Living the dream for real
It was the discovery of pre-cut fabrics with wild names like “charm packs,” “jelly rolls” and “layer cakes” that turned Diana Buckley from a seamstress to a quilter.
It was 2011 and Buckley worked long hours as a department head at the historic Ellis County Courthouse.
“I had tried to make some quilts and usually never finished,” she said. “I’d have time to pick out the fabrics and pattern, or time to cut the pieces, but then I’d run out of time before I got to the sewing, let alone the quilting.”
But on a trip to Quilts ’N More in Midlothian, Texas, Buckley discovered the pre-cut fabrics that would make all the difference.
“These fabrics come pre-selected, already coordinated with each other as part of the same fabric line, so that’s easy,” she said. “And they are already cut into useful sizes for which there are oh-so-many patterns available. It was a real game changer.”
She likes to say that her husband, Glyn, made her buy her first longarm quilting machine at Mother’s Day that year.
“He tried to surprise me with it but I was not interested in going into debt for a sewing machine,” she recalled. “I even went to bed mad about his suggestion. But, in the morning, he looked at me and said, ‘Are you ready to buy the sewing machine, dear?’ And, of course, I was!”
In 2012, Buckley went to work as business operations director at Hope Clinic, where her new boss gave her husband a whole new idea with a chance comment about “renting time” on a longarm machine.
“Glyn had seen the loft space above My Father’s House Antiques and thought it would be a great place to quilt,” Buckley said. “So, when this idea came up, he right away saw it as something I could retire to in the future.”
The job at Hope Clinic turned out to be too heavy for Buckley emotionally, though she still supports Hope both as a patient and a board member. Not knowing what she wanted to do next, she went to the mezzanine studio and “pretended” to work there.
“And here I still am,” she said of her quilting studio, Seldom Seen Quilting.
The studio has since been moved from its downtown location to the front half of the Brown Street home where the Buckleys have lived since coming to Waxahachie some 20 years ago.
“I do longarm quilting for people who have already made the quilt tops,” Buckley said. “And I make custom quilts – memory quilts, T-shirt quilts and things like that. But the ‘seldom seen’ part is that I rent the longarm machines to people and teach them to do their own quilting.”
That way, Buckley explained, quilters don’t have to buy an expensive machine or have room in their homes for a quilting frame that’s 10 feet or longer.
“They just come to the studio and use mine!” she said with a grin. “I walk them through it step by step. And I’m always here, so they are never just on their own with no help. I love working with quilters – you can’t talk to another quilter for more than 10 minutes without learning something!”
With a business model that means there are seldom more than three people in the studio at a time, and a good supply of sanitizing wipes (and a protocol for using them), Buckley believes the studio is a safe outing for quilters even during the current health concern.
“I won’t come to work sick and the quilters are not going to come in when they are sick, so that makes the biggest difference,” she said, noting her husband has an underlying health condition that puts him at a higher-than-normal risk level with the COVID-19 pandemic.
She invites people to contact her for more information about the quilting studio and what it offers. They can call 972-921-6715 or visit the official Facebook page at Seldom Seen Quilting.
“I’m living the dream for real,” Buckley said. “I wake up every day and do creative work that I love. What could be better than that?”