Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spotlight on.... Monica!

Hello again! Spring has sprung and while I'm sure we're all busy spring cleaning our stashes, everyone should take a well deserved break to learn more about a fellow quilter.

Tell me a bit about yourself:

My name is Monica Cuartero and I am from Southern New Jersey, where I live with my husband James and our furry & feathered kids: three cats, a bird and a fish.

What do you do (employment or for fun)?

I am a graphic designer by day (and sometimes night!). I went to college for painting and still enjoy painting with watercolor and oils.

How did you get started quilting?

In 1998 I was introduced to quilting by my then-boss and her mother, who were both very talented quilters. One spring they had a quilting instructor come to the company and offer a quilting class at the office for all the employees. Since then I’ve been hooked!

How old were you when you made your first quilt?


Who taught you to quilt?

I don’t remember the teacher’s name but I would like to credit my old boss and her mom as the women that really got me into quilts. Soon after that first class, I tried to learn on my own. I found Japanese art quilts very inspiring. I continued to take classes & I'm constantly looking for new classes to take in order to improve my skills & technique.

Did you ever take quilting lessons from someone?

My two favorite classes were from Pam Holland ( and Philippa Naylor ( They both made a big impact on me. Seeing their quilts up close was the most exciting part of class.

What do you like best about quilting?
What I like best are the personal connections that can be made with a quilt. I recently learned this while making my first baby quilt for a friend. As I worked on it, all I could think of was the love for the new baby that was on his way. It’s a much different type of art making than sitting down and making a painting.

What is the hardest thing about quilting?

Right now, it’s finding the money to buy fabric. I was recently laid off from my job, so there is no money now for my habit. Hoping that will change soon!

How do you decide what pattern to make?

I’ve been choosing designs based on different techniques I’d like to learn, such as applique and curved pieces.

Where do you do your work? Do you have a quilting room?

I work in my spare bedroom which is my office/quilt room. I have my computer, sewing machine, design wall and a recently installed TV to keep me company while I am working up here all day!

Do you use a sewing machine, long arm quilter or do you quilt by hand?

I use a Janome Memory Craft 6500 which I adore. I add hand sewing whenever I need to and recently got into needle turn applique. I have only quilted two quilts by hand and haven’t been pleased with the results, so now I am on a mission to learn how to machine quilt.

How much time do you quilt during an average week?
I probably sew on average about 7-10 hours a week.

Do you name your quilts or label them?

I like making the labels for my quilts, especially for a baby gift. I’ll usually scan some fabric from the quilt and then add the baby’s name and date. Thanks to Julie's awesome label tutorial ( I just made a label using some fabric that just has my name and blog on it and a place to write the date.

Have you ever taught someone to quilt?

No, I still need lessons myself!

How do you choose your colors? What are your favorites?

It’s usually very spontaneous. I like mixing fabric of all different kinds & textures. I don’t always just use cotton.

Where do you buy your fabrics and materials? Is there any particular supply you’re partial to?

I started by buying all my fabric on eBay. I love vintage colors and patterns so that’s where I started. Now I buy fabric anywhere it’s on sale!

What quilt(s) are you working on now?

I’m currently working on designs for 3 new commissions. They include a baby quilt, a very unique wedding quilt, and a fun idea- a “You’re going to be a grandma” quilt. I am also working on quilts to try and sell to get some money together to donate to Japan.

Do you make up your designs?
Yes! That is my favorite part. I can’t really follow a pattern. The only pattern I am following now is Kim McLean's Lollypop Trees. I love the design and colors and I think it’s a great way to learn applique! It’s a HUGE quilt 94” x 94” and at the rate I am going on it, I estimate it will take me about 10 years to finish!

What other crafts do you indulge in or hope to learn?
I like to crochet, make jewelry, collage, and paint, but I have not really touched that since the quilting has taken over. Right now I am interested in learning how to dye my own fabric.

What other organizations are you involved in to enrich your love of the fiber arts?

Besides this Guild, I like taking classes at my local quilt shop. ( Debbie has been wonderful in encouraging me to quilt, and she is the one who helped me find the Philly Modern Quilt Guild.

What are your quilting related goals?
My goal is to learn as much I possibly can!

What do you consider your greatest quilting related achievement? 

Finishing my first quilt felt so wonderful after spending many years of just sewing blocks together. I honestly spent about 5 years of just working on quilt blocks and not knowing what to do with them.

What is your motto?
“It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” - my high school art teacher Sr. Elvira, would say this to me all the time.

Thanks so much Monica, for taking the time to answer all my questions! And the photos were all just gorgeous - hope everyone else enjoyed them too!

Until next time...


  1. Monica - so nice to read more about you!! And, a quilting class at work??? that is awesome!

  2. I can't even imagine a quilting class at my work ... I am totally interested in trying out fabric dyeing. Perhaps we should have a dyeing party! Did you see the recent posts on sewmamasew?

  3. great idea! Maybe we can have a dyeing party at my house this summer. we can dye out on the deck and go swimming while we wait for the fabric!

  4. Great to read more about you Monica! isn't it funny how our other hobbies get totally pushed aside for quilting!? I'm in for the dyeing party! :)

  5. thanks Becky! yes- everything has kinda stopped since the quilting has taken over! I say we talk about fabric dyeing next meeting! we can do a swim/BBQ/fabric dye party.

  6. oh, lovely. Keep up the good work.