It’s not your grandma’s quilting store
|Quilt being stitched on the Gammill “longarm” machine. Photos by Wayne Tidwell|
By Wayne Tidwell
|Owner Karen Williams at the Quilt Shop on Main in Jasper.|
Despite its quaint and friendly décor, the Quilt Shop on Main is not your grandma’s quilt store. For one thing, grandma probably never heard of a Gammill Optimum longarm machine with a Statler Stitcher that you will find in this shop on Jasper’s Main Street.
Longarm quilting is the process by which a longarm sewing machine is used to sew together a quilt top, quilt batting and quilt backing into a finished quilt. The speed and ease with which a quilter can have a quilt top finished by a longarm quilter has caused an increase in recent years for quilting according to Wikipedia.
The software driven longarm machine may be one of the reasons people come from afar to visit the shop. It has the capability to stitch 4,000 quilting patterns and designs. That, along with the array of fabrics, books, patterns, classes and clubs keep the customers coming at the three-year-old shop that co-owner Karen Williams says is “doing well” and has grown every year since its opening.
“We are more of a destination shop,” Williams said. “People come from Marietta, Kennesaw, Woodstock and other towns to visit our shop. They like to visit. They like the quaintness and the downtown restaurants.”
Williams has an obvious love for quilting.
“I have been quilting for 30 years, starting when my daughter was a baby. I joined a quilting guild in Coral Springs, Fla., started quilting and never stopped. I love it. It’s a way to express yourself artistically.”
And grandmas are not the only ones that get into quilting these days. Williams says that 20 to 30-year-olds are “taking over the industry.”
“They are putting a different twist on quilting. With internet sales and the ability to download patterns, they can get instant gratification. They can get a pattern one day and start making it the next day.”
|Quilts are a way to express yourself artistically says owner Karen Williams who displays this piece in her shop.|
Men are getting involved too, Williams said. Randy Case of Big Canoe is a quilter and says he likes it. His wife Lynda has been a quilter for years but when arthritis in her hands made it difficult for her to do the cutting required, Randy began to help.
“Before I knew it, I was involved in the whole process and I liked it,” Randy said. “And it’s good to have something we can both do.”
Asked what he does with the quilts they make, Randy said they give them as gifts, cover their beds with them and hang them on walls.
Lynda belongs to the 35-member Pine Needle Quilters Guild in Big Canoe. President Sue Leonard said the guild has grown over the years from a small group meeting in homes to a more formal guild that meets in the Big Canoe Chapel. She says quilting has been going on for centuries.
“ The log cabin quilt block design goes all the way back to Egyptian times. Quilts have been made for soldiers going off to war and in the Civil War era, quilts were hung on clotheslines with designs that showed slaves the way to safe houses. Quilts spoke,” she said.
As Williams points out, quilts are art and can be done in batiks, civil war reproductions, children’s floral, holiday and other motifs. One popular quilt theme among young people uses a collection of favorite T-shirts and puts them together as a personal memories piece.
There are a lot of quilters in the northwest Georgia area with shops in Woodstock, Dahlonega ,and Blairsville and other locations, according to Williams. Periodically there are “shop hops” when quilters are offered incentives to visit all of the shops over a three-day period.
During a recent shop hop called the “Corn Maze” more than 300 people visited the Jasper shop according to Williams. She says there will be another one in May.
Williams says she is excited about a project for the coming year that will involve making quilt blocks from paintings on barns in Georgia, some of which will be from Pickens County barns.
Williams said she has to constantly offer new programs to keep quilters coming back and because of her success in doing that she has plans for expanding her shop to get more classroom space for her offerings.
Williams and her co-owner husband and co-owner Keith, who helps run the shop, live in Big Canoe. More information about quilting and the Quilt Shop on Main can be found at www.thequiltshoponmain.com.
News for Dec
Cutine: Owner Karen Williams at the Quilt Shop on Main in Jasper. PHOTO BY WAYNE TIDWELL
Cutline: Quilt being stitched on the Gammill “longarm” machine. PHOTO BY WAYNE TIDWELL
Cutline: Quilts are a way to express yourself artistically says owner Karen Williams who displays this piece in her shop. PHOTO BY WAYNE TIDWELL
Quilts 4.jpg: A recent busy day at the Quilt Shop on Main. PHOTO BY WAYNE TIDWELL