For Betty Delaney, a 20-year passion and a brand new business all started with a trip to Paducah, Kentucky in 1988. An avid seamstress, Delaney spent many years making clothing for her five children, focused especially on her four girls. Her nest was finally empty, and her sewing hands were idle.
The trip to the American Quilter”s Society”s annual show was on a whim. Yet once she arrived, "The quilting bug bit and never let go," Delaney says. Surrounded by the giant works of art displayed at venues throughout Paducah, America”s quilting mecca, Delaney was instantly captivated. In the 20 years that followed, she has completed more than 21 quilts and opened the area”s own unique quilting mecca, Betty Sue”s Quilt Shop in Flowery Branch.
After the visit to the show, Delaney immediately began her first quilt, a graduation present for the oldest of her 16 grandchildren. From there, the self-taught quilter built up her quilting repertoire and rarely makes the same type of quilt twice. "I enjoy the creativity and challenge of a new method and a new pattern. It is a way to keep your mind sharp and stay creative," observes Delaney, who usually keeps between three and four quilts in progress at any given time.
Skilled at both hand quilting and machine quilting, Delaney plays no favorites, letting the design, fabric and pattern dictate which method she uses to complete each quilt.
Creating a finished quilt can take anywhere from three months for a machine made quilt to almost a year for a handmade piece. All of her quilts have been gifts for her family until finally, after 17 quilts, she made one to keep for her own home.
If creating 21 quilts in 20 years wasn”t enough, Delaney also found time to start Betty Sue”s Quilt Shop, which opened in 2007 in Flowery Branch. Tired of driving 60 miles round trip each time she need new fabrics and frustrated by trying to match fabrics over the Internet, she began this new venture with her daughter, Sue.
"It felt right when we decided to try it, and it has felt right ever since," Delaney acknowledges. A side benefit of Betty Sue”s is the instant venue it created for Delaney to pass along her knowledge and talents during the store”s popular quilting classes. "The beginner”s basics classes are my favorite to teach," she says. "The class starts with people who have never made a quilt and as the class goes on, it is thrilling to watch the progress each student is making. By the end of the class, everyone has completed a simple quilt."
Twenty years after that Paducah trip, Delaney is working on her final graduation quilt for her sixteenth grandchild. Her 27 (and counting) great grandchildren are already lining up to get their own Delaney original. In the meantime, they visit the Braselton Antique Mall where her completed works of art are periodically displayed and stop by Betty Sue”s to visit their grandma and her quilts in person.
For more information, visit www.bettysues.com.