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"Sewing" the seeds of quilting success

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kate Maurer
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Just as the military brings together a variety of people to make one big working force, Tech. Sgt. Cristina Tepsick, 100th Mission Support Group knowledge operator from Mineola, Texas, brings together fabric of varied types to make quilts and quilting patterns.

Now a three-and-a-half-year quilter, Tepsick was featured on the cover of "Love Patchwork & Quilting," a quilting magazine, which reaches 70 countries worldwide.

"It all started before leaving for my remote tour to Korea," Tepsick said. "I needed something to do while being away from my family for a year."

Her husband bought her a sewing machine and she packed her bags with plenty of fabric. Next thing she knew, Tepsick returned home with more than 11 quilts under her belt. She learned most of her skills from internet videos and online tutorials.

"I just started quilting," Tepsick said. "It's so much fun and I even tend to get obsessed, wanting everything to be perfect."

Tepsick said her career as an Airman contributes immensely to her success as a quilter.

"The military has taught me that to achieve a goal, you have to stick with it," said the quilter.

The technical sergeant said before the military, she wouldn't have persevered through the stressful times of quilting, but her time as an Airman showed her that to get where she wanted to be she had to work hard for it.

"Plus, my time working in manpower kind of translated when it came to the math behind quilting," Tepsick said.

She explained that if a quilt is to fit a queen size bed, but certain fabric squares are to be specific sizes, there's a lot of math involved. Her duties in manpower prepared her for that.

"It's also my creative outlet," said Tepsick. "It's really nice to be able to do that and my job."

Aside from working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Tepsick is a wife and mother of three, and she's taking college classes toward her degree in graphic design. But she still manages to keep up with her quilting and quilting blog.

"I know I have to do this," said Tepsick. "A lot of [service members] tend to pressure service members to get a government job after retiring from the military, but some people don't want that. Some people just want to do what they love, and I want to quilt."

Tepsick has been in the U.S. Air Force for 16 years and plans to retire when she reaches 20 years. She'll then start her journey as a full-time quilter, quilt-pattern designer and aspiring fabric designer.

"I really like quilting because it makes me feel a connection to the past," Tepsick said.

Tepsick spoke about how women have been quilting for centuries and when she quilts she feels that connection to them. She added that there's also a whole community of quilters, some of whom she admires greatly.

"When I was featured on the front page of the magazine and people who I admire and I look up to were emailing me saying how they loved the quilt, or that it was the best quilt they've ever seen in the magazine, it made me want to cry," Tepsick reflected.

Now she teaches friends, gives online tutorials and posts tips and information on her blog to help other quilters.

"I learned quilting from Cristina and I like it a lot. I made my first quilt last spring just before I deployed and it was the blanket I took with me to Afghanistan," said Master Sgt. Carol Cannady, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-United Kingdom executive assistant to the director, as well as a friend and quilting student of Tepsick. "She has me addicted to quilting now.  When I returned from my deployment in October, quilting was one of the first things I started doing. I am in the middle of making three more quilts now and I'm still calling her for advice and help on things when I'm not sure what to do." 

Her friend also spoke about the moment when she could really tell Tepsick loved quilting.

"The first time I learned that Cristina was a quilter was when we had a girls' night out for our friend's birthday. Cristina had to leave early and we teased her saying that she didn't have her husband's permission, but she laughed and replied 'no, my husband doesn't care if I stay out but I have to get home because I'm in the middle of finishing a quilt.' She gave up a girl's night out so she could go home and quilt!" Cannady exclaimed. "After that I saw quilting magazines on her desk and she showed me all kinds of websites while telling me all about quilting. That's how I really knew how much she loved it."

Tepsick made it known that quilting wasn't the first creative outlet she's tried but definitely the only one that made her feel the way she does about it.
"I've tried other artistic avenues, like painting and playing guitar, and all those things are so wonderful," Tepsick said. "However, a quilt is artwork that can provide someone physical comfort and what's better than wrapping yourself in a cozy piece of art?"