From a career that was out of this world to quilt designer, discover how Yvonne Fuchs successfully switched gears but continues to use past skills in her quilting endeavors today. After you learn more about Yvonne you’ll want to head over and and dive into making this beautiful Diffraction Quilt that she designed for OLFA!
O: Where are you from?
YF: I currently live in Tehachapi, California, which is a small mountain pass town at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada mountains. My husband and I settled here in 2008, and it’s hard to believe we have been here for over a decade!
O: How did you make the leap from an aerospace engineer to a quilt designer?
YF: My husband and I met while working at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. After getting married, we moved to Florida to work at NASA at Kennedy Space Center. In 2008, we were hired by Scaled Composites to be on the small development team for SpaceShipTwo. Our co-workers became family during that intense period of time, and the projects that I worked on after SpaceShipTwo put me into a bit of a mid-life crises: nothing I was working on excited me the way SpaceShipTwo had. I was burned out, stressed out, and I needed a change.
In 2014, I decided to step away from engineering to focus on finding a better balance in life. My first goal became my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. As many quilters will testify: quilting is a fantastic therapy and became my focus after my transition. I started selling quilts, designing quilts, writing quilt patterns, and everything has slowly built from there.
O: How did you choose your business name?
YF: My husband started designing, building, and testing jet engines as a teenager and quickly earned the moniker “Jetman” as a result. When we started dating, I became “Jetgirl” to his “Jetman”. I also like that my business name shows the blend of my artistic and technical sides.
O: Do you specialize in a specific look or technique?
YF: I am specifically known for my use of monochromatic color schemes, use of transparency, and modern minimal quilt designs. I have a very strong linear, geometric style and I primarily work with solids. Although I do love prints, I just don’t use them as frequently.
O: How have your quilting and sewing tastes changed over time?
YF: I started quilting in 1995, when my paternal grandmother offered to hand quilt a twin sized quilt that I pieced so that I would have a quilt to use in college. I had no idea what I was getting myself into with an Eleanor Burns “Quilt in a Day” Card Trick pattern when I started out, but I was hooked from the beginning! My first quilt was very traditional and floral and I finished it with a 3” single fold binding. Over the years I have shifted away from using patterns to creating my own designs, from using prints to working with solids, and instead of paying others to quilt my quilts, I love free motion quilting. Lately, I have been branching out into more hand work, and I am always eager to learn something new.
O: What is your quilting community like?
YF: My quilting community is online. I have a strong network of quilting friends across the country that I chat with almost every day, including my mother! I am always excited for any opportunity to spend time with other quilters in person at conferences, during my teaching events, or at retreats. I am also an advocate of giving back to the community and as such I volunteer and work on the QuiltCon crew each year.
O: Is there a certain season you love to sew for? Have you designed patterns just for a holiday?
YF: To be perfectly honest, the most common event that I sew for are births. I love making baby quilts for my friends and I often take the opportunity to test out new ideas and patterns.
That being said, I created a Christmas inspired quilt last year that I adore, the Mod Star Tree quilt.
O: What craft or hobby did you do prior to sewing? Do you still continue?
YF: I have played the piano and flute since I was a child. I continued my musical interests through college, but I have drifted away from playing music in recent years.
O: What types of projects do you teach? Do you have a favorite teaching location?
YF: My most popular classes are my transparency quilt project classes. I love sharing about transparency overlay and the visual relationship between colors, print sizes, and tones. I am also passionate about quilt pattern design. My Teaching page has the full list of my current offerings and schedule.
My favorite teaching location is anywhere with quilters! Seriously, though, I get so excited to be in a room full of other quilters and I am always looking forward to my next teaching opportunity.
O: You have a variety of tutorials on your website. How do you choose what to feature there?
YF: Most of the time the tutorials I share on my website are inspired by things that I need! Occasionally someone will also ask for a more in-depth explanation of something I have shared, which can be a great prompt for a tutorial as well.
O: Which OLFA tool do you reach for the most?
YF: My 60mm rotary cutter and a self-healing OLFA mat are my go-to tools. When I travel, I love the folding mats and smaller 45mm rotary cutter.
O: Besides OLFA, what are your other go-to quilting tools?
YF: I love my Juki TL-2200 QVP Mini sewing machine, Aurifil 50wt thread, and my Hera marker.
O: Give us a quick quilting or cutting tip.
YF: One of the things I have learned along the way is that no matter what, at the end I will have a quilt that someone will love. Sometimes I learn how to do better the next time, but I am *always* confident that a quilt will be made, gifted, and loved!
O: How do you spend your free time?
YF: Currently, my husband and I are working on a big project together: Wabi-Sabi Overland. Our goal is to build a custom “apartment” on the back of a 4×4 capable vehicle to travel in together. As you can see in our design graphic, one of the key elements required was the incorporation of a space for my sewing machine! We plan to start taking test trips this winter before launching on a longer trip from California up through Alaska and back next spring and summer.
O: What don’t people know about you?
YF: I am a very naturally organized person and I like to keep my sewing space clean and tidy; too much of a mess is very disruptive for me. I am also a technical editor, which is a very natural combination of my technical / engineering background and love for quilting, and I really love the work.