Quilted Bug, Leila’s Stitch Haven cater to local quilters
Published: 01-23-2024 2:00 PM
Modified: 01-30-2024 10:52 AM
When Kerry and Scott Christophers sold Hancock’s Seven Maples campground in 2021, they weren’t totally sure what they were going to do with more free time in their schedules.
But Kerry had one definite goal in mind – to devote more time to her lifelong hobby of quilting. With their younger son still at ConVal, the Christophers needed to stay in the district, and so they bought a house on the woody fringes of Francestown. The house had enough space for Kerry, a lifelong quilter, to devote to her craft.
“Things just kind of went from there,” Scott said.
Today, the Christophers run The Quilted Bug, a home quilting studio that provides digital E2E longarm (edge-to-edge), custom longarm and binding services for the home quilter. Kerry, the creative mind, helps clients choose colors and patterns or works with them to design and finish quilts, while Scott, the mechanical and “techie” half of the team, runs the longarm quilting machine that takes up much of the room. The Christophers also create custom quilts.
“A lot of people just love to do the design work, the piece work, and they can’t wait to move on to the next thing. They don’t really like doing the finish work, putting in the batting and the backing, and you can’t do it on a regular domesticated machine. If you try to stuff the whole quilt in there, it’s not going to work,” Kerry said.
Kerry, a member of the Monadnock Quilters’ Guild and the Amoskeag Quilters Guild, says quilting is very popular in the region and across the country. The guilds organize activities, including creative challenges, “sit and sew” workshops and annual quilt shows. The guilds also create quilts for charities.
“I joined the guild, and it was like oh my goodness, it’s this whole network of quilters! There are probably about 100 members in each guild. It’s so cool,” Kerry said.
The Christophers invested in a used longarm quilting machine last year and have been accepting customers for services ever since. The previous owner of the machine remains a friend and occasionally comes to The Quilted Bug to finish his own projects on the machine, nicknamed “Matilda.”
Scott points out the different stitches on various projects in the room, which include intricate floral, heart and geometric patterns.
“You can upload any design, and the machine does it,” Scott said, demonstrating the machine’s ability to rapidly stitch a queen-size quilt.
“People get limited by the size of the machine. You just can’t make a big quilt on a regular machine,” Kerry said.
Some clients come to The Quilted Big knowing exactly what they need, such as longarm finishing, while others seek advice in all stages of the quilting process, from choosing patterns from Kerry’s pattern book library to selecting fabrics, thread and batting or backing materials. The business has grown steadily, and the studio now has a closet full of clients’ quilts awaiting finishing.
Later this year, the Christophers plan to move The Quilted Bug to their ground-level carport, which is accessible from the driveway with plenty of parking and will not require steps.
“We’re pouring concrete in the spring,” Scott said. “It will be a really nice space.”
“Then we’ll get our guest bedroom back,” Kerry said with a laugh.
Kerry noted that while she has extensive samples and remnants of fabric, she does not sell fabric or supplies, and usually refers people to Leila’s Stitch Haven in Lyndeborough.
Nichole Schneider opened Leila’s (named for her cat) at 352 Center Road, Unit 6, Lyndeborough on Nov. 18 last year. Schneider credits the encouragement of Wanda Makela, who owned The Bunkhouse, the quilt shop which previously existed at the same location.
“I had been in the corporate world for years; I didn’t know the first iota about running a shop! But Wanda said, ‘You’ll be fine. You’ll figure it out,” Schneider said. “And it’s been great. My opening day was very successful for just being word-of-mouth; word has spread pretty quickly.”
Schneider’s shop offers fabric, notions and quilting supplies. She said there is no other dedicated quilting store in the Monadnock region, and that customers have been delighted to learn the shop has continued in the same space.
“I carry all styles and brands of fabrics, bits of everything, because there is no other shop nearby,” Schneider said.
Schneider said the hardest part of quilting is cutting and sewing accurately. She will walk customers through the entire process of starting a quilt, and in some cases, provide assistance. She said she may consider custom quilting in the future, but for now, her time is dedicated to helping customers get started with their own projects. Along with celebratory quilts for weddings, anniversaries and babies, many customers come in to create memory quilts, incorporating the clothing of loved ones who have died.
“It’s very time-consuming. Most people probably don’t realize how much time it takes. A quilt can take nine months, a year. It is a labor of love,” Schneider said.
Like Kerry Christophers, Schneider became interested in quilting because her a family mentored her and showed her the art. Stitch Haven displays intricate quilts made by Schneider’s 96-year-old aunt, Joyce Winship, who taught her to quilt and is still quilting today.
Schneider is excited to pass the craft onto a new generation.
“I had a 7-year-old girl come in who was so excited because Santa brought her a sewing machine, and she could not wait to learn how to use it,” Schneider said. “The mom said she didn’t know the first thing about sewing. It was really gratifying to help them get started.”
Stitch Haven sells rainbows of fabrics and quilting supplies, pattern books, notions, thread and quilt batting and backing materials. Schneider is planning to offer classes, “sew-in” sessions and workshops for children and adults in the future.
“A lot of people don’t realize how many people quilt,” Schneider said. “It’s a big community.”
For information about The Quilted Bug, go to their Facebook page or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about Leila’s Stitch Haven, go to leilasstitchhaven.com.