In Mabeth's Own Words
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I thought being a dancer would be the greatest profession in the world. I love to watch dancing but I am absolutely horrible at it! Never in the world did I think I would be doing what I am today. In fact, even 10 years ago I didn’t think that I’d be doing this.
What’s your work (or life) philosophy?
Whatever I attempt to do, I want to study every aspect of it and be the best I can be at it, without being compulsive.
How would you spend an ideal day?
I’d get up about 7:30, have coffee and read the paper, then have more coffee. I’d do some stitching—and have more coffee. I’d go look at the flowerbeds; I love working outside. I’d switch to ice tea for the rest of the day, and I’d cook a good dinner and go for a walk. In the evening I’d work on stitching or rug hooking. Starting a new project is always very exciting but I need to do that early in the day, so I will be able to sleep when I go to bed that night! I’d go to bed about 11:30 or 12 p.m.
What is the best present you ever received?
When I was between 11 and 13 years old an elderly neighbor carved a large, wooden key for me. He gave it to me so that I always had the key to his watermelon patch and wouldn’t tear it up getting in. You know how kids can be, but he really didn’t know me—I would never ever destroy anything.
How do you unwind?
We have a lake house 10 miles from our house and I go there, get on the four-wheeler, and go on the trails. Nothing is as freeing as riding in the timber and looking at all the leaves, trees, and wildlife.
Tell us about your first quilt.
My first quilt was a tumbling block baby quilt, and I started it one 4th of July—before I had a quilting class. I think I must have used a sheet blanket for the batting and I didn’t know that quilters made their own binding; I went to the store and bought bias binding, which was very sad! As a new quilter, I didn’t realize that all the intersections were set in and I did it on the machine. And the quilting was not so great. But I always show it when I lecture to demonstrate my growth as a quilter. Everyone should always keep their first quilt.
Any advice for someone who’s interested in a career like yours?
Make quilts and enter contests so that your name gets out there. Be the best that you can be. Take lots of class so that you know lots of techniques, and then see if you can improve upon those methods.
What’s your favorite place?
That is a given: my quilt room. I just need good light, good equipment, coffee, my wood-burning stove, and windows through which I can feast my eyes on the outside world. Good thing there isn’t a bed in the quilt room or I would sleep there!
Fill in the blank: I’m most proud of …
Of course, my family. But also my life as a whole. I have the most wonderful, interesting life. I am interested in everything and how it all works (with the exception of my car or the lawnmower).
What’s the biggest change in the industry since you started quilting?
It has to be the rotary cutter. My first class was in 1980 and we actually used scissors. The new equipment makes the process much more accurate and faster, and we need that, as there are sooo many quilts that we want to make in this lifetime!
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