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Getting to Know Meissner Sewing: Shashari Kiburi

Sara Curtis
Shashari Kiburi is a quilting instructor at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Center. “’I’ll be leaving the Safeway parking lot and I’ll see how the textures change on the trunk of a palm tree, and I’ll be like ‘that is the coolest texture’ or ‘that pattern would make an awesome quilt’,” Kiburi said of finding what inspires her quilting creations.

By Emily Achondo

For Shashari Kiburi, the path to quilting wasn’t a straight stitch.

In fact, her path to Sacramento wasn’t even a direct one.

She is from Marin and was born into a family of sewers, so it was likely that she would have a needle and thread in her hand at some point.

But her interest in quilting? Well, that didn’t come inherent to her.

“I grew up in a sewing household, but I never sewed anything myself because my mom said everything had to be straight,” Kiburi said. “But I was always kind of around it.”

It wasn’t until she gave birth to her fourth child that she found an interest in quilting. And even then she says she found quilting through the “back door.”

Kiburi attended University of California, Berkeley for her undergraduate studies, where she received a degree in Anthropology.  She and her family moved to Monterey around 10 years ago and then settled in Sacramento in 2014.

Most of her work in the beginning was in photography, more specifically in music photography and documenting, Kiburi said. She worked in magazines, as well, but once she became a mother, time didn’t allow for her to work nights and weekends and be a mom, she said.

And then, of course, her route took a turn toward the quilting world.

“What kind of got me into (quilting) was I was looking for ways to print my photos onto fabric,” she said. “Then at that point I just started looking at different quilting patterns, and I just started getting obsessed.”

Now, she’s working to determine the connection between her background in fine arts and her quilting style.

“I bring more of a fine art component to (quilting),” Kiburi said. “So right now I’m just kind of figuring out what my path is between quilting and fine art, and it’s just been really fun.”

In doing so, Kiburi has discovered unique ways to construct her quilts. One way she does this is by dying her own fabrics, and she has recently been working with indigo dying.

“I guess, for me, I see every quilt as a painting,” she said. “So when I’m dying fabric, it’s just kind of part of making that composition very original, and that’s really what got me excited about it.”

Kiburi will use obscure items to create her dyed fabrics. “There are so many different tools you can use,” she said. I’ll go have my kids gather rocks in the back yard, and then they’ll help me prep all the fabric.”


In addition to working on her own quilts, Kiburi also shares her passion for quilting with her students in the classroom at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Center.

Her experience as a teacher actually started after graduating from Berkeley when she took a multimedia education course, she said, and she discovered a profound interest in education.

“I just fell in love with the experience,” she said. “I’ve taught so many different art forms and so many different groups of people between the Monterey area all the way into Sacramento, and I think for me it’s just helping people find a way to make their own lives better.”

After listening to feedback and in order to guide her students in finding their own unique voice in quilting, Kiburi will be teaching an introduction to free-motion quilting class, she said.

“It’s just a combination of helping quilters find their own creative voice and then also how to pick up specific skills that will help them do that,” Kiburi said. “I think that once you learn how easy some of these different techniques are, then you can just take off with your work.”

Img3 “For me it’s helping quilter walk away with something new and something that they can actually use for their work,” Kiburi said of what she enjoys most about teaching.

Where her path will take her next is in a few different directions. Kiburi would like to perfect her free-motion quilting, design her own fabrics and continue teaching she said.

And eventually, Kiburi’s path will bring her back to where she started: printing her photos on fabrics.


To learn more about Shashari and her classes offered at Meissner Sewing, click here:

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