Makers for Makers: Vacilando Quilting Co
Laura Preston of Vacilando Quilting Co is a very unique soul. After traveling around North America with her fiancé, she now is settling into the Bay Area. She spends her hours crafting beautiful modern quilts in her Airstream home. The designs are simple and timeless but bring you back to your childhood. I remember the numerous quilts my mother displayed around our house. Each one seemed to have a different meaning and story behind it. That is exactly the feel Laura is trying to bring forth again but with a new spin. Her quilts don't look anything like the ones I had seen growing up. The designs she creates are taking quilting and making it relevant again as people long to get them in their homes to being a tradition of passing them between generations back.
The pieces that Laura creates are stunning and her process is inspiring. The way she ties it all together is a sign of a remarkable maker. I won't give any more away so I encourage you to read on to learn more about Laura of Vacilando Quilting Co. I promise it will leave you wanting at least one quilt for your own home and family!
Tell us about you and what you do.
I’m a designer, maker and traveler. I’ve been living and working in a 34 foot Airstream with my fiancé, our two dogs and cat since February 2013 - two and a half of those years were spent traveling full-time exploring North America, but for the past year and a half, we’ve been stationary in the Bay Area, living right on the coast (which is as dreamy as it sounds!). I make modern heirloom-quality quilts, pillows and a few canvas goods that are inspired by travel - beautiful landscapes, places I’ve visited or locations tied to memorable experiences.
What pushed you to turn this dream into reality?
I have a background in painting, so when we decided to get on the road, I brought all my painting supplies with me, expecting to have all this time, space and inspiration to paint. And I didn’t pull those supplies out once - painting just wasn’t conducive with traveling often in a small space. But I still needed a creative outlet, one that was also practical and useful for my minimalist lifestyle. So after struggling to discover that new outlet for a few months and finding inspiration in makers sharing their work on Instagram, I decided to give quilting a try. I looked up some tutorials online, made my first quilt (completely by hand!) and was totally hooked - once I finished a quilt, I was ready to start the next one. After making a handful of quilts for wedding presents and honing my skills, I decided to plan my first collection and launched Vacilando in February 2015. At that time, I still had a day job, so I was only quilting part time, hoping to build Vacilando up until it could be my full time job. But I was unexpectedly laid off in August 2015, so I took that as a sign that it was time to jump in with both feet even if it was a bit sooner than I planned. It was the best decision I’ve ever made and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What is the core mission behind what you do?
I want to keep the tradition and craft of quilting alive while making it modern, relevant and fresh. I can’t tell you how many people have told me their “quilt story” - how they have a quilt their grandmother made or about a family quilt that’s been passed down through generations. There’s such warm sentiments of home and family in those stories, but they don’t actually use or display their quilts because the style is old fashioned. My goal is to make quilts using traditional techniques that are both contemporary and timeless - quilts that your kids will be fighting over when you finally decide to pass it down.
What was your biggest obstacle starting out?
Starting out and even now, my biggest obstacle is pricing and educating people about the value of a handmade quilt. When so much of what we buy theses days is cheaply made overseas and you can go to any big box store and buy a trendy quilt for $99, trying to convince someone to buy a quilt for $700 can be a tough sell. Most people have great things to say about my work, but when they see the price tag, it scares them away. Which I totally get - my quilts aren’t cheap. But buying a handmade quilt, which is more or less a piece of art that you can snuggle with, is an investment and something to save up for. You’ll have it your whole life and then pass it down to your kids.
Do you have any makers that have inspired you?
So many! One of the many reasons I love Instagram - I get to discover and following along with ridiculously talented and creative makers that inspire me and make me think about design, color and creativity in different ways. Quilters who inspired me from the beginning are Folk Fibers, Meg Callahan, Lindsay Stead, Cortney Heimerl, and some of my favorite makers/artists that I love to follow are Aleksandra Zee, Block Shop Textiles, Ariele Alasko, and Heather Day.
What does your typical day as a Maker look like?
Every day looks a little different, but I’ve finally got a pretty good routine down. I wake up around 8am, walk the dogs and make coffee. My brain is the most fresh and focused in the morning, so from around 9am to 11am, I take care of all my admin work. I plan out my day, write and respond to emails, order materials, post to social media, work on custom order or new designs, etc. Then I make a quick breakfast/lunch before getting to work on whatever I’m making that day. Sometimes it’s piecing a quilt top or hand-quilting some pillows or whipping up a batch of canvas totes - just depends on what needs to be done. I work until 6pm or 7pm (sometimes later if I have a tight deadline), then make dinner and relax with my fiance and pups for the rest of the evening.
What do you love most about being a Maker?
I love making something with my hands every day. Having a tangible product at the end of the process. Being in charge of what I create and being responsible for how successful or unsuccessful my business is. Not having limits, aside from myself, to what I can do and create.
What advice do you have for Makers just starting out?
Just do it! Whatever it is, do it. It’s so easy to make excuses that you don’t have enough time, enough space, that it’s too scary or hard or just not the right time. If it’s something you really want and feel like you’ll regret not doing, do it. You’re in charge of your life. Oh, and that feeling of not totally knowing what you’re doing, but figuring things out along the way? That’s normal and doesn’t go away completely.