‘Timeless’ Show Features Local Quilter

news_griffith-featured500Susan Griffith of Brick House Quilting will be the featured quilter at the 2013 Chewelah Quilt Show themed: “Timeless.”

In addition to making personal quilts including designing some of her own patterns, Susan operates a business out of her home for freehand machine quilting. She uses a long arm machine to put together the front and back of quilts with decorative stitching.

Susan said she has always loved sewing, and although she started sewing her dolls’ clothes when she was 10 years old and has a two year degree in Apparel Design, did not start making quilts until sometime after she moved to Chewelah in the 1990s.

“I loved quilts, but I always thought I could never make them,” Susan said. “They take too long, clothes are quick.”

But with her three kids in school, moving to Chewelah allowed her more time and patience and now that is all the sewing she does.

“It’s addictive, once I started quilting I very rarely make anything else,” she said.

Then Susan was encouraged by her mother and sister to purchase a long arm quilting machine and make a business quilting for others. So with support from her husband Gerald, who had faith that it was a good investment, Susan purchased the Gammill long arm and Brick House Quilting was formed in 2004.

Susan soon learned she had a talent for freehand design.

“Freehand takes practice…but I caught on pretty quick,” Susan said.

However, she said the hardest thing about quilting for others is wanting to make it look good for the customer even if they do not offer any criteria for what they like.

“They trust you. It’s kind of scary because people have different tastes,” Susan said. “What I like might not be what everyone else likes.”

She said a rewarding part of the job is being able to make quilts look better than the clients expect because quilting completely changes its appearance and it is fun to work with so many different quilts that she has not come up with on her own.

Susan’s own quilting style is “all over the place,” she said as she likes traditional fabrics but bright fabrics and modern patterns as well.

Susan is a member of the Chewelah Quilters and Wannabees group that meets for lunch once a month and also belongs to the Inland Northwest Machine Quilters (INMQ) Guild, which offers lessons regularly on different quilting techniques.

She also enjoys teaching and has taught local quilting classes in the past using patterns she designed herself with a home computer program.

Since starting her business, Susan said the majority of her own quilts are put together during a five day retreat in September where they quilt from morning until night and she gets 4 or 5 projects done at that time. She averages about 10 quilts a year. One large quilt she made as a wedding gift for her son won first place in the Spokane Quilt Show in its size category in 2011, which she said was very surprising as it is a large show and awards are based on popular vote.

Susan and Gerald Griffith live in the former brick Chewelah library building, from which her business name originates. Although the interior has been completely renovated and a second floor added on, the main floor is original exterior down to the Chewelah Library sign over the front door and is still mistaken as a library by visitors, especially during Chataqua, Susan said.

The Griffiths purchased the property in 1994 looking for something outside of Spokane however the library turned community gym had a lot to be desired and they worked on it during weekends for two years and “it’s still not done,” Susan said.

Coming from a family who moved around a lot, she said she never lived in one place more than three years while growing up and appreciates being able to call Chewelah home although she said “I never thought I would like to live in a small town” but now could not imagine living anywhere else.

“I love that you know everyone and everyone knows you,” she said. “People are so friendly.”

Along with quilting, Susan helps manage the bookkeeping for her husband’s business as a Matco Tool Distributor in Spokane.

Susan said she was honored to be selected as the Featured Quilter for the Chewelah Quilt Show and will have a booth of her own quilts at the show to show off. She will also be demonstrating wool appliqué throughout the weekend.

The Chewelah Quilt Show is May 25-26 at Jenkins High School and is organized by the Chewelah Arts Guild.

Quilts from the 2012 show will be featured in the annual quilt walk starting two weeks before the show where different quilts will be hung at local business around Chewelah. One of Susan’s quilts will be featured as part of the walk as well.

By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff

In This Photo:  Susan Griffith quilts a customer quilt with her long arm machine. Kellie Trudeau photo