Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Quilts, Inspired, Lovely and Well Made...

We recently sent a query to our FaceBook friends and asked if they had some bright creative quilts to share in a future article.
Wow did we receive some great emails. You are a talented bunch of Quilters. Some of you teach classes, others teach through tutorials on your blogs. It is a delight to see such passion for color, design, and great technique.

So let's start with Camelia Elliot. She decided to recover her Sofa, with quilted cushions.

Camelia Elliot
Dear Mary Jo’s Cloth Store,
I have a quilt to share and it fits into your criteria “bright, fun, creative”.   I have attached a few photos. Here is my story behind this design: We were in the market for new living room furniture and I hated the thought of giving up my comfortable couch with a cozy hide-a-bed that we use when we have a house full of company. After all, they don’t make things like they used to and the sofa has a good, sturdy frame.  I called Francine's Upholstery to get a quote on reupholstering my couch.  She mentioned her classes at the Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd, Virginia and I decided to take a class.  We were visiting about the project and I expressed my interest in using two fabrics.  At that point, I had the bright idea that I could have a quilted couch!  The end result was stunning.  Quilt shop owners from miles around went crazy over my first quilted cushion.  I decided to share my concept with others.  When I went to my machine quilter’s house to pick up the quilt, she commented, “This looks really good on my bed.” She was right.  I made the decision to add instructions for a bed quilt to the book. To see a slideshow of photos when this couch was being created, you may visit my website www.cameliaelliott.com, scroll down to the bottom of the “order patterns page” and go to “click here”. I’m in the process of designing a pattern for a bed quilt as well as the quilted couch.

Thanks Camelia, looks like you may have stumbled upon a new business. Fantastic!

Jennifer Mathis/ Ellis Lane Quilts
Our next Story comes from a very talented and prolific Quilter. Jennifer Mathis. She has a Blog called Ellison Lane Quilts. She also has an interesting retreat she hosts called, Sew South: A Modern Sewing Retreat., This Retreat looks super fun and is right in Charlotte, N.C.. Only 20 minutes from Mary Jo's Cloth Store.
Jennifer shares many quilt tutorials on her Blog, It would be a great idea to take a moment and click around on her site. You will be inspired. She features some really great quilts and makes it easy to create them yourself. She also has a Pinterest Page. Thanks so much for sharing Miss Jennifer, we appreciate your talent!
To all of you who sent us emails, thanks so very much for your inspired submissions. We will feature more later in the week. If you would like to be considered, email us today at kdb@maryjos.com.

By the way, if you haven't checked out Pinterest, it is not just another thing to learn, it makes it easy for you to keep track of the things that inspire you. Mary Jo's Cloth Store has a Pinterest Page, have you followed us yet? There is no time like the present!
This is Quilting weather and we have lots of fabric in the colors that you love and prices no one else can beat. Log onto maryjos.com for the best selection. We can have the fabric in your hands in just a few days. DO IT. Click and order today!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Mary Jo!!!

Mary Jo is celebrating her 81st Birthday today.  So sweet! 
Today we thought we would start by saying Thank-YOU for shopping here at Mary Jo's Cloth Store. Mary Jo has worked very hard over the past 60+ years making sure she gets the best Fabrics at the lowest cost for you, her customers. Mary Jo is dedicated to You, her Family and her Store.
In 2008 The Charlotte Observer's
Staff Writer, Stella Hopkins, did a feature Story about Miss Mary Jo.

Read ALL about it....

"Mary Jo's daddy asked her if she wanted a big wedding or a piece of land to build a home. The teenager chose the dirt. That early business savvy helped her as she opened a fabric store behind her father's barbershop in 1951, on her 19th birthday. Today, Mary Jo's Cloth Store in Gastonia is one of the nation's largest independent fabric stores, a tour bus stop and a haven for stitchers, crafters and designers locally and well beyond.

Now the store has gone high-tech with a Web site that allows shoppers to browse and buy fabric online. The site, launched June 1, is attracting visitors from around the world, already goosing sales by double digits. The store's online gambit marks the latest chapter in a 57-year story of entrepreneurship, of surviving mishap and shifts in consumer tastes, of a woman pursuing her passion. Still no computer for Margaret Cloninger, who has been known as Mary Jo since she was about 2 weeks old. But there's now one in the buying office, and she has used it with her assistant to view fabric.

“It's the way we live,” she says of the tech moves. “It's just the thing to do.”

The Web site is a longtime ambition of her son Thomas Cloninger, a vice president with the store. Sales have stagnated a little above $10 million for some years, he said. They could sell more, he said, if they had even more space than the already cavernous 32,000-square-foot store. But there's no room for expansion in the '70s-era Gaston Mall being demolished and reconfigured around Mary Jo's. The Web site provides a new sales floor. “We have less than 15 percent of our product line on the site,” said Thomas Cloninger, whose responsibilities include the finances. “The more product we can get online, the more the sales are going to increase.” The site is the evolution of a thriving mail-order business. People wrote or called for samples. Some mailed scraps, asked for more. The store first ventured online six years ago with a largely informational site. With the new site, customers can click to order.

“It wasn't simple,” said Mary Jo, who at 76 still works six days a week. “Now, it's simple.”

