by Kelly Johnson
A creative passion has burned inside Jessica Bretz since she was a very young girl.
At 6, she was hand-sewing scraps of fabric together, making whatever happened to come together.
Today Jessica is an accomplished quilter, sharing her knowledge and talents with other quilters and young sewers.
Not long after she took needle and thread in hand, Jessica began eyeing her mother’s sewing machine, hoping to learn how to use it and make something a little more complicated.
Lynnea Bretz told her daughter she had to wait until she was 7 to use the machine.
Since the age of 7, Jessica has been using that sewing machine to create everything from doll clothes and prairie dresses to quilts and clothing.
It took Jessica, then 10, a month to create her first quilt.
“I set a deadline for myself,” she recalls with a smile, adding that she had indeed finished the project in June, one month after she started.
The drive to create comes from within for 18-year-old Jessica, a Princeton resident and the oldest of six children. She has a passion to turn the vision in her head into reality, a drive to see the finished product.
“It’s a surprise almost,” Jessica said about seeing the finished product.
“They can turn out so many different combinations.”
Jessica attributes her desire to sew in part to watching her mother, who started sewing in college and quilts as well.
“My mom helped a lot,” she said.
Jessica also learned through other sources, including taking classes at quilt shops and through 4-H.
“I’ve always been crafty,” Jessica said.
Since she has started quilting, Jessica has created five block-of-the-month quilts, where a quilt shop picks a quilt and offers a square a month. In the course of a year, the 12-block quilt is finished.
Jessica has also quilted as part of 4-H, bringing her “Off the Beaten Path” quilt to the county fair, where she earned a reserved prize and an invitation to the Minnesota State Fair.
Thus far, Jessica has completed 13 quilts. Add to that a handful of unfinished quilts with just the tops finished, and Jessica has quite a colorful, hand-crafted collection housed in her closet.
Only one quilt has been given away, although Jessica loves to sew other items to give to family and friends.
Part of the reason for keeping her quilts is that each one takes a long time to complete.
Jessica spends countless hours formulating the colors and patterns in her mind. Then comes the sewing and quilting.
“I’m drawn to intricate, putzy quilts,” she says with a laugh before describing how she created a double wedding ring quilt at age 14. It took three years to complete.
Despite the hours required to finish each one, Jessica can’t keep from quilting.
“It’s like a magnet,” she said. “I love all different types of quilts.”
Today, Jessica, the daughter of Jason and Lynnea Bretz, shares her knowledge of quilting and her eye for color with patrons at The Noble Quilter, a job she started in September 2010.
“I get lots of inspiration working here,” she said.
Jessica helps quilters pick fabrics and colors for their creations and shares her love of sewing with young girls by teaching classes offered at the store.
Earlier this year Jessica taught girls to make paper dolls, while an upcoming class will find her teaching girls to make a doll beds.
“She’s wonderful with children,” Angie said.
“I do not know of many young ladies that are as committed and as talented with as much integrity as Jessica,” she said. “She truly is a very special young lady.”