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Behind the Scenes with Maddie Kertay

Here at the BOMQ we love taking a peek behind the curtain and seeing what other machine quilters are up to! Today’s behind the scenes interview is with Maddie Kertay, longarm quilter and force behind the Badass Quilter’s Society (BAQS). Maddie has graciously let us pick her brain about her quilting business.

maddie with glasses

BOMQ: Hi, thanks for joining us Maddie. Tell us all a little about yourself?

MK: I have been quilting for about 4 years as of this Spring.  I have sewn since I was quite young and had made the occasional baby quilt but did not consider myself a quilter.. more of a crafter/sewist.  On an off chance I saw a blog post by Tall Grass Prairie that sucked me down the rabbit hole that is  progressive quilting. I made my first “ real” quilt soon after. An oversized king wonky log cabin. I pieced and quilted that monster all by myself on my Bernina 830.. even going so far as to teach myself free motion quilting to get the look that I wanted for the quilt.  It came out great but I was all but crippled from having used the world’s worst posture while doing it. I quickly decided that if I was going to keep this up a longarm was the next step for me. So not even a week past my first quilt I bought a Handi Quilter Avante 18 and have been in love ever since.


 BOMQ: When and how did you decide to start quilting for other people?

MK:  In order to get fast experience I offered to quilt for people for near free or for donation to a run my husband was doing to raise money for Breast cancer research. I made NO promises but overall it worked out ok and everyone seemed to be pleased. I then took some time to just play for myself while occasionally taking in other quilts to do.. I quickly learned that doing an allover Panto bored me to tears but time past that was not affordable to most people.. this was a nasty sticking point. Luckily I had bought my machine for myself and not to make money.. I owned it free and clear and was not feeling the pressure that so many feel to make my machine make its own payments. I think this is a mistake that a lot of people make and I do my best to not lead people down some rosey quilting path about what it takes to quilt for a living. My personal style is what one might call “ Thread heavy”… I am very drawn to working ornate dense patterns into negative space.  


 BOMQ: What is one thing that you would tell someone that is thinking about starting a machine quilting business?

 MK: Quilting is VERY hard on the body.. the arms, the neck, the legs. To make it work for you, you need to be in front of that machine 8 hours a day..  are you ready for that?

 BOMQ: I know that you have a busy personal life, how do you balance your work and home responsibilities?

 MK:  LOL!!!!   Balance?.. not so much!  I actually am not doing a lot of quilting right now besides very special projects for selected fabric designers and for a couple of books coming out in late 2014 and early 2015. Since opening a fabric store and running the BadAss Quilters Society my time in front of the machine is short but when I do get there I really do love it so! I have a book I am dreaming of but when the heck I could make that happen I don’t know!

 BOMQ: Do you have a favorite organization tip or trick that you would like to share?

MK: Don’t go hog wild buying thread at first.. take some time to figure out  what you and your machine both like. Sadly I did go hog wild and now have a bunch of thread collecting dust  since  after that point I did find the thread of my dreams and the other sits untouched.

 BOMQ: Besides raising a family and running a machine quilting business, you have also formed the Badass Quilter’s Society…..can you tell us a little more about it?

MK: Currently the BAQS has 5700+ fans on FB as we head into our second year of supporting all things quilty. BAQS was born after I lost the chance at a gig with a quilting industry company because I would not “ tone it down”  so I would have appeal to the “ average quilter”.. anyone who knows me knows that is NOT going to happen and I did not think it should have to happen. Quilters come in all shapes, sizes, styles and levels of Badass. Sure there are those who get the vapors from anything the least bit scandalous, and they deserve to quilt in their safe little place. But there are a whole hell of a lot of quilters who are amazing people living their lives out loud. One of my very first profiles on BAQS was Karen McTavish who is about as BadAss as it gets  and yet also an amazing quilter. BAQS is about not pegging people as just one type of quilter.. letting them quilt as the choose  and none of that ugly stuff that can so often happen when we talk about the different styles of quilting. ALL quilts are valid expressions of this art form and BAQS is there to support all of them while letting each person express their art in their own way

quilting 3

Thanks so much to Maddie for sharing her experiences with us. What about you? Do have an organization tip or trick that you would like to share???

5 Comments on Behind the Scenes with Maddie Kertay

  1. Liz Bonner // April 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm // Reply

    Awesome interview! Thanks for the “permission” to continue to quilt as desired!!!

  2. I am a devoted fan of Fil-Tec threads…. Glide in particular~

  3. I’m so glad you stuck to your guns about your custom quilting – it’s gorgeous! It is also a sticky wicket – people want you to quilt like that, but they don’t want to pay for it. In my area, I’d charge approx 7 to 9 cents for that kind of work.

  4. Would Maddie share what the “thread of her dreams” is? I enjoy this series! Thanks for writing it!

  5. What a great ‘talk’!

I love comments!