Flying from one career to the next
As we head to the clos e of summer, we’d like to introduce you to a spunky, long-arm quilter named Sarah. We met her during the AQS Quilt Show last April in Paducah, Kentucky. During this time she was helping another company with their booth, being a brand ambassador for another, all while helping us with our giveaways and Instagram Live feeds. Needless to say, we couldn’t get enough of her.
With her always-upbeat attitude she always put a smile on our face. Not to mention, we always got carried away with our conversation – it’s hard not to with Sarah since she’s incredibly animated. We knew if we loved her, that you would also feel the same.
Sarah – or SARIDITTY – is a licensed commercial pilot. She received a degree in Aviation Technology from Purdue University where she went on to be the chief pilot for an engineering firm. Fast forward a little to marrying her long-time college friend -- an Air Force officer in Charleston, South Carolina. After their wedding vows were said, they packed up and headed to the next chapter of their life – but without piloting.
“What does a military wife constantly on the move do?” Sarah asked herself. “One hones in on one’s keen math skills and eye for color and design!”
After learning the craft from her Gramma and mother, Sarah is now an avid quilter and educator, travelling around the world with her talents. Take a peek at some of our conversation about her fascinating career.
What was your initial goal in creating quilts and becoming an educator?
Honestly, it was to just find something I could do and feel like I was accomplishing something. When I got married, I left my career as a commercial pilot to go where my husband was based in Charleston, South Carolina. As a military family, we're constantly on the move, so I needed to find an outlet to feel worthwhile and like I was actually contributing to our marriage. It's hard to explain other than it goes deeper to my constant inner need to please and feel like I'm pulling my equal share of the weight. I turned our time based in Oklahoma into what is now SARIDITTY by creating keepsake quilts for the many young moms on base using their babies' onesies.
What was your main goal of creating your business?
After attending my first quilt show in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with my mother, I discovered that I had a knack for longarm quilting. From there, I tried my luck at fine-tuning my longarm skills and eventually quilting for hire -- I started simply making baby quilts for the moms on our base. And since I apparently get bored a bit easily, I went further from "just" quilting to creating and writing my own patterns and teaching nationally (and soon internationally).
You mention that you learned many different crafts from your Gramma and mother. Did you take any additional classes on learning how to become a longarm quilter?
Oh gosh, I feel embarrassed to say no. Not a one. I dove in and pretty much made it my mission to teach myself the longarm machine and hone my skills. Although I've never attended a class or anything like that, I soak up all I can from other people's photographic posts and such. Social media is such a huge educator on its own -- finding a handful of my favorite quilters and reading what they post and how they explain some of their methods surely has helped me without my even realizing it.
Did you know you were going to be so successful in the beginning?
Oh gawd, no! Ha! And I still don't necessarily consider myself successful as much as I know I'm perseverant and perfectionistic. That's my nature though -- I love math and angles and details, so it translates easily into writing patterns and quilting. I also put enough pressure on myself that I'm constantly striving to prove something -- to no one other than me, really, but at least it's an internal cheerleader in a way.
How often do you travel around to educate at shows?
I've been traveling quite a bit this past year. Between working and teaching at shows compounded with teaching at local quilt shops/dealers, I've been on the road a lot more than I planned for 2018. But that's okay because I really do love sharing my love for this craft with people and helping them discover their personal styles through quilting and patterns.
What’s your favorite thing about this industry?
This career, while unexpected and unplanned, fits me to a T. I am so not the person who thrives at a desk from 9-5, nor do I care to do the same thing in and out from day to day. Being able to manage my days to fit my needs and desires is amazing. If I'm feeling especially creative, then I can dedicate as much time as I want to sewing or drafting patterns. Or I can stand at my longarm for hours on end adding my touch to a quilt top. I can stop when I want and spend time with my husband, dog, self.
And still being able to travel extensively fills a void in my life too. Although I'm not the one at the plane's yoke these days, at least I'm still seeing the world and spending time with interesting and inspiring people from all over!
What’s the hardest thing about this industry?
Rejection and fear of failure. That's also a "me" thing, I think. I've always been terrified of rejection and failure, but as I get older I also realize I don't care as much. I create and make things that speak to me and reflect who I am in that moment, so in the end if other people don't necessarily care for it, then I'm not as affected as I was in the beginning. So then I guess the second hardest thing in this industry would be always having my "game face" on even when I may not feel up to it.
Where can readers find you next?
The rest of 2018 is a little crazy, and I'll be at home most of the time. That said, I am thrilled and excited to be heading to Bristol, England, in January for The Thread House retreat where I'll be teaching alongside three magnificent ladies to a sold out retreat!
In February, I'll be teaching both longarm quilting and foundation paper piecing at Quilt Con in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition, there are a couple other fun things are in the works for 2019, which I'll share with enthusiasm as soon as I'm able!
Be sure to check out Sarah’s Instagram where you can see her latest designs and exciting travels!