GroupWorks Member Spotlight: Quilter Janice Schindeler

Janice Schindeler doesn’t need to tell you she’s nearly always worked in food, by turns as an entrepreneur, a journalist and even a fry cook. The proof is in the pudding — or, the quilts as it were.

Her pizza, hamburger and cupcake quilts.

“My goal has been to learn as much about all the aspects of quilting, and then find my own path,” says Schindeler. “I don’t want to replicate patterns.”

And she hasn’t. Her first pizza quilt, created for Schindeler’s son, all 84 round inches of it, features a stuffed crust and detachable toppings (just as her son requested). The three-dimensional hamburger quilt, which has toured the country, and was inspired by Schindeler’s days as a short-order “hamburger queen,” boasts lettuce, tomato, a slice of American cheese and a thick, beefy patty. A cupcake quilt, made for her daughter, is piled high with patchwork frosting.

A past president and current member of Quilt Guild of Greater Houston, which has been using the GroupWorks platform since June 2016, Schindeler began her quilting journey in 1996. Today, she belongs to the lively quilting community that boasts up to 10 million quilters nationwide, thousands of guilds, and a museum, the National Quilt Museum, that draws more than 100,000 visitors annually.

Schindeler actually took up quilting in Australia, where she, her two children and her husband moved from Texas after her husband, who worked in the oil industry, was assigned there.

“I wasn’t working, and I didn’t know what to do with myself,” she says. “There were other families [from her husband’s company] who were going down to Australia at around the same time. One of the women called me and said, I’m taking a quilting class, would you like to go with me?”

Schindeler, who’d previously never quilted, was skeptical, but game.

“We took that class together, and I was just mesmerized by it,” Schindeler says. “It was just a one-day class, but soon we were taking two to three classes.”

Schindeler says she was struck by the friendship that the quilting classes offered, and by the kindness of the woman who ran the quilt shop.

“It was just what I needed,” she says.

And so Schindeler patched together a support network, along with quilts that were raffled off in fundraisers for her children’s school.

But Schindeler’s family was soon on the move again; her husband’s job next took them to London. It turned out quilting was just what she needed there, too.

“When I got to England,” she says, “I started teaching quilting classes to some of the fellow women in the expatriate life. I felt I had a skill that people wanted to know about.”

In 2003, Schindeler’s family returned to the states, and she returned to work. The former food editor of the Houston Post assumed the helm of the food section for the Houston Chronicle. But the newspaper gig was short-lived. She began freelancing, and launched a small business, Words & Food, that has become renown on the Houston farmers’ market circuit for its pimento cheese.

With all the changes, Schindeler says it took her a little while to get back to quilting. When she finally returned, she quilted by herself. Then, she decided to go to a meeting of the Quilt Guild of Greater Houston.

“I missed it [the club experience]  — I did realize that more so when I got with the group,” Schindeler says.

These days, Schindeler feels herself shifting her focus to story quilts, such as the one that documents her life and travels with her husband. That quilt is complete, but Schindeler’s quilting journey is far from over.

“I’m not a person who plans everything out,” she says.