Sunshine and Storytime

Posted by Jenna Guest on

Hello, CQ Friends!  I want to dedicate this very first blog post to storytelling.  I hope you'll take some time to learn about me and what led me to start this business, as well as my hopes for serving you as a quilting and crafting community.  Let's get started!

*flashback music plays as the screen swirls in a blur....*

My Memere learned how to quilt in the late 70s.  By my mother's account, I received, as a baby, the very first quilt she finished as a new student.  It's a lovely sampler quilt that somehow survived over the past 37 years.  I am very blessed to still have it.  I remember that I also had a coordinating pillow, but that did not fare so well over the course of time.

Memere introduced my cousins and I to knitting when we were in grade school.  I remember that my first project was a very wonky and green Barbie doll scarf.  Over time I have expanded my skills in knitting, and can even somewhat read knitting and crochet patterns, though I have to admit that the acronyms and abbreviations continue to baffle me at times.  

My mother loves to cross stitch.  She has not had time to enjoy her craft consistently, but keeps it all tucked away in a basket in the living room when she feels ready to pick it back up.  I learned how to cross stitch from her when I was in grade school.  My first finished project was a little hairdresser teddy bear that I gifted to my aunt, which she hung in her salon for many years.  

As I got a little older, my Memere taught my cousins and I how to quilt.  It was her true passion in retirement (aside from faith and family).  She learned "the old fashioned way", using cardboard or thin plastic templates to trace the shapes onto the fabric, as well as a 1/4" seam template on which to sew.  She learned how to hand sew these pieces together, baste her quilt sandwich, and hand quilt the project to perfection, with even little stitches that many have commented on in awe.  Over time, she started doing more and more piecing on her sewing machine, but still finished every quilt with her hand quilting.  This is how she taught me how to quilt.  My first project was a VERY pink patchwork table quilt that currently resides on a side table at my parents' house.  I loved it so much that I asked her to help me make another project.  This time, she took me shopping for new fabric, and taught me how to make a shoo-fly quilt block, and add ladder strips.  This quilt was slightly bigger than the first, but still only about the size of a crib quilt.  I finished this quilt top DECADES ago.  I began hand quilting it, and then as life happens, school and sports took me away from it.  I kept it tucked away in my closet, where it had sat for many years.  The finished "Shoo-Fly" Quilt

As they say, time flies, and soon college graduation, marriage, and new jobs filled my time.  But, my quilting supplies and unfinished projects stayed tucked away in my childhood bedroom closet.  In that time, I continued to receive lovely handmade quilts from my Memere (as well as anyone else who might have needed or wanted a new quilt).  She was prolific and I always admired her speed - it seemed that she could finish quilts in no time.  When I'd come home, she would lead me up to her sewing room and pull out her latest projects in progress, which I was always thrilled to see.  

Around the time I turned 25, my Memere and Pepere drove to my home and delivered my very first sewing machine to me; an old Singer that she and my aunt had lovingly restored.  That was all it took to reignite the quilting fire in me.  My best friend was also interested in quilting at the time, and we learned and relearned together, and she continues to inspire me with new projects and fabrics and knowledge.


Quilting was still slow-going for me at that time.  Job changes and trying to start a family were where I was focusing my time.  I also tried multiple side businesses over the years.  Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, craft fairs, and other ventures were fun, but never felt quite right.  

A large career change in 2015 led my husband and I back to the area where I grew up, and where the majority of my family still lives.  Shortly after that, we became parents and life has certainly not slowed down.  In 2018, my husband accepted another new job that moved our large family to a different part of the state.  I have been blessed to stay at home with the kids during this time.  As the kids started getting a little older, I began finding extra time to sew and quilt, usually after bedtime, which I call my "midnight sewing" sessions.  Show and tell at Memere's became two-way as I started making progress.

A few things began happening in the past couple of years that bring me to where I am now.  First, my Memere passed away at the end of 2020.  This loss sent a distress signal off in my brain that all of the knowledge that she possessed and shared with me (and my cousins), and that I am passionate about and enjoy, is now a responsibility to share and pass on.  Second, my other Memere passed away in 2021.  She was one of my biggest fans when it came to quilting.  While she was sick, I brought all of my works in progress to share with her.  It seemed to bring her joy when things were hard.  She asked me at one point if I was selling my work, to which I responded 'no', and I received a look in response that told me that she disagreed with that answer.  Third, my beloved local quilt shop closed in the first quarter of 2022.  The very sweet owner retired to spend more time with her family.  All of her patrons are SO happy for her, but on the inside we're heartbroken for the loss of her shop.  Fourth, I keep stumbling across this inspirational thought: God gave you unique passions.  Your job on earth is to share those passions with others, to get out there and inspire people and make a difference.  

And so, folks, that was the very abridged version of where I am today.  I have been guided, in so many words, to this point.  I have felt like a fly trapped in a jar trying to get out, bouncing against the sides of the glass while trying to figure out what my future holds.  I have prayed and thought and analyzed and dreamed...and I now know that this is the next step as my kids reach school age.  This plan has come along effortlessly (but not without a ton of work!).  I am incredibly blessed to have the support of family and friends, and I cannot wait to pick up steam going forward.  

My goals for this business include:

- Sharing my knowledge and research about quilting.

- Providing a trusted place to shop online for quality fabrics, notions and quilting-related gifts.

- Providing excellent customer service in the form of quick response time, fast order fulfillment and a large inventory to choose from.

In the future, I hope to expand even further with published quilt patterns and inventory increases.  

My ultimate goal is to one day become an online store with a brick and mortar location as well.  But for now, I'll take it one step at a time.  

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.  I'll leave you with the Carpenter Quilts mission statement, my commitment to you.

Carpenter Quilts’ mission is to support every quilter and crafter by offering a variety of high quality fabrics, threads and notions.  We strive to create a welcoming ‘kitchen table’ feel that fosters a sense of community around the age-old art of creating with fabric by sharing tips, tutorials and more.

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  • This was so great to read Jenna! I am so thrilled for you to be following your dreams and passions! Best wishes to you!

    Jean bragan on
  • Jenna, I loved reading your story! I wish you the best of luck in this new adventure and am sure you will do very well! Jeanne

    Jeanne Lambert on
  • Great job, Jenna!💕💕

    Mom on

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