We’re a small, “Made in the USA” mom and pop shop in Central New York. The entire business is me, my husband, Mark, and our free labor children. (Kidding about free labor. The kids are real; getting them to work is an entirely different story.)
There have been many times in my life where I was traveling on what I thought was certain, deliberate path, but found myself on an entirely different trajectory. It seems to happen organically. Maybe it’s a slight case of adult ADD, but I tend to believe it’s God’s hand in my life, scooting me toward goal far greater than my own.
When my oldest son was just weeks old, he broke out in a rash that covered his body.
“Eczema,” his pediatrician snapped. No big deal. “He’ll grow out of it.”
Months passed. He itched. He squirmed. He scratched. At one point, the backs of his legs looked like raw meat. I put socks on his soft, chubby, tiny hands and dressed him in footed onesies to keep him from ripping into his skin. Contrary to the pediatrician’s non chalant dismissal, it was agonizing to see my sweet baby so uncomfortable. So I tried a new pediatrician, then a new one, then a dermatologist, then an out of state allergy specialist. Every one of them threw the latest and greatest prescription steroid creams our way at us. I was desperate for better answers. I worried. I researched. I hunted. I bought so many over the counter remedies I could have started a mini pharmacy specializing in eczema remedies. Relief for some people perhaps, but not my little bug.
Detergents, soaps, creams and food allergies caused severe flare ups. Relentless in my pursuit to help my child, I restricted his diet and his environment, and everything that touched his skin had to be as close to nature as possible. I read that some international manufacturers used chemicals in their fabrics, so I bought organic cotton clothes and washed them with simple, fragrance free detergents.
It was emotionally draining—the countless trials of this soap, that new cream, this brand of clothes… And it was expensive! Then I saw a dusty Kenmore sewing machine on our basement shelf. I’d forgotten all about that old thing. It had been a gift from an old friend more than a decade before. I didn’t have a clue about presser feet, cotton thread versus polyester, knits versus cotton… and I sure as fire couldn’t read a pattern!
I bought a couple yards of organic fabric and set out to make baby clothes. From the confessions of a desperate mommy who still can’t read a pattern to save her soul, the clothes were abysmal. My poor kid—his seams were crooked, sleeves sewn in backwards, offset zippers… Eye-yih-yih!
I pivoted again and hunted through clearance racks and on online sales for organic cotton baby clothes, but by then, the sewing bug was drilled in like a fat tick. I began sewing oven mitts, casserole carriers, dinner napkins, pillows, … I YouTube’d my way to happy land and sewed everything that looked doable and had an online tutorial–a Godsend for this visual learner. Then I attempted a simple, cotton quilt. An appreciation and deep admiration for quilts began to blossom, which came as a profound shock to my soul. My opinion of quilts had always been “meh.” Today, they are a borderline obsession.
I spent countless days pinning and basting on my hands and knees on a cold basement floor. I stuffed queen size quilts through a 9” domestic machine throat. After enough battle scars, and seeing that my new habit was growing toward addiction, I moved on to a long arm. Now I get to long arm quilts for clients on my Gammill Statler Stitcher.
I can pretty much sew anything now. from form fitting superhero costumes with cover stitched hems (man are they sharp looking!), to custom outdoor seat cushions and awnings. My baby isn’t so little anymore; the organic cotton clothes I once dressed him in were one piece of a big puzzle that slowly helped him get some relief. And he did, indeed, outgrow his eczema (praise the LORD!). But my oldest Lightning Bug will forever have bragging rights to how Lightning Bugs Quilt Studio began. I wasn’t looking for a new hobby. But while I was searching for help, the world of quilting found me and brought a slice of peace. It started out of desperation–this mama’s need to do anything within my power to help my child. I watched a lot of YouTube. And I made a quilt.