HoopSisters — Masters of “In-the-Hoop” Technique

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Lynda Remmers & Annie Moody

Lynda Remmers & Annie Moody

In 2005, two sisters, Lynda Remmers and Annie Moody made their annual trek to a quilt show in Paducah, Kentucky with a group of friends. They rented a house; brought their sewing machines, fabric, patterns and projects.  For five days, they sewed, quilted and embroidered day and night. Lynda was digitizing a wall hanging for her family room and Annie was working on a crazy quilt (they only made it to the quilt show for one day).  They worked late into the night, figuring out how both projects could be created by quilting “in the hoop.” They were excited about the possibilities of accomplishing this new technique.
Lynda began teaching the “in-the-hoop” technique to her customers at her store — Sewing Concepts in Woodstock, Illinois.  As an Educator with Janome America, Annie also began teaching “in-the-hoop” classes across the United States. Their students were thrilled with this new twist for using the embroidery machine and the projects came out perfect every time! Their students were clamoring for new designs. The sisters took a leap of faith and started a new business based on the “in-the-hoop” concept.  They decided to name their new business the HoopSisters.

Did they always know they would end up in the sewing industry?

Lynda says, “My Grandmother taught me to sew and I loved it. She had a cool sewing machine in the neatest cabinet. The center of the cabinet had a handle that you could pull, and out came a sewing chair. The chair had all kinds of hidden storage places. I was fascinated with that cabinet.  I bought my first used sewing machine when I was 12, and when I entered a sewing contest at a local department store — I won!”

Unfortunately, Annie did not have the same early success with sewing. “In Junior High I tried to make a simple skirt in Home Ec class. The only thing I learned was how to use the seam ripper. The sad thing was I came from a family of sewers.  My grandmother sewed, my mother sewed and my sister Lynda was winning sewing awards!  When I was in my 30’s I tried once again, determined to succeed.  Eventually, I became a sewing educator and I cannot imagine what my life would be without sewing.”

The HoopSisters first products were embroidery designs created to make an entire quilt IN THE HOOP.  Annie says, “When creating a new product/design we first look for inspiration.  That might be a favorite traditional quilt design with our own unique twist.”

According to Annie, “Sometimes, a new product evolves out of a need, like our Battilizer (batting and stabilizer combination).  In the beginning, we would hoop a thin batting, along with a stabilizer. Although it did help to stabilize the stitches, it produced a somewhat crispy quilt.  At Quilt Market, we approached Quilters Dream and they were able to produce just the right product for us.  Late that night, we were in our room when we landed on the Battilizer name.  I felt sorry for the people in the adjoining rooms because we were pretty loud ….”

Double Wedding Ring, HoopSisters

Double Wedding Ring, HoopSisters

Another successful HoopSisters product, their trimmer, was developed because necessity is the mother of all invention. Lynda explains, “Martha, one of their best sample-stitchers, was working on our Double Wedding Ring blocks. Our written instructions said to pull back the top layer of the block, exposing the Battilizer and backing. Then, place a ruler along the fold and trim off the Battilizer and the backing. Martha had trouble (we did too) not cutting the fold of the block front, resulting in a hole!

Her husband George, saw her frustration and went to his workshop. He took a piece of aluminum siding material, crimped an edge, and gave it to Martha. It worked like a charm. They brought it to me at the store, I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I called Annie and tried to explain it over the phone, not an easy task. When she saw it, she loved it!

Named the Trimmer by George, Martha and George were in the manufacturing business for a few years. Eventually, we found a USA manufacturer and updated the Trimmer by adding an acrylic ruler. Trimmer by George 2.0 sells like crazy.”

Sewn Seeds, HoopSisters

Sewn Seeds, HoopSisters

Their biggest success has been their EmbroidaBlock of the Month (EBOM) program.  Because of their unique backgrounds — Lynda being a sewing machine dealer and Annie a sewing educator — they decided to develop their EmbroidaBlock series as a program dealers could use to hold classes in their stores.  They just released Sewn Seeds, their 8th EBOM program for 2015.

Annie and Lynda both enjoy coming up with new designs, and they share the duties when it comes to designing the quilts, the embroidery, doing the digitzing, the test sewing, the tweaking, then more test sewing by sample stitchers. After they get it right, it’s on to the instructions, step by step photographs, videos, etc.

Aubrey Winkler, Annie Moody (C), Janet Brown

Aubrey Winkler, Annie Moody (C), Janet Brown

Lynda Remmers (L), Marie Wroga, Karen Beatty

Lynda Remmers (L), Marie Wroga, Karen Beatty

HoopSisters is unique because the two sisters live in different states.  The office in Ohio handles the sales and marketing. Annie has two employees who help with the marketing, website, sales, and customer service.

In Illinois — Lynda handles the operations side of the business.  Once she and Annie have designed and tested a block, Lynda passes it off to their sample stitchers. She prepares the fabric kits, instructions, etc.  She also takes care of the product inventory and shipping from a location near her store.

At this point, the HoopSisters have created over 50 individual quilt in the hoop embroidery designs and they are doing their eighth Mystery Quilt this June.  Eight hundred (800) dealers are handling the HoopSisters’ Embroidablock Of The Month program.

When asked what advice they would give to somebody who had a unique idea for a business — they said, “stand firm, have faith and don’t take no for an answer.”

Sewing Concepts:  www.sewingconcepts.com
HoopSisters:  www.HoopSisters.com