LUSK – It took Libby Lamp about four days to cut out, piece together, sew, trim and quilt her largest piece of work to date.
When asked, she couldn’t say exactly how many pieces there were in the quilt. The final piece measures 120-inches on a side. That’s a lot of rotary cutter time and fabric.
Lamp is the owner and creative mind behind Rafter L Designs custom sewing and quilting. She designs and produces custom quilts, curtains, bags, blankets and more. But her specialty is quilts and free-hand long-arm quilting.
Lamp started sewing after her oldest child was born. The first thing she made was a set of curtains.
“They were the ugliest, most crooked things you ever laid eyes on,” Lamp said about those early efforts.
“Being the person that I am, I didn’t get discouraged, I simply kept making small projects and tried to learn from my mistakes along the way.”
Lamp was motivated to try quilting came years ago by her sister, who had dabbled in quilting. Lamp had decided then that if she ever had the time she would try it. When she left the insurance industry to stay home and raise her children full-time, she made her first quilt.
Lamp purchased her own sewing machine six years ago after blowing out her mother’s machine with that first quilt. She used this machine for not only sewing her quilt pieces together but to do the quilt tops as well, until she purchased her long arm machine and frame three years ago. The purchase of this quilting machine was a game changer from both a creative and business standpoint.
Lamp progressed from straight line quilting to freehand, free-motion technique. She is currently learning to use rulers and templates to create more precise designs, but for customers, part of the appeal of Lamp’s work is that no two quilts will ever be the same. When she is quilting the top of the blanket, Lamp incorporates the design elements of the quilt itself into the quilt stitches to create unique works of art with just the thread.
Once Lamp was hooked on quilting, she began making quilts for every occasion. With each quilt, her experience and skill expanded. She began taking commission projects and custom orders a little over two years ago.
Since Lamp is able to provide a start-to-finish product for customers it makes it easier for those who want to be part of the design process and get the finalized quilt in their hands. In addition to completed quilts, Lamp offers her quilting service to other sewers for their quilt tops.
Some of the more unique pieces Lamp has completed include diaper bags and purses of her own design, “window frame” quilts and personalized quilts with unique fabric and details such as client brands. These personalized quilts are Lamp’s favorite to work on.
While completing a project for a client brings her a lot of joy, she also loves taking a top that someone completed maybe years before and bringing it to life with custom quilting. Helping other sewers complete projects or having someone bring her grandma’s quilt to finish provides Lamp a lot of satisfaction.
For Lamp, quilting isn’t necessarily about the sewing process, which she does enjoy, but it is a creative endeavor as well. She loves fabric in all its infinite varieties of color and texture. She loves the unlimited potential of combinations for fabric and design.
“Our quilt shop here in town is my happy place,” Lamp said. “On a really stressful day I can go down there and just browse through fabric and it helps me destress.”
Much as artist of other media are drawn to their creative process to fulfill something within them and express themselves, Lamp finds both the design and long-arm quilting fulfills that creative drive in her. She loves taking a quilt and adding those personal touches to really make it one of a kind.