The 26th Annual Gathering of Quilters held at Wayne High School on March 19 was a resounding success. Over 600 quilt enthusiasts mainly from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio pre-registered and others dropped in to enjoy the day’s activities. Attendees found Pat Sloan’s lecture to be funny and informative. The beautiful quilts drew admiration for their artistry and techniques. At the philanthropy table visitors learned about the Alzheimer touch quilts, ACSPCA dog bed project, Camp Watcha-Wanna-Do quilts for children with cancer and all of the other organizations that benefit from the generosity of the Appleseed Quilters Guild.
The vendor area was a beehive of activity as quilts, quilt fabric, hangers, tools, books, puzzle, and stencils flew off the displays. The vendors were friendly and knowledgeable making for a most pleasurable experience for all.
Now plastic stencils, used to trace designs on quilts have been around for decades. At the time of the nation’s bicentennial, feathered wreaths and feathered border stencils were commonly used for borders and the “alternating plain block”. It was such a delight to have my booth close to Linda’s Sew & So of Celina, Ohio: The back of their booth was an entire wall of hundreds of stencils ranging from the traditional to holiday, animals and geometrics.
The owners David and Linda Huston started their fabric business in 1982 as a hobby on a shoestring and a small loan at a time when banks were happy to loan to anyone with good credit on a simple signature. While David worked his “real” job providing for Linda and their two daughters age 4 years and 4 months, Linda was at the shop ordering fabric and providing excellent service. Four months later David’s job was phased out and suddenly the “hobby business” needed to quickly morph into an income generating business. Their first decision was to become Janome and Brother sewing machine dealers because their sales would have greater profit margins.
Linda loves to hand quilt and she thought quilt stencils might also be a nice addition to their inventory so in 1994 upon getting a reluctant okay from David she orders a small variety of them and watches them fly off the wall during a Quilt Shop Hop. She asks David whether she should order more and he tells her “yes”, so she orders 75 more. They too are well received and to her surprise, David decides to take over stencil selection and he now orders hundreds of them for the shop and for their road shows. David orders them from Quilting Creations in Zoar, Ohio. Their catalog is inches thick and has grown over the years as they have bought out other stencil companies. According to David border, holiday and “kid friendly” designs are the most popular. At the shop they provide a long table so customers can lay out their quilts and place their stencil on top so they can see exactly what it will look like once quilted: No surprises!
No one was more surprised of David’s love of stencils than Linda. She has dubbed him the “Stencil King” for his vast knowledge of both their designs and market. He tells me how people watch for their shows in the tri-state area and how quilters tend to stock up. If they are unable to make a show, attendees will often express their disappointment to the show management. Over the years Quilting Creations has added continuous line stencils for free motion quilters. David points out that scrap bookers, tin punch workers and woodworkers who do scroll work have been known to purchase their stencils too.
Linda and David now married 44 years still love working together. If David’s job loss in 1982 threw them for a loop their hard work has kept this Mom and Pop shop humming for 34 years even as other quilt and fabric shops have gone out of business. You might say Linda and David have not only left their “mark” on each other, they have stenciled themselves into the hearts of their loyal customers!
Lois Levihn is the owner of Born Again Quilts where customers from all over the USA purchase quilts and have them restored. The studio is located at 4005 South Wayne Avenue, Fort Wayne, IN and is open on Wednesdays from 5:30-7p.m., Saturday 9-2p.m. and by appointment.
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