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It’s 2020. It’s been 10 years since I started my business Lone Tree Designs. 10 years. Did you all know that being a professional quilter, lecturer, and teacher is my second act? The fact that I am 10 years into my “second” act, makes me feel very old this evening. When I feel old, I get nostalgic, so maybe you will indulge me with a more personal post this time.

Prior to beginning my business, I taught 7-12 grade English, and all the history, geography, American government, and economics classes at a Class D private school (not all at the same time!) Growing up, I was a very creative girl. My mom and my Great Aunt Adelaide taught me everything they knew: crochet, macrame, hand-stitching, sewing, painting with tube paint, ceramics, canning, and even some leather tooling–all of these before I was 12 years old. When I wasn’t learning crafts, I read voraciously. I knew from a very early age that I loved learning and wanted to be a teacher. A teacher of what? I wasn’t sure…

For a long time, I thought I would be a home economics teacher. By the time I was in high school, I was pretty knowledgeable about all areas of home economics (and was the county home economics judging champion 3 years running at our county fair). I loved everything about the field…except sewing. Years of 4-H sewing had soured me on making garments. Back in the early 80’s there were lots of red and white ribbons hanging on garments at the fair and only one or two blue or purple ones. Needless to say, mine were often red, and the criticism to justify the red ended up discouraging me from sewing.

I went to college intending to be a high school home ec teacher, majoring in what I knew and loved most, the art of the home and all that it entailed. After the first semester, I actually researched my major and found out how much sewing I would have to do…Yikes! It scared me right out of that plan!

Over the years, my desire to teach never waned, but my field of interest turned to English. Then, after being married, and having my son, I decided that I wanted to graduate. The quickest degree available to me was a Social Sciences teaching degree. I took it and ran.

For 16 years, I taught. I do love history and geography, don’t get me wrong, but the creative part of me was dying inside. I didn’t have the time to pursue other interests. Teaching is a wonderful profession, but it will literally suck the life right out of you, if you let it. My desperate scrap-booking in the summer and over Christmas break were my only creative outlet. I had stopped sewing. I didn’t have time to read.

About 13 years into my teaching career, I had the opportunity to teach English for a year. I taught 7-12 grade English, and while I was insanely busy, I loved every minute. It awakened my creativity. I began team-teaching Yearbook, and I first helped and then took charge of the monthly school newspaper that went out to 1200 people. I thrived in those creative areas.

When, the school hired a full time English teacher, I lost that creative part of my life. I stuck around for another year, but I was done teaching, or so I thought. I left the only career I had known, and that I thought I would do forever, in 2007. It took me a couple of years, but I eventually found my way back to teaching.

This time, I am teaching from a place of passion and creativity that I just did not have in the history classroom. I love quilting. Everything about it excites me. The thrill of choosing a pattern and finding just the right fabrics leads to precise cutting and piecing, and then, the step that I am privileged to do for both myself and others, the quilting!

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my career as a high school teacher, but mainly because I loved my students. The subject itself did not ignite the kind of passion in me that it should have. What I lacked in passion for my subject matter, I made up for in love for my kids. I was truly blessed with hundreds of students over the years that I really did enjoy.

I still enjoy my students, although they are in a different stage of their lives than my fresh-faced teens. My second act allows me to combine two things that I absolutely love, quilting and teaching. I have found my true calling and passion, and every day I get to “just create.”

Sandi Griepenstroh

Sandi Griepenstroh


I started quilting in the early 90's as a young mom while I was still teaching high school social sciences and English. Now it is my full time job, and I love sharing the joy that quilting has brought into my life through lecturing, trunk shows, teaching everything from piecing to machine quilting, and longarm quilting the pieced quilt tops that others have made. I am a maker through and through, and I can't wait to meet my fellow makers and talk quilting!

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