'Quilt Queen' stitches her way to fame

Published: Sep. 21, 2019 at 9:15 PM CDT
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A North Dakota native has surged to the top of the quilting industry. Her work has blanketed the covers of many national magazines and she's won top prizes at numerous shows and exhibits.

You could say "The King and one of the Queens of the Quilt World" reside in Fargo, North Dakota.

"I named him Elvis, because he's you know, just the king," said Clementine Buzick.

"Elvis" is the long arm quilting machine Buzick wields for hours on end.

"It's like drawing with thread," Buzick.

This tiny office is her castle.

"She just looks at a quilt and knows how to make it perfect," said Janet Gerszewski, West Fargo.

Needles are the tools of her trade.

Buzick finishes quilts customers create by stitching designs into the fabric.

"You kind'a get into a rhythm, it's like listening to music," said Buzick.

"She does it free hand, I think that's what a good quality of her's is. It's not computerized, it's just free hand," said Gerszewski.

Clem got the "stitch" to sew at an early age.

"My dad taught me how to sew when I was eight and I've been sewing ever since," said Buzick.

Buzick's business partner, Beth Nufer, is a designer, and working together they've threaded their way to the top of the quilt world.

"She's in catalogs, she's in quilt magazines, she's amazing," said Gerszewski.

The International Quilt Festival in Houston is the industry's most prestigious prize. Clem and her partner have placed first several times and their work has graced the covers of many industry publications.

"We had no idea it was going to be on the cover, so that was really a neat thing," said Buzick.

Her latest masterpiece is being photographed for the Pacific International Quilt Festival.

"It's been quite a ride," said Buzick.

Notoriety isn't what keeps Buzick stitching.

"I really enjoy doing it, its a lot of fun," said Buzick.

She finishes around 150 quilts a year.

She works on her customer's orders for up to two months.

"It's something that makes them feel good about themselves, and I really like that, because there is a lot of bad in the world and it's really nice to do something that makes you feel good," said Buzick.

When Buzick finishes a quilt, she knows it will keep a customer warm, and she hopes it creates the same feeling for anyone who sees her work.

Buzick recently won $20,000 for taking first place and Best of Show at the American Quilt Society show in Paducah, Kentucky.