My friend Patty Sawyer has been quilting for many years. She and her husband lived in Middleboro, MA for many years but always had vacation property in Maine. Recently, they decided to take a leap and retire there. Well, Dave is “semi-retired”!
Patty has been seeing changes in the quilting industry . The quilting shows that used to be prevalent have been fading away and the ones that still exist aren’t well attended. But what she was seeing was a trend toward retreats, where a bunch of quilters can get together and quilt, but also socialize, have fun and take a break from their families for a couple of days.
So, Patty and Dave bought a house on Hancock Pond in Sebago, turned it into a bed and breakfast with a huge work room area for quilting, and Sew-Clusions was born!
We visited them on a beautiful fall weekend, when seven lovely ladies from a quilting guild in New Hampshire were there for a retreat. They were having so much fun, I marveled that they actually got some work done! We could hear laughter coming from the work room from 6am until 11 pm.
Patty has something called a long arm machine that is used to put quilts together and stitch a pattern onto both sides. Most quilters end up taking their quilts to a long arm quilter for completion. Patty keeps her machine at a quilting shop in Norway, Maine owned by Barbara Daigle, owner of Sew Orchid Design.
Patty is a baby boomer who has reinvented her business to keep up with changing times. Technology has changed the quilting business as it has so many others, yet it’s still a 3.7 billion dollar industry. Small quilting supply shops are struggling to compete against the Internet. Yet buying online isn’t nearly the same experience as going into a shop where the owner has a lot of experience, and can help her clients with specific questions, suggestions, and problems they may be encountering.
We spent three days interviewing and filming Patty, Barbara and the retreating quilters, one of whom creates and sells patterns. We ended our trip at the Fryeberg Fair for a day filled with bloomin’ onions, home made ice cream, ox pulling, frying pan throwing and a helicopter ride!
On to the next adventure!