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Store gets warm welcome from quilting community

October 22, 2018

WOODBURY, Conn. (AP) — The Running Stitch Quilt Shoppe recently opened in the Pilgrim Mall, and owner Helga Lavan hopes to create a store that is warm, inviting and in keeping with Woodbury’s small-town New England charm.

The 1,200-square-foot shop is where Colleen’s Hair Salon was, and provides quilters with fabrics, materials, patterns and other accessories. It also holds regular quilting classes and sells sewing machines.

Lavan and her family moved to town three years ago and this is her first business venture, inspired by her passion for sewing and quilting. The response from the area’s quilting community has been positive.

“It’s been a lot of people coming in saying, ‘I heard, I heard.’ Quilters talk, and they will get in their cars and they will drive 100 miles,” Lavan said.

Quilting is the process of sewing two or more layers of fabric together to make a thicker, padded material, usually with an intricate patchwork design.

There are an estimated 21 million quilters in the United States, creating a $3.7 billion industry, according to a 2014 study.

Growing up in Queens, New York, Lavan said she learned how to quilt at her mother’s knee.

“I’m one of five kids and we’re all kind of more than average height. Nothing ever fit us growing up, so my mom always made us our own clothes,” said Lavan who herself stands six feet, two inches tall.

Whether it was making Easter outfits, baby clothes or prom dresses, Lavan’s mother was always sewing. And being around that, the younger Lavan took an interest it as well.

“I’ve always loved fashion and textiles, so going to the fabric store with my mom was like the candy store for any other kid,” Lavan said.

The tradition continued when Lavan started her own family. She was always sewing, making Halloween costumes and other items for her three children.

Eventually, her love of sewing segued into quilting.

“I just love the process of putting something together that you either hang on your wall, or you put on your bed or you give to a baby.”

The Running Stitch classroom features regular sewing machines available to participants. It also hosts an Open Sew Night every Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. where quilters can come in to work on their own projects and socialize with fellow quilters.

Most classes are taught by Jennifer Emerson. Also on hand is Lavan’s assistant, Regina.

The Running Stitch is the first quilt shop in Woodbury since Thimbles moved out several years ago.

“I felt like, if there’s not a quilt shop in Woodbury, there really should be. It’s just such a quaint town,” Lavan said.

The store owner hopes the Running Stitch becomes a destination for quilters to learn, have fun and enjoy a little therapy. She said part of her love of the hobby is the wonderful people she meets within the quilting community. Lavan said quilters tend to be especially caring, passionate, empathetic people and are a joy to serve.

One recent customer came in after her two sisters died, Lavan said.

“She told me how when she sits down at her sewing machine, it is her therapy. It’s meditation time almost,” Lavan said. “You go through things in life and you look at a quilt you made and you remember what you were going through at that time. Or you remember what fed your creativity to make it or what went into it. There’s definitely a quality among quilters.”

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Online: https://bit.ly/2Cxuwwc

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Information from: Republican-American, http://www.rep-am.com