Freelance sewing and quilting skills allow freedom for local woman.
Vibrant lime, purple, black, and white colors define the visual appeal of Jane Bromberg’s current project. The quilt’s bold aesthetic hardly resembles the traditional patterned quilts stereotypically associated with doting grandmothers in rocking chairs and hand-me-down keepsakes.
This quilt features an abstract tree pattern that Bromberg replicated in four large blocks or quadrants. Bromberg used positive and negative space with cutouts and outlines of the tree represented in black-and-white print fabric against the lime-colored background. Once complete, the final work could be displayed as wall art or draped across a bed for comfort.
“It’s known as a modern quilt,” says Bromberg. “Modern quilts use bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid colors.”
Bromberg designs and makes modern quilts, traditional quilts, and memory quilts for herself as well as custom orders for clients. She also crafts quilts as “memory pieces” from her travels that incorporate beading, sewing, and quilting techniques. One such quilt depicts a southwestern landscape Bromberg saw during a ride on the Grand Canyon Railroad.
Quilting has evolved from traditional quilting parties, where women still gather to socialize and produce hand-stitched pieces with patterned fabrics. Some creative quilters veer into the realm of art quilts with picture-based designs that tell a story. Bromberg steers toward creative and conventional forms of the craft.
Bromberg learned how to sew at the age of eight from her mother. Over her lifetime, working with textiles and fabrics has become both a source of income and outlet for creativity.
“I have two sons that are 28- and 31-years-old,” says Bromberg. “When they were small, I was a stay-at-home mom. I supplemented the family income by working as a dressmaker at home. I had a flexible schedule for baseball games, carpools, and swim meets. Using my sewing skills allowed me to have the flexibility to raise my children and be supportive financially.”
At one point, Bromberg provided care for her parents while her kids were in elementary school. The flexibility in her work-life balance was important to accommodate familial needs.
In addition to dressmaking, Bromberg began doing bridal alterations at several bridal stores in the area.
Eventually, Bromberg purchased an Avanté Handi Quilter HQ 18 longarm quilting machine. This $15,000 quilting machine enables Bromberg to work on large-scale projects and produce more work. The machine dominates her design studio located on the second floor of her Kansas City North home. Bromberg also has designated stations for sewing, storage, cutting, and a pressing table to work on fabrics.
“A lot of quilting machines now have computerized guides,” says Bromberg. “I do hand-guided quilting also known as free motion quilting.”
Some clients bring quilt tops, or the top layer, that they started to Bromberg for finishing. She said, “They bring me the top, batting, and backing. I stitch it together.”
Bromberg charges three cents per inch which can equate $350 for the quilting work involved on a king-sized quilt.
Other quilts are commissioned. Memory quilts are custom pieces created to honor someone that has died. The client brings clothing and fabric associated with the loved one. That fabric can be cut into pieces and arranged into a design that is assembled, quilted, and finished over several weeks.
“Currently, I have a waiting list of two months,” says Bromberg of her backlogged projects.
Bromberg consults with each client to understand the goal of the custom piece. They discuss the design and review the cost of the fabric and quilt work. This custom “hand work,” a craft that requires time and skill, is not inexpensive, but the final results produce a lifetime of reward.
Throughout Bromberg’s home, quilts are displayed on beds, racks in her living room, and on walls as fabric-based art.
“Whether it is decorative or utilitarian, I work with the same design principles,” says Bromberg.
Decisions about color, shape, texture, composition, structure and levels of detail ranging from ornate to rustic factor into the process and final work. Bromberg’s lime-and-purple quilt has been a work in progress for two years. She’s in no rush to complete the final panel simply to get it done. The artistic and technical details will emerge in time.
Meanwhile, Bromberg has ample work from clients awaiting her attention. There’s not an idle moment to spare in a rocking chair. The longarm quilting machine is ready for Bromberg to bind together stitches, fabrics, and ideas into a quilt that will inspire stories for years to come.
See more of Bromberg’s work at CustomQuiltingKC.wordpress.com.