The next sewing enthusiast we would like to introduce to you is Kellie Treadaway from the USA. Her passion for sewing and BERNINA has gotten under her skin. A few weeks ago, we came across a post on Kellie’s Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/kellie_pencil/) in which she shared a new tattoo. The colors were still missing, but it was already clear enough to see: Someone got a tattoo of a BERNINA! Unbelievable!
In our interview, you will learn more about Kellie and how the tattoo came about. And of course we will show you how the tattoo looks today – in color.
Interview with Kellie Treadaway
Dear Kellie, who are you? Please describe yourself in a few words.
I’m a mom, a wife, a maker. I’ve been creating things for as long as I can remember, but sewing is a fairly new obsession of mine.
How did you get into sewing and what do you like best about sewing?
I wish I had a cool story, like I came from a long line of quilters but..I sort of just started sewing one day and never stopped. I love the creative freedom with sewing, but also the precision. I believe that if I take my time and focus enough I can complete any project well. It’s math and problem solving, matched with artistic expression, and I love that.
It’s hard not to notice that sewing is your biggest passion. You got a tattoo on your thigh with a BERNINA sewing machine ?. We can hardly believe this and think it looks great! How did this tattoo come about?
Yes! Thank you. Well, after becoming a mom I struggled a bit with losing my self identity, which I believe a lot of new mom’s experience. I found sewing and it became who I was. Sewing has given me a purpose outside of motherhood, and that’s been essential for my mental well being. I knew I wanted to commemorate this period of life. I just didn’t want your typical singer featherweight tattoo, it’s not reflective of who I am as a sewist.
Who made the design?
My wonderful tattoo artist Robbie soulliere, owner of magic hat tattoo in port Huron, Michigan.
Was it immediately clear to you that the design would suit you? Or did you also have concerns?
I loved it from the second I saw it and knew it was perfect for me!
The tattoo shows a “Sew or die” banner. Is that your motto in life?
Yeah, pretty much. Sewing has helped me immensely with depression and anxiety. I feel like I would be lost without it.
Getting a tattoo on your thigh must have really hurt, right?
Oh yeah. This was by far my most painful one yet.
Do you have other tattoos? Which was your first one? What is the story behind it?
I do! I think I’m up to 16 or 17 now. Most are smaller and more discrete. I got my first one at 14, with my parents permission. Which is shocking looking back. Would not recommend haha. It’s very subtle and I never see it so I don’t necessarily regret it, but it’s very lame. It’s a shooting star on my lower back, it was inspired by a poem I had written.
What reactions did you get so far? How did other people react on your tattoo?
I’ve mostly received positive reactions, people seem to love the bright colors and the boldness of the design. I get a lot of “wow, you must really love sewing”.
Do you already have plans for another tattoo?
There will likely be more. No concrete plans at this time, but I would like some sort of rainbow flying geese pattern (as in the sewing form of flying geese not ACTUAL flying geese lol).
You have a great passion for quilting. How did you get into quilting?
After having my first child I had this overwhelming need to make her a quilt. So I just sort of went for it.
Who taught you, where do you get inspiration and information?
I’m completely self taught. Unfortunately no one in my family or immediate circle is into sewing. It’s a lot of trial and error. Sometimes I’ll watch YouTube videos if there’s a specific technique I’m trying to learn. It’s crazy to look back on my progress. I’ve really only been sewing for around 3 years.
What do you like most about quilting?
Like I mentioned before, it’s got to be the precision. I know that if I take it step by step, make accurate cuts, and keep an accurate 1/4 inch seam, I will have good results. I’m very scatter brained by nature, when I’m sewing I’m able to be hyper focused and it’s such a nice break from the normal chaos that ensues in my mind.
How do you use your quilts and who uses them?
I use every quilt I’ve made so far. My kids use them, my husband uses them, and I hope they are being well loved and used by every person I’ve made one for. To me, that is a quilt’s ultimate purpose. However, there’s a quilt that I’m working on currently and probably already have close to 200 hours into, that will probably be tucked away at least until my kids are past toddlerhood.
You’ve made quite a few quilts. Is there one that you are particularly proud of?
Yes! One of my current works in progress that I previously mentioned. It’s the tattoo quilt, from happy sew lucky. I’m absolutely in love with that quilt. From the moment I have seen it I knew I had to have it, but hesitated because I thought it would be way out of my skill set. I decided to go for it and I’m so happy I did. I will treasure that quilt my whole life.
What is your best quilt project so far?
That’s hard to say, I’ve seen so much growth in myself from quilt to quilt. Each one is better than the last!
How would you introduce quilting to someone who has never made a quilt before?
Start simple. I tend to jump into things head first. I don’t think that’s the best for everyone, though. Sewing can be very frustrating when you’re first starting out. My biggest piece of advice for beginners is to get the best machine you can afford. When you’re learning to sew and you have a machine that’s working working against you it’s very easy to get so frustrated that you give up entirely.
