Member Spotlight: Cristy Stuhldreher

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When I get on the phone with Cristy Stuhldreher, she’s on her way to pick up her two boys from
primary school. "Hold on," Stuhldreher says. "I’m going to put you on the car speaker." As an active
stay-at-home mom, this is an average day for Stuldreher. When she isn’t taking meetings for her
lifestyle sewing company, I Love You Sew, she’s caring for her family, and in a time crunch, she
endeavors to accomplish both. "It’s always busy," Cristy says. "Just a moment ago, I was looking
for my purse!"


Before her small business gained traction, the mother-of-two was a senior business development manager for an automotive paint company; she was selling car paint and doing it well. But between her and her husband, they decided that it wouldn’t benefit their sons to have two parents who had careers that demanded a heavy travel load. Stuhldreher would become a stay-at-home mother, taking over the duties of preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner, baths, beds, laying out pajamas, and coordinating Halloween costumes that Stuhldreher would make herself.


Quilting and sewing served as therapy during her transition into a stay-at-home mom, and as she adjusted to the city of Columbus, Ohio, after spending most of her life in Philadelphia. “The only reason I managed to leave Philadelphia was for the love of my husband,” Stuhldreher laughs. Both parents were making sacrifices: her husband continued to travel for weeks at a time, and for Stuhldreher, she had many busy days and quiet nights that would lead her to a new hobby as she coped with the changes. Meeting other makers was the key to making Columbus begin to feel like her home. “We used to meet up at each other’s house to sew,” Stuhldreher says as she tries to pinpoint the conception of Central Ohio Modern Quilt Guild. In 2015, the group of quilters that she met in Columbus for camaraderie in craft, and often, motherhood, became something bigger — an affiliated guild that would conduct their first meeting in November of that year. They were the only local guild that applied to be part of the MQG in Ohio. “It was amazing to meet so many people working the same hustle. We had an incredible amount of support for each other,” Stuhldreher says.

The first guild meeting included a demonstration on making felt needle books from selvages, and the next was a quilt swap to which Cristy would bring a rainbow mini quilt top. When Stuhldreher first started quilting, a hobby that she’s since evolved into overall lifestyle crafting, she was doing a great deal of paper-piecing. “Quilting wasn’t my strong suit, so I would use techniques like straight-lining with my walking foot along the angle of my main motif, and using my presser foot as a guide to keep the spacing between lines as equal as I could," she says. She also went to social media sites like Pinterest to find patterns from other bloggers. “Through all of the images on Pinterest, I would find patterns that were simple enough for a newbie, had great visual appeal, and best of all, they were free,” Stuhldreher says. “The only thing I would’ve told that young quilter would’ve been not to fear other substrates. Once I gained more confidence in crafting, it became more fun.”


These days, Stuhldreher is the fluid crafter, meaning that she can do it all, as she imagined herself doing when she was younger. She sees craft as an opportunity to make life a little more convenient — when she needs an apron for a cooking class, she makes it herself; if she wants a new pair of pants, she’ll make joggers; if she goes to a concert; she sews a new blouse.

“It’s quilting that taught me the discipline to keep consistent and even stitches,” Stuhldreher says. “It was the precision. You’re only given a 1/4 inch seam allowance, and if you’re off a little, it can throw off the entire size your quilt.” She found that it was the same with garment sewing and bag making. “If you aren’t sewing the right seam allowance, a similar thing happens," she says. "It can throw off the size of your garment entirely.” Although Stuldreher doesn’t have much time these days to attend quilting meetings as she dedicates her time to her growing business and sons, she still plans to attend QuiltCon with her guild this year, where she’ll attend a class on hand applique. “I hope it helps with my hand quilting and my handwork when making garments,” she says. “I’m excited to learn from the people around me; I haven’t done much hand quilting at all, and I’d love to learn more.”

Stuldreher’s quilts are also one of her favorite items in her luggage on summer vacations to Northern Michigan at their family cottage. For Stuhldreher, there will never be anything as pleasing as the personal connection to items that you make yourself, and that is the great joy of being a lifelong crafter.