Knot Sew Perfect Quilting driven by passion for craft
“I never at any point thought this is a job I want to make money at. It’s a job I want to do, and when I’m 75 I can still do. It has nothing to do with anything more than just the love of it,” Lynnette Waidelich said.
“I made my first quilt when my first grandson was born in 2006,” Waidelich said.
Her sister Rita taught her how to quilt. When Waidelich opened her new store in Deer Park two months ago, Knot Sew Perfect Quilting (named by Waidelich’s daughter, Heather Zinda) benefited from some local familiarity. Waidelich and her husband, Jesse, have operated Deer’s Food Locker since 1992.
Starting the new business was a matter of opportunity.
“This is my dream. When the bank came up for sale, it was too pricey at first. But when the price came down, we had to buy it,” Waidelich said.
Prior to purchasing the bank, Waidelich and a group of women friends had been renting a room in the old Clear Lake High School.
“We’d get together as a group of women and quilt, what we call bitching and stitching,” Waidelich said.
Now the group meets in the basement of the former bank where they have their sewing machines set up and can come and go as they please with keys supplied by Waidelich. Everybody pays a small fee to help offset the utility costs. Each member of the group contributed a square to the distinctive signage decorating the facade of the building.
“When you drive by, you know what’s in this building,” Waidelich said.
Once inside, free-standing racks filled with bolts of brightly colored fabrics and walls hung with an eye-catching variety of handcrafted quilts greet the customer, confirming this as a quilter’s paradise.
Waidelich had set aside money for inventory, so when the time came for filling the racks, she and her daughters headed out to scout the competition.
“My goal was to have 300 bolts when we opened, and I had 319, a little past my budget, but it is what it is,” Waidelich said with a smile.
Waidelich hand-picked each bolt personally. The new store fulfills one of her greatest joys: a true love of material.
“I found a supplier who sells lines different from what most stores around here sell. You order material just like you do clothes, a season ahead. We’ll be ordering this month for my spring line,” Waidelich said.
“I love the smell of material,” Waidelich added. “Isn’t that crazy? The smell is important. I love entering a quilt shop and that smells just like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ You want it to smell good when people come in.”
To furnish her dream, Waidelich was able to purchase racks from several local quilt stores that had gone out of business, including Charlotte’s Web in Stillwater. The racks lined with fabric tastefully partner with antique chests and tables, including one displaying an old Singer sewing machine.
“The cutting table was my father-in-law’s workshop table, which apparently came from a bakery years and years ago. My husband sanded it down and I painted the legs and it makes a perfect cutting table,” Waidelich said.
In stark contrast to the antique Singer, a new, state-of-the-art longarm quilting machine, with a purchase price of $8,000, fills a back room. Listening to Waidelich explain how her longarm machine worked resembled a biker talking about his hawg or a pilot about his plane. This is not your mama’s sewing machine.
It looks like a sewing machine with an extra long neck attached to two sets of black foam covered handlebars. A bank of LED lights illuminate the work surface several feet wide by 10 feet long. The sewing machine is placed on wheels that run on a track the length of the work surface while maneuvering freely above the surface. This allows the quilter to guide the machine along the fabric to sew the design of their choice.
But all that technology belies the real passion Waidelich, her sister Rita and their friends share for the craft of quilting.
“There isn’t a day I don’t go into my sewing room and sew something, ” Waidelich said. Waidelich and her sister agree the satisfaction they get from finishing a quilt, giving it to someone, seeing their appreciation of such a personal gift and then using that gift is why they fell in love with quilting.
Today quilting is a craft that has been elevated to an artform in large part because it has the capacity to express a wide variety of history, sentiment and memory in a personal narrative fashioned visually out of fabric and thread.
According to Waidelich, quilting also has an inherent social aspect that’s attracting younger women to its ranks. Quilting is a community held together by more than thread.
“It isn’t just a quilt. We literally mean it, bitching and stitching. There are days when we’re all there to complain about our husbands, our jobs, or something that’s stressing us out in our lives, and it helps to be able to talk about it,” Waidelich said.
In addition to fabric, Waidelich offers repair services and ready-made kits that provide quilters with directions and fabric, everything except batting. In the future Waidelich plans to make her basement available for teaching and classes.
“Some 4-H leaders have been using our basement to teach girls how to sew. In January, we’d like to offer a beginner’s class. We have another lady who is going to teach a handbag class and maybe an advanced class,” Waidelich said.
“I’ve never sold a quilt, ever,” Waidelich said, “We mostly donate them to benefits. We made 150 pillowcases for the homeless last year. We are working on some quilts downstairs in honor of someone who died. They brought us all his shirts and we are making quilts from them for the family.”
Waidelich hasn’t felt a need to advertise other than for her grand opening. Word-of-mouth has been working just fine.
“I’ve been talking about doing this forever, so all the ladies were excited long before I opened it,” Waidelich said. “I set a goal and I’ve pretty much hit that goal every week.”
Waidelich feels her experience working at the food locker, though not related to directly to quilting, has helped her.
“I can’t work there forever, but I can work here forever,” she said.
Knot Sew Perfect Quilting is located at 131 N. Main Street in Deer Park. It is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.