Helen Robinson and Jenny Pedigo
Sew Kind of Wonderful
Sister Act: Quilter’s Edition
See if you can solve this quilting equation: 51 recipe books + 64 pairs of shoes (and counting) + 7 sewing machines + numerous bolts of fabric + 100s of fat quarters + 5 kids + 2 adorable grandchildren + 1 very supportive husband = d
The only solution to this distinctive equation in quilter math is d = designer Helen Robinson, co-founder of Sew Kind of Wonderful with her sister, Jenny Pedigo. Helen and Jenny followed different routes toward their obsessions with quilting, but their paths eventually converged in an unexpected destination—a joint business venture.
Helen started sewing in 1973. Her first project was a pair of pale green polyester pants as a 4-H club project. Almost 25 years later, Helen started quilting and “fell in love with the process of design, fabric shopping, piecing and quilting.” She purchased a long-arm sewing machine and fell in love with quilting all over again because, Helen says, “I could put the finishing flourish on my piles and piles of quilt tops that were waiting for that last layer of love.”
When Jenny made her first quilt in 2002, she fell for the quilting process from start to finish. Married with six children, Jenny launched her own longarm quilting business in 2007 so she could work from her home in Everett, WA. Jenny’s ability to see the secondary designs that quilting stitches create provides the perfect complement to piecework. Now, her passion is playing with patterns and adding her own twist to design, color, and quilting.
Together, the Sew Kind of Wonderful duo creates contemporary quilts using their innovative Quick Curve Ruler. The ruler is Jenny’s brainchild, envisioned when she wanted an easier way to consistently cut curves that were easy to sew. Sew Kind of Wonderful sold the first Quick Curve Rulers and an accompanying pattern, “Urban Escape,” in 2011. They released their best-selling quilt pattern, “Metro Rings,” inspired by the traditional Double Wedding Ring design, in 2014. Since then, Helen and Jenny have designed and marketed more than 50 patterns that use the Quick Curve Ruler and/or the Mini Quick Curve Ruler. They have published three books with Landauer Publishing: Contemporary Curved Quilts, One Wonderful Curve and Mini Wonderful Curves. Another sister, Sherilyn Mortensen, has collaborated on their last two books and many single patterns. Their sales supply quilters worldwide.
Sew Kind of Wonderful patterns combine curved piecing with straight line piecing to add interest and variety to their designs. “We developed the Quick Curve Ruler to make cutting curves fast, easy and consistent,” Helen and Jenny explained. “Our Quick Curve Ruler techniques of ‘Cut—Sew—Square-Up’ allow for working with the bias, followed by the square-up step that ensures blocks are consistent for piecing the final product.”
As kids, did you ever imagine (or dream) of working together and opening your own company?
NO! we never imagined we would be able to work together, but our parents encouraged us to play a lot of make-believe. Playing ‘store’ and ‘house’ were frequently our choice for make-believe. Jenny is the youngest of six kids, so she was always the bonus child or extra person in the mix.
What makes your business so – or sew – wonderful?
The most wonderful part of the business is working with each other! We didn’t have to build a relationship and hope that it would work out. Instead, we could focus on building a fantastic quilting business that was about sewing curves and designing incredible patterns.
What’s it like working together as sisters?
We find it very rewarding and satisfying to work together as sisters. Our biggest challenges are managing our family responsibilities while still making time for play, work, and business. We also find that working together is very successful because, since we don’t live near each other, when we have real “face time,” it’s fun, rewarding, and exciting to actually work and play in person, rather than through the Internet and phone.
Where do you find inspiration?
We find inspiration everywhere for our designs. We especially love looking at the latest trends in home decor and fashion and following the trending color of the year or latest style. One of our latest designs is named “Sedona.” The inspiration for this pattern came from a rug that Jenny saw online. She was inspired to design a quilt that had similar themes and elements as the rug. And, of course, nature is always a great place to find inspiration Sometimes you don’t know you’re looking for something until you see it in nature. It can be color. It could be the shape of a flower. Nature stimulates so many other ideas that lead to a new pattern, a new design, or a new technique.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of our work is collaborating with quilters and seeing their excitement and joy as they sew curves and enjoy the process of putting our designs together. We also love to see our designs randomly show up on social media and at quilt shows we attend.
How do your tools, books, and patterns benefit shop owners?
We use the slogan, “one ruler, multiple patterns, endless possibilities.” We feel like this is very reflective of our approach to designing quilts and using our tools. We hope quilters will use their Quick Curve Ruler and QCR Mini Ruler and feel comfortable with the sewing techniques we promote. Then, when they see another Sew Kind of Wonderful pattern, they are excited to make it because they already own the tool and know how to use it. We will continue to develop new designs that use both of our rulers, tools which we see as an investment in ongoing creativity.