SME Neva Newby of Magnolia Lofte Quilting and Design speaks to her experience as an expert in her field, and as an entrepreneur. If you are not familiar with long arm quilting, please take a look at this demonstration video by Karen McTavish (a beloved SME in the industry, and friend) on a bit more about the process and the equipment. Magnolia Lofte’s Long arm utilizes a computerized system that directs the long arm (see images below). This video shows the manual process. Both techniques are highly respected in the industry. Both the manual and computer driven graphics can be performed on the long arm machine that Magnolia Lofte Quilting and Design uses (See images below for a bit more on the equipment and products from Magnolia Lofte.)
What part of long arm quilting inspires you the most?
I love the variety of colors and fabrics. It’s always amazing to see different people take the same pattern and, because of their choice of fabric, achieve totally different results.
What inspires you to create the beautiful work that you do?
I first look at the fabric colors to choose a thread, then I look at the design of the quilt. Sometimes I will look at it for a day or two – letting it inspire the right design for me to stitch onto it.
What do you enjoy most about working with your long arm machine?
The ability it gives me to produce beautifully quilted pieces for my customers.
What is the best advice you can give a quilter who wants to submit a quilt to a long arm company like yours?
Trim all loose threads from the back and front. Threads left on the back can sometimes show through lighter colored fabric and distract from the finished piece.
What is one of the most interesting quilts you have ever worked on, or favorite quilts you have ever built personally?
I like to quilt T-shirt quilts. They are not the most intricate quilts but as I am quilting I have an opportunity to see into the life of the owner of the T-shirts. The most memorable one was a memory quilt for a soldier who was killed in action. It was an accumulation of his personal and military t-shirts. It was an honor to quilt this one for his family.
What inspired you to open Magnolia Lofte Quilting?
I was making quilts and wanted the ability to quilt them and since the equipment I wanted was expensive I decided to open my business to help pay for it.
What do you think is the best way for quilters to gain inspiration?
Looking at other quilters work will provide ideas. Even if you do not like everything about a particular quilt, there may be one thing that you can take away to incorporate or expound upon within your own work.
What was your favorite experience as owner of Magnolia Lofte Quilting?
My favorite was also the most challenging. A customer brought me pieces of quilts that had been pieced by her great Aunt. None of it went together. It was a huge puzzle but a challenge that I loved. When I finished it – she loved it – and that was worth it all.
I understand you hold yourself to a very high standard, when it comes to the projects you complete, what inspires you to do this level of work every time?
I do work the way I would want it done for myself. I don’t ever cut corners for customer quilts.
Do you have a favorite quilt pattern that you like to work with?
No, I love the variety.
Any recommendations to other quilters out there that may want to purchase a long arm and do what you do?
It is a very rewarding business but it is also a very challenging one. You pretty much have to teach yourself and be your own mechanic when it comes to the machine. It helps a lot to be part of professional organization where you share ideas and knowledge, but in the end, it is all up to you.
A warm thank you to Neva for taking the time to provide this interview. We greatly appreciate your time.