Jackee Thaysen sewed a self portrait as an assignment for her Ten Fold fibre arts group. She has been quilting for the last 30 years and is experimenting with more contemporary and artistic designs.

Quilting: a lifelong obsession

Jackee Thaysen’s favourite class to teach is ‘Quilting for beginners.’

“That first class they come in and they are like deer in the headlights – ‘I’m not sure I can do this,’” she says. “By the end of that first class they have made one block and they are like ‘oh.’”

Thaysen sends them home with homework and when they come to the next class with two more blocks done, they know they can do it.

“It’s really satisfying,” she said.

Thaysen started quilting when her children were young, because she wanted quilts for them.

More than 30 years later, even after working full time in the profession, Thaysen still loves quilting.

A lot has changed since she first started with scissors and cereal boxes as her only tools all those years ago.

Thaysen cuts up to eight pieces of fabric at once with a rotary cutter, which looks like a pizza cutter, not to mention the endless ideas and patterns that she can find online.

“I’ve got a [three inch] binder full of ideas,” she said. “I’d have to live to be 300 [to finish them all].”

Ideas don’t always end up in the book.

Thaysen said sometimes she sees something she likes and has to sit down and do it right away.

How much time each quilt takes depends on the pattern.

In some cases she cuts the fabric, sews it together and cuts it again before assembling the final pattern.

And even then just the top of the quilt is complete.

“People like to do the tops of the quilts, they don’t like doing the quilting of the three layers,” she said.

When she worked at a quilt shop in North Vancouver, she did the quilting and sometimes the binding for those who only wanted to do the pretty part of the project.

Thaysen has been in Campbell River for the past six and a half years.

At the moment she is semi-retired, so no quilting is a full time hobby instead of a full time job.

She is a member of the Campbell River Friendship Quilters Guild, the Quadra Island Quilters Guild and a fibre arts group called Ten Fold.

She attends quilting retreats with each of the groups, as well as her friends from North Vancouver, where they quilt, eat, socialize and repeat.

For the last eight or so years, Thaysen’s sewing machine of choice has been her Pfaff, which she bought used at the time, though she said there are many good machines out there.

For those looking to purchase she said to go to a sewing shop instead of a department store.

She also hopes her students don’t cheap out on the fabrics that they bring to class.

They think, ‘oh this is my beginner quilt I don’t want to spend too much on fabric,”’ she says.

But no matter what they end of up with, a masterpiece and good fabric not only makes a quilt that lasts longer, it is also easier to work with.

Despite her 30 plus years of experience, Thaysen still spends time in the classroom and comes across patterns and techniques that challenge her.

In the beginning she did a lot of traditional quilting: simple, contrasting colours and symmetrical blocks with basic patterns.

Now she is getting more contemporary, with crazy colours, lines that aren’t straight and blocks that don’t repeat a pattern.

That is one of the reasons she enjoys being part of the Ten Fold group so much, there aren’t any rules.

“I’m all over that,” she says.

Thaysen regularly teaches quilting classes at the Community Centre.