I was so honored when I was contacted to be a featured Quilter of Arizona. I told my husband that I didn’t feel qualified. I feel that I am a quilt artist but I do not do complicated piecing. Someone once told me she was a “topper”. She liked to piece quilts but left the quilting to other more qualified. I guess that made me feel very good that I am the qualified person to quilt others quilts. That people put their beautiful work at my hands to enhance honors me.
I started sewing when I was eight years old with the 4-H. I credit my mom for helping me but she says it wasn’t her. My maternal Grandmother also taught me many different crafts. After learning the basics with the 4-H I learned much more through the Home Economics classes in high school. I also took an industrial sewing class in TX. That teacher said she would never give and “A” because there was always a mistake somewhere. That made me strive to perfection. I made most of my clothing in high school. However I lost the sewing bug and my mom’s sewing machine when I left home at 18 after marrying.
In 1986 my husband Mike and I moved to Yuma, Az. For our first anniversary my hubby got me my first sewing machine. I did little sewing for myself, finding readymade clothes were less expensive than making my own. Still having my machine, in 1998 I was wondering around Yuma trying to figure what to get my Mother in law for Christmas and saw a quilt in a shop window and thought, “I can make that and she would love it.”. I went in and the rest is history. I found my passion. My first quilt was a “Ragged Heart” wall hanging. In 99 my son Noble and I made a Levi quilt out of our old Levi’s. It was a great project to do with my son. My youngest son still sleeps with it today.
From that quilt I shortly started managing the shop. I quickly embraced everything quilting. I loved picking colors, I loved piecing, I loved teaching. Teaching just made me learn fast and more. The quilt shop closed within a few months, however, I was lucky to have a Longarm quilter here in Yuma that need help and asked me to come by and see what she could teach me. I was interested in learning the Longarm but nervous doing it on quilts not my own. I started quilting on my own quilts and learned a lot about tension and thread choices. After doing five quilts my mentor talked me into “doing her a favor” by quilting a friend of ours quilt, it went on from there. I continued working for her building up my confidence.
In 2001 Mike said if I would come back home he would buy me a longarm so I can work at home. Since I was taking my three year old, Joseph, with me to the shop I thought this would make things much easier. I got my longarm in April of 2001 and have been quilting ever since. I learn more and more each year and with every quilt I do.
I love piecing quilts but my greatest love is quilting. I am honored by the trust my customers have in me. I love enhancing their projects and putting a piece of me into each and every item. I am often asked if I regret starting a business out of my hobby. I have to say even after over 10 years I still love each and every day. I get to see beautiful things every day. My only regret is that I no longer get to do much piecing myself. However, when I do get to piece my tops it makes me love it even more.
Donna May Batson Gallery
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