Meet June Mellinger

Name: June Mellinger

Where were you born? Massapequa NY.  I am the oldest of 4 children.  I was the only girl and then next two boys are my identical twin brothers.

How long have you been quilting? Since 1970.  The first quilt I made was from seersucker sample squares.  My MIL had a friend whose husband was a sales rep for Burlington Fabrics, and she would give me Mike’s samples.  The batting for the quilt was from old, quilted bathrobes that I had cut up. The squares were stitched together with my $50 Singer machine and after that I used a hand sewn feather stitch as decorative stitching on the seams and I then sandwiched the quilt and tacked the corners.  I had no one to tell me what to do or how to do it.  The quilt was twin sized and was used on our son’s bed until he got his first comforter (which I still have).    

Who/what inspired you to start quilting? In 1970 Steve’s aunt was taking Stitch ‘N Sew classes at her Singer dealer and I figured that if she could sew, so could I.  My mom, grandmother and aunts all sewed as well but for some reason my husband’s aunt inspired me.  I do have a quilt that my mom made in the early ‘70s as well.  After she passed in November 2020, I took that quilt home.  It frustrates me that I recall a hallway conversation that I had with my mother-in-law about the beautiful quilt that laid upon her bed.  She told me how my father-in-law had asked their landlady to make the quilt for her so he could give it to her for Christmas…that was September.  She delivered.  I have asked my sister in laws about that quilt and they look at me like I am crazy.  It just disappeared. 

Who/what inspires you now? I worked for Brother Sewing machines for 25 years and when I retired in 2016, I knew that I finally was going to have the time to make more things and they would be things that I wanted to make.  I attended the International Quilt Festival in Houston every year for those 25 years and if that does not inspire you, nothing will.

When talking about quilts – what is MODERN in YOUR view? I am still trying to figure that out.  One thing is that the back of the quilt can be as important as the front.  I have a few quilts that added to the back but that took real nerve for me to do.  I am a traditionalist I suppose.  I get the positive/negative thing and I get the reasoning to be wonky.  I suppose it just takes time.  I recall hiring a younger woman around 2014 and she told me a lot about the newer gals that were interested in Modern Quilting.  I met her friends and realized that I had to learn more about this style. 

Do you follow any specific quilter or designer?  If so, who?  I follow Victoria Findlay Wolf and I suppose that is more because I know her.  I watch Tula Pink and I am not sure what I think about her and her style.   Keep in mind that I worked in the industry forever and the question in the early 2000’s was, “what are we going to do to get the next generation’s interest?”  Now that generation is here and I have to figure it out.  I give them a lot of credit but honestly technology and social media have given this group a real leg up when it comes to being that next superstar.

What type of quilting do you prefer – piecing, paper piecing, appliqué, hand stitching?  Do you longarm?  Right now, I prefer paper piecing.  I did make a quilt entirely by hand during the Covid 19 using 6” diameter hexagons.  Have not done something like that for a long time.  I have used a mid-arm in the past, but I do not own one as I do not want to have to commit to the space.  I used my Brother Luminaire to quilt with the embroidery feature.  I like the result of edge-to-edge quilting in an embroidery hoop. 

Is there a type of quilt/project that you like to do?  Wall hanging, bed quilt, pocketbooks, totes, table runners.  I go in spurts.  For a while it was all wall hangings, then it was totes.  Lately it has been all about the bed quilt. 

Do you participate in any challenges, Quilt-a-longs (what is this?), charity sewing?    If so, which? I just finished a 14-month BOM challenge with Stitchin Heaven.  I think because I was paying for it I made sure that I finished the quilt.  I did start a Pat Sloan sew along but I never finished it.  Partly because I had not gathered all the fabrics needed before I began the Sew Along.  If asked, I do charity sewing for the guild.  This year I also made 2 Quilts of Valor for 2 very close friends who served in Vietnam after college.  They were shocked that I did this for them.  It was my pleasure that I could do that much. 

Have you taken any classes in the last two years?  If so, which ones?  Did you find them useful?  I like to go on weekend retreats where you make a specific project and during the process the hostesses usually find a way to teach you something new.  I say “usually” because that is not always true, so you really have to “shop” around to find the right retreat weekend for you.  I like the ones held at the Mercersburg Inn.  The setting is nice, the food is great and there is plenty for my husband to do as well.  I also took a class on line this year from Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill and it was most enjoyable.

Is there something that you would like JSMQG to develop a workshop on? During these times when we are forced to meet differently, I feel that my gain would be to be “forced” to be more engaged with quilting and learning.  It is difficult for me to make a “schedule” and stick with it.  Like using a Quilter’s Planner, I am terrible at that. 

Are there any speakers would you like to see visit JSMQG?  We were fortunate to host Krishma Patel in 2019 and I would like to do that again.  Perhaps for starters we could see if there is a modern quilter who would do an “online” speaker session.  I am sure that there are.  The other thing is that The Modern Guild” does have presentations online and we should make a greater effort to take advantage of these opportunities.  Eileen and I have “bought” tickets to the online version of the upcoming QuiltCon so that should be of benefit. 

What are your favorite colors? I used to say “Pale pink and pale green” but in this group that would not work.  I suppose I could say that I love the contrast of black to sharp color.  I am finishing a quilt that has a lot of black, purples, chartreuse and blues.

What other interests do you have? I like to travel and during a trip I like to stop at places that I have heard about.  For example, I read about the Panguitch Quilt Walk and during a trip to Utah we were able to travel through this Western town and learn why quilting has a historical impact on this town. I also play golf. 

Anything you would like to add that we haven’t asked?  I would like to know about our member’s machine archives.  I began with a used machine and within 2 months I began watching a neighbor’s child so that I could buy a new White Zig Zag machine for $178…. what I didn’t know then was that I should have taken lessons on how to use the machine.  I did own that machine for many years.  I now have 6 Brother machines and one Bernina.  I worked for Brother for 25 years, so I bleed “Brother blue” I use my Bernina from time to time, but I always go back to Brother.  By the way Brother is the manufacturer of all of their products and they have made machines for Bernina, Viking and Babylock.

Do you have access to emailDo you check it periodically?  I check my email all day long as well as Facebook.  I don’t feel like I know Instagram at all.  I always say that I am going to get better at it, but I do not.