My name is Giuseppe Ribaudo, AKA Giucy Giuce. Sewing has been a part of my life for longer than I can remember. My grandmother is a seamstress. I grew up in her home, my family lived on the lower level of my mother’s parents’ house in West Babylon, NY. My parents were restaurant owners so often times they were working. My sister and I would stay upstairs with my grandparents, my grandpa watching wrestling, my grandmother constructing, with great precision, clothing for everyone in my family. This is undoubtedly where my passion for sewing was born, but it wasn’t until years later that I would take scissors to fabric and begin working on my ownsewing projects.
I was about 20 when I became interested in using the skills I had learned from my grandmother. I was taking a costume class at my community college and started to see the potential of all you could do with just some fabric, a sewing machine, and the most basic notions. My first project was a kimono. The fabric was an intergalactic print from Walmart, of all places. Colorful planets spun in the black and blue background of the fabric. I was fascinated by the colors in it. In hindsight the quality was laughable, but the colors… The colors were spectacular. Each hue brighter than the last, the interplay of the rich, saturated blues and greens and oranges all interweaving and overlapping. It was intoxicating. But clothing wasn’t for me. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t feel that spark, that thing that makes you want to create over and over again.
A few years later I would meet a young man who would change my life forever. In college in Seattle, while I studied to be an actor, I met my first boyfriend. He was a quilter. A bad one. I would watch him sew his quilts and recall things I had seen my grandmother do in her garment construction. I’d make little suggestions about ways he could improve his sewing skills, but he didn’t really want to hear it. So I started making my own quilts. We lived across the street from a Hancock Fabrics. I still remember buying fabric for my first quilt. It was a travel-themed quilt. The fabrics were prints of stamps and passports and monuments and postcards. The colors were more subdued than what I use now: aqua, burnt orange, fatigue green. It was a simple pattern, bricks stacked on top of one another. It wasn’t much, but suddenly…that spark.
That first quilt I pretty much just cut up the bricks and sewed them together haphazardly. The second quilt, unbeknownst to me, was an improv quilt. I just kept adding fabric in different shapes. Then there was a simple patchwork quilt, on and on…
After two or three years of faking it, I bought my first quilting book. It was Elizabeth Hartman’s The Practical Guide to Patchwork. That’s the book that changed everything for me. The book inspired me to not only make quilts “the right way,” but also to be more considerate about my fabric choices.
While my relationship with that first boyfriend didn’t stick, my love for quilting has only grown. I unearthed this passion for textiles, their patterns and colors, the seemingly endless way the hues and designs work together. I bore easily, but not with quilting. It’s too diverse. There are too many ways to make something new.
With my passion for sewing growing every day, I started an Instagram account with the name Giucy Giuce. That little app has changed my life in a way that cannot be articulated. It’s the reason I still quilt today, the reason I am sitting here writing this story, the reason I have a job working at Andover fabrics… With that app I began to network myself and within just a few years quilting has gone from a hobby to an obsession to a career. How incredibly fortunate to be able to say that? That one of the things I love most in my life helps to put food in my belly and a roof on my head.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be sitting at my desk, next to my BERNINA 770QE, sharing my story. I feel so honored to be a part of the BERNINA family. So many of my absolute favorite makers and designers are connected to this remarkable brand. To have my name attached to it in even a small way is so incredibly gratifying. My grandmother came to visit me in my new apartment in Queens, just outside of NYC. She saw my new machine and didn’t quite know how to process it. She has sewn on an industrial machine from the 40’s her whole life. She was hesitant to try it, but I think I’ll try to talk her into it again. Who knows, maybe I can teach her something this time.