In addition to all sorts of quilts, your Instagram account also features self-made necklaces, bracelets and ear rings. How did you get the idea to make such jewelry?
If it’s not obvious I’m a huge fan of Tula pink. I got in the game a little late, so I missed out on some of her older lines that sell for a small fortune now. I wanted to be able to get some of these highly sought-after prints into the hands of people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to get enough of the fabric to really do anything with.
These items are also sold in your online shop. How is the business going?
It’s going ok. I was originally selling my pendants in a Tula pink Facebook group and I would sell out almost immediately after posting a batch. It was followed by days of chaos trying to fill all orders and ship them out. Selling only on Etsy has slowed things down to a more manageable pace for me, and I’m good with that. I wanted to open my shop with something I knew would sell as a way to get me comfortable with selling my makes. I’m working up the courage to add things I’ve sewn to my shop, like a lot of us I’m my own worst critic… but I’m getting there!
Why did you choose “thebeatnikbird” as a name? Do you have a rebel streak?
I actually came up with that name like 10 years ago. I knew one day I wanted to open a shop selling things I made.. I didn’t know what it would be at that time but the name stuck. I guess you could say I have a little rebel streak, I’ve always felt a pull to be different. The world would be awfully boring if we were all the same.
Since we’re talking about names … why “kellie_pencil” – do you like drawing?
I do like drawing, but that’s not where the name came from. I made the Instagram account like 10 years ago, at the time my maiden name was Penn so it was just a silly play on writing utensils lol.
What do you appreciate most about sewing?
Probably the satisfaction that comes with finishing a project. Also, the joy of sharing the things I make with others.
How do you spend your free time when you’re not sewing?
All of my free time goes to sewing. My kids are almost 4, and 2.5 so during the day they get every ounce of my energy!
What are your plans for the future? Where should your sewing and quilting journey take you?
I would really love to branch out into doing custom long arming. Right now my sewing space is located in the corner of our bedroom and I have no where to put a longarm. However, once we start house hunting it will be an absolute requirement that I have my own dedicated space with enough room for a longarm.
Is there anything you would like to pass on to other sewists?
Don’t give up. If you love sewing keep working at it. Make friends with your seam ripper. Be kind and patient with yourself. It doesn’t happen overnight.
You sew with a BERNINA 770 QE. What do you like best about BERNINA and your machine?
I LOVE my BERNINA 770 QE. It’s been my dream machine for years. I was in a random quilt shop an hour from my house, when I turned around and saw it sitting on the shelf. It literally took my breath away. I never thought it be able to own one. I’m obsessed with how beautiful my machine is. It’s dependable, it’s fun to sew on. I think one of my favorite things on my machine is the dual feed. It handles multiple layers like a champ!
Do you have a favorite BERNINA accessory?
I recently picked up the Edgestitch Foot # 10 and I LOVE it! It has made attaching the binding by machine SO much easier. I also love it for stitching in the ditch.
What kind of music do you listen to while sewing?
Something calming and not distracting. More often than not, it’s Sufjan Stevens.
Shoes on or off when sewing?
I don’t have a strong preference either way but I know this is a hot topic for most lol.
Your sewing or quilting super hero?
Berene Campbell, Tula Pink and Kristy of Rock Baby Scissors on Etsy.
Quilts on the wall or on the sofa?
Sofa for now, both once I have more wall space.
Do you wash fabrics before sewing?
I’m team no prewash.
How many unfinished objects?
Phew, at least 10-15.
How much fabric do you store – and where?
Oh gosh. 20+ yards. Shelves, totes, wherever I can fit it.
Current favorite fabric? All-time Favorite?
I’m going to have to say essex linen. But especially essex linen mixed with Tula.
Does your sewing machine have a name?
George. I know, it’s ridiculous.
Is there a sewing technique you don’t like?
Hm, I don’t think so.
Do you keep order in your sewing room or do you master chaos?
Pins or clips?
Someone uses your scissors to cut paper. How do you react?
I’ve totally done it myself to be completely honest… but nobody else better!
Favorite swear word for sewing mishaps?
I’m going to go with dammit. I save the F bomb for serious offenses.
Undo seams or “oh, never mind”?
Originally I would have said never mind, but overtime I’ve become a perfectionist. It’s worth it to make it right.
I’m a sucker for anything mint. More specifically aurifil 2835.
That’s where I want to go sometime:
Switzerland..for obvious reasons.
Favorite object (sewing machine doesn’t count):
My sewtogether bag which contains all my English paper piecing stuff. It goes practically everywhere with me.
More information about Kellie
Learn more about Kellie and her great projects here:
Kellie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellie_pencil/
Kellie’s Shop on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/thebeatnikbird
Do you know of anyone you would like to know more about? Then feel free to share their name with us in the comments.