Jenny Doan – Missouri Star Quilt Co. – Part 1

Missouri Star Quilt Company LogoWith hundreds of millions of YouTube views, Missouri Star Quilt Company is to quilting what Henry Ford was to automobile sales. Yes, it is THAT BIG . . .

So, how did tiny Hamilton, Missouri, a sleepy little town full of abandoned buildings, become the highly unlikely epicenter of a world-wide quilting revolution?

Jenny Doan - Quilting is a Sweet Journey.

Quilting is a Sweet Journey.

It was the 1990’s, and Jenny and Ron Doan were living in California, raising their seven children, Darrell, Natalie, Sarah, Hillary, Alan, Jacob, and Joshua. After realizing all her children learned differently, Jenny decided to try homeschooling. When she takes on a new job , she is 100% ALL IN. The school district provided them with lesson plans, but her kids whizzed through the material. So Jenny added “themes” to their schooling. “If one of the kids asked a question about the space shuttle — that was it. We’d go to the library and get books about space. We’d make field trips to the local observatory, and they wrote reports on astronauts. Maybe two weeks later, one of the kids would be interested in whales — so then it was all about ocean life.”

Ron & Jenny Doan.

Ron & Jenny.

In 1995, Jenny and Ron decided it was time to leave California. Ron was a mechanic/machinist, and figured he could get a job anywhere there was a factory. For a more affordable quality of life they decided to move to the Midwest. Their oldest child was in college, and their youngest was 8 when they packed up four vehicles and drove across the country to Hamilton, Missouri. When they arrived, they knocked on the door of a local realtor. He informed them that there was no motel in town, and it would take some time to find a rental house — so maybe they should just stay with his family until they could work things out. “They pulled out mattresses and took care of our family for a week until we found a place to rent.”

On that first day, Jenny cried, “WHAT HAVE WE DONE? It felt like we had stepped back in time. There was one gas station, one blinking stop light. When I went to the grocery store, a man carried my groceries out to the car. As I fumbled to unlock the door, he said… You must not be from here…” But, by the third day, the kids were walking down the street with their new friends, with fishing poles over their shoulders.” Jenny told Ron, “you could just bury me here.” They found a rental house on a farm outside of town that hadn’t been lived in for years. Jenny cooked, canned, and had a garden. The kids could ride their bikes for miles, go fishing, or just play or explore around the farm. It felt like a dream come true!

The first rental house.

The first rental house didn’t even have a key. They lived in that home for five years, but by then all the boys had jobs and Jenny didn’t want to mow the lawn three days a week. So, in 2000, they bought an old Victorian that needed new plumbing, new wiring, a furnace . . . the renovation took two years.

Ron Doan got a job as a machinist for a newspaper in Kansas City. By 2008, the newspaper had laid off so many people, Ron was back to working the night shift and his children believed their parents would soon be destitute. Their son Al called his sister Sarah and said, “we’ve got to get Mom a job. If we don’t do something — they’ll be living in our basements.”

At the same time, Jenny had made a quilt for one of her grandchildren (she now has 22), and told her son Al it would be “coming back from the long arm quilter in about a year.”

Al: “Are you kidding me? Is that a thing?”
Jenny: “Yes, because all the long-arm quilt ladies are so busy, they have long waiting lists.”
Al: “Could you learn how to do that?”
Jenny: “Well, I suppose I could . . . .”

Al called Sarah and said, “We’ve got to get Mom one of those quilting machines.” The $40,000 quilting machine was too big to fit into the house, so they also bought an abandoned auto dealership building for $20,000.

That was just the beginning . . . .

(To be continued.)

www.missouriquiltco.com

What’s Your Favorite Needle?

No matter what you sew or what your skill level, SCHMETZ has a needle for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a different needle type. You’ll be glad you did. Break out of your comfort zone and gain new skills and experience.

What's Your Favorite SCHMETZ Needle?

