Jean Truelove, Ultimate Quilter and Mom Extraordinaire
Children's Quilt, Blue and White with Gathered Sashing
I came upon Jean's Quilt shop on Etsy called TrueloveQuiltsForYou. At first I was drawn to her lovely mix of tradition, practicality and beauty. When I went to add her to my circle so I could watch her new items come in, I read her profile and nearly fell off my chair. This prolific fabric artist is also the mother of 10 children! As I read further she talked about the 200 quilts she's made and how over 100 have been given away as gifts or charity. I just had to know more about this "wonder woman". She generously agreed to share her time with me and after learning more about her, I feel that she is truly someone you all would love to know. Creative souls like Jean would certainly offer inspiration to so many moms and artists.
So let me introduce you to Jean Truelove-
Family and Creativity
I wondered how, as a mother of 10 did she find the time to quilt, how she organizes her time and materials and what influences her work. I have 2 grown sons who's health needs were very demanding. As much as I strove to be a good mother, I often struggled with satisfying my creative desires. No matter what your life is like, I think we all need to feed that part inside of us that defines us as unique individuals. One of life's greatest lessons is teaching our children that we must be passionate about something. We are more than single sided human beings. I wanted my boys to feed their passions and I wanted to show them how.
I asked Jean how she marries her passion with motherhood. I was very inspired by what she said.
"My first Passion is Family. My second is sewing and creating."
"People always ask me how I find time to sew with so many kids….I say its BECAUSE I have so many kids that I need to sew!!"
"If I didn’t indulge in my hobby, I would go crazy......! I’ve always had the burning need to create…for the last 30 years it was children…now I’m onto quilts!!!!"
"I find that since my sewing room is almost in the 'hub' of the home, I can be 'with' the children' - yet still be alone with my creations. Many an item was made with a baby on my lap at the sewing machine!!!
I have never, ever felt guilty about spending time (NOW) with my hobby...for many many years all I did was CHILDREN. And rightly so....I feel children don't ask to be born and we have a serious obligation to look after them to the best of our ability as parents - and that was for many years an absolute Full Time Job for me-having had 10 children in 17 years."
"As the children have gotten older though , I do have more time to devote to sewing - and sew I DO!!! I am still in the home and I believe that in itself is comforting to even the older children....I am a 'constant' in their lives...either cooking, cleaning, vacuuming, washing, ironing or sewing!"
Vintage Look Traditional Heirloom Quality Clamshell Thirties fabric Quilt
Jean's style is mostly traditional and often inspired by the fabrics she finds,
"...I see glorious batiks, inspirational reproductions, sophisticated damasks, unique orientals, bold solids, funky prints and calming neutrals... How can one choose a style??? I love everything! And so the quilts I make encompass a little bit of something..whatever my brain is telling me that day to pull from my stash!"
That lead me to imagine how many fabrics one would have to create hundreds of quilts in so many lovely colors and patterns. My own stash has taken over my home and I work in a very small scale. With so many folks in one living space, I was truly curious...
So I asked Jean about her stash and how she keeps it all under control.
"My STASH is quite a STASH!! I have been collecting fabric for about 20 years.
My husband (and some of our older sons) converted what was the garage (one side) into a sewing studio for me..right off of our family room.
It is 10 foot by 21 foot..lined with floor to ceiling shelves and, believe me, every shelf is taken!"
"I have a thread area on the wall which comprises of quite a few of the standard thread holders you can buy at the craft store. I have over 600 spools of all different colors, sizes and brands of thread!!
( Now - Who the heck needs that much thread?!?!?) But I delight every day in the beautiful wall art it makes! I surround myself with visual treats..plain white walls drive me MAD!!!!"
"I literally have thousands of yards of fabric..I am a fabricholic!! My room is large but I could have twice the amount of space and still fill the shelves!!! (Is this a sickness or what??!?!?)
The shelving units make it easy to organize, so I label each 'genre' section of fabric. i.e., Shabby Chic, Colorways, Damasks, Panels, Blocks, etc.,."
Okay, I'm so jealous!
She went on to say how that stash inspires her work.
"One of my favorite pastimes is to pull out fabric(some - not all at once!!!) and fold, refold, stroke, smell, caress, smell again and fold again before organizing it away again! (Only true FABRIC LOVERS really GET what I mean!"
I love that!
