Meet Toby Lischko
Interest in crafts started at a very early age
I have always been interested in crafts from a very early age. I was about 8 years old when my dad made me a spool weaver (I am not sure if it was called that). It was a wooden spool with 4 or more nails on the top. You would wind and weave yarn on it and it would come through the hole as a tube. I dressed up my dolls with long tubes sewn together.
As I got older I started teaching myself knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, needlepoint, crewel, English smocking, even tatting! Each hobby lasted a few years but I would eventually get bored with them.
I come from a long line of sewers. No one in my family has ever quilted, but my mother was a home economics teacher and seamstress and her father was a tailor. In 1985 I thought it would be fun for my mom and I to do something together, so we signed up for our first quilting class with Jackie Robinson, then the owner of a quilt shop in St. Louis, Missouri. I was working full time as a Special Education teacher and this was my summer activity. I would take the lesson home and work on it until 2:00 or 3:00 A.M. so I would not forget what I learned. In the six week class, I finished 5 or 6 quilt tops (some of which never got quilted). I was so proud of myself that I was able to put 3 colors together (light, medium, and dark)! That summer I got hooked on quilting, but sadly to say, my mother did not. She preferred to stick with sewing clothes. I have to say that I have never, in the 30+ years I have been quilting, gotten bored with it. It just keeps getting better!
Family and career
For the next 10 years I took various quilting classes and updated my techniques. I was busy raising my two children, taking care of a household including 2 dogs and 4 cats, going back to school, working full time, and my husband, Mike, a Vietnam, Marine Corps veteran worked long hours, so I did not have too much time to make a lot of quilts.
In 1995 a new quilt shop opened in St. Louis near where I lived and I started working and teaching there. As new books would come in to the shop, I would devour them and teach new classes. I also started designing some of my own work and entering the Hoffman Challenge. The first quilt I entered in 1996 was called Butterfly Garden. It was accepted and traveled around the country the following year. I entered again in 1997 and that quilt Tropical Paradise won a second place prize for the pieced division! What a thrill! That just spurred me on to enter more shows and contests. My biggest thrill was when I won first place in the wall, first entry division at the AQS in Paducah in 2005!
In 2001 I wrote to P&B Textiles to see if they would be interested in having me design quilts with their new collections and they wrote me back saying they were looking for new designers. My first commissioned work was called St. Louis Courthouse Steps. After that, I began to be one of their regular designers. I also started teaching and lecturing at quilt guilds around the state.
What a journey!
Things just snowballed after that! I started contacting magazines and other fabric companies over the next few years, adding new ones as I found time. I was working full time as a School Psychological Examiner and full time as a quilt designer. I do not know where I found the time to do both, but I did.
In May, 2007 I retired from education so I could pursue my true love of quilting. Since then I have taught at many national quilt shows, written two books, St. Louis Stars and Kaleidostars, and continue to teach across the country to local quilt guilds. I also currently do or have done commissioned work for P&B, Timeless Treasures, RJR Fabrics, Benartex, Clothworks, Hoffman, McCalls Quilting, House of White Birches (Quilter’s World), American Patchwork & Quilting and Fons and Porter.
I hope to spread my love of quilting to all who will listen and take time to look at my work. If your guild or shop is interested in having me for a workshop or lecture, take a look at my lists on my workshops page. I consider myself a traditional quilter. I like to take traditional blocks and create something new and unique. When I teach classes I want to impart my love of quilting and show others it only looks hard. I break everything down to basic steps that even a beginner can do. I want people to leave my class saying “Wow, I did not know I could do that!” My philosophy is “Quilting should be fun, not hard”.