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Kathie Stull

Sometimes, we don’t even know who is responsible for the things we love. For example, how many of us have learned a new sewing or quilting skill from watching favorite how-to shows on public television?

Kathie Stull, KS ProductionsSo, who, or what, exactly, is KS Productions? Like so many other remarkable things in this world — there is a woman, the unsung hero. In this case, that woman is Katherine Stull, the owner of KS Productions. How did she become KS Productions — and what was her journey or moment of inspiration?

Kathie Stull loved “making things” when she was young, and started seriously sewing in high school. She took a beginner clothing class which totally changed the direction of her career path. She realized that she loved creating things. When she was a senior in high school, her first real job was working for Jo-Ann Stores in their corporate office as part of a ”Project Real” job study program. She took clothing and art electives — and by her second year of college had veered to a double major in marketing and design.

She always saw herself more on the business side and definitely behind the scenes. But she still wanted to have that creative side to her life — which, for her, became sewing. She loved fashion sewing and made her own clothes — everything from bathing suits to business suits.

After college, Kathie got a job as a buyer in the craft industry. She moved into advertising for print media and it seemed like a good fit. Public television was just starting to accept how-to as a viable category that would attract viewers. In 1987, she met David Larson, a pioneer in developing the first PBS how-to program that married TV with local underwriting. That chance meeting turned out to be the spark that lit a fire in Kathie’s professional life.

Ready, Set, Action!

Because she was involved in print advertising, she partnered with Larson on offering print and TV to manufacturers. This dovetailed with the Aleene’s Creative Living Program. Kathie believed that because crafting and sewing were such visual industries, print alone could not show a consumer how to use a product. Their customers needed education. Kathie saw an opportunity to start her own company — which was initially, strictly about marketing.

Kathie actually was a devoted DIY-person herself. She had a gift for visualizing what steps should be shown for the at-home viewer to “get it.” That led to learning segment producing. It didn’t take long before her imagination and enthusiasm led to developing new show concepts.

KS Productions is the largest provider of how-to content for PBS television.

Pretty impressive, right?

In 1990, KS Productions officially began producing shows. The first two programs were: Art of Sewing / America Sews with Sue Hausmann and Sew Creative with Donna Wilder. Kathie says, “I loved the creativity of bringing sewing projects full circle … showing the viewer how they could do it — from beginning to end.”

Her perKS Productions has seven shows currently in production on PBS.sonal “baby” was added: Hands on Crafts for Kids — with the premise that all kids are creative. Her mission for Crafts for Kids was to level the playing and crafting field for kids of all abilities and disabilities. It aired in schools and on PBS and still does today.

Over the last 32 years her company has developed over 21 different programs covering every possible category in the craft industry. They also developed in-store video programs for major retailers and have developed product videos for many of the leading manufacturers.

In Kathie’s case, starting her own business and becoming a producer was the perfect way to combine her business background with doing the creative things she loved.

After she started her family, her own personal sewing evolved into more specific projects: Lots of baby quilts, kids clothing, quick projects, gifts and some home dec. She loved working with Sue Hausmann as America Sews was developed — and Donna Wilder on Sew Creative. Those shows renewed her excitement and since then, has always had a sewing or quilting show in production.

For 20 plus years, KS Productions subcontracted their space and facilities. Five years ago, they built their own studio to suit their specific needs. The cameras and equipment are totally geared towards the specialty how-to industry. For example, a typical television studio green room is a small waiting room with make-up tables and snacks, but Kathie’s green room is huge — 40’ x 30’, set up with 14 tables. “We can accommodate multiple guests. Every table is wired for sewing machines and glue guns. We have an ironing station, a dressing room and 1,000 square feet for prop storage, etc.”

2016 Industry Achievement Award Craft and Hobby Association

2016 Industry Achievement Award
Craft and Hobby Association

Kathie says, “The biggest difference between when I started and now is that you can’t just produce a show for public television. Every show is also on CREATE (the how to channel for PBS … a whole other set of stations). Each show has its own website, and airs on-line too. Every show has a YouTube channel as well. Nowadays, the internet and social media presence is a part of our package with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. It is constantly evolving and changing.”

