OLFA Interview: Genesis

Introduce yourself to our readers – where are you from, how long have you been sewing, your specialties.

Hello! I’m Genesis, some call me Genny for short. After many years living in different countries as a military child, my family has now settled in North Carolina. I just recently turned 14 years old and have been sewing for 3 years and quilting for 2 ½. Though I don’t have very many years of experience, I’m notorious for taking on a challenge and always eager to learn new things. Quilting is my passion and expertise however I like sewing garments and bags too.

Can you explain how you came up with your business name?

My Instagram handle/business name is Genny from the Quilt Block and all credit goes to my mom for coming up with that one! It’s inspired by Jennifer Lopez’s song Jenny from the Block.

Why do you think of yourself as a modern quilter? What does that description mean to you?

Traditional is defined by a means of looking at the past, how things were done in years past. Modern is defined by looking to the future, how things could be. While I value all quilting styles and I do love a good heirloom traditional quilt and appreciate the beauty of it, I think most of my work leans toward modern quilting. Quilting is very much a traditional craft however, I like doing things with a different approach. A fresh perspective, new lenses and an open mind. Creativity to me is moving forward and expanding and improving on what once was. My aesthetics tend to be more vibrant colors minimalist designs however I enjoy symmetry and repetition too!

At 13, you are considered an influencer in the quilting and craft arena. How did that distinction come about?

I’m not too sure I’d call myself an influencer, but I’m flattered that some may think that! Honestly, when I began sewing, my mom thought it would be a great idea to share my creations with the world or even an opportunity for entrepreneurship through Instagram. Around the time my Instagram was created she applied me to be an ambassador for Aurifil as one of their Artisians without me knowing. She didn’t think they’d choose a 12-year-old to represent their product but they did! It was a great surprise and an amazing opportunity. Through Aurifil, the sewing and quilting community began discovering me.

As a world traveler, because your family is in the military, how do you think growing up in other settings has helped influenced your style?

Though I am American, I was born in Italy and have lived in Germany. Most of my life has been spent living in Europe. While living in Europe, my family took the opportunity to travel often and I’m very thankful to have traveled to over 21 countries. These experiences have impacted me greatly. Many of our friends came from other cultures, backgrounds, religions, and I’ve been able to explore so much and appreciate the differences and the beauty of it all. Quilts are like humans. Essentially, and purposefully we are all the same but we differ greatly in our origins. Quilting has so many styles and techniques and I admire them all. Some may say they only like a certain type of quilt but to me, there’s beauty to be found in them all. They are all unique in their own way.

Where – and when – did you discover quilts and the desire to make them? Did you sew previously – or were there others who helped you learn about quilting and sewing techniques.

My family has always had quilts and my mom has always admired textiles for our home and clothing. It wasn’t until I was 10 years old that a friend of mine mentioned she was taking sewing lessons at a local sewing studio and I was instantly interested. After 6 months of sewing lessons, I insisted on learning quilting and the rest is history.

I don’t come from generations of sewists and quilters. In fact, my mom had never even turned a sewing machine on before this year! After two years of learning to sew at the sewing school I attended, I just challenged myself to learn more and more. Here and there I have taken a few day classes at quilt shops such as learning foundation paper-piecing and free-motion quilting. For the most part, I’ve just tried different styles, participated in quilt-alongs, referred to YouTube and took on the challenge!

Besides actually making items, what else do you find uplifting about quilting and crafting?

One of the most uplifting attributes about quilting and crafting is the community. People love when they see someone young like me doing the craft they have loved doing for probably a long time. They are so encouraging and love to teach me and help me out. I don’t know what I would do without the community and friends I have made along the way.

You’ve begun entering your quilts into competitions. What are some that you’ve entered? What are some of the reasons you enjoy this and what do you get back from it?

Last year I began entering a few quilts into shows just to see how the process worked and for others to get a chance to see my work more so than competing. I entered a quilt in the Asheville Quilt Show in Asheville, NC, the Mountain State Fair in Asheville, NC and Quilt Con held by The Modern Quilt Guild in Atlanta, Georgia. This year I’ve entered quilts into the same shows. Some shows are juried/judged and some are not. Either way, I think it’s a great opportunity to show others my work. I enter my quilts into the Youth category because technically that’s where my work fits. Some people have mentioned I should enter my quilts into other categories to compete against adults but I feel as if my time will come for that. I won’t always be able to enter into the Youth category forever so I’m going to take advantage of that. Besides, I am still learning and I’d rather for others to be able to see my skills and potential than to compete with adults at this moment.


I thoroughly enjoy when I enter my quilts into shows especially when they are juried/judged. Every time I get my quilts back after the show the first thing I look for is the judges’ comments. I love to see what the judges think I can improve on and what they think I did good at. I enjoy seeing what they think of my fabric color choices and techniques I used. Feedback is always something I value. Without feedback, how could anyone grow?

Besides OLFA, are there other companies in the quilting industry that you’ve worked with? What are some of the experiences you’ve had?

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Aurifil as an Artisan, Juki Junkies affiliate, Missouri Star Company affiliate, FreeSpirit Fabrics Influencer, Love to Sew Podcast Guest, My Girlfriends Quilt Shoppe Affiliate, and a lengthy article was recently written in Creative Retailer issue. Every partnership I’ve had in the industry has been nothing but a joy and I’m so thankful for the companies that I have believed in me, encouraged me and cheered me on along the way.

How do you balance school, your Etsy shop, activities, and finding time to sew? Do you have other hobbies you enjoy?

Thankfully, I’m homeschooled so there is quite a bit of flexibility with my schedule or else I’m not too sure all of this would have been possible. Sometimes there is shifting things around for example, if I’m crunching a deadline, school may be worked on in the car to and from events. Sometimes that may mean I have to do school on the weekends. School is definitely priority. Academics are a huge focus for my family!

Other than sewing and quilting, I’m also a musician. I play the piano and banjo and take golf lessons. My newest hobby is learning how to knit. Currently I’m learning to knit socks and a sweater, both for myself so I’m super excited about it!

While your family has been building a new home, you’ve been living and sewing in an RV. What challenges have you faced? How do you keep yourself organized and the chaos that comes with sewing under control?

What challenges haven’t I faced? Living in an RV was extremely challenging with my family of 6 and our dog. There were constant runs to the storage unit for fabric, lots of shifting things from the table to the bed and back and forth again while my mom safe-guarded my sibling toddlers from irons, pins and cutting utensils. I couldn’t begin a project and leave it be in its place and come back again, I had to clean up and put everything away after each moment of working. There were even times where I went to my local library to baste quilts. If the weather was nice, I would always take my sewing machine outside and sew or quilt!

Do you get a sewing room when your new house is completed??? (We hope so!)

Oh yes! Words cannot express the long overdue excitement. I’m sure there is plenty of fabric that I’ve stashed away in storage that I’ve forgotten about. There are a few new things I’ve purchased and intentionally saved to use after moving out of the RV.

Not only are you teaching your mom to quilt, your baby sister is getting in on the action! Have you thought about teaching others how to sew?

After I first started sewing lessons, I came home and taught my little brother how to sew his own draw string bag. Earlier this year I taught my mom how to sew her first quilt top and here and there my baby sister will sit in my lap while I sew or quilt. I enjoy sharing the things I’ve learned with others. Though I’ve just started learning to knit, I’ve been teaching my brother to knit some too. My family is always eager to learn from me and I’m always wiling to share! I’d love to teach anyone that’s interested in learning!

Be sure to check out the tutorial Genesis has created here.