Howarth uses technology to craft quilts

Stephanie Howarth hadn’t sewn for more than a decade before she and her husband moved to Redmond in 2015.

The northern California Bay Area native moved with her husband after he got a job in the area, and when she left hers, Howarth said she learned her new neighbors were having a baby.

She decided to pick up a sewing machine again and figure out how to piece together some quilts.

“I guess I pick things up pretty quickly, especially on the computer,” she said.

In her workshop at her home outside of Redmond, she was reconstructing a quilt design she had designed. While the other one was in blue, the one she was making this time used a red and orange color palate with butterfly graphics.

Howarth cuts her pieces from fabric she selects, arranges them and binds them together before taking them to her new long arm machine.

The long arm machine is a computer-run sewing machine where the sewing apparatus moves while the quilt remains stationary.

In quilting, there are two main camps, with one focusing on traditional pastel color palates and patterns, and a modern camp using varying colors and shapes.

“I use really bright colors,” Howarth said. “I don’t think that pink and brown belong on a baby quilt.”

All her pieces incorporate a minky back, a soft and warm material to increase comfort.

Howarth said she used to be a tech-industry program manager, but this is her first time striking out on her own as an entrepreneur.

Despite that, she said there are many crossover skills between her previous profession and her current endeavor.

“It has to be pretty exact, but it has a start and end like running a program,” she said.

She’s also self-taught, learning how to use her machines and how to design and arrange patterns largely from the internet.

So far, she’s made around 50 quilts, and she plans to “just keep sewing.”

Her move to the Pacific Northwest also has an added bonus.

Howarth said her favorite material store, Over the Rainbow, is located on Camano Island, and she makes trips up to the shop to pick up new material.

While most of her business is done on her Etsy store, one of her favorite parts about crafting quilts is seeing the look on people’s faces when they pick them up in person.

As for the future, Howarth, who has multiple sclerosis, said she plans on sticking to creating more quilts and that the job provides a much lower stress level than working for tech companies.

“I really do like to do it,” she said.

To see her creations, visit her Etsy store at StephStudios.