In 2016, Kathie was recognized for her accomplishments. She was honored with an Industry Achievement Award from CHA (Craft & Hobby Association).

An excerpt from her acceptance speech:

We are constantly striving to bring the message of crafting and creativity and teach people how to make a scrapbook page, or sew a skirt or make anything and everything thru video. I want to thank all of the people and companies with this shared vision for teaching that are willing to invest in building the whole industry, … I’d like to thank my husband and family, I could never have built this company without their support, especially when video technology absolutely never stops changing!

Kathie’s husband is a home inspector, and after they built their studio five years ago, he took on the added job of managing the facility. Their two sons live in the Cleveland area, and their daughter lives in Chicago.

Kathie’s personal sewing nowadays is often for a charitable cause or event. Her family is involved with giving back and making a difference. She started and chairs a family foundation in honor of Kathie’s mother, who died nine years ago.

From The AmaliaFoundation.org website:

The Amalia Foundation honors Kathie Stull's mother.

The Amalia Foundation honors Kathie’s mother.

The Amalia Foundation was founded in honor of our mother as a way to honor her legacy and help those with Parkinson’s Disease. Our goal is to support exercise programs for those with Parkinson’s. There are many excellent charities that support research and studies, but we wanted something that had the ability to positively influence people and caregivers in our own area and in their daily life. A simple exercise program has the ability to help ease the daily struggles of Parkinson’s, and delay some of the more devastating results of the disease. The Amalia Foundation sponsors the licensed Delay the Disease training program in Cleveland, for physical therapists and other health care professionals. Exercise classes are available at six locations in Northeast Ohio for those with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. The goal is to continue to add classes and locations to serve our community.

The motto of the Amalia Foundation was taken from a quote by Mother Theresa: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

Kathie Stull is a big believer in the power of learning. That it’s how we connect to one another, and it’s how we pass it on. Part of her philosophy is that if we thought about the sewing and craft industries as teaching people rather than selling, we can make a difference in people’s lives and add the joy of being creative.

http://www.ksonline.tv/

Recycle,Restyle,Refashion – Part 4 – Gail Yellen

Upcycle Recycle Logo & Definitions

http://www.dictionary.com

Part 4 of the series: Recycle,Restyle,Refashion. For generations, women who sew have been recycling. They start with one thing and, with their sewing skills and imagination — a transformation results into a completely different thing. Patchwork quilting began because frugal women couldn’t afford to waste any bit of usable fabric. They needed to save money, and had to “make do” with materials on hand. In the process, they created something useful and beautiful that would be handed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter.

Over the past four weeks you have met four women who are as different as the things they choose to recycle . . . but what they share is the desire to give new life . . . transforming the ordinary and familiar into something extraordinary. There are as many names for it as there are different ways to do it. Whether you call it recycling, upcycling, refashion or restyling — the desire to create something new from something old has always existed in the soul of women and men who love to sew. And it is truly the perfect way for the past to touch the present and the future. The added benefit is that when you start with something like a sweater that your mother loved, or a shirt your Dad wore to work, or a doily your favorite Aunt embroidered — the project takes on a special meaning. It becomes a labor of love, and a treasured memory gift.

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Gail Yellen is one of the most popular speakers on today’s sewing circuit. Inspired To SEW has featured Gail before (http://tinyurl.com/ydha4k3c) … and, at this point in her accidental sewing career, is considered THE Serger Guru. Her book, Serger Essentials: Master the Basics and Beyond, published by Fons and Porter, gets rave reviews from serger owners, new or old. Her mission was to demystify the serger and help sewists get the most out of their machine!

One of Gail’s early successes was a project about recycling sweaters . . . well, we’ll let her tell it . . . .

