Saturday, April 28, 2018

Quilters Through The Generations - Tish Stemple

Today Laticia "Tish" Stemple joins us with another long line of quilters.  Tish and I "met" in the 2016 New Quilt Blogger group - you can find her over at Tish's Adventures in Wonderland.  She has a great sense of humor and a love for life and quilting.  Well, quilting is her life!  Her blog profile explains... 

"In my world the books would be nothing but pictures...of quilting. I'm a quilter who likes to live on the edge. Sometimes I run with scissors and stitch outside the lines. I hope you'll join me on my quilting adventure, because we are all mad about quilting here."

Have you ever made a quilt?  
Oh you know, maybe one or two…hundred?

Who got you started quilting? 

Technically, I am pretty much self-taught, relying on wonderful quilt bloggers to teach me things.  I did receive a little instruction from the owner of a quilt shop that is to blame for my quilting addiction.  I started out my creative life as a cross-stitcher.  I had just finished a set of 8 cross stitches called Wedding Herbs.  I didn’t want to frame them and hang them (that would have been serious wall space) so I wondered if I could have them made into a quilt.  I stopped at the local quilt shop to inquire about the cost of having them turned into a quilt.  After much discussion and a bit of Jedi mind persuasion, I left the shop with 20 fat quarters, a Turning Twenty book, rotary cutter and ruler and enthusiasm on making my first quilt.  Those cross stitches are still just hanging out in a box in the back room.  Possibly my first UFO?

Tell me a story about your first quilt...

My first quilt was a Turning Twenty made from fat quarters in varying shades of reds, gold/creams, and greens.  It ended up being queen sized and I pieced it on a small Brother machine my mother purchased from Walmart a few years before.  After I completed it, it was sent to a long armer who quilted it with an all over holly leaf design in variegated thread.  That was probably, 2004 or 2005.  The quilt then set in a container, not even trimmed, until December 2016.  I finally decided to free it and finished it off with a flanged binding.  I am glad I waited, I love that binding.  It now covers our bed.

Does your mother quilt? What is her name?

I have to say I come from a long line of quilters.  Living in West Virginia, part of the Appalachian Mountains, I think that is more common than not to have quilters in your background.

I can remember my mother, Janice Lower, making quilts when I was younger.  They were more for function (keeping me warm) than for fun.  She worked in a sewing factory making garments when I was younger, so setting at a machine was probably the last thing she wanted to do in the evenings.  

This quilt was made from left over bits of my clothes.

The Sunbonnet Sue quilt was also made from left over bits from clothes

Mom made the quilt below before she and my dad got married. The fabric was leftover scraps from the sewing factory she worked at.

Mom pieced the above quilt top from a pattern in a magazine sometime in the early 80’s.  I hope to quilt it and give it back to her.

Did any of your grandparents quilt?

Yes, my Great-Grandmother, Alice Roby (my father's mother's mother)

The quilt below was made by Great-Grandma Roby...

My mother recently gave me this quilt top made by Great-Grandma Roby and asked if I would quilt it.

This is my grandmother (dad’s mom) Leona Holsberry.  She was my fellow cross-stitcher in crime and someone who always encouraged me to be creative.  I didn’t really start quilting until after she passed away and always regret that we never got to make a quilt together.

This hour glass quilt was one she made and she hand quilted it.

This is the quilt she made for David and I when we got married.  It was a panel quilt and she hand-quilted it.

From my Mother's side... This quilt top was hand pieced by my great grandmother (my mother’s father’s mother), Alice Simmons.  It is still unquilted.

This quilt top was made by my great grandmother (my mother’s mother’s mother), Roena Carpenter.  It is another UFO.

This is my grandmother (mom’s mom), Bertha Simmons.  She was always sewing something for one of the kids or grandkids.  With a total of 11 kids, 15 grandchildren and 15 great grand kids, she kept busy. 

She loved to make homemade stuffed animals.  One of her favorite quilts (sadly I couldn’t get a picture) was a quilt with all of her children’s handprints on it.  This basket quilt one that she pieced many years ago.

Having had so many quilters in my life, it makes me sad that I didn’t take up quilting until after they had passed away.  Well, mom is still here, but I’m trying to convince her to start quilting again.  Though all the unfinished quilt tops in this post makes me realize one thing…UFO’s are just part of my heritage.

Have you taught anyone to quilt?

I am happy to say that almost two years ago, I taught my husband, David Stemple, to quilt.  I think he loves fabric as much as I do. Maybe more.  I joke and say I will take over the world, one person at a time.  By take over, I mean convert them to quilters.  Think how happy and warm the world would be.

