ANNA – Quilting helped Kari Roberts heal after her son’s death and now provides her with a career she loves.
Roberts owns Kari’s Custom Quilting, a full service quilt shop outside of Anna. She began the business out of her home in 2017, and last month expanded with a new shop just down the lane from her house.
She’s quilted for close to 30 years and finds it therapeutic, a needed reprieve after her oldest son, Bob Faulder, died of cancer in 2016.
“I just felt like I needed to heal, and, you know, this was better therapy for me,” Roberts said of her quilting business. “I’m doing things that I enjoy doing.”
Prior to opening her business, Roberts worked at Honda. She considered quitting during her son’s battle with cancer but kept working in the factory at his urging.
“I worked at Honda, and my son passed away with cancer. I just felt I needed to get out of there,” she said. “When he was sick, I wanted to quit my job, and he says, ‘Mom, don’t be stupid. You can retire when you’re 55.’ When he passed I had 10 more months to go so I finished that 10 months for him.”
Since her retirement from Honda, Roberts has devoted herself to her passion for quilting and her business. She now has a full-time job she enjoys and camaraderie from others who share her interests.
Roberts developed her love for quilting from her mother, Sharon Stiles, who taught her to sew. When her mom started quilting, she joined in, and over the years they’ve both won numerous ribbons for their creations.
“They’re on my beds; they’re on the back of my couch; they’re hanging on my walls. I have quilt racks everywhere in my home,” Roberts said of her quilts, which she makes for herself and family members. “I have a 4,000 square foot home, and it’s decorated with quilts everywhere.”
When Roberts first began her business, she operated out of a room in her house. In February, she and her husband, Dean Roberts, started construction of a shop on their property that has allowed her to expand her offerings.
She sells fabrics, patterns and notions out of her shop. She also leads beginner, intermediate and advanced quilting classes.
“I’m going to have 20-some people in here,” Roberts said of an upcoming class. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that out of my home even though I had a large, large sewing room.”
On Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon, Roberts hosts an open sew session. It’s a great time to relax, she said, and enjoy the fellowship of people who also like the art of quilting.
“We just have a good time amongst ourselves just talking and things like that,” Roberts said.
Most of Roberts’ clients are women, but men have gotten involved as well, including her husband.
“He’d been watching me for years so he kind of knew what to do,” she said. “But he got out C-clamps and was like clamping the fabric to the table to cut it. It was funny to watch him because he was trying to use carpentry tools to quilt with. He doesn’t do that anymore, but that’s how he started out.”
Dean Roberts has created his own quilt design, something his wife said she hasn’t had time to do. He also created a quilt based on tales of quilts being used in the Underground Railroad to help lead escaped slaves to freedom.
“If he has a question, he’ll ask me,” Roberts said of her husband, who also is retired from Honda. “But otherwise I just leave him alone and let him do it. He does a pretty good job. He’s pretty precise.”
The practice of quilting has evolved over the years, Roberts said. People used to make quilts simply as a means to keep warm, often using pieces of old clothing. Now quilting is more focused on enjoyment rather than necessity.
“It was different back then,” she said. “They quilted for different reasons. They were just looking for something to stay warm with where today we look for something to decorate.”
Roberts said she’s seen an increased interest in quilting in recent years, which is supporting more businesses like hers.
“When I started out years ago, there wasn’t many people (quilting),” she said. “You had a hard time finding people that did it. Now you see quilt shops going up, people’s getting into the longarming more and you meet a lot more people who do that or you at least know someone who does.”
Roberts is grateful for the job she had at Honda but cherishes the fact that she’s now pursing her passion.
“What better way to spend your life doing something you love as opposed to doing something you have to do,” she said.
Kari’s Custom Quilting is located at 14888 Wenger Road, Anna. The business will have an autumn open house from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 24, 25 and 26. During the open house, Roberts will offer specials on fall and Christmas collections including fabrics and kits.
For more information, call 937-639-8033 or 937-538-6197 or visit Kari’s Custom Quilting on Facebook.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.