There are truly gifted people among us and Lauralyn Connor is one such soul. The evidence of her talent is realized at the end of a needle—an “artful needle” in fact.
Lauralyn is a prolific and passionate quilter, recently transplanted to Kamloops from White Rock, B.C. to be closer to family. An obvious quick study, Lauralyn made the leap from traditional sewing to quilting in 2013, rapidly learning to create original patterns and mastering a long arm machine.
“I have sewn all my life, but had always said it was too much work to cut all that fabric up and put it…back together, until, in 2013, I saw Free Motion Quilting on Craftsy.com (a crafter’s website now known as “mybluprint.com”). I ordered a sewing machine — which at the time had a large deck off it and I thought it was the “long arm!”— something Lauralyn finds amusing in retrospect.
Lauralyn’s passion for quilting was so strong she was able to overcome chronic arthritis pain while awaiting a knee replacement. She still managed to quilt for upwards of 18 hours a day. A year into her journey, Lauralyn invested in a second-hand long arm machine and also joined a local quilters guild.
By 2015, Lauralyn had joined the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild, entered the guild’s inaugural quilt show in 2016 and walked away with the Viewers Choice Award.
“I was overwhelmed and incredibly honored,” said Lauralyn.
“While at the guild meetings we always have a “show and tell,” showing members our latest creations. It was here that people would see my quilts, and started asking me to quilt for them,” said Lauralyn.
Quilt shows are generally organized by Guilds and are meant to showcase the Guild members’ talents. These shows often have a variety of quilted items for sale enabling them to produce and donate quilts to hospitals, hospices and groups in the community.
“I just recently joined the Sagebrush Quilters Guild, and am also re-joining the Kamloops Modern Quilt Guild. I am looking forward to being part of both of these guilds, and assisting our community in any way possible,” said Lauralyn. “I was overwhelmed by the amount of service work done by Sagebrush Quilters Guild. I am so happy to be a part of this wonderful group of people.”
She recalls taking over 30 quilting classes through the aforementioned website where she learned to piece and quilt in about six months time. She embraced the art of Long Arm Quilting which has required a personal investment into her own 10’-14’ machine along with a variety of other specialized pieces of equipment and supplies.
When asked how long it takes to become an expert quilter Lauralyn states “I figure that once you have quilted 100 quilts, you pretty much have it figured out and know what you are doing, but there will always be new things to learn and see, new quilts to make, new fabric coming out, new tools to buy!”
Lauralyn has turned her talents into a healthy business with The Artful Needle where she designs patterns, maintains an Etsy store, creates custom quilts for customers, and offers lessons.
“I enjoy doing private lessons, for all range of quilting abilities, or small groups in my studio, as well as teaching within my guild and community,” said Lauralyn.
As for inspiration, Lauralyn finds it everywhere.
“Often the fabric in the quilts will show me the direction in which I want to quilt. For patterns and designs I read at a lot of fine art books that always provide wonderful ideas. Sometimes it’s a picture in the newspaper, a shape, the floor in an art gallery, pattern on a tablecloth, a flower in my garden… (or even the internet). Inspiration is everywhere, everyday,” said Lauralyn.
“I used to do quite a bit of painting. I now enjoy working with paint or dye on quilts, to design a unique, one-of-a-kind piece,” said Lauralyn.
Lauralyn usually does create a few items specifically with a Christmas theme each year but she isn’t one to produce dozens of the same design.
“I rarely duplicate items, except at Christmas as I usually make a Christmas wall hanging, and make ten or so, all similar, although not exact,” said Lauralyn. She is already partially booked quilting others quilt tops for Christmas 2020.
Lauralyn explains that creating a custom quilt from start to finish can take a very long time. “Most custom quilting that I do currently ranges from two or three days to six to eight weeks. Some are very easy and I can finish one or two a day. It all depends on what the customer requests, the size of the quilt and level of quilting difficulty.”
Future aspirations for Lauralyn include a submission of her own design to Quilt Canada, a juried show that takes place in Edmonton next year. International high-level competitions take place all over the world and are basically trade shows involving sales of different machines, fabric, thread, patterns, lessons, speakers etc. Monetary prizes for quilts that win at this level of competition are quite high as well.
Given Lauralyn’s remarkable talent and skill level, it will be exciting to see where she takes her quilting in the next six years.