When I was a little girl, I remember days quilting with the church ladies, sitting around the quilt frame, watching each stitch and piece of fabric brought together by the hands of women who probably didn’t realize it at the time, but they were preserving the memories of those days for tomorrows to come. Today, quilting, like many other pastimes and hobbies, has evolved with new technologies, taking the work once done by hand with a needle and thread to digitized patterns programmed into a computer and long arm sewing machines, creating beautiful and elaborate quilts, but still telling a story with each stitch like the quilts of yesterday. Gloria Stickney, who has a home-based company, Sew Fabulous, Inc. in Winston-Salem, NC, learned to quilt the old-fashioned way with her mother, Clara Kellar, in Tennessee and developed such a love for quilting that it has now become her business.
‘The Quilt Lady’
Gloria Stickney, by day, works as the business manager of the Physics Department at Wake Forest University, but in the evenings, she comes home and gets the sewing machines humming, creating quilts for people, and helping them preserve special times of their lives. “I started my business, Sew Fabulous, Inc., in 2006. For two years, I would do the work on the quilts at home with a Singer sewing machine and then travel on weekends to my aunt, Wanda McCarter’s home in east Tennessee to use her long arm to do the quilting; she owns Dizzy Diva’s Fabric Shop in Knoxville, TN. I would go there about once every 6 weeks and work with her from 6 am to midnight and then get up and work 6 am to noon, returning home to bind and finish them. At WFU I became known as ‘The Quilt Lady,’ because I made quilts with the design of Dreamin’ Deacon © for the annual WFU Artisan’s Fair, and I licensed my products with the University. Those first products used fabric with the WFU logo and the Deacon, now no longer available, which have evolved into the ‘Deacon on Parade’ design. For Wake Forest’s Homecoming Weekend 2008, just after an article on us was published in the Winston-Salem Journal, we set up a tent outside of the campus bookstore. The word was out, and I had a line of people waiting to talk to me about quilts that day! It was that weekend that truly launched my business, and I was able to buy my first long arm machine from a Greensboro store that was closing. My business has since continued to grow,” recalled Gloria. With a strong faith in God, this new venture was one that Gloria had a belief in because as she said, “Long arm machines are very expensive, so buying one with all the supplies I needed was a big investment. My husband and I know that God wouldn’t lead us to a place where He didn’t want us to be, so I prayed for the courage to walk through the doors that He would open.” Now with a team of 15, Gloria and her husband Bob, a former pastor and retired teacher, are making not only quilts for WFU fans, but those who have special memories they want to preserve, too.
T-Shirts Can Tell a Story of Their Own
Whether you played sports in high school or college, or have run in many 5 or 10Ks, you probably have a bag of t-shirts from activities you have participated in over the years. Where do most of those shirts end up? In a bag, in the corner of a closet, too important to be thrown away, but yet not usable for anything else, right? Not so fast!
“So many memories come to mind when you look at a t-shirt; most are from a time that meant something to you. At Sew Fabulous, Inc., we can take those t-shirts, 12-49 of them, depending on the size you want, and make a custom memory t-shirt quilt. On our website, we have over 50 t-shirt quilt designs to choose from. The t-shirts preserve your memories, but the stitching pattern tells the story! If you played soccer, we can quilt a stitch pattern of soccer balls in the background. From a distance, in quilts you see one thing, an overall piece; but when you get closer, you see the story told in the stitching. I’ve made quilts from shirts of loved ones that have passed away for their family to remember them by. When you see a t-shirt quilt, there’s an instant recall of a precious memory and that’s always worth preserving,” Gloria commented.
Gloria’s love for WFU and her passion for quilting keep her busy at special WFU weekends like Family Weekend and Homecoming, as well as local art/craft events, as she continues to help people remember their lives through her products. “I have parents who contact me and say they’ve had my brochure or card since their son or daughter started at WFU, and now four years later they want to have a quilt made for them. To know someone thought enough about what I do to keep me in mind all those years later is very touching,” said Gloria.
Sew Fabulous Quilts is located at 5011 Queensway Rd., Winston-Salem, NC. For more information on Sew Fabulous. Inc., visit sewfabulousquilts.com, email Gloria at [email protected] or call 336-499-0167. Custom embroidery is also available, and orders for WFU products and quilts can be placed online. ‘Like’ on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SewFabulous and https://www.facebook.com/gloria.stickneyquiltlady.