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Getting to Know Meissner Sewing: Jenny Lyon

Emily Achondo

Jenny LyonWhen it comes to being fearless, Jenny Lyon doesn’t just talk about it.

She has lived in six different states, including Illinois, Colorado, Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina, and now California.

She’s hitchhiked by herself.

She enters her quilting projects into national competitions.

And she frequently stands on a stage in front of a crowd of people to share her passion.

To add on to her already robust resume, Lyon boasts an expansive list of fearless free-motion quilting accomplishments.

But let’s get to know Jenny Lyon by starting from the beginning.

Lyon was born and raised in Ottawa, Illinois, and she credits her history in almost all of the needle arts to the fact that she grew up in a small, farm town in the Midwest.

“I came from a family where we didn’t have much money, so we did need to make our own clothes,” she said. “So my mom was pretty much like you need to learn to sew because eventually you’ll be sewing your own clothes.”

Neither her mother nor her grandmother were quilters, though, she said, and she didn’t begin really quilting until the 1980's when the craft was regaining popularity.

Lyon purchased her first BERNINA machine while she was still in college after she inherited $900 from an aunt who died, she said. Since then, she hasn’t turned to any other brand of machine.

“Then for the next 3 machines, every time I was open to another brand and I go look at the other brands, and it was just a no brainer,” she said. “I just always wanted a BERNINA when it came down to what I wanted for my machine.”

Lyon took up quilting when she was living in Houston, Texas, where she took a beginner sampler quilting class, and she was tasked with hand quilting, which was the popular method at that time. But after that, fifteen years would pass before her hands would craft together another quilt.

Jenny Lyon, instructor at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Center titled her website and blog QuiltSkipper.com. While working on what she has deemed her "breakthrough quilt," Lyon would skip through her house with excitement, which serves as the inspiration for the website name. Jenny Lyon, instructor at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Center titled her website and blog QuiltSkipper.com. While working on what she has deemed her "breakthrough quilt," Lyon would skip through her house with excitement, which serves as the inspiration for the website name.

She reentered the quilting world after moving to California in 1999, when her husband’s job would force her family to relocate for what was only supposed to be two years, she said.

“I just really wanted to get back into quilting, so I took a class, and that just launched me,” Lyon said. “I just couldn’t stop, so I’ve been quilting ever since.”

Since then, Lyon has been practically unstoppable, and a few of her proudest moments as a quilter include when she was awarded “Best of Show” by the Folsom Quilt and Fiber Guild, which is her local quilt guild, and when she was awarded second runner-up “Best of Show” at the Pacific International Quilt Festival.

Lyon finds inspiration for her projects mostly from two places, she said. She works to insert nature, more specifically the movement of the drought-tolerant grasses in her yard, and memories into her quilting creations.

She also fearlessly shares her passion in the classroom. Lyon has been instructing at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Centers for the past nine years, where she shares the philosophy that “you make your own quilting world.”

"Even if your life is difficult, out of control or whatever, when you sit at your sewing machine, you’re in control,” she said. “It’s your world. You create your own quilting world.”

JLyonShe shares her fearlessness with her students because she says “I absolutely, positively know they can free-motion quilt if they want to.”

“They don’t realize that all they need to do is get over the hump, and then, once they get over the hump, then they’re going to figure out their way to whatever they want to get to,” she said.  “They just have to be fearless to get there.”

Lyon was at the Meissner’s Sacramento Store Monday as a celebrity guest for the International Quilt Market Event Series, where she, along with HP Ueltschi and Judy Hahner, discussed new techniques and trends that are emerging in the quilting world.

In addition to the classes that she regularly teaches at both the Sacramento and Folsom stores (Intro to Fearless Free-Motion Quilting and Fearless Free-Motion Fills & Frills), we can look forward to seeing more from Jenny Lyon in the near future.

In Jenny Lyon's Intro to Fearless Free Motion Quilting class, students learn in a supportive environment in order to take new skills home to practice. In Jenny Lyon's Intro to Fearless Free Motion Quilting class, students learn in a supportive environment in order to take new skills home to practice.

For starters, Lyon will be one of 12 instructors leading workshops at the 2nd Annual Craft Napa. She will be teaching her Intro to Fearless Free Motion Quilting class at the retreat that will take place January 12-15, 2017, at the Embassy Suites Napa hotel. Also as part of the retreat, Meissner’s will be providing BERNINA machines to be used for the workshops.

Lyon was an instructor at the first Craft Napa event in early 2016, and she is returning to the coming retreat with excitement.

“It’s like no other retreat that I’ve been too,” she said. “It’s different. It’s smaller. It’s more intimate. This one is just fun.”

More excitement is coming Lyon’s way as she recently got one of her quilts entered into the “Quilts=Arts=Quilts” exhibit at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, New York. The exhibit will run from October 29, 2016 through January 8, 2017.

“I’m really, really proud and excited to have my work there,” Lyon said. “That’s a big venue.”

Lyon also looks to potentially publish a book and take her lectures further by traveling internationally. She is currently working to enter more art exhibits as they are generally more difficult to get into than quilt shows, she said.

And of course, we can also fearlessly look forward to the surprise of “new work to be determined.”

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