The Stitchin' Post Creates a Fantastic New Space
Dr. Jane Bell and Linda Bowlby
Everything is well made and beautifully displayed in The Stitchin" Post's new 7,000-square-foot space at 1501 Macon in West Little Rock.
From the lovely entryway with displays of exquisite heirloom children's clothing all the way to the adorable Cafe Room in the back, talent and creativity are exhibited in every corner.
Dr. Jane Bell and Linda Bowlby, owners of the shop, have created perfect spaces for sewing, quilting and embroidery work .
"We needed to be able to spread out. Our inventory had grown and people's interest in the classes had grown. We needed more space in a classic, attractive setting," Dr. Bell said.
The Stitchin' Post offers heirloom quality fabrics that are made of natural, finely woven, often imported fabrics; clothing made from them can be worn and handed down to the next generation.
The shop has always been a bustling spot filled with women having fun learning to sew, smock and embroider.
"Jane teaches heirloom and embroidery," Mrs. Bowlby said. "Carolyn Hartstein, who helped us put this (the new shop) together, teaches our smocking class.
"We have teachers for quilting and for kids. That's my favorite part, that we teach children. I think it's really important. In our Mom and Me classes, kids can start at (age) 8. We have classes for high schoolers. Jane has taught embroidery for children,
and we plan to do that again. Jane does beautiful embroidery."
Now they have the space to offer all sorts of activities.
"We used to have a small classroom space," Jane said. "It was not segregated from the retail space, so it was not quiet. Now, we have two rooms for classes. And we have design walls in place."
Design walls, Jane explained, allow women to take pieces of fabric and lay out quilt blocks. They can see how they want to position colors and move them around.
"We have expanded our selection of threads. We have brought in some wool fabrics for a lot of quilters and craftspeople use wool felt and applique.
"We have a larger area to display sewing machines and sewing machine cabinets. The most basic sewing machine sells for $199. We have other machines, for sophisticated sewing and embroidery, deluxe machines that sell for $9,999. We have an entire notions wall."
Reaction to the new space has been "overwhelmingly positive," Janes said. "People go 'Wow!'"
Judi Tolliver of Sherwood, a customer of The Stitchin' Post since 1996, said she loves the new space. "It's gorgeous."
The store "is my most favorite place in the world to shop. They have the best employees, They're friendly and helpful, and they are wonderful teachers. They are very patient," Mrs. Tolliver said. "Jane and Linda are both great. If you see something you like and they don't have it, they will try their best to find it for you."
There's one space everyone really likes, and it has been great for daily use and for special events.
"One of the problem points in the old location was that we didn't have a place for eating," Jane said. "With classes and employees and the retail area, there were always problems such as drinks spilled on people's work. Now, we have a very nice room that we call our 'Cafe Room.'
"And, we have a sitting area in our entry where people are welcome to come in and bring a handwork project and sit and relax. It helps add to the sense of community," she added.
Linda said the camaraderie of women learning and working together helps make for the pleasant atmosphere of the shop.
"Everybody is real happy here. It's a fun place to be, a fun place to work," she said.
Judi said the shop is a great place to socialize with friends - and to meet new ones. "I'm over there at least three or four times a week. You meet a lot of friends there. It's really a good outlet for young women, as well as old ones like me."
The shop offers batiste, voile, linen, cotton, Swiss flannel and some silks.
"We have 100 percent cotton fabrics," Linda said. "You can tell the difference in good quality cotton. It's the tightness of the weave. Heirloom cotton are going to last. It's the same thing with quilting fabrics. They expect then to last for generations. People here appreciate nice fabrics. Some come in just because they want to walk through and feel the fabrics."
Fabric suppliers include Michael Miller, Moda, Fabric Finders, Spechler-Vogel, Henry Glass, Westminster, Free Spirit and Anna Griffin.
"Just outstanding" is how Judi described the quality of fabrics at the store. "If I am going to sew, I want it to last. I've got stuff I made for my granddaughter, who is 28 now, and it still looks as good as when I made it."
The shop has a ton of kids clothes on display so customers can see the patterns and fabrics. These are not for sale, but just there for teaching and so that customers can hold a model garment in their hands.
A number of women in the community help out in the shop, including Sharon Chandler, Sharron Taylor, Billie Beauchamp, Karen Davis, Carol Flowers, Stacie Ferguson, Peggy McQueen and Barbara Steely. Mrs. Steely teaches children to sew. Ms. Davis is a certified technician for Husqvarna Viking sewing machines, the brand the shop carries.
The Stitchin' Post has operated in Little Rock for 39 years. Customers come from all over Arkansas and beyond its borders. Come and join them and share the joy of seeing your children - and then your grandchildren - wear the fine clothing you have created for them.
To check out the latest classes, visit the shop's website: stitchinpostinc.com.
If you see one you like, you'd better sign up right away. "They fill up pretty fast," Linda said.