After a more than 40-year career as a medical technologist, Ennis resident Sandy Pearson is now a full-time quilter.
“Quilting is very much like the process of surveying a laboratory,” Pearson said. “You are hunting for a project, hunting for fabric, piecing things together. So, it’s a natural process for me.”
Pearson’s medical technology career started with a degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1972 and a stint in the Peace Corps on the island of Yap. While there, she met and married Huston Pearson.
“He was with the Coast Guard,” Pearson said. “We got married on Guam in traffic court in 1975.”
The couple spent two years in New Jersey before relocating to Austin, Texas, where Pearson did medical research at the University of Texas for four years. At that time, she joined the survey branch of the Texas Department of State Health Services and remained with the state until 1992, when she went to work at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
“We would survey hospital labs, independent labs, doctor’s office labs – anywhere where they were doing laboratory work, to make sure people get quality health care,” Pearson said.
It was a box of her daughter’s elementary-school T-shirts discovered during the family’s move to Ennis in 2006 that started her quilting journey.
“Laura had taught us to recycle and what better way to recycle than to make a T-shirt quilt,” Pearson recalled. “I didn’t know anything. I went to JoAnn Fabric and found a pattern, bought the supplies and made the quilt.”
Pearson still takes that original T-shirt quilt to craft shows, where she sells quilts of all sizes and takes orders for custom-made quilts. Since 2006, she has taken many classes and learned a number of techniques that have helped her bring her quilting to the level of artwork.
“The best class I ever took was the beginning quilting class at Common Threads Quilting in Waxahachie,” she said. “It was filled with simple techniques that really helped me get over my hump.”
Still finishing her quilts on her domestic sewing machine, Pearson became frustrated with the limitations and, in 2014, asked employees at Common Threads for a recommendation. They sent her to a little shop that was, at the time, directly across the street called Seldom Seen Quilting Studio.
It was there Pearson learned to use a long-arm quilting machine to get the kind of finish she was looking for in her products. By 2015, Pearson was taking her quilts to arts and craft shows at the rate of about seven or eight a year. She doubled that number when she retired in March 2019.
“I love talking to people,” Pearson said. “We start by talking about my quilts but then talk about quilting itself. Many people who come to arts and crafts shows are quilters – we talk about how long they’ve been quilting, what kind of quilting they like and we share quilting tips and techniques. Often non-quilters would like to be quilters and so they ask how to get started.”
Pearson is a member of the Creative Quilters Guild of Ellis County and the Cedar Hill Quilters’ Guild, where she enjoys the many presentations and workshops that continue to expand her craft.
She and her husband still live in Ennis – along with their six cats, three dogs, small parrot, one donkey, seven horses.Pearson’s mother also lives with them. “She moved from Wisconsin and lives with us and she turned 100 last year,” Pearson said. “So, I’ve got many more years to quilt with longevity in our family.”