When inspired by Mr. Pinkowski to recognize the male quilter, it was really challenging to come up with other male quilters who have made a difference in the industry and people’s lives ( I think they’re all hiding). I mean there are the celebritites, but there are also the quilters who are just down the street who are more than deserving to pay tribute to, not only because of their talent in quilting , but their gift of quilting. By this I am referring to the contributions of Matt Sparrow who along with his wonderful wife, Bradie, have contributed their time & skills to charity along side raising 8 children! We actually found Matt on Facebook & have gotten to learn a little about him and want to share him with all of you.
Matt sends his presence all the way from Alberta, Canada & strongly believes that with their lifestyle they need to work from home to be fulltime parents and to stay one step ahead of the kiddos! Although, I’m not sure you can call it work, especially when quilting is a passion and their children are their life. Sounds like more fun than anything! But, Matt told us that quilting has been a blessing allowing them to stay home and says that he wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world and jokes that if you were talking about thread…. then, maybe! It is fun, though, reading their “tweets” on Twitter and seeing how they’re a team! They are truly an example to look up to! It’d be so interesting to visit a day in the life of these two… or I mean 10.
So, we sent Matt our official interview questionnaire and he had a lot to tell us! (How much fun is he?! He’s a talker and a quilter! )
When did you first begin quilting? Who taught you?
I only started quilting in late 2005. My wife had decided to try her hand at quilting by making our 4th child a birthday quilt. I still remember coming around the corner and seeing the appliqued quartered hearts laying on the ironing board. She had chosen four different fabrics to be appliqued on to four coordinating background fabrics. I looked at her then back at the blocks and back at her again. I think she, still to this day, regrets the next words that came out of her mouth. She said ‘What do you think Matt?’ So, politely as possible I inquired whether it was too late to move the fabrics around? She said ‘no, go ahead’. So I reached out and picked up a few of the hearts and moved them around ‘till the colors contrasted just right. This is the very moment my passion for quilting began. From that day on my wife and I spent countless hours together, choosing patterns, fabrics, threads and of course quilting.
Is quilting something that has been a family tradition/hobby?
My Mother in law introduced my wife and I to quilting. She has been quilting for 15+yrs. Every holiday she would drag out her latest projects and lay them across the floor describing the latest technique she was trying. I wish I knew back then what the future would hold as I would have paid more attention.
Who do you quilt for? Yourself, friends or family? We love doing charity work! My wife is the President of the Sherwood Park Quilt Guild so I find myself doing most of the quilting on their charity quilts. I also enjoy quilting for the kids and of course our walls. We just gave away a beautiful Stone Cottage quilt to the winner of our ‘Name Our Baby Contest’ to one of our Facebook friends.
Matt & his wife also quilt samples for their local quilt shop. He even says that they just booked 4 quilts to be displayed at Quilt Market later this year for United Notions. So, keep your eye out for those!
What is your favorite type of quilt block to make?
I am so new to quilting that I haven’t picked a favorite block yet. I want to try making every block I possibly can. That is part of the reason I have so many quilts on the go. If you were to twist my arm and make me decide I would have to say that I love Ohio star, log cabin, New York Beauty.
Is there anything that you would like to share with other quilters? Something interesting? Something quirky? Pet peeves? Anything!
Don’t get me started. I am very very particular about my piecing. I square every step along the way, blocks, rows, tops, borders. It seems to take me forever to complete a top but I can assure you that it is as near to perfect as I can possibly make it. Everyone tells me that perfection takes the fun out of quilting but I would have to disagree. That is the part that I enjoy the most.
A pet peeve of mine would have to be that I am amazed that more quilters don’t use fork pins for their piecing. I use fork pins religiously! They create perfect piecing, perfect corners and line those seams up effortlessly (ok not quite effortlessly). As a long arm quilter, I see a lot of customer quilts. This gives me a good chance to look all types of piecing. No matter how long you have been a quilter, it will never hurt to take a basic techniques course. I for one love to learn basic skills, as too often they tend to get overlooked. They really make a difference in the accuracy of your finished piece. I know women that only take advanced courses like applique or curved piecing yet won’t bat an eye at the beginner courses.
There are a few skills I recommend every quilter learn:
1. A scant 1/4 inch. (Most quilters don’t realize that they lose a thread or two of fabric in the fold and a scant quarter inch will ensure your finished piece measures up properly.
2. Measuring your borders. (I cringe when I see patterns that list the border measurement and recommend cutting them even before your piecing is started) Wait till your top is done and measure both ends and the center and take the average of the three and make the two borders that length. Then pin your ends, center and quarter points and proceed to sew your borders on. Follow with the last set of borders and you will find your quilts hanging straighter and most importantly your long arm quilter won’t be stuck dealing with wonky quilt tops.
Check out their website at Quiltcetera and sign up for their FREE basic techniques course sent right to your email! They also offer videos, tutorials and live chat!!
Are you known for anything or any style of quilting?
Our very first customer tried to type cast me as “Very good at straight lines and precision work’ not that that is a bad thing, but I do not want to be known for any one type of quilting. So I made sure I spent countless hours practicing freehand work. Now I am equally good at both and find that I enjoy creating new designs as much as I like to ‘stitch in the ditch.
Quiltcetera.etsy.com I recently entered a quilt in a show for the first time and will be sending it off to MQX later in the month for their ‘Real Men Can Quilt’ Exhibit.
This is Matt’s crew with Grandma Sandy & Grandpa Ken!
So what did you think? Do you know a male quilter and would like to pay tribute to him ,too!? Please leave comments and email your male quilters to firstname.lastname@example.org.