A Desperate Mom, an Unexpected Passion

Precuts, Fat Quarters, Jelly Rolls, Roll Ups, and Fabrics and Long Arm Quilting Services by Lightning Bugs Quilt Studio, Logo copyrights Lightning Bugs Quilt Studio

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 kids. (Joking about free labor. The kids are real; getting them to work is an entirely different story.)

There have been many times in my life when I was traveling on what I thought was a certain, deliberate path, but found myself on an entirely different trajectory. It has always seemed to happen organically. Maybe I have a slight case of adult ADD, but I tend to believe those bait and switch moments are God’s hand in my life, scooting me toward goals 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. “He’ll grow out of it.” 

Months passed. He itched. He squirmed. He scratched. At one point, the backs of his legs looked closer to raw meat than a baby’s skin. I put socks on his soft, chubby, little hands and dressed him in footed onesies to keep him from ripping into his flesh. Contrary to the pediatrician’s nonchalant dismissal, it was agonizing to see my sweet baby so uncomfortable. So I tried a new pediatrician, then another, then a dermatologist, then an out of state allergy specialist… Every doctor we saw threw the latest and greatest prescription steroid creams 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. Maybe they were remedies for some people, but they didn’t bring my bug any relief, and many products made his skin worse.

Detergents, soaps, creams and food allergies caused severe flare ups. Relentless in my pursuit to help my baby, I restricted his diet and his environment; his food and everything that touched his skin had to be as close to nature as possible. I learned 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 a friend more than a decade before. I didn’t have a clue about presser feet, cotton thread versus polyester, knits versus wovens… 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, the clothes were abysmal. My poor kid—crooked seams, sleeves sewn in backwards, offset zippers… Eye-yih-yih! 

I pivoted again and hunted through clearance racks and online sales for organic cotton baby clothes. By then, the sewing bug was drilled in like a fat tick. I started sewing oven mitts, casserole carriers, dinner napkins, pillows. I’d found something I could get better at, something I could halfway control. I sewed everything that looked doable or had an online tutorial (a Godsend for us visual learners). Then I attempted a simple, cotton quilt. My opinion of quilts had always been “meh.” But once that quilt top started to look like more than a giant heap of sliced up fabric, a deep appreciation for quilts began to blossom, which came as a profound shock to my soul.

I spent countless days pinning and basting on a cold basement floor. I stuffed queen size quilts through a 9” domestic machine throat, by that time I’d hung up the old Kenmore for more bells and whistles (a Janome for all you brand seekers out there). After enough battle scars, and seeing that my new habit was growing toward addiction, and my awesome sauce Janome was getting beaten up, my husband surprised me with a long arm.

Now, I can pretty much sew anything from form fitting superhero costumes with cover stitched hems (so sharp!), to custom, outdoor seat cushions. My baby isn’t so little anymore (pan to sad face). The organic cotton clothes I once dressed him in were one piece of a big puzzle that slowly helped him get some relief. He did outgrow his eczema (praise our Heavenly Father!). But my oldest bug will forever have bragging rights as the reason Lightning Bugs Quilt Studio exists. I wasn’t looking for a new hobby. While I hunted for a way to help my baby bug, the world of quilting found me. It began of desperation. I watched a lot of YouTube. And I made a quilt. 

6 thoughts on “A Desperate Mom, an Unexpected Passion

  1. Lorie Robison says:

    Just wanted you to know I stopped by. I love the site….needed to book mark it while I was thinking about it. I dont know where you find the time or energy but you go. I will will stop by often.
    I am torn right now I have a quilt top for my youngest granddaughter ready to quilt. I really want to try to quilt myself but it so easy to send to you and know I will receive the quality I expect. : )

  2. Pat says:

    Are you only an online store or open to public for shopping in person for your fabrics? Will be in town today & looking for quilt shops! Thanks

  3. Theresa Cianciolo says:

    Hello Pat,

    At present, we are online only. However, we do invite our local clients to meet with us in person for our long arm quilting services.

    Hope this helps,

    Best regards,

    Theresa Cianciolo

  4. Judith says:

    Great story. I started out with a Kenmore too. Made my work clothes. Love that you bring God in your life and share God with others. He’s so marvelous and we need to keep sharing His words with others.

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