About a year ago, my Uncle, Carl Williams, purchased a long arm machine with the hopes that we would get it up and running.  He use to help his mother (hand) quilt, so he’s always talking to me about quilting.  Hopefully, we can make the stars align and get it working soon.

Do you have a favorite block?

I’ve always loved Jacob’s Ladder, but I’ve never made a quilt using it.

Do you have a favorite quilt?

Picking a favorite quilt…isn’t that like picking a favorite child?  If I had to pick one, it would be the one I call the Death Quilt.  Everything about this quilt was an emotional journey.  

You can read the story about the Death Quilt on Tish's blog.

Do you participate in any quilt groups?

Yes, I am the secretary for our local quilt guild, Quilters At Heart Quilt Guild.

Every year the guild makes a charity quilt that we raffle from May until October.  The money generated from the raffle then goes to a local charity voted on by the guild members.  We also host a local quilt show each May during the annual Strawberry Festival hosted by the city of Buckhannon.  Currently we are a very small guild and are looking to increase our membership.  This year we are trying a few new things, like planning guest speakers, more classes, day trips, hosting challenge quilting events and having a weekend sew day for fellowship.  We are always looking for suggestions to make our group even better.

I have entered our local quilt show for the past few years.  I think it is important to share your work, no matter where you are on your quilting journey.  Be proud of what you accomplish.  From a just starting beginner to a well-seasoned quilter, all quilts should be loved and seen.

Have you sold any quilts? 

To date I have made two commissioned quilts.  I provide the customer with an estimate of what I think it will be in fabric and labor hours.  Knock on wood, with both quilts, I came in very close to my estimate.

What is your favorite part of quilting?

Once upon a time I would have told you piecing the quilt, but now I have to say quilting the quilt.  I love when I can add an extra layer of visual interest beyond just the piecing of the quilt and the fabrics.  

Why do you quilt?

The short answer; to keep my sanity.  Quilting allows me to express myself in so many ways; from colors to textures.  I try to squeak in at least 15 minutes of something creative a day.  I feel unbalanced and well, grumpy, when I’m not able to focus my energy to creating something.  If only that applied to cleaning.

What do you do with your quilts?

As of right now, I either gift them away or hoard them.  I know that sounds bad.  I jokingly say my daughter will have a great estate sale someday, if I don’t learn how to part with some of them.  Estate sale... or possibly bonfire. 

While communicating back and forth with Tish about this story I commented that the UFOs (Un-Finished Objects for those not familiar with the term) seem to be a generational thing.  Tish is trying to combat this very characteristic in herself and hosts a weekly linky party that features the successful completion of various quilter's UFOs over on her blog.  She uses it as a tool for herself and encourages other quilters with a large collection of unfinished quilt tops to tackle the pile(s) one quilt at a time. 

It may not be polite to ask, and please do not be offended by my asking (no one is forcing you to answer)... 
How many UFOs do you have?
Do UFOs run in your family as well?

I do love to hear from everyone... leave a comment!

Quilt on,



  1. What a rich history of quilting in the family! I personally have a few WIPs at the moment but nothing at the UFO stage, but that's just the way I operate. If I let some of these WIPs linger much longer, I'll have a different story to tell, though. :)

  2. Hi Melva,
    What a fun and interesting profile on Tish. Wow, to have those strong generational ties to quilting on both sides of her family is just amazing. All of my grandparents were gone before I was born so I was never able to talk quilting or anything creative with them, but I choose to believe I got my love of it from them. I am amazed at the number of not-yet-quilted pieces are hanging around, waiting for Tish to finish them! I have a few in my life but I am working to get them all wrapped up this year. ~smile~ Roseanne

  3. Great article about Tish. I can honestly say, and I met her for real, that she is as delightful in person as she is on her blog. I noticed the UFO trend before she did. My mom tries to finish before she starts another project but I do now that she has a couple of UFOs. As for me, there's always another project that needs to be started before I finish another one making me always rotating my project boxes as time and interests allow. Great article!

  4. Such a fun and in-depth interview with Tish. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about her quilting journey.

  5. A wonderful article, I can hardly believe the strong history of quilting Tish has on both sides of her family. Sadly there is no history of quilting at all in my family, only me. My mother did sew though, mainly clothes for me and my sister when we were small, she used to knit and embroider a little too. My maternal grandmothers parents were a tailor and tailoress and a thread of needlework has ran in my family although not in all family members as my sister can't even sew on a button to save her life.

  6. Great feature! What a great quilting heritage Tish has. My grandmother was a quilter, but sadly passed before I picked up the hobby. I did inherit one of her UFOs, though, and finished it for us both!

  7. Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to share my family's story. It was so much fun getting to see quilts that have been stored and go through pictures I had not looked at in quite some time. Time passes to quickly.