Let me introduce you to Peggy Benjamin. She’s a quilter with a very nifty invention that will make binding much more pleasant.
I’m so excited to join you today as a guest on Carol’s Blog. Carol and I met at the Fall Quilt Market in Houston this past October. I fell in love with Carol’s patterns and am flattered to be included in her “Meet A Quilter” feature.
A little bit about me: I’ve been addicted to fabric my entire life. When I was a child my mom did upholstery work in our home and gave me fabric samples and scraps to play with. She often used the larger scraps to make dresses for me, teaching me the joy of uniqueness (trust me: no one else in my 2nd grade class had an empire waist dress with a ginormous cabbage bloom covering most of the torso, tied with a 3” wide velvet ribbon!) My mom seemed most at peace when she was sewing; naturally, I was fascinated with the machine that made her so happy and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it to make my own creations. That machine was strictly off limits to me, though, because she used it to earn income for our family and could not afford for me to “mess it up”.
One summer she took a job as a fire crew cook in a national forest, leaving me home alone with my dad and that sewing machine. After 10 years of carefully observing everything she did to make her creations, I decided I was up to the challenge and had to prove to her I would not ruin her precious sewing machine. I had some fabric that one of her friends had given me several years earlier and I dug that out. It was a beautiful calico print – little orange flowers on a creamy background. I carefully measured it to determine how much was there, walked up to the five & dime store, bought a pattern with my allowance and danced my way home.
Just like I’d seen my mom do thousands of times, I carefully laid my fabric out on the floor, making sure the grain was straight, pinned the pattern pieces to the fabric just as the diagrams in the pattern showed, carefully cut out each piece and then meticulously put that little A-line dress together. The biggest challenge was the zipper: I’d never watched my mom sew in a zipper so I didn’t realize there was a special foot for that! You can imagine how sloppy that zipper looked, sewn in with a regular foot … but hey – it worked, the dress FIT, and I was in heaven. I showed my dad what I’d made, showed him that I hadn’t messed up anything on the machine and he was positively delighted with what I’d done. I could tell he was very proud of me as well as being supremely relieved that he wouldn’t have to fix that machine before mom got home from fire camp. Do you remember this pattern? I made that dress in the middle from my pretty piece of calico.
When my mom got home at the end of the summer I showed her my dress and her reaction was much the same as my dad’s. In fact, she didn’t even get mad that I’d used the machine! Best of all, she gave me free rein from that day forward to use it whenever I wanted as long as I took care of it. Thus began my obsession with making – and then designing – clothes. (But that’s a story for a different time.)
Fast forward a few years and I was pregnant with my first child. I’d been in love with quilts since I’d gotten my first one at three years old, but there were no quilters in our family, so no one to teach me how to properly make a quilt. No matter - I decided to make a quilt for my baby. You know that old saying, “ignorance is bliss”? It’s so true! I decided to trace coloring book animal designs onto plain white fabric, embroider the designs, and then sew the squares together alternating with blue gingham. It was beautiful if I do say so myself – and even if the fabric was cheap polyester/cotton blends. I’m not sure I could’ve found 100% cotton back then (mid-1970’s) anyway! I then bought a pink pre-printed fleece-like baby blanket at the local variety store and embroidered the design: a baby lamb surrounded by flowers and birds. THEN I had to figure out how to put the two pieces together and make it a quilt. That was interesting because I hadn’t thought to plan the blue/white side so that it would be the same size as the blanket. Somehow I got the two together and then tied the quilt. It was a wonderful little baby quilt that both my children used when they were small, and we were all heartbroken when our house was broken into in 1991 and that little quilt was one of the things stolen. I don’t even have a picture of it to show you.
Life being what it is, my quilting career got put on hold after I made that one quilt. It was 1997 before I got back into quilting, and I did it then to make friends in a new town where I’d moved. There was a local quilt shop there and they had beginner’s classes so I signed up for some classes, went to them, didn’t make a single friend but discovered my true passion. About the same time I got my first home computer and discovered online quilting groups – and that is where I started making friends. Those online groups brought me full circle to quilters in my own little town, I became friends with them, and the rest is history.