“Of all the projects and garments sewn over the years, this one is the nearest and dearest to my heart. My mother died in November 2008 and as my sister and I folded her clothes to donate to a local thrift shop, I looked at the stack of wool sweaters — a lovely palette of beiges, creams, whites and taupes. A recycling idea began to take shape. I was fascinated with felting wool knits. The process is fun, uncomplicated and produces amazing results. Felted wool is easy to sew and embellish, and the warmth of a felted garment is a big plus during Connecticut winters.

Why not take four or five sweaters, felt them and create a collage jacket? I had recently designed the Counterpoints Jacket and it was perfect for this project. The collaged surface design became Template Set 1 in a series of three.

Counterpoints Jacket

Counterpoints Jacket

In 2009, the American Sewing Guild announced a contest — Remake, Reuse, Restyle. My jacket met all of the criteria. I filled out the contest application, sent the photos and it was one of the three winning entries. (I like to think that my mother had a hand in that!)”

All patterns, interfacing and template sets are available for purchase on her website.

www.gailpatrice.com

Recycle,Restyle,Refashion – Part 3 – Mary Mulari

Upcycle Recycle Logo & Definitions

http://www.dictionary.com

Part 3 of the series: Recycle,Restyle,Refashion. For generations, women who sew have been recycling. They start with one thing and, with their sewing skills and imagination — a transformation results into a completely different thing. Patchwork quilting began because frugal women couldn’t afford to waste any bit of usable fabric. They needed to save money, and had to “make do” with materials on hand. In the process, they created something useful and beautiful that would be handed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter.

Over a period of four weeks you will have met four women who are as different as the things they choose to recycle . . . but what they share is the desire to give new life . . . transforming the ordinary and familiar into something extraordinary. There are as many names for it as there are different ways to do it. Whether you call it recycling, upcycling, refashion or restyling — the desire to create something new from something old has always existed in the soul of women and men who love to sew. And it is truly the perfect way for the past to touch the present and the future. The added benefit is that when you start with something like a sweater that your mother loved, or a shirt your Dad wore to work, or a doily your favorite Aunt embroidered — the project takes on a special meaning. It becomes a labor of love, and a treasured memory gift.

********************

Mary Mulari lives in the Minnesota Northwood’s. In 1984, she got laid off from her teaching job. She started to experiment with various techniques for decorated sweatshirts, and developed classes on that topic for community education programs in area schools. She couldn’t have known it at the time — but those early classes about restyling plain sweatshirts became the basis of a very successful career in the sewing industry. Mary is one of the busiest, most well respected speakers in the country — and her seminars and workshops are often sold-out. She has written 20+ books on topics ranging from appliqué designs, zipper projects, machine embroidery techniques, travel gift ideas and Sew Green projects. Mary became the most frequent guest on the popular PBS series, Sewing With Nancy. Her interest in recycling and upcycling has always been at the core of her love of sewing and creating memory gifts.

Recycling gives new life to memories.

Recycling gives new life to memories.

Mary has a hard time listing her favorite recycled project. One would certainly have to be the table runner she made out of vintage doilies. “So many of us have our grandmother’s doilies, but they don’t fit in today’s world. But making a table runner brings them out of the drawers, and they become a topic of conversation. The handwork that went into making them is incredible, and it’s wonderful to be able to display and honor it.”

Last year, Mary wrote Second Chance T-Shirt Gifts — 15 projects, all designed to use a family’s collection of favorite t-shirts to make memory gifts. The ultimate, recycled memory gift is Mary’s unique spin on the ever-popular t-shirt quilt. Instead of trying to stabilize the t-shirts, Mary applied the technique of flannel ragged edge quilts. Because t-shirt fabric won’t fray — it is the perfect recycle marriage. Use flannel for the backside of the t-shirt squares, and BOOM — it’s an easy weekend project. You’ve turned those treasured t-shirts into a soft, washable, useable quilt, with almost no extra cost (no batting, sashing or long arm quilting required).

www.marymulari.com