As this is a record of my life, I shall tell you the story of how I arrived to where I am now, so it will be in the next blog book. You might like to grab a cuppa and read on, or skip this post as it's quite long??
..............I guess it all started when I was quite young and learnt to sew on my mother's treadle machine. I sewed doll's clothes and later my own clothes. When I left home and started work, I used my grandmother's treadle machine also, until my parents bought me a new Elna Special machine for my 18th birthday. Years later I asked my mum, what happened to her treadle, and she told me that it was so exciting to get her first electric sewing machine, that it was "dumped". I am so sad about that now, but who would have thought that they would be collector's items one day? I am comforted to know that my grandmothers machine (pictured below), has pride of place at the home of my cousin, although she doesn't sew, and it has her TV on it. My Elna is still sewing well, and lives at my sister's house, and she doesn't sew either. But her daughter is learning when she visits her aunty Judy.
I spent years making clothes for myself, and then for my children. In those days it was cheaper to make your own clothes than to buy them, but now it all comes in from overseas and is much cheaper than making them. Eventually my girls decided that it was not "cool" to wear homemade gear. But I had kept all the leftover scraps, and moved them from house to house as we shifted around the state.
When daughter number 2 moved out and married, I suddenly had a spare room, and so I decided I would make that a sewing room. And whilst moving all my bits and pieces, (you know the stuff a sewer has to have!), I found a box with lots of bits of fabric in it. There is a saying, waste not, want not, so I decided to cut them into squares and sew them up to make a quilt! I would make a cover for the lounge in the back porch. I had lots of sewing clothes knowledge, but no quilting ancestors who had passed on any information to me. It was quite a trip down memory lane, remembering the clothes I had made for each of my children. I set out with a pair of scissors, and a square of brown paper as my pattern. I even used 2 different size squares, and sewed them all together. Well, the seams did not all meet, some of the fabrics were not cotton, and it was a bit of a hotchpotch. I got some of that lovely thick wadding from that era, and a backing and put a binding on it. And as far as quilting it? I did not think of that until after, when it was too late. I still have the quilt, but it is a bit sad and frayed in places. It is a reminder of where I started.
Seams are fraying, as there is no quilting, and squares were just stitched together as I picked them up, and no thought about the same fabrics against each other, or spreading the dark colours out!! Perhaps I need to go back to random, as I find doing scrappy hard, and am more comfortable with matchy, matchy!
I was telling my neighbour what I had done, and she said I needed a rotary cutter and cutting mat, and I had never heard of these things. Well, let me tell you, that I found out what they were, and I bought them, and some books, and fabric, and there started a journey that has led me to where I am today. I joined the local patchwork group, the Gumtree Quilters, and started making quilts. I started accumulating a "stash", and some weeks the housekeeping spending was higher than others!! And I guess a lot of you know that this is a very addictive hobby. I tell myself that it is a relatively healthy addiction, doesn't give you lung cancer, or make you drunk, is not fattening, and is cheaper than a psychiatrist. It supports the cotton farmers, and keeps the cupboards insulated. And for me, during the next few years, patchwork was my sanity, where I could go and create, pass the time and forget about the life when the road was difficult. I made many quilts for family, and friends, and often just because I could.
Of course, I did quilt these quilts, although it was usually only stitch in the ditch, or outline quilting, and just something to hold the 3 layers together. It is a big job on a domestic sewing machine, and a work out for the shoulders. I had read in magazines of those longarm quilting machines, and dreamt of owning one. But I had no where to put it in the house on the farm.
We had another move, this time, into a house in town. The removalist guys had a lot to say about the large number of boxes, and the weight of them, that were labelled "sewing room". At patchwork one day, one of the girls was struggling with a large quilt, and asked me when I was getting that longarm machine? And that day, as I drove home, and into my carport, the light suddenly went on!! I could close the carport in and get a longarm! There was a door for direct access into my house, and people would not need to come through the house to my studio. Perfect!
I wasted no time, and flew into action. A friend and I went to Melbourne and checked out the different brands available and tried them all out. I made a business plan, applied for finance and ordered my Gammill. This was the first big financial decision I had ever made by myself, and I was relieved when the bank approved the finance, although it was daunting to be solely responsible for the debt. The machine had to be imported from USA and this was to take about 6 weeks. Those weeks were filled with building, painting, flooring, electricians, curtains and went so fast. I sewed some more quilts, so that I would have them for practicing on.
I needed a name for my business, and spent ages working on this. I compiled a list of possibilities, and consulted friends and books for opinions. One option was referring to me living on a corner, so was trying names around that. Why is it that sometimes, what should be the first thing, turns out to be the last resort? I finally went to the Bible for inspiration, and a verse jumped out at me. Ephesians Chapter 2, v 20, which talks about Jesus, the foundation, being the cornerstone. And as I wanted Jesus to be the Cornerstone of my life, and my business, thus Cornerstone Creations Machine Quilting was born. I felt as though I was being led on a journey and was at peace.
"Gertie", my Gammill machine arrived and was set up on February 4, 2002, and i commenced a few months of PPP. In the industry, this stands for Practice, Patience, and Perseverance. I sewed metres of calico, and my family gained mattress protectors for all their beds. A few months later, a couple of friends told me that I was ready, and trusted me with their quilts. I held my breath in those early days, as I was now responsible for someone else's quilts. I was still working at my other job at this time, and gradually reduced my hours over the next few years, until finally I worked full time for Cornerstone Creations. It is the best feeling to take another quilt off the machine, and see the difference the quilting has made. It brings them to life, (I like to think it gives them a soul), and I feel very blessed to be working at something I love and to work from home as well, with flexible hours.
