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Angie Wieck, Published March 09 2014

It's My Job: Fabric fanatic: Woman turns passion for quilting into a career

FARGO – Claudia Voorhees is a self-proclaimed fabric addict.

The clerk and sewing instructor at Rae-Bon Quilt and Sewing Center describes attending her first International Quilt Market, a trade show for quilt store owners and employees, as crossing an item off her bucket list.

In honor of National Quilting Month, Voorhees shared some knowledge about the hobby she turned into a profession four years ago.

What do you do at Rae-Bon?

I help customers pick out fabric and patterns. I sell fabric and notions, which are your rulers, thread, pins, needles and things like that. I do a lot of the ordering of notions, patterns and books. I get to help the shop owner pick out the fabric. Oh, I like that. I also teach classes.

What kind of classes do you teach?

I teach youth sewing. It’s so fun to see them get the bug to sew. This month I will also be teaching Wistful, a class using a jelly roll, which is a selection of fabric cut into 2½-inch strips and wound together.

We also offer beginning quilting and beginning sewing classes.

We sell sewing machines, so we give new-owner classes as well.

What is an example of a beginner project?

A table runner or a small table topper. Maybe a simply pieced baby quilt. Wall quilts are also a nice small project.

Today, shops are involved in much more than quilting. You’re seeing quilt shops getting back into clothing, bags and purses.

How did you learn to quilt?

My grandmothers both quilted, so I always thought I wanted to quilt someday. When I was little, I thought you had to be old to make quilts, but that’s not true. I probably started sewing when I was in about fourth grade and in 4-H. I think it was about 1981 when I made my first quilt.

Are you a member of any quilting clubs?

The Quilters Guild of North Dakota is a large organization that meets once a month in Fargo. I’ve been a guild member for many years and belong to some other small groups. You just kind of get your friends together and do different things. A girlfriend of mine from Bismarck and I usually get together several times a year and spend a few days sewing. We go to the lake and sew.

I’m also a member of an online quilting guild. We made quilts a few years ago for victims of the Greensburg (Kan.) tornado. I collected 25 quilts for that.

Do you sell a lot of sewing machines here?

Oh, yes. Now you want the embroidery machine and a sewing machine. Then you want a traveling sewing machine. You also need a serger for clothing. I have six different machines that I use.

Do you see many young quilters?

More and more since the modern quilt movement. Quilting really started with the bicentennial in 1976 and grew from there. Quilting is alive and well. … I think everybody needs a hobby they’re passionate about.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501