Nicknamed for her mother's favorite home economics teacher, she taught herself to sew as a child. She was about 5 when she started working behind the counter of her father's grocery in the Gaston County town of Dallas. She quit high school without graduating, finding out years later that she suffered a learning disability. She married, built a business stitching wedding dresses and bedcovers, hemming clothes and covering buttons. Selling fabric came naturally. Her father, Paul Cloninger, signed the $500 note to finance the opening of her first store. She soon expanded into his grocery. He closed the barbershop, and her fabric space grew again. He built a new house. She rented the old one for a warehouse. Then she built a place of her own in Dallas. On Dec. 18, 1981, it burned.

Banks wouldn't lend her money to rebuild. Mills wouldn't ship on credit. She considered quitting. “I love what I do,” she said. “I love who I work with, who I serve.” Employees helped wash unburnt fabric, which froze in the winter weather. They sold from a parking lot. A fabric supplier relented. She found a place to rent. Only one commode, but “I was very glad to get it.” She rebuilt the business and several years later moved to an anchor spot in the Gaston Mall. The store is a crowded kaleidoscope of shimmery evening gown material, cuddly baby flannels, endless quilting choices, holiday prints and lush upholstery goods. Walls hold thousands of buttons, miles of ribbon and other trim. Mary Jo's weathered the rise and fall of chain fabric stores and big box competition. She laments the migration of textile manufacturing abroad, which meant the loss of some fabric types, fewer choices in others. She also survived sweeping change in demand.

In the store's early years, people often bought fabric to make clothes because they couldn't afford store-bought. Rising affluence, low-priced imports and women going to work meant less sewing. Then quilting caught on, replacing lost demand, said Laurie Harsh, who owns The Fabric Shop Network, a retail trade group in Vancouver, Wash. “Now there is a resurgence in sewing with the younger set,” she said. Out-of-state tour buses are regulars at Mary Jo's. So are high-fashion designers, toting sketch books. And grandmothers bring the granddaughters they're teaching to sew.                          
 “That's where my next generation is coming from,” Cloninger said."
To find out more, log onto the Charlotte Observer.

Do you have a story to share about an experience at Mary Jo's Cloth Store or a project that you have created using Mary Jo's Cloth? No time like the present, send us your info and a link to your website, ETSY store or Blog page, we love to share your stories on this Blog!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quilt Inspiration...

What is Black and White and Red all over?  This Modern Black, White and Red, Quilt Inspiration, is the correct answer!
Quilt Trends Magazine recently featured this beauty on the Cover of their Magazine! Great choice.

The gal who designed and created this quilt is, Wendy and she has a Blog she calls "Ivory Spring". She is an avid quilter and very meticulous with her work.
Take a few moments and click around her blog, we bet you will find a technique, tip or trick that you did not know before you logged onto Miss Wendy's site, "Ivory Spring".

This is what she has to say about her quilt...
Hi Friends!  Thanks for all your sweet emails/comments the last couple of days.  I haven’t been at the computer much.  So, it’s nice to open up my inbox and read through a string of sweet emails/comments from you!
Tango is going to be the last magazine feature quilt I am sharing with you this year.  And it is a COVER QUILT, featured in the Winter 2013 of Quilt Trends Magazine!  If you aren’t aware of Quilt Trends Magazine, I would say the projects featured in the magazine are contemporary quilts with style!  Check out their website for a sampling of the projects if you aren’t already familiar with the magazine. Undoubtedly, Tango is very unlike my usual style!  But it was good to step out of my comfort zone when designing this quilt for a more contemporary look.
As you can see from the pictures, quilting was simple.  I quilted circles to kind of “break up” the stuffiness of the squares!  Click here to read about the method I used to quilt the circles. 

Black White and Red fabric is in abundance online and at Mary Jo's Cloth Store. We have as always the best prices and selection. Click onto Mary Jo's Pinterest Page to see some of the choices we have featured in Black & White with a dash of Red!
Hey do you have a quilt you would like to share with us?
We are always looking for your wonderful projects to feature on our blog. Now is the time, send an email and a few pics today!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

We Need YOUR Opinion and Input...

Hello everyone, Happy New Year.
We are thinking of adding two new departments to Mary Jo's Cloth Store! Sewing Machine & Sewing Instruction/Classes. We are so excited that we decided it would be great to gather your opinions and thoughts about this new endeavor. We need your input and have some ideas that we would like to run by you.

What brand of Sewing machines should we carry? Mechanical or Electronic? Bernina, Singer, Brother, Janome or Michley. Are their other brands that you think are better? We want machines that will work for you, our customers, your needs and desires.

We also are considering offering sewing classes! Think of all of the fun you could have.
What better Gift to give than the gift of a series of sewing classes. Here are some ideas, what do you think? Introductory & Basic Sewing Skills, Kids & Teens, Understanding Patterns, Putting in Zippers, Snaps, Covering Buttons & Button Holes. Quilting, Home Decor, Costumes and Dress Making.

What are we missing? What clever ideas do you have to make the Sewing Machine and Sewing Classes a success? We have more fabric and possibilities than any other Fabric store in North Carolina. Help us to make this another great success!

We always count on Your Feedback! We have folks waiting to hear your comments and suggestions
and this will help turn our little dream into a reality.  Please take a moment and send us an email. We always think it is a good thing to "Be The Change You Want To See!" Send us an email TODAY. We thank you in advance. Happy New Year!