So, what else influences Jean's work?
"Being a creative person comes easy to me....I see designs in nature, a beautiful piece of china, a swatch of wallpaper, a magazine cover, a toy, a gorgeous basket....you name it...Inspiration is all around us! Just 'de-construct' a visual treat...interpret it to fabric and boom....a new quilt is born."
Modern Circles Dots and Spots Quilt
"Nothing you make is ever 'wrong' with quilting....or design....Just make it YOU!!!! Look to your closet, your clothing, your favorite colors, your favorite season, a sport, a work or art....whatever rocks your boat! Start small...a potholder, a table runner...work your way up to a lap or throw quilt!!! "
"It is sometimes difficult being me....I have, literally, about 400 quilts - ready to be made - inside my head at this moment. I dream in vivid colors and often wake up with yet another idea!! "
"Remember though: PERFECTION IS PARALYZING!!!"
"Don't be afraid to Just Do It!!! I, most of the time, never even bother pinning anything....and yes, my points are not perfect, my stitching a bit crooked...but, really, who cares? This isn't Rocket Science....all I'm doing is making a quilt!!!!"
"It will, after all, (once the initial 'sacredness' of it wears off") probably be dragged onto the floor, wrapped around a smelly teenager, thrown up on by a darling grand baby....tossed into the wash ....over and over..and be loved and cherished and adored and comfort the recipient of it!! What could be a better reward than that!"
After reading all of that, I realized that we all have a common thread that runs throughout our creative process. While we all have our own methods for bringing forth our creativity, we understand that creating is so essential to who we are. I think Jean's advice to relax and enjoy the ride is elegant simplicity.
One thing I find so different from my fine art days to my fiber art days is how easy this feels compared to the days of researching subject matter, planning a series of works and planning exhibitions. Fiber art is something we use each day. Deep intellectual meaning is replaced by practicality and whether or not our works just plain function and last! Both have equal merit in my heart. When I stick a pin in my pincushions, I love how they work. The fact that they are infused with beauty and color is icing on the cake. Each to me is a work of art. When an artist feels so strongly about creating, the things we create are meaningful and important.
I can easily see one of Jean's exquisite quilts wrapped around her grandchildren. Each square of fabric becomes a loving hug. Each stitch is meant to protect and warm. I can also imagine her quilts 50 years from now, giving the same love and warmth they do today. While a manufactured blanket may offer similar functionality, they simply cannot begin to impart the pure beauty and infused love in all things handmade.
The Meaning of Handmade
Jean goes on to share this with us,
"I have given over 150 quilts to friends and family....the most cherished of my possessions is a small stack of 'thank you' notes wrapped in a beautiful ribbon - heartfelt expressions of gratitude which make my life all the more richer! No amount of money can bring that happiness."
"I have noticed that people sometimes take themselves, or their environment, or their home, or their life...all too serious. People have to learn to get over themselves!! Have fun, screw up, mess up, create and enjoy!"
Now to the nitty gritty. I asked Jean how she came about selling on Etsy. I wondered how she promotes her shop and if she does the whole twitter thing.
She told me,
"I am really not a good business-women...and I quite loath modern technology - it is all I can do to turn on the computer - but I am slowly getting the word out there about my little business..and am quite pleased to have positive feedback!
I have my business cards and am working up the courage to give them out if I feel someone is interested! My son set up a Facebook page, but I'm not all that keen on that...I sometimes feel it would take up too much time. I, obviously, have enough on my plate at the moment, thank you very much!!!"
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Jean Truelove and that you visit her shop on Etsy and her Facebook page.
Here are a few of the lovely quilts she has created.
I am particularly in love with her hankie quilts, (I have a bunch stashed myself) and her red embroidered quilt.
Greem Flannel Rage Take Along Children's Quilt
See my interview with Mimi Love from my Sew Old Sew New blog. I will try to feature a new artist each month. If you would like to introduce me to an amazing fiber artists to feature of if you would like to share your creative inspirations with me, leave me a comment or email me at jillverbick.gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!
For more inspiration read my interview with Mimi Love from the UK. Her beautiful stitchery on painted canvas is quite amazing! Her views on creating will inspire you too! "MimiLove: one woman, a needle, a paintbrush, a disturbing music back catalogue in her brain and too much time on her hands.”
Bird Pigeon Fiber Art