey Patches,” her winning Challenge quilt in 2016 began with tiny, leftover nine-patch blocks from an earlier project and was designed with a clever approach to the nine-patch theme and the addition of some beautifully executed appliquéd flowers.
“This Challenge honored the guild’s 25th anniversary,” she said.
It had to have exactly 25 nine-patch blocks and 25 or more different fabrics, and it had to be at least 25 inches on each side.
“Most of this quilt was actually made from scraps left over from another quilt I was working on and have yet to quilt. I had all of these little nine-patches left over and was wondering what I could do with them when the guild posted the Challenge requirements. I just had to come up with a plan on how to incorporate all of the requirements, and this quilt was the end result.”
It was the second year in a row her quilt was voted the Challenge winner.
While she is highly creative, she is not particularly competitive. You will not see her quilts displayed for judging at The Great Allentown Fair.
“I’ve never entered anything in the fair,” she said. “I leave that to my husband, Joe, who always enters vegetables and flowers.”
An accountant at a Lehigh Valley manufacturing business, she does the majority of her quilting on weekends in her sewing room.
“It’s a mess in there,” she said.
Veshinfsky owns five sewing machines, although the Bernina 820, a machine designed for patchwork, machine appliqué and machine quilting, is her current favorite.
“I have a big frame set up (with a quilt in it) for hand quilting, but I haven’t used it in so long,” she said. “I don’t let the cats in there because they think it’s a hammock.”
She started out hand quilting, but, lately, she has become more interested in machine quilting, as projects can be finished more quickly.
Still, there are a number of unfinished items in the sewing room.
“Wall hangings are what I end up finishing,” she said. “I have a backlog of larger quilt tops that I would like to get quilted. I have no idea how many unfinished projects there are because I’ve never counted them. There’s too many!”
She estimates there are at least 10 completed bed-size quilt tops ready to quilt.
“Then I have other unfinished projects that I can’t even tell you how many I have,” she said. “I get attracted to something else. I really like a new pattern, so I start on that.”
A big wooden cabinet in the sewing room is stacked with fabric for future projects, but it doesn’t all fit in there.
“It used to,” she said.
But then she rescued a large stash of quilting fabric from a Dumpster, discarded there by a friend who had tossed it after his mother died. That’s when she had to acquire her first storage tub.
When designing the layout of a quilt, she lays the blocks out on the floor as long “as the cats won’t mess with it,” she said. “It seems like cats are attracted to quilts.”
She has several projects going on at one time.
“I have one ready to machine quilt, one to piece and one that is hand appliquéd,” she said. “I like to have several different types of projects going, because if I am working on something and I am not happy with it that day, I can switch projects. I also like to have one portable project that I take with me on vacation or if we go somewhere so that I have something to work on.”
Her 2015 Challenge quilt is called “Pink Zinnia.” This Challenge was based upon paint chips.
“We each received two paint chip cards, and your quilt had to use two colors on one of the cards and three colors on the other one,” she said.
Her Challenge envelope contained paint samples of pinks and greens.
“I immediately thought of flowers and just looked around until I found a pattern that I wanted to make,” she said. “It took me four months, and three vacation days from work, to complete it in time.”
Veshinfsky has held a number of positions in guild leadership, including president, treasurer and Challenge contest coordinator.
She has sewn contributions for guild charities, making pillowcases and preemie quilts, among other items, to be donated to hospitals. She has also helped on most of the elaborate raffle quilts that members create together as a fundraiser.
Like most guild members, she looks forward to the “show and tell” portion of the monthly meetings, where members display their recently finished quilts.
“We have some very talented people in our guild,” she said.
Veshinfsky gets additional inspiration by attending quilt expositions. She has been to quilt shows in Texas, Ohio, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Kentucky, Virginia, Arizona, and, of course, Pennsylvania.
“The Arizona show was a bonus,” she said. “We were on vacation out there, and I saw the signs for the show and talked my husband into going with me.”
Of course, her creative wheels are already turning for the guild’s 2017 Quilt Challenge — a wall hanging of a specific size using solid-color fabrics.
As she sits at her sewing machine, stitching patchwork and appliqué elements together for her quilts, a memory of the woman who first inspired her comes to mind.
“My hands now look like my grandmother’s,” she said.
For information on the quilt guild, which meets at Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Emmaus, go to crazyquilters.org.