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Meet Julie Swift

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Swift. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I graduated from college in 2008, and it was really tough to find a job at that time. Since I had gone to school for fashion and merchandising, I thought it would be fun to pick up a related hobby. I decided that with all the free time I had that I could learn how to use a sewing machine and design my own accessories. Later in 2009, I started learning how to sew and make handbags. Eventually, I began selling them on Etsy and at a local craft store in Virginia where I was living at the time. I moved to Colorado in 2016 and I was still making those items but, in that time, I had started setting up booths and selling at local craft fairs. While I do still make and sell bags on Etsy, I decided I wanted to take my sewing skills to another level and learn how to quilt. Currently, I am working on a variety of sizes including bed and crib-sized quilts. I don’t sell these, I mostly just make them for myself for throw blankets and quilted pillows for decoration, but I occasionally make bigger quilts to donate to charities. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There were several challenges along the way. Making handbags was pretty easy for me, however, projects like the large quilts were much more difficult. One of the biggest issues was just needing more space to work on bigger projects. The sewing table in my craft room was way too small so I did some re-arranging and decided to invest in a much bigger table that extends out. Learning how to quilt in itself was also tough. I had to start taking some new sewing classes, online classes and watching clips online to start figuring it out, it was worth the time though. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
When I first started sewing in 2009, I was making handbags, pouches, and aprons. I have been making those things for over 10 years, and then once the pandemic occurred, I really got interested in quilting and free motion quilting. I’m really enjoying making throw-sized quilts, bed-sized quilts, and mini-quilts for wall hangings. Once I also picked up hand quilting, I added quilted pillows to the list. I have a full-time job separate from sewing so my time is limited to work on these projects. I still sell a few bags on Etsy and I donate a certain percentage of my sales to non-profits including the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund. With my quilts, I use as much upcycled fabrics as I can, including materials from old shirts and leftovers from other projects. As I mentioned, I sometimes make bigger quilts to donate to non-profits, and recently I worked to have a few shipped to Poland for Ukrainian refugees. 

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Flexibility and patience are essential characteristics of mine when it comes to sewing and quilting. There are times where I get frustrated, particularly when I try something new. If I am struggling on a project, I find it helps to step away and take breaks every now and then. If I am really having a hard time, I turn on a few clips on YouTube to get some helpful tips and pointers. 

Quilting takes up a lot of time. I already work a full-time job, so the most free time I have to sew are a few evenings during the week and sometimes on the weekend when I am not hiking or skiing with my husband and dog. 

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Image Credits
Tanya Roach
Walter Kloth

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