Quilt shop now more spacious

Posted April 05, 2010, at 6 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:25 a.m.

Quilters in the Bangor area just gained some elbowroom at a shop that caters to the needs of quilters. A Straight Stitch has moved around the corner at the North Brewer Shopping Center to the premises once occupied by Bob’s Discount in the City Center section of that shopping center at 39 North Main St.

Debbie and Jeff Norton have run the business, which they started in their home in Stetson, since 2006.

“It’s the same square footage — 2,700 square feet — but less wasted space,” Jeff Norton said of the new location. “It’s all open space. Makes a big difference.”

When the Nortons started moving from one location to the other, at least eight customers showed up and pitched in to help with the move.

“We have awesome customers,” Debbie said.

“They all like the new space, it’s brighter,” Jeff said.

Having the new space, Jeff said, makes everything more visible and the classroom area less cramped.

Debbie teaches quilting classes, and Lelo Hardy of Bangor teaches basic sewing for clothing construction at the shop. The schedule of classes runs Tuesday through Saturday, with daytime and evening classes.

Debbie got her first sewing machine when she was in the eighth grade and was in high school when she took a job at the Viking Sewing Center in Bangor. That background led, eventually, to opening A Straight Stitch.

Jeff has a background in electronics and does sewing machine repair at A Straight Stitch. He has training in the repair of Bernina sewing machines, and is a Brother sewing machine certified technician, but said he will look at all makes and models. The store sells Brother sewing machines, along with fabric, books, embroidery software and other items of interest to quilters and those who sew.

“I can still get parts for many older Singer machines — for as long as those parts are still available,” he said. “Older steel machines are a lot more rugged, but a sewing machine is a sewing machine — they all function the same.”

Jeff said that even in these bumpy economic times, the business of quilting has stayed pretty steady.

“People would rather make a quilt than buy one,” he said.

He said that all ages are attracted to quilting, from young people to retirees, which bodes well for the future of quilt shops, in general.

Asked what he saw for the future of A Straight Stitch, Jeff said, “Just keep on trucking and getting bigger and getting our two kids [Autumn, 19, and Robbie, 16] interested in taking it over someday.”

A Straight Stitch is one of 32 quilt and fabric shops in Maine participating in the seventh annual Shop Hop, a monthlong event in April in which quilters visit as many of the shops as possible to vie for prizes.

As part of the Shop Hop, A Straight Stitch will have on display quilts designed by Marilyn Forman of Quilt Moments, based in St. Paul, Minn.

The Cotton Cupboard, 1213 Broadway in Bangor, also is participating in the Shop Hop. Co-owner Evelyn Caruso said the shop has on display items made from the fabric line, Ladies and Supporting Casts by Northcott, featured as a part of the Shop Hop.

Caruso echoed Jeff Norton’s statement that quilting continues to be a strong business in the Bangor area. She recently added classroom space at her shop, and the store is now open Monday through Saturday, with daytime and evening classes scheduled, including one with well-known area quilter Sally Field. Plans also are in progress to offer basic sewing and clothing construction classes taught by Alex Turallo, who taught sewing at the Hammond Street Senior Center in Bangor in the past.

Caruso said she also has added two part-time employees, bringing the number of staff to five.

Both A Straight Stitch and The Cotton Cupboard will offer special hours in April to accommodate Shop Hoppers.

For information about A Straight Stitch, call 989-1234.

To learn more about The Cotton Cupboard, call 941-8900 or visit www.cottoncupboardquilt.com.

Snippets

Pine Tree Quilters Guild is offering a chartered bus trip to the 34th annual Vermont Quilt Festival, Friday through Sunday, June 25-27. The festival, the oldest and largest quilt show in New England, takes place in the air-conditioned Champlain Valley Exposition Building and offers hundreds of quilts to view, as well as more than 80 vendors.

The trip includes a stopover at the Shelburne Museum of Art and Americana in Vermont’s Lake Champlain Valley. More than 150,000 works are exhibited in 39 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the museum grounds.

The cost of the trip ranges from $372 to $584 per person, depending on choice of room occupancy at the motel (quad occupancy is $372 per person; triple $395; double $442 and single $584). The price includes bus transportation, two dinners, admission to the quilt festival on Friday and Saturday, and admission to the museum on Sunday. There will be pickup and drop-off locations in Bangor, Augusta, Auburn and Portland.

It is not necessary to be a registered PTQG member to go on the trip. Registration is first-come, first-served. Payment in full needs to be received by Thursday, April 15. Registration forms and a detailed itinerary are available online at www.mainequilts.org, by e-mail at tmann@fairpoint.net or by calling Tina Mann at 441-2971.

Couturiere and seamstress Sandy McKeen of Stockton Springs will be at Silks and Tapestries at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, April 8, to speak with those interested in her custom designs. She specializes in elegant and avant garde clothing. McKeen is available for consultation two mornings each month at Silks and Tapestries. Call 664-0750 for information.

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