Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts may be on the younger end of the quilted spectrum, but don’t take this 28-year-old for granted. This designing powerhouse has made a respected name for herself in the modern movement with her sharp work ethic and those graphic quilt designs done up in yummy scrappy fabs. What’s really cool about her quilts’ designs, though, is that they don’t just move—they dance! They mambo and cha-cha their way across a sewing studio because the patterns vibrate with so much energy. There is no way to be tired around a Jaybird Quilt!
Have we mentioned Julie is a self-taught quilter? Well, actually, she is a Simply Quilts quilter, one who tutored herself by following Alex Anderson’s now-off-the-air quilt classic. (We’re still not happy about that one!) From there, she inhaled quilt books and mags to sharpen her needle skills.
That said, Julie is much more than her quilts. A trained designer, she once thought she’d teach elementary school art. And you can tell she just adores kids by the many pictures of her niece and nephew featured on her blog, www.jaybirdquilts.com. It’s that same blog that probably helped her move into the quilty limelight. Filled with great photographs, rich with top-quality info and just enough of the personal to let us get to know her, Julie’s blog is way better than a serial novel.
Now Julie, who lives in the Philadelphia area and helped found the Philadelphia chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild, will make a major move in the coming weeks. She and her parents are relocating to San Diego, California, to live with her older brother and his family. It’s a move with great timing, and she’s looking forward to the change (okay, the warmth in winter, too). But parting from her Philly tribe will be very hard, she says. (Hey, fellow tribal mates: Julie’s never been given a quilt before! Wink, wink!)—Jake Finch
Julie by the quotes:
About starting the blog, Jaybird Quilts: “I felt very alone. I, at the time, was 26, and my mom and dad loved everything I did. But besides the local shop where I worked, I didn’t have any friends my own age that quilted. I wanted a place to share what I do and I had no idea it would become what it’s become.”
On her tutorials: “My blog has a lot of resources. Once you’re an established quilter, you don’t realize what you don’t know, like binding. I like putting those basics out there.”
What she’s afraid of: “I don’t really like dogs. I was bitten on the hand by one when I was a kid. I don’t wish them harm, but if they could stay away from me that would be okay. And I’m allergic to cats. Everything in my house has two legs, not four.”
How her ideas pop up…: “Everywhere. A random tile or something I see. I keep a notebook next to my bed because I often wake up and have an idea and have to sketch it out. I get them everywhere. The Concrete Garden quilt was inspired by the parking garage in a mall.”
Her strangest job: “I worked in a Build-A-Bear inside the (Philadelphia Phillies’ stadium). The Phillie Phanatic is one of the most famous mascots and we had him there. I helped kids and families make Phanatics before the games. That was so much fun. You’re at the ball park, so it’s fast. People don’t linger, and kids are happy. You’re kind of like the facilitator of happiness.”
On how much she REALLY spends at Sample Spree: (Sample Spree is the free-for-all wholesale shopping event the night before International Quilt Market opens. Many a quilter has hitched a ride home following this fabric orgy.) “More money than I want to publicly admit, way past my normal budget. Yes, I will eat the most basic food for a month in exchange for my Sample Spree. I paid for an extra suitcase to bring home what I bought at Sample Spree.”
How she breaks the news to a new guy that she’s a professional quilt designer: “I attempt to ease into the conversation with, ‘I went to school for design and I enjoy sewing.’ Then I drop the Q-word. The Q-word still has this connotation in the (mainstream) world of a grandma sitting at a quilting frame. Then I get, ‘People your age sew quilts? I thought grandmas do that.’ It’s always very interesting. And then, depending on who the person is, I say, ‘Here’s my blog.’ The answer is usually, ‘Quilter’s blog? People write about this? There’s something you say that people want to read?’ Then I get into the quilt shows and that’s always funny.”
What modern means to Julie: “For me modern quilting is learning as many ways to do what’s possible and then choosing what’s best for you. Don’t make something because someone told you to or its popular. Make it because it’s something you love and it’s your happy medium.”