I Am GenQ: Julie Herman
the GenQ Crew • July 20, 2011 • 21 Comments

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.”




  • Mary Ann • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #1

    Greta interview,as in all things Julie’s energy,creativity and personality jump right out!

  • Jill Tafoya • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #2

    She does great quilts, I think one of her patterns will be my next endeavor…

  • Sharon Kitts • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #3

    How wonderful. I wish I would have started quilting at a much younger age. I have sewn since junior high but I didn’t make my FIRST quilt until I bought a quilt shop at the age of 52. AND I have spent more than my fair share at Sample Spree. Now that is a fun time. After having my shop “Aunt Bee’s Quilts and More” for 10 years I had to sell it following a heart attack (husband insisted). Now I’m retired and spend most of my time in my sewing room (my escape from same husband). I got my sisters hooked on quilting so we have a lot of fun together. Now I’m working with my daughter-in-law and my 10 year old granddaughter. Passing the torch!!

    • Melissa Thompson Maher • 10 years ago
      COMMENT #

      Hey, Sharon, I only started quilting at about age 50, as well. My daughters aren’t really interested…yet. But my little neighbor girl is, and we have a good time during our sew sessions.

  • Victoria Crowder Payne • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #4

    Hi Julie (& Q’ers) Though I am not a quilting artist, my mom was — she left me with a deep affinity for hand embroidery. I’ve administered the Hand Emb Network for most of this year, and built & maintained my own stitchy biz since 2008, so…. I wanted to thank you for your HARD work! I know exactly what it takes to maintain a project like this (or even a lively blog & I think you deserve a big high five!). This launch looks gorgeous, and I’ll enjoy rummaging around in your world of Q!! Thanks for posting in the FAMM group for me to discover you!!

  • Mary • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #5

    Julie is da bomb diggety! Thanks for a great interview! (Lovin’ GenQ. Wish you guys all the success in the world!)

    • Melissa Thompson Maher • 10 years ago
      COMMENT #

      Thanks, Mary! We really feel the support and appreciate it!

  • Marcy • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #6

    What a great take on a new quilter. I was there at her age. Now I’m a grandma quilter. Way to go Julie!

  • Melanie • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #7

    I love Julie’s work and follow her blog regularly. I hope the move goes well and look forward to see how it inspires even more creativity!

  • Natalie Barnes • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #8

    Thanks to GenQMag for continuing to bring us the best and the brightest!!

  • Tess Holland • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #9

    Love it! It’s always great to know there are plenty of younger quilters out there (I’m 26 and made my first quilt when I was 21) and the modern movement is a great way to find them! Thanks for another great article… every day has been something fantastic!

  • Jessica Nichols • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #10

    I already follow Julie’s blog, but I loved reading this interview with her. It was nice to get to know the person behind all those designs!

  • Lisa Sipes • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #11

    Julie is an inspiration to quilters of all ages and a driving force in the modern quilting movement. I often have young wannabe quilters ask me to give them quilting lessons and I just don’t have time for it. I wish I did because I would LOVE to have more younger (come on, I just turned 30!) people quilting. I can encourage them, but I also direct them to Julie’s site (among others) so they can see all of the fun things they can do. Cheers to another excellent article for GenQ!

  • DianeY • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #12

    I think Julie’s tale of telling a new guy she quilts could be made into a Sitcom! With Julie as the star!

    • Lisa Sipes • 10 years ago
      COMMENT #

      Yeah… being single and a quilter is tough. When “boys” ask me what I do for a living, I practically have a panic attack trying to decide which words to choose!
      Luckily my boyfriend is awesome. He even watched Stitched with me!

      • Melissa Thompson Maher • 10 years ago
        COMMENT #

        True love. Really!

  • Lindsay • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #13

    What a fun interview! I read Julie’s blog

  • Krista - Poppyprint • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #14

    Good luck with your move Julie! Great interview. I’m always so happy when people start quilting at a young age. I started in my mid 30’s and feel so fortunate to have many years of quilting ahead (otherwise, how the heck would I get through my stash?). I worked in an LQS for a few years and I can’t tell you how many times I hears “I’m just looking…I might start quilting when I retire”. I always took those customers by the hand and did everything I could to get them to sign up for the beginner class NOW. Every retired person I know is way too busy. Don’t wait people! The time is NOW! The quilt is NEAR!

  • Kristy • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #15

    Great article, Great Designer, Great Quilter.

  • Mary • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #16

    Julie, you are just adorable! I will pass on your website to my daughter and granddaughter who both sew. I feel so lucky that my family has taken an interest in sewing and quilting with me. It is people like you who help inspire them.
    Thanks so much!

  • Bridgette Stein • 10 years ago
    COMMENT #17

    Great interview! I love seeing young quilters! I’m trying to get more students invovled! We have to spread the word that Quilting isn’t just for ‘grandma’ anymore! lol

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