To advertise my business, I used to go to markets, and quilt shows, with displays of my work, and small items, such as cot quilts, and patterns to sell.
I have been fortunate to win some awards in state and local shows, and travelled to other states to attend classes and training conferences. In 2006 I won the QGSA Best of Show award which was very special.
I made quilts, that were published in national magazines. This one was called Garden Stars, and was one of many that were published.
As the business grew, I made the decision to purchase another machine, and work with 2. I could put the edge to edge quilts on the new, computerized machine, and do the custom ones on Gertie, and so get through my queue much quicker. In order to make the room for this machine, (called Max), I had to extend the building a few feet. So there was more building action in the weeks leading up to the arrival of Max. My built-in carport was extended a few more feet to fit 2 machines. And this meant another debt, although I had paid out the first one. You can see in the photo below, the extension on the left, and the closed in carport on the right side.
The new space waiting for the arrival. (And it looks tidy, because all the extra "stuff" is in the next room!)
.On February 16th, 2007, my Gammill Optimum with the Statler arrived and was set up next to Gertie. Bruce and Kaye Brown, from Sydney installed the new machine with the help of some good friends.
The 2 machines set up and in action.
It was about this time that I started to teach Embellished Quilt classes, and the front room of the house was set up with tables for girls to sew at. Some came from away and some were locals. Accommodation was at the local caravan park for a few, and others stayed at my house. These weekends were a lot of fun, and good friendships have developed, whilst they made beautiful quilts.
Life went on, and in 2010, after one of these weekends, as one lady was leaving, we noticed that the house across the road, which had been empty for a few months, was for sale, and there was an open inspection. We decided to go across for a "sticky beak" look. My friend had a thought that maybe they could buy it, renovate it and move in when they sold their farm?? But when she went home with the brochure, her hubby put paid to that idea!
A couple of days later, I had a thought!?? Maybe I should buy it, and renovate it and hold quilting retreats there. I was doing this in a small way at my house now with the classes we were having???? My mind went into overdrive, and the house was being auctioned in a very short time. The house was 4 bedrooms, and had a good area for sewing tables, an outdoor area, and was on 2 blocks, with plenty of parking. It ticked a lot of boxes. Cornerstone Creations was about to add retreats to the machine quilting.
Time to go to the bank again, and make business plans, and do a lot of thinking. Once again, I went into debt, after getting out of my previous one! (It was a mortgagee auction, and I bought the house for a very good price, but did spend quite a bit on the renovations.) A friend told me, that she thought I was being very brave, and I thought that was a strange thing to say!? But let me tell you, that a few months down the track I knew what she meant. The renovations I had planned, did not happen as quick as I wanted, and my opening dates had to be extended. Which meant it was longer before I was earning an income from the house. But with the magnificent help from some great friends, and tradesmen who finally did their jobs, it was finally finished. We had the first trial retreat in the house about 9 months after the purchase date.
We went from this......
and this. .......
Quite a transformation. I loved my time in the garden, and it was a lovely secluded yard for the retreat guests to relax in. I named the house, The Sanctuary. We had some fantastic weekends in the house, and one local husband had been known to call it the "party house"! Lots more friendships had been made.
Life was very busy, and lots of fun, but it took it's toll, trying to keep up with it all. Being on my own, and having a few health issues during this time made me think about my commitments. And looking after 2 houses in between the quilting, and the retreats was getting hard. And of course, I was getting older, and passed the 60 milestone. It is something I should have done when I was 10 years younger. So after a fantastic 5 years of The Sanctuary I felt led to call it a day, and put the house on the market. My own house was looking like no one lived there, and this stressed me out too.
It must have been part of the plan for my life, because the house sold quite quickly. I was quite sad in one way, but also felt like a weight was off my mind too. I planned to get some balance back into my life. As it turned out, the girls that had been coming to The Sanctuary, still wanted to come to Bordertown, and decided they would stay on the other side of the road at my place instead. Now we have retreats at Number 8. The profit I made from the sale of the house, enabled me to renovate my house, and last year, the kitchen and bathrooms were updated, and the house painted inside. It feels good to have accomplished that. My garden here, is a work in progress, and I love spending time in that too.
In January I have added another bow to CCMQ with the fabric and notions that I brought back from DD3. This is available for sale, and I hope to use some in future Mystery retreats, and maybe market the patterns and kits as well. Embellished quilts classes will continue too. There are too many ideas in my head, and not enough hours in the day.
..........And so the journey continues, still with the machine quilting, and the retreats, and the fabric and notions, with the bonus of only one house to look after. Not sure if there will be any other plans for Cornerstone Creations, but I will continue to trust that God will lead me in my life, as he has done so far. And I can testify that God can turn any situation into good.
Thankyou, if you have read all of this. I thought a bit of history of Cornerstone Creations was in order for the records, of what has happened in 15 years! You just never know where life will take you. I have been truly blessed.
To celebrate these 15 years, I think it might be time for a competition, for which I shall have a giveaway. The question is, how many quilts have I quilted for customers in the 15 years that Cornerstone Creations has been going?? I number each quilt, and fill out a Work Order form for each quilt that goes through. (Not the angels quilts though). Can you tell me what is the number that will be on the form that I will do tomorrow, February 4th, 2017?? The closest guess will win, if nobody gets the correct number.
I will accept blog comments with the number, or by email, and even text messages, as I know some of you have been unable to leave comments. Overseas readers are welcome, and I shall send this gift wherever it needs to go. I shall leave this competition open until February 16 as that is the date that Max arrived.
I thank those that comment on my blog, as I love to hear from you. But a lot I can not reply too, as they say no-reply blogger in the address.
Have a good day,
Blessings, from Jude