Featured Gift Shop Artist: Kathy Sanchez

Kathy’s beautiful handkerchief quilt

Carolyn McLean

This month, the SaddleBrooke Gift Shop is pleased to introduce Kathy Sanchez, whose talents and interests are as varied as her exuberant and outspoken personality. Kathy was born in Seattle, Wash. and lived her entire life in the Pacific Northwest before coming to SaddleBrooke a year ago to enjoy the heat and desert life.

Kathy says that she sews almost anything fun, cute, and useful and can’t remember a time when she wasn’t sewing. She loves to create with fabric and no rules, saying she will try any texture of fabric and see how it works out. She started by learning to quilt, then tried different applique processes and anything she sees on YouTube that looks interesting. Currently, she is making dish towels with applique characters using just her ideas, instead of patterns, and adding cross stitch and embroidery to some of the towels that she sells in the gift shop. To add to her repertoire, she also makes fabric cards that are free-hand desert scenes, adding that she makes flower pins and wristlet purses, too, but she really likes the towels best. They make excellent hostess gifts, or a little something to give that’s not too over the top.

The highlight of her day is enjoying her bright and sunny sewing room, large enough to have a cutting surface always up, a planning area, and a closet that has been adapted to hold bins of fabric. She bought a Viking sewing machine when she was 20 and used it for 20 years, and then her husband lovingly upgraded her to a serger machine one Christmas. She now creates on three different, sophisticated machines. Kathy says, “Sewing can be an expensive hobby, but then so is his golfing!”

“I just start by looking at my fabrics and create a picture in my mind and then start cutting. I lay out the pieces on the towel and work from there. When I get something I like, I fuse it to the towel so it’s stable enough for me to start stitching the edges down. When I am finished, I wash and iron it and take it to the gift shop. One very interesting project is a quilt made with decorative handkerchiefs that are all folded differently to make small dresses that fill each quilt block.” She says she can go into her sewing room and be “gone” all day! “Don’t come looking for food, because this is not the kitchen!” And don’t tell her she has too much fabric; she just has too many ideas and not enough time.

Kathy met her husband Steve while they were both working for General Telephone in Everett, Wash., and this November, they will celebrate their 28th anniversary. They love to travel and have spent 21 days backpacking through Europe and have been on two Viking Cruises, seeing the Mediterranean and many interesting ports of call. That said, she is very happy to be home and enjoying the quiet atmosphere of SaddleBrooke, sharing their home with two parakeets named Blue and Yellow Bird; two cats, Abby and Mini Mo; and the leader of the group is a curious little pup named Nacho. Kathy also fosters and nurses furry pets waiting for adoption.

When asked about her thoughts on retirement and living in SaddleBrooke, she says, “Oh my! I have a lot of opinions. I would say to folks, though, don’t just sit on your duff because you are older now and don’t have the energy you used to have. Do something that you love and brings joy to others. Fostering, campaigning for animal rights, helping elementary school children by listening to them read out loud, volunteer somewhere helping someone. Make the most of your talents and time that the good Lord has given you. It will give you a reason to get up and keep going.”

The Gift Shop is in SaddleBrooke One, near the clubhouse and next door to the Fitness Center. The Gift Shop is staffed alternately by member artists who volunteer their time to help ensure the shop’s success, and all the items offered for sale are made exclusively by SaddleBrooke residents. If you are looking for one-of-a-kind, handcrafted gifts, clothing, books, jewelry, artwork, games, or greeting cards, please stop by and say hi to your resident artisans. The gift shop is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.