Welcome, quilting friend and applique lovers! Today, we have a special guest on Sewing and Slippers with Sue. Join us as we dive into the world of appliqué quilting with the incredibly talented Robin Kohler. Robin and I first crossed paths at Quiltville, where we bonded over late-night stitching sessions and our friendship blossomed. Now, as quilt buddies and quilting professionals, we share a passion for all things quilting, especially Applique Quilts. Let’s get to know Robin, her journey into the world of appliqué, and how she turned her hobby into a thriving business. So, grab your favorite quilt and a cuppa jo, get cozy, and let’s dive in!
It was so wonderful to connect with Robin Kohler again! It has been a few months since those late-night stitching sessions at Quiltville. I knew Robin would be the perfect guest for Sewing in Slippers” because we have so much in common! Let me highlight some of our conversation, just in case you don’t have time to watch the whole interview HERE: Sewing in Slippers with Sue, Special Guest Robin Koehler
Robin Kohler’s journey from quilting skeptic to appliqué extraordinaire is truly inspiring. Her passion for quilting, combined with her dedication to the art of appliqué and quilt appraisal, has transformed her hobby into a thriving business. Through her story, Robin reminds us of the importance of finding our tribe, embracing unexpected opportunities, and cherishing the artistry and history behind every quilt.
Sue: Welcome to Sewing in Slippers with Sue! Robin, let’s talk about your love for appliqué quilting. How did it all begin?
Robin: You know, Sue, when I first started stitching, I had no interest in appliqué. In fact, I thought those who loved it were a little crazy. It didn’t click for me until a few years later when I was watching an appliqué show hosted by Alex Anderson. Suddenly, it all made sense to me. As someone who had always been doodling and creating beautiful flowers in my artwork, I realized I could translate my doodles into fabric. From that moment on, I was hooked!
Sue: That’s fascinating, Robin. Sometimes, it just takes that one “aha” moment for everything to fall into place. So, when did you officially start quilting?
Robin: Well, it all began when we were stationed in Puerto Rico as a military family. Another Coast Guard spouse, who happened to be a quilter, invited a few of us to her house to learn quilting. We made a sampler quilt together, and that’s when I took my first steps into the world of quilting. We would meet once a week, enjoy chocolate cake and rum punch, and learn the craft. It was a fantastic experience.
Sue: What a wonderful way to start your quilting journey, Robin. What a gift that quilter gave you! And thank you for your service as a military family. How many different places have you lived?
Robin: Oh, it’s hard to keep track, Sue. Being a military child myself, joining the military, and then following my spouse, I’ve lived in numerous places. I’ve lost count, to be honest. Although I’ve moved around quite a bit, most of my experiences have been within the United States.
Sue: It must have been quite an adventure, exploring different places. So, out of all the places you’ve lived, which one stands out the most in your mind?
Robin: You know, Sue, each place has its own unique charm and challenges. But if I had to pick one, I would say Puerto Rico stands out as our favorite. Surprisingly, it was the place we were most hesitant about going to. However, once we settled in, met the locals, and embraced the culture, it turned into one of the best experiences we’ve had. We had an amazing time there.
Sue: That’s incredible, Robin. Sometimes, the unexpected places become the most memorable ones. Where are you living now?
Robin: Well, Our last assignment with the Coast Guard was in Clearwater Florida. I had joined guilds before but we moved to this area I was researching guilds and there were a couple of guilds down here that were nothing but handwork. I found that really intriguing because I had not seen that before. I joined a tiny little group of 25 quilters and we all love hand applique and hand quilting. They’re just a really neat bunch of ladies! I recommend that every quilter spend time finding your tribe, your people that love the same things that you do.
Connect with like-minded quilters, either through local guilds or online communities. Surrounding yourself with people who share your passion will not only provide support and inspiration but also open doors to new opportunities
Sue: That is great advice Robin! Quilting can be isolating, so it is very important for my mental health to quilt with other people! I love the name of this pattern, Well Loved Ladies! That speaks to this applique pattern as much as to your quilting friends! Now, let’s talk about your transition from quilting enthusiast to a quilt designer and appraiser. How did that come about?
Robin: I’ve always had a creative side and dreamed of starting my own business. Initially, I wanted to create handmade cards and stationery. However, with our frequent moves, it became difficult to establish a stationary business. But then, the internet came along, and I realized that quilting was a portable and accessible way to turn my hobby into a business. When I realized I could turn my doodles into quilts, I started making those quilts into patterns, like the ones I have ready to show you!
Along the way, I found a mentor who guided me through the process of becoming a certified quilt appraiser. I followed her for two and a half years every time she was doing local shows there I was at the show with her being her helper and just absorbing everything she said, I took the class at the Paducah Quilt show. There’s a three-day class offered through the American Quilters Society. Taking that class allows you to get a feel for what it is to be an appraiser, and lets you decide whether you’d be interested or not. So I took the class and knew I was “ALL IN”. I had already spent all this time with my mentor, so the next step was to take the oral and written test. I was certified in 2019. It’s opened up a whole new world of quilting history and business opportunities for me.
Sue: That’s fantastic, Robin! It’s amazing how life leads us down unexpected paths that turn out to be even better than we imagined. Now, as a quilt appraiser, what do you find most interesting about your work?
Robin: The best part of being a quilt appraiser is getting to see the incredible quilts people create. It’s like opening a treasure chest every time I appraise a quilt. I get to examine the stitching, the fabrics, and learn about the stories behind each quilt. It’s like stepping back in time and appreciating the artistry and dedication that goes into every piece. I think quilters sometimes forget about the history and the women that came before us!
Sue: But your business has many facets, right? You are also a quilt designer and your specialty is hand applique. I have to say, we have a very similar style, and I LOVE your applique patterns! What would you call your applique style? I see some Jacobean influence…
Robin: Yes, I design applique quilts for magazines, and for my own pattern business. I’m also a Benartex Ambassador. My style does have some Jacobean elements, or maybe Art Nouveau. My designs are what I would call “Whimsical traditional”. But if I were to just be my goofy self, I would say my designs are “swirly, twirly, flowery, fun!”
Sue: Yes! That is the perfect way to define your style! Thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your incredible quilting journey. It’s been a pleasure reconnecting with you.
Robin: Thank you, Sue! It’s been an absolute joy chatting with you. Keep stitching and spreading the quilting love!
To reach Robin, or to purchase her Print and PDF patterns, go to NestlingsbyRobin.com. Robin is also on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, where you can learn more about her beautiful quilts, and how to work with Robin for appraisals.