Business

Longarm quilter pursues passion as career

Brianne Reed and her grandmother, Alanna Levesque, stand in front of Reed’s longarm quilting machine. Reed learned to quilt from her grandmother, who she affectionately calls “Mimi,” at a very young age and has since perfected her skills to the point of owning and operating her own quilting company.  - Sequim Gazette photo by Alana Linderoth
Brianne Reed and her grandmother, Alanna Levesque, stand in front of Reed’s longarm quilting machine. Reed learned to quilt from her grandmother, who she affectionately calls “Mimi,” at a very young age and has since perfected her skills to the point of owning and operating her own quilting company.
— image credit: Sequim Gazette photo by Alana Linderoth

A passion for quilting was imprinted on Brianne Reed as soon as she was old enough to climb onto her grandmother, Alanna Levesque’s lap and watch her quilt. As Reed got older, her interests in quilting grew too.

After years of quilting with her grandmother, who Reed affectionately refers to as “Mimi,” she decided to combine her education in business with her intrinsic artistic nature.

By July Reed had opened Sequim Quilt Co. Only 22-years-old, Reed now owns and operates her own business and specializes in longarm quilting.

Within the past year Reed’s business has grown from stocking a mere 200 bolts (bundles of bulk fabric) to nearly 700 bolts. Owning an Innova longarm computerized quilting machine greatly separates Reed’s company from any other quilting business on the Peninsula, Reed said. The machine’s frame is 12-feet long and the arm of the machine, which Reed “drives” across the fabric in order to quilt the layers together, is 26 inches long; hence the name “longarm.”

“Most people don’t realize how longarm quilting is done so they are entrusting me to make the best decisions to supplement their (the piecers) work,” Reed said.

In most cases customers bring Reed the top layer of a quilt, which they’ve pieced together, but seek Reed’s service to quilt and bind it to bring their project to completion. Reed meets with each customer to discuss the quilt design, and each design depends on many factors, such as what the quilt will be used for and the look and feel the customer had envisioned for their quilt.

Depending on the piece-work Reed either quilts a custom or pantograph (repeated pattern throughout quilt) design.

“The amount of work that goes into the piece-work is amazing,” Reed said. “We have so much talent in this town.”

For some it can take only days to piece together the top layer for a quilt, whereas others it can take years or even a lifetime, thus Reed has a big responsibility to finish each customers’ vision by quilting their artwork, Levesque said. Most of the time the quilt turns out beyond what the customer could have ever imagined, she said.

Quilting as an art

Both Reed and Levesque agree quilting is an art-form and feel the quilts “talk” to them, Levesque said. Depending on the type and style of the piece-work, the quilt design may vary and the quilt will “ask” to be quilted a certain way. A seasoned quilter, like Reed, feels as though they’re “dancing” with their machine and can actually establish a certain rhythm.

Although the longarm machine Reed operates is computerized it still requires Reed to hand guide the needle to create a particular shape or pattern.

“I really enjoy the hand-guided portion of the work,” Reed said. “It allows me to make each quilt unique and turn it into a piece of art.”

The more modern style of quilts are particularly nice for longarm quilters because they tend to have a lot of open space. The open space allows longarm quilters to truly show off their skills, Reed said.

In addition to the modern quilt style, there are many more styles of quilts that differ from one another and are constantly evolving, Reed said. Because quilting is an international hobby, Reed has enjoyed meeting people from various parts of the world in her store, but most of her clientele are residents of the Olympic Peninsula.

“I think a lot of people assume quilting is a hobby for old ladies, but there’s a lot to it,” Reed said. “There’s the design element, creativity and a lot of technology involved.”

Reed has yet to see any other young adults, such as herself interested in quilting, but she hopes to inspire more younger people to get involved.

Reed has thought about starting a modern quilt club to spark the younger demographic’s quilting interest, as the closet modern quilt club is in Bremerton. The Dear Jane Club, Lavender Bleaus Club and Anytime Stitcher’s already use Sequim Quilt Co. as a gathering space.

However, at this point in her business, Reed realizes she must be patient and not bite off more than she can chew.

“The most challenging part for me is not growing the business too fast, but allow it time to grow slowly,” Reed said.

Reed admits she’s constantly analyzing her business and finding ways to improve it and herself as a longarm quilter and artist.

Sequim Quilt Co.

Where: 131 River Road

Contact: Call 797-1899

On the web: www.sequimquiltco.com

 

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