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Mathematician Mom Reengineers Quilting

20 November, 2005

MAHWAH , N.J. ñ During her career as a software engineer, Marci Baker solved difficult mathematical problems such as "How do you guide a 500 MPH anti-tank missile with a laser beam?" When she became a stay-at-home mom, she turned to solving another problem involving precision and speed: "How do you make a traditional quilt in one tenth the time?" Along the way she discovered a sewing machine that appeals to both her quilting and her engineering sides.

After working for seven years for some of America’s largest high tech companies, Baker and her husband decided she should stay home with their two small boys. A lifelong sewing enthusiast, Baker had not had much time for quilting since she’d been married. Now looking for a creative outlet, she decided to focus on quilting and soon discovered that using the systematic approach of an engineer she could make the time consuming process of cutting and sewing go much more quickly.

Baker developed a method based on "strip piecing," which eliminates the need to measure and sew together every small piece of fabric in a quilt top. Instead, strips of fabric are sewn together, cut diagonally, and then pieced together in a pattern. Using Baker's method, a traditional quilt that would normally take about 50 hours to complete can be pieced in as little as five hours.

Realizing she'd created a marketable product, Baker designed patterns and quilting tools and began selling them through her company, Alicia’s Attic, which she named for her grandmother. With their ability to make quilting dramatically faster and easier, Baker’s products turned out to be ideal for the two largest segments of the potential quilting market: experienced quilters and women who would like to try. As a result, she's traveled and taught extensively. She’s also gained attention outside the sewing world with a feature in a major women's magazine and an appearance on the Jane Pauley show.

Two years ago Baker opened a retail space, also called Alicia's Attic, to use as a workshop, hold quilting classes and offer her books, patterns, and quilting tools. She also sells the Janome line of sewing machines. She began using Janome sewing machines in her classes because she knew they would be easy for new quilters to operate and give experienced quilters excellent results.

She does her own quilting on the Memory Craft 6500 Professional, which operates at up to 1,000 stitches per minute and has almost twice the workspace of the traditional home sewing machine. Janome designed it to have the power and stitch quality of an industrial machine, but with the quiet operation of a home machine. Baker says she’s looking forward to using Janome’s newly released Memory Craft 6600 Professional, which has even more advanced features.

More information on Baker’s time-saving quilting technique and her other products are available at Information on all Janome sewing machines is available on the Janome Machines & Accessories page.