While combing through issues of Quilter’s World magazine and books from Annie's Publishing and Leisure Arts, you may have stumbled upon designs from our guest blogger and pattern designer Gina Gempesaw of Gem Hill Quilts. Like many quilters, Gina learned to sew as a child and has been sewing ever since. Today, she says designing and piecing is her favorite part of the quilting process.
Although born and raised in Davao City, Philippines, Gina now calls Pennsylvania home. She’s lived there for more than 25 years, but has also spent some time in Delaware and Japan.
When she’s not designing patterns and making quilts, Gina is enjoying her other favorite pastime: traveling. Because she has such a tremendous love of traveling, she is often on the road in her spare time. In fact, she just returned from a trip to Italy with her family. Whether she’s trotting off to a bucket list destination, visiting with family in other parts of the country, or a weekend retreat with her quilting friends, Gina will always nurture her desire to see the world.
How do you get inspiration for your designs?
It depends on the project. If it's for a particular person, I think of them and their likes and dislikes. Sometimes weather, seasons, and nature provide the inspiration. If it's dull and gloomy, I may just reach for bright fabrics to make a fun and happy quilt!
When did you learn to sew and quilt … any quilters in your family?
I'm the first quilter in my family as far as I know. My mom has always sewn a little. She had inherited a treadle machine and that's how I learned to sew as a child. My first attempts were to make clothing for my Barbie-like dolls. They were just so bad! A little bit more patience and a seam ripper would have helped.
Just a few years ago, my mom told me that her mother made bed covers with beautiful, fine embroidery. During WWII, those embroidered bed covers were my grandparents' source of income while they were in hiding from the Japanese troops. Only two or three bed covers survived, and my mom gave me one of them.
Who are some of the people you admire most in the quilting industry?
There are quite a few, some well-known and others not so well-known. I admire their work ethic, as well as their inspired designs! In no particular order, Hollis Chatelain, Judy Niemeyer, Charlotte Warr Andersen, Alex Anderson, Ricky Tims, John Flynn, Paula Nadelstern and so many more. Among my friends and acquaintances, I'm especially in awe of Joyce Hughes, Susan Shiveley, Cyndi Hershey, Lisa Calle, Bethanne Nemesh and again, so many more.
Do you have any favorite AccuQuilt fabric cutting dies?
This is tough! Right now, I'm loving the GO! Qubes and the strip dies. They are just so versatile!
What advice would you give to a beginner quilter?
Take a good basic quilting class at your local quilt shop. You will be taught how to do things the right way, you can ask questions, you will make quilting friends, and you will finish a quilt your first time out.
Do you keep any of the quilts you make?
When I first started quilting, I gave away quilts left and right. It wasn't too long before I started teaching quilt classes at the local quilt shop and realized I didn't have enough samples of my work. Since then, I started to keep a lot of the quilts I made. Now I have way too many and have just started to give quilts away again!
What dream quilting projects would you like to tackle?
Mostly the really traditional quilts like a New York Beauty or a Double Wedding Ring bed quilt, though I have a DWR among my UFOs and have completed a table runner. I love the Lone Star quilt pattern and though I've made several smaller quilts, I think I'm going to have to make a bed sized Lone Star quilt one of these days.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not creating beautiful designs and writing patterns?
Travel! Whether it's a weekend retreat with my quilting friends or a visit with my family in another state or a cruise with my husband, I seem to be on the road quite a bit. We actually just got back from a family trip to Italy. It was simply fantastic!
Gina with her husband Mike and a view of the Colosseum in Italy
If you could take two weeks off to do anything you wanted, what would you do?
Travel, of course! Otherwise, I would like to make a quilt just for the fun of it - maybe one of my dream quilting projects.
Name your top three bucket list travel destinations.
Number one on the list right now is my grandfather's homeland - Scotland.
Number two is Denali National Park in Alaska. A couple of years ago, we went on a wonderful but short inside passage cruise to Alaska and we would love to see more!
Number three is not one specific place but a Rhine river cruise. Doesn't that sound lovely?
Taking "afternoon tea" on an Alaskan cruise
See some of Gina's work below, including designs featured in Quilter's World magazine.
GO! Diamonds Jubilee Quilt Pattern
Lemon Slices from Quilter's World April 2013, Annie’s Publishing, AnniesCraftStore.com
Give the Dog A Bone from Quilter's World December 2011, Annie’s Publishing, AnniesCraftStore.com
White Birches from Quilter's World September 2010, Annie’s Publishing, AnniesCraftStore.com (also appears on the cover of Quilting in Black and White by Leisure Arts)
One of Gina's Shop Hop quilt designs
Pumpkin Seeds from Simply Autumn, a Quilter's World Special Interest Publication November 2016, Annie’s Publishing, AnniesCraftStore.com
Visit Gem Hill Quilts to see what else Gina is up to, and you can always see tutorials like this GO! Qube Sweet Hearts Quilt from Gina every month on our blog.
Lynette A. Griffin is the Journalist Extraordinaire at AccuQuilt, and if you have a quilting story to share, she wants to hear it at email@example.com.