Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Stitchin' Post 

                       Jane Bell and Linda Bowlby

      The Stitchin’ Post is a Little Rock institution that has offered quality fabrics and classes in sewing, smocking and embroidery for 43 years.  Perhaps, most importantly, owners Jane Bell and Linda Bowlby and their staff have taught hundreds of kids to sew over the years. 
     The 7,000-square-foot shop in west Little Rock is filled with beautifully displayed children’s clothing made from heirloom fabrics, as well as the extensive selection of fabrics and all the fixin’s.  The shop is the exclusive dealer for Husqvarna Viking sewing machines.  Husqvarna is the Cadillac of sewing machines, or maybe I should say the Volvo.  Husqvarna, which started making sewing machines in Sweden in 1872, is considered one of the world’s best sewing machine manufacturers. 
     “They are the only brand we sell, and we are the only dealer in Little Rock,”
Jane said. 
      Their sewing and embroidery machines are easy to use and really expand people’s creativity, she said. 

      “We have in-house technicians trained to service them and clean them.”
       Because these are such high quality machines, some folks think that they think they can’t afford them, but Jane said that is not so.
       “There are a wide range of prices - pretty much to fit anyone’s budget.” 
       One of the really fun things that Linda and Jane have participated in the last couple of years is called the “Row By Row Experience,” which was started a few years ago by a quilt shop owner in upstate New York.  And now it has spread to across the United States and Canada, and even into Europe, with approximately 2,500 shops participating, Jane said.
      “It’s designed to get people traveling in the area to come and visit quilt shops. Beginning June 21, you can come into any participating shop and ask for their pattern and get the pattern for free.”
      This lasts until September 5 this year.  Then, if they like, women can create a quilt using eight different rows and enter it into a contest - for prestige and loot. 
     “It’s a fun program.  We get to meet a lot of interesting people from all over the country.
     “This will be our third year.  The theme the first year was ‘water,’ so our row featured the Old Mill in North Little Rock.  We didn’t really realize the first year how many kits we needed to order. We thought we were really estimating big by getting 50. Then, we sold like 40 in the first week. We had people from all over the country, both coasts and Alaska.”

       In addition to the free patterns, shops offer kits that contain all the materials for making the row. The Stitchin’ Post has sold out of kits for the Old Mill, but still has patterns and kits for the 2016 row, which was about Villa Marre, and called “The Designing Women House.” 
     Some folks are not aware that the Villa Marre was the elegant house featured in the opening credits of Designing Woman, a hit television show based in Atlanta that ran for seven seasons on CBS starting in 1986.  Suzanne Sugarbaker would surely approve of the Stitchin’ Post’s design.  And of the license plate that they sell for $5.50, Designing Women.
   “You can have a license plate.  Our first one was ‘La Petite Roche,’ and the second Designing Women” Jane said.
     This year, the Row By Row theme is “On the Go.”  Jane won’t reveal the Stitchin’ Post’s design until later in the year, but she and Linda have tried to keep the shop’s row locally relevant.

           At The Stitchin’ Post, education is an every-day thing.  
       “Well, we have our on-going array of interesting classes, and we are gearing up for extra classes over the summer.”
    There will be a kid’s sewing class for beginners from June 5 - 9, and one for intermediates June 26 - 30.  The classes meet from 12:30 - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.  The cost is $150 for the week and includes materials, sewing supplies, machines to work on and a snack.  The classes are geared toward 8- to 12-year-olds. 
     “We have classes pretty much all of the time.  Today, for example, we have an adult sewing class this morning and a kid’s class in the afternoon.  And tonight, we have an evening adult class.
  Other classes include heirloom sewing, English smocking, quilting, embroidery basics, and Sit and Sew.  The Stitchin’ Post’s web site displays the full schedule of its classes.  Visit
      For years, most of the women sewed outfits for their children or grandchildren, but now more and more women are sewing for themselves. 
     “They are tired of what’s out there, or they want to express their individual style,” Jane said. 
      To accommodate them, the shop has gotten in more linens, rayons, textured cottons, and patterns for adults. 

    The Stitchin’ Post is located at 1501 Macon Drive.   For more information, call Linda or Jane at  227-0288.  This story was written by Bobbi Nesbitt.  To reach her, call 221-7467 221-SHOP.  

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