Middletown native Ashley Malinowski is only 19, but has owned her own business for more than two years now.

Middletown native Ashley Malinowski is only 19, but has owned her own business for more than two years now.

The 2010 Middletown High School graduate started Midnight Quilter when she was just 17 years old, right after graduation. 

“I have always wanted to own a business, so it truly is a dream come true,” she said.

And she says it’s the perfect job as a college student.

“I am able to make my own hours, and choose as many hours as I want to work in a week.”

Each month, Malinowski’s business averages between 25 and 35 orders.

“They can range in price from $40 to $500, depending on the size, the complexity of the quilting patters, how much thread is used and if I supply the batting,” she said.

Through mid-December, she said she is busiest – mainly with holiday quilts.

Baby quilts are another popular item, which range from $40 to $75.

During her senior year of high school, Malinowski attended the Machine Quilting Expo in Rhode Island, where she took a longarm machine quilting class.

For the rest of the show, she heavily debated buying the longarm machine.

“I drove my parents insane,” she said. “But in the end, I did purchase the machine.”

The University of Delaware student says that her mom was her inspiration in getting started in the craft.

“My mom also used to sew clothes and is a quilter,” Malinowski said. “She took me to all the summer camps and we often quilt together now.”

When Malinowski was 7, she began sewing and attended her first summer camp in Wilmington at Loder’s Sewing Center where she learned how to make clothes, tote bags, pincushions and pillows. 

The next year, she advanced to the quilting summer camp where she finished her project two days ahead of schedule.

Then, even though she was a year younger than the rest of the kids, she was taken into the advanced quilting camp, where she rotary cut, pieced and quilted a full size log cabin bed quilt in a week, she said.

“I was hooked.”

At 12, Malinowski entered her first competition with the Delaware State Fair children’s department. And each year until she was 17, she won first place.

For two years in a row, she has won first place in the teen department.

“Quilting has taken me places I thought I would never be able to go,” she said.

The college student is the Vice President and Program Chair for the Ladybug Quilt Guild in Newark, a group with more than 150 members.

Most recently, Malinowski has traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, where she was invited to be a part of her longarm quilting machine’s company’s, “My Handi Quilter Story.”

“It was an all expenses paid, three day trip out to their warehouse and training facility.”

While there, she starred in a video the company is making about how users got started with their machine brand.

How she does it

The machine Malinowski uses, the HQ Pro-Stitcher with HQ18 Avante Package, costs about $18,000 with the computer, machine and frame.

The throat of it has an 18-inch quilting space, and the frame is about 15 feet long and five feet wide.

“You definitely need a large room for this machine,” she said. “It takes up the one side of my parents’ basement.”

For her personal quilts, Malinowski makes her own tops. But for customers, she usually has them bring the fabric to her.

She said about 10 percent of her business is custom quilting, but most of the time, she does the edge to edge, all over quilting pattern.

The batting, which is the fluffy stuff in the center of a quilt, she says she usually supplies.

“The customer will provide the backing fabric, which is one giant piece of fabric,” she said.

Once she has all of the materials, she sandwiches all three layers together – with the batting in between.

“Then I provide my services, and use the longarm quilting machine to quilt all three layers together.”

What makes the business interesting is that quilts are rarely the same.

“I am not stuck doing the same thing every night, which gives me a much welcomed challenge.”