By Tony Hooker
Carol Miller has always been the artsy type. In fact, she won several art awards while attending Villa Grove High School. Carol has also been a quilter for quite some time, and so she’s found a way to combine her passion for quilting with her artistic abilities and now she has a business in her home called Longarm Quilting by Carol. I recently sat down with Carol to discuss the new project.
Did you grow up and graduate from Villa Grove High School?
Yes I did, I was one of those twelve-year people who went from first to twelfth grade.
What’s the name of your business?
Longarm Quilting by Carol.
What is it that you do?
I do longarm quilting. My ladies, most of my clients are ladies, put together a quilted top, and through this pandemic I’ve had a lot of them, I think everyone is quilting, and I finish them. They do the piecing and I do the quilting.
What does longarm quilting mean?
It’s a big machine. That’s what that is called. I guess they call it that because it reaches so far.
Is there a short arm machine?
There is. I’ve got one downstairs! <laughs>
How long have you been interested in this?
I think it was around 1985, but it could have been sooner. Brenda Douglas used to have a quilting shop uptown, and she gave quilting lessons, and my mother talked me into going with her. We did pillows in her class, and I must have made twenty-five of them. I started out doing free motion on a sewing machine, and from there I went to a short arm for four or five years, and then I went to the longarm about six or seven years ago, and it took me three years to learn how to do it. <laughs>
What was your inspiration for starting to do it?
I liked it, and the more I did, the more I liked and the more I did for people, the more they liked it, and pretty soon they were talking me into doing more and different things. Roger can tell you this, I’m not one to sit around, and I don’t think there are too many people around who do ruler work. I’m always trying something new.
Are you always looking for new clients?
Right now, I’m steady. I’ve always got something going on in there, but I’m not going to rush it. I’m retired and I’m not going to go back to 60 or 70 hour weeks.
Have you thought about teaching quilting?
A friend of mine has been trying to talk me into teaching ruler work
You mentioned Trisa. Do you ladies have a good relationship?
Oh Gosh, yes! She went to school with my kids. I taught her how to paint. Oil paint, because that’s something else I do. Her and I do entirely different types of work. She does beautiful work, but she does mostly edge to edge and I do ruler work. I do some edge to edge, but I like to do ruler work. In fact, when Trisa first opened, she had me come in and teach some classes, and I think that got me back into sewing even more and now I have time for it.
How long do you see this going on?
As long as I can do it.
It seems like it’s not a job to you.
I think everyone should have a job that they enjoy. It’s always something that I’ve done whenever I had a little time to do it.
Did you learn quilting at Villa Grove High School?
No! <chuckles> When I was in school we made pleated skirts! My mother was a knitter and I a crocheter and then she went to a quilting class and it just kind of grew from there.
What are your hours?
During the pandemic, people have been just bringing stuff and dropping it off and I work on it during the day.
Do you have a website?
I’m on Facebook at Longarm Quilting by Carol, or they can call me at 217-649-6521, and I can give them a quote. I’ve got a group of ladies who have really supported me, and they can quilt a lot faster than I can sew! <smiles>