On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about owning a quilt shop and a premier quilt show with my guest, Jean Wells.
Jean is an art quilter who is inspired by nature and the world around her. She’s also the owner of The Stitchin’ Post, a quilt shop in Sisters, Oregon that she’s owned for 43 years, and the founder of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, a world-renowned show that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Sisters Oregon each July. She’s the author of over two dozen books, is a popular workshop leader and presenter, and the winner of numerous national awards in the quilting industry.
One of Jean’s many books.
We begin by talking about Sisters Oregon including how it got its name and what makes this particular place special to Jean. Then, Jean traces her childhood in central Oregon, her formal education in Home Economics and teaching, and then her years teaching in the public schools in Portland, Oregon. It was there, in the 1960s that she was first introduced to patchwork when she was searching for a project to do with boys who, for the first time, would be taking Home Economics in school.
Jean and her family moved to Sisters shortly thereafter and she used the money in her teacher retirement fund to open The Stitchin’ Post in 1975. At that time there was nowhere to buy quilting fabric so Jean created a place to shop and to learn to quilt. Just a few months later she and another local shop owner had a little outdoor art show together and that was the seed of what became the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.
Quilts displayed on the outside of The Stitchin’ Post during the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.
The show is now a non-profit organization and Jean explains why she made the decision to separate it from the shop. She explains what running an enormous show like this is like, including the risks of bad weather, and talks about the overall impact the show has had on the town of Sisters.
Quilts hanging at the show.
Jean also talks about her family, including her daughter, quilter and designer Valori Wells who now co-owns The Stitchin’ Post. And, I ask Jean to reflect on what’s happened recently to Free Spirit Fabrics (we recorded this show before it was announced that Free Spirit would be bought by Jaftex).
In this conversation we refer to:
- Marti Michell
- Karey Bresenhan
- Bryce Hamilton’s Amish quilts
- Fabric Traditions, founded by Nan Harding
And, of course, I ask Jean to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Jean recommends:
- Sue Benner’s Instagram account
- deconstructed fabric printing
Learn more about the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show including how you can submit your quilt or get tickets to attend this year. Check out The Stitchin’ Post when you’re in town, or follow Jean on Instagram to see what she’s up to day-to-day.
This episode is sponsored by Rebecca Bryan of Bryan House Quilts.
Bryan House Quilts, is offering a new online workshop, “Playful Color Theory for Quilters”, at the end of March! Head on over to Rebecca’s website bryanhousequilts.com for more details and to sign up for her newsletter. Listeners are welcome to a 20% discount on all Rebecca’s online workshops by using the code abby20 at checkout.
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