Not only does quilter Marjorie Busby have awesome tips on her embroidery techniques, but she also has some great advice on healthy eating habits thanks to her background in clinical nutrition.
Marjorie began sewing as a child and then entered the world of quilting as a young adult. After retiring from her career in clinical nutrition research, Marjorie began quilting full-time.
After falling in love with embroidery in 2009 and purchasing an embroidery machine so she could make her own labels, Marjorie also invested in digitizing software that would enable her to make her own designs. As a result, Marjorie’s embroidery business Blue Feather Quilt Studio was born.
She has made countless designs over the years, and you can find many of her embroidery designs on our website.
You’ve been sewing since you were young, but what made you want to make quilts for your children in your late 20s?
I began making clothes for myself when I was very young and participated in 4-H Dress Revues every year. And, when my children were born we did not have local Target and Walmart stores and Amazon, so I made lots of clothes for myself and also for my children.
Most of the fabric I purchased at that time came from a local Piece Goods Shop where I saw a pattern for appliqué baby quilts. One of the patterns was a Rocking Horse and one was a Jack in the Box. The challenge of making something different is what appealed to me. I made these quilts using Stitch Witchery™ fusible, which had to be cut separately from the appliqué shapes because it was not backed with paper. The appliqués were stitched with the satin stitch on my sewing machine. After that I was hooked on quilting. And my grandchildren are enjoying those quilts today.
Do you still make quilts for them and others in your family?
Everyone in my family gets quilts including my siblings and nieces and nephews and their children. My children get table runners and wall hangings as well as quilts. We all prefer functional quilts, and the quilts are used for everything from beds to picnic and beach blankets to building forts. And of course, we all cuddle under them while watching TV or reading.
How did your love of embroidery develop?
It was the challenge of a new skill, seeing beautiful machine embroidery, and needing a way to label my quilts. After buying quite a few embroidery designs that did not stitch well—either the stitch sequence was inefficient, there were too many jumps, or the stitch density was not right—I knew I wanted to create my own designs. The challenge of getting it right as well as the fun of working with digitizing software is why I started digitizing.
What are some of your favorite new embroidery or quilting supplies?
I have fallen in love with Lite Steam-A-Seam2 Double Stick Fusible Web™ from the Warm Company. It is available by the inch or in 9 x 12” sheets and is a wonderful product. It can be repositioned and that is very helpful when working with appliqué on both the embroidery machine, the long arm machine, or my domestic sewing machine.
I have also fallen in love with Sulky’s Water Soluble Sticky Stabilizer™. It means I only have to hoop the stabilizer and can “float” the fabric on top of the hoop because the stitching area sticks to the stabilizer. The stabilizer is water soluble so that there is no stiffness from the stabilizer after the quilt is washed the first time.
What was the driving force that prompted you to start your Blue Feather Quilt Studio business?
I retired from a career in clinical research in 2009 to be able to spend more time with our first granddaughter who was born with a rare brain tumor. She had four major surgeries in the first three years of her life and there were lots of doctor appointments and therapy sessions. My experience in medicine was helpful in evaluating and assimilating all the information related to her diagnosis and care. At about the same time I bought my first AccuQuilt cutter, and the rest is history. It started with a blog and blossomed from there. I have a friend who calls me the “reluctant entrepreneur” as I am always torn between nine grandchildren and the fun I have with quilting and embroidery.
What’s in store for 2016?
This year I will focus a bit more on family, as I am spending a lot of time with the last two grandchildren who are twins and also doing some traveling with our other grandchildren. In machine embroidery, I plan to focus on simpler, more organic, and functional appliqué. The projects will be small and easy to finish quickly. And of course, I want to explore the AccuQuilt GO! Qubes as much as possible.
Marjorie with her grandson Holden
What tips would you give to a new quilter wanting to try their hand at embroidery?
One, don’t be afraid to try projects that require multiple hoopings no matter what size embroidery hoop you have. It isn’t as hard as you might think. Two, if a project doesn’t turn out the way you expected, be creative and find another way to use it. Lastly, find your own methods for stitching. Try the methods in the instructions and if that doesn’t work well for you, find or make up your own way to do it.
Do you hand stitch in any of your embroidery projects?
I do hand stitch some embroidery and love to make crazy quilt blocks with hand embroidery and beading. Recently, I have been working with my granddaughters to teach them embroidery. Their first lessons have been to give them needle and thread and let them make any stitches they want on the fabric in the embroidery hoop. Once they feel comfortable with the hoop, needle, and floss, I will begin to teach them some actual stitches.
What are some of your favorite lines of fabrics?
I love bright colors as well as sherbet colors, so Timeless Treasures and Robert Kaufman fabrics fit well. In addition, I love batiks of any hue.
Is there a dream project you’d like to make that you’re not ready to tackle just yet, or are you pretty fearless when it comes to making challenging projects?
There really is no dream project, just challenges as they come along. I am definitely fearless, although all projects are looked at through the lens of the amount of time that can be committed. My philosophy with technology is to “push every button,” and that’s how I feel about quilting too.
Tell me about your career in clinical nutrition research. Is nutrition still a big part of your life?
Nutrition is still a very big part of my life. We try to consume natural unprocessed and organic foods and are very careful to avoid GMO foods as much as possible. Both of my daughters come to me almost daily to discuss nutrition and foods and food sources. I also keep in touch with colleagues in the nutrition field and visit with them on a regular basis.
What advice would you give to people who are trying to live healthier lives and make better food choices for their families?
My advice is to choose food carefully and avoid highly processed foods, which are very convenient and to find organic, natural foods that are less processed and still very convenient. An example would be to choose a trail mix of nuts, dried fruits and chocolate instead of candy bars.
What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned in life?
The best lesson I have learned is to focus on what is important. And for me that is about learning new things, challenging myself, and helping others.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading Wonder by R. J. Palacio. It is a book for all ages and is the best story I have ever read. It will make you laugh and cry. The author has also written 365 Days of Wonder, a book of 365 precepts which make every day better.
If you could take a two-week vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would go very close to home—the beaches of North and South Carolina—probably Hilton Head Island to listen to the ocean, walk barefoot in the sand, and feel the ocean breeze.
See some of Marjorie's designs below, and be sure to visit her website, Blue Feather Quilt Studio. Additionally, in honor of National Embroidery Month you can save 15% on GO! Embroidery Designs on our website.
Lynette A. Griffin is the Journalist Extraordinaire at AccuQuilt, and if you have a quilting story to share, she wants to hear it at firstname.lastname@example.org.