MEET LAURA PILAND OF
SLICE OF PI QUILTS
By Lexie Teel
Social media is a powerful tool. It connects people around the world, and serves as an outlet for them to share their lives, hobbies, and thoughts. And in the case of Laura Piland, it was also a means to discovering a dream she didn’t even know she had.
Piland grew up in small town in Kansas and spent her summers participating in 4-H Club activities at the county fair, dabbling in everything from photography and woodworking to geology and sewing.
She was raised around quilting; her mother and both grandmothers are all traditional quilters. Still, she recalls never being particularly interested in quilting herself. She tried sewing as a part of 4-H, but didn’t understand why someone would go to such an effort to make something that could easily be purchased in a store. And it wasn’t until 2010 that Laura picked up a needle and thread again.
After finding out that one of her close friends was having a baby, Piland had a sudden and overwhelming urge to create a quilt for the newborn…despite having never attempted to make one before.
“I have no idea where that itch came from!” she laughs.
Fortunately, she had a hand-me-down sewing machine that her mother gifted her “just in case.” She took a trip to the only fabric store she knew—Jo-Ann—and turned to YouTube to learn how to make her first quilt.
Hydra, Piland’s current favorite quilt
“I didn’t follow a pattern, and I had no idea if I was doing anything the ‘right’ way, but I absolutely loved making it and figuring it out,” she fondly recalls.
“I learned so much with that first quilt. As soon as the quilt was finished, I wanted to start a new one to try out all the things I had learned,” she continues. “I decided then that I wanted to try something new with every quilt I made so I could keep learning and creating.”
She continued to make quilts in the following years. And after her son was born in 2013, she left her job as a middle school mathematics teacher and became a stay-at home mom, quilting during nap times.
“Quilting was truly a therapy for me during those beginning mom years! I clung to the progress I made on quilts,” she says. “I absolutely loved that I had something to show for my time instead of just another pile of dishes.”
Her second son was born in 2015. That year, she set a goal to make 15 quilts, and finished the year by nearly doubling that goal.
That same year, Piland joined the Instagram quilting community and began sharing her quilts on the social platform. Just as she learned how to create her first quilt using social media, she was able to use it to launch a career in the quilting world.
Flurry, one of Piland’s favorite textured quilts
During college, Piland earned a Bachelors degree in Entrepreneurship and a Masters degree in Education. And throughout her years as a math teacher, she often imagined owning her own business, but wasn’t sure what kind she should pursue.
“Almost immediately after posting my quilts, people began asking for patterns,” she remembers excitedly. At the same time, the owner of her local quilt shop asked if she would write the pattern for their shop’s Row-by-Row Experience.
“I knew it was the right time to switch from a hobby to a business. I began to realize that my background in math and teaching, combined with my entrepreneurial spirit, would make quilt pattern design a fantastic path for me too!”
Sliced, the quilt that helped Piland find her niche
While she spent many years not knowing what she wanted to do when she “grew up,” Piland knew she’d found the answer when started Slice of Pi Quilts.
“This job began ticking every single box on my dream job checklist. I can now say without any doubt whatsoever, this is my dream job and exactly what I want to do when I grow up!
“No matter what the inspiration, the goal of every quilt pattern is to create something unique and not seen before,” Piland says. “My patterns are fun, not too serious, eye-catching, and one-of-a-kind. I want you to look at my pattern and say, ‘I haven’t seen that before!’”
To fuel the designs in her ever-changing portfolio, Laura compiles an inspiration folder of photographs of things that catch her eye, and is on the constant lookout for different sewing and quilting techniques she hasn’t tried before.
“When I find a fabric I like, I go through my inspiration photos and start thinking, ‘What if…’” she says as she describes her process. “Some quilts start with the design first, then I add fabric, but others start with fabric, then I come up with a design.”
She also finds joy in creating patterns that have a “wow” factor, but come together quickly. “I have a knack for designing and making quilts that are start to finish in just a few hours. If a quilt takes more than a few days, I’ve lost interest,” she says.
Her favorite part of the quilting process is, after all, starting the next quilt! “I always have the next three to four quilts planned out in my head, and I’m always so excited to start the next one,” she explains. “I love the challenge and thrill of figuring out a technique, and I equally love figuring out the quilty math to make it happen!
“When I first started quilting, I thought there were rules and everything had a ‘right way.’ I quickly learned there are no less than 20 different ways to do the exact same thing, and none are more ‘right’ than the next.”
Piland attended her first Quilt Market in the spring of 2017. “I got so much out of the experience,” she recalls. “I was able to connect with others and really develop a plan for how I wanted to contribute to the industry.”
Two years later, she returned as an exhibitor, dedicating a massive amount of time and work to make the most out of her experience. “You get out what you put in,” she says.
And while she got her start online and owes much of her success to social media, Piland stands by the notion that there is nothing comparable to a face-to-face experience.
“Being able to spend time with peers, colleagues, and quilt shop owners is invaluable,” she says. “Quilt Market allows me to make connections with companies, designers, and shop owners that just aren’t possible online.
“The quilting industry is one where people help other people. We all rise together. Quilt shops couldn’t exist without fabric pattern designers, and vice versa. We’re all in this together, and the best success comes when working together.”
For more information and to see more Slice of Pi quilt patterns, visit www.sliceofpiquilts.com
International Quilt Market/Houston
Events begin October 24
George R. Brown Convention Center
Houston, Texas, USA
International Quilt Market/Pittsburgh
Events begin May 13
Classes begin May 14
David L. Lawrence Convention center
International Quilt Market/Houston
Events begin Oct. 23
Classes begin Oct. 24
George R. Brown Convention Center
NOTE: Quilt Market is a credentialed
trade show only, and not open to
For information on these or any other Quilts, Inc. shows, visit Quilts.com.
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