I grew up in the extreme northeast corner of Colorado. I always said that you could throw a baseball from the county seat and hit Nebraska. My father was a farmer and my mother was a homemaker. We grew corn, beans, beets, and alfalfa. When Dad was busy, Mom helped with the fieldwork. She got the good tractor – the one with the umbrella. We also had a dairy when I was really young. I actually have a cream can that has the brass plate with my dad’s name on it.
I started sewing when I was about six
Mom was a wonderful, talented seamstress. I did 4-H and home ec growing up. When I went to see my mom after I got married, visits included her teaching me new garment construction techniques. She taught me to make lingerie, t-shirts, and much more.
Then came quilting
I started quilting seriously in 1994 after I got a new Pfaff embroidery machine. It had all the bells and whistles and I was inspired! I had made a few quilts prior to 1994, but they were very simple with hand-embroidered blocks and sashes. I took all the Block of the Month (BOM) quilting classes at my local quilt shop for about three years. The classes included all of the fabric you needed to make the block each month. I have always been a bit of a rebel, so after the third BOM, I took the scraps from all three, pieced them together and made them into the back of a quilt.
My daughter-in-law gave me a hard time about my fabric collection being too big and not buying any more fabric, so I challenged myself to make several quilts using only my stash. I named those quilts Juby Made Me Do It, More Fun with Juby’s Obsession, Dick and Jane Meet Juby and It’s Still Her Fault.
Becoming a teacher
In 2003, I decided I wanted to teach sewing. I had taken a few Pfaff classes and saw what the instructors could do and thought that looked like fun. Around the same time, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My body healed before my head did and one day my therapist asked me, “If you could do anything, what would it be?” I said I would teach sewing and travel as an educator. So she asked me, “Do they know you’re there?” I can still hear her words in my head.
I decided to take a three-day heirloom sewing class with Pfaff at my local sewing store with the goal of letting them know that I was there. At the end of the three days, there was a fashion show. I brought a christening gown and two formals I’d made. Within three weeks, I was hired and I was a Pfaff educator for five years.
This month will be my seventh year working for F+W. I was hired as the creative editor for Quilters Newsletter, and later I became acquisitions editor for our publications, and more recently, editor of Love of Quilting. I am one of the hosts of our new podcast, The Quilting Company Podcast and we are having great fun recording those.
My quilts have changed a lot over the years.
As a quilter now, my quilts are utility quilts made to be used. The quilt tops are usually traditional and the backs are almost always improv and heavily pieced. (Psst: I like the backs more than the front!) I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of all of the quilts I have made. I am closing in on 300 projects – which includes quilts, quilted garments, and small projects. It amazes me to see on paper how much I have completed since 1994.
If you’d like to learn more about Lori Baker, tune into The Quilting Company Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever podcasts are available.