In 2010 I followed my heart to Ohio and started my own online shop (www.ConnectTheBlocks.com) with the help of my fiancé Rex. He was fascinated with the entire quilting process and started designing quilts using EQ7, including this one (“Ghost Rider”) which will soon be a Block of the Month:
One day he watched me get sooooo frustrated while making a king size binding and asked if there was anything I could do to help. I said, “Yes! You could come up with some way for me to wind up this binding so it doesn’t get twisted up, fall on the floor, or get knotted up while I’m trying to make it! So that’s what he did, and this is what he made:
It was terrific. It truly saved my sanity. Then friends began to see it and asked if he’d make them one. He’s not a woodworker (clearly – LOL) and wasn’t really interested in doing that but would have if I’d really wanted him to (because he’s just that nice). But enough quilters saw it, liked it, and suggested he get it manufactured that we finally decided to give that a try.
Have you ever had an idea and then someone comes along and creates basically the same thing and it becomes a hit? That is so frustrating and it happens to so many of us! But there’s a reason most of us don’t pursue our bright idea: it’s HARD. It takes a lot of research to figure out how to get something manufactured, how to get prototypes made, where to get it done, what process to use, what materials to use, how to market it, and – perhaps the biggest hurdle – how to pay for it all. But Rex did all that homework, found a manufacturer right here in Ohio just a few miles from home and worked with them to get the best possible design for our product and the Easy Binding Winder™ was born!
Why would one need an Easy Binding Winder™? Believe me, it really does save your sanity when you’re working with long bindings, long strips of bias tape, or even things like sashing and accent borders. You can wind up your binding as you’re pressing it (rather than shoving it off to the side in a pile), and when you’re ready to apply it to your quilt, the binding feeds right back off the winder and that’s where it really shines! No more hanging it around your neck, having it piled in your lap, letting it fall on the floor to get trapped under your chair leg … it’s all neat and contained and truly speeds up the entire process. I also love it when working with bias tape applique “vines” – I do long strips of vines, wind them up on the Easy Binding Winder™ as I press them, then feed them directly from the winder to my quilt. I can cut the end of the “vine” about a half inch from the end, turn it under, stitch it down and move on to the next vine – it’s so easy!
We learned that many quilters make their binding when they make their quilt top, and then store the binding until the quilt’s done and ready to be bound, so we created extra spools on which binding can be stored. I keep mine in a plastic ArtBin project box like this:It’s been an exciting and exhausting journey to get where we are today but we’re very excited about our little gadget. We’re especially proud that we were able to stick to our convictions and have them manufactured right here in the USA. In December 2015 we were picked up by all the major quilting industry distributors and the Easy Binding Winder™ should be in your local shop very soon if it isn’t already! Of course you can always buy direct from us at www.EasyBindingWinder.com but if online buying is not your thing, visit your local shop and ask for the Easy Binding Winder™.
Thank you for joining us today! Remember: don’t get your binding in a twist!
♥THANK YOU♥ Peggy for sharing your sewing adventures with us. I’m so excited for you and Rex.
I know many of us can relate to sewing ideas that we don’t follow through on.
♥THANK YOU♥ Peggy for sharing your sewing adventures with us. I’m so excited for you and Rex.
Peggy is generously giving away an Easy Binding Winder™ to one lucky winner.
Enter via the Rafflcopter below.
Guidelines and Rules:
- No purchase necessary.
- You must be 18 or older to enter.
While we hope you will leave a comment on the post of the day because we love comments, we want no reply bloggers to have a chance at winning also. Rafflecopter will collect your name, county, and email.
- One Easy Binding Winder™ will be given away to one winner.
- Winner picked at random via Rafflecopter at the end of the day on January 20th. Winner will receive notification via email. Winner will have approximately 5 days to claim their gift, if 5 days passes, the gift will be offered to another eligible entrant. Winner who will receive a shipped item will need to provide name and mailing. All prizes will be awarded.
- Winner will be announced on this blog and in the Rafflecopter window here on this page.Winner agrees to allow their name, city, state to be publicized.
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