Thursday, September 17, 2015

September is National Sewing Month!

National Sewing Month was founded September 21, 1982 at the request of the American Home Sewing & Craft Association, an industry and trade association which supports the sewing and craft industries. President Ronald Reagan declared September as National Sewing Month in recognition of the importance of home sewing to our Nation.

Several other proclamations naming September as National Sewing Month were issued by President Reagan during his time in office stating, “Tens of millions of Americans sew at home. Their efforts demonstrate the industry, the skill and the self-reliance which are so characteristic of this Nation.”

There are no records of how National Sewing Month was celebrated in its early years and few references exist on any specific outreach, activities or advertising. In the summer of 2004, the Home Sewing Association (HSA) (formerly the American Home Sewing & Craft Association) renewed its dedication to National Sewing Month by commissioning a new logo.

In May of 2005, the HSA submitted a proposal to the Office of Proclamations asking for a revival of National Sewing Month. The letter stated, “The revival and recognition of September as National Sewing Month gives the industry an annual celebrated boost to all those associated in the business of home sewing. The re-declaration of this proclamation will aid in promoting and energizing commerce, re-inspiring consumers and introducing sewing to new demographics.”

On July 20, 2005, the Special Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Correspondence sent a note of regret that the request could not be accommodated. HSA’s management understood that a new proclamation was not a requirement to promote September as National Sewing Month and a full advertising campaign was launched, including press releases, ads, flyers, web banners and a digitized logo available for free download from their website.

After the re-launch of National Sewing Month in 2005, the HSA placed major efforts on marketing and promoting the National Sewing Month campaign. Themes like “Sewing… the alternative yoga,” “Sewing… Express Your Creative Spirit” and “Sewing…it’s what you make of it” were chosen and support and participation from local and national retailers, the American Sewing Guild (ASG) chapters, sewing educators, online retailers, school systems and other sewing enthusiasts really helped the campaign gain popularity within the sewing world.

In December of 2007, the HSA closed its doors, but just a few months later the American Sewing Guild (formerly part of the HSA) joined forces with the Sewing & Craft Alliance, a new program started by HSA’s former Executive Director and its former webmaster. The ASG wished to continue the promotion of National Sewing Month while providing a central location for the distribution of National Sewing Month information and materials to organizations, educators, sewing enthusiasts and anyone else interested in promoting or participating in activities for National Sewing Month.

Today, National Sewing Month is presented by the Sewing & Craft Alliance in partnership with the American Sewing Guild. Here are some ways you can get involved in national sewing month:
  • Teach a family member or friend to sew – start with a trip to Mary Jo’s of course!
  • Volunteer your time and teach sewing to a local youth organization like Girl Scouts and 4-H Clubs.
  • Make it possible for someone to learn how to sew! Volunteer your time or donate fabrics, equipment and sewing supplies to local women’s groups.
  • Sew more often. If you haven't been sewing lately, come into Mary Jo’s to find out what's new in the sewing world!
  • Join your local chapter of the American Sewing Guild at and participate in its activities. 
  • Register for a class here at Mary Jo’s and bring a friend!
  • Contact your local public television station and make a contribution that supports sewing programs.
  • Create your own sewing circle of friends; it’s fun to sew (and take trips to Mary Jo’s) with others!
National Sewing Month is the perfect time to celebrate and indulge in your passion for sewing and a great opportunity to start sewing if you never have before! But, keep in mind that the creative, therapeutic and calming effects of sewing are joys that we can celebrate throughout the entire year.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

October Classes at Mary Jo's Cloth Store!

Quilting Classes

Tuesday, October 13th & 20th

Time: 10 am - 3 pm
Instructor: Daniela Hogan
Fee: $70 (both sessions)
Your eyes tell you there's cureved piecing, but there are no curved seam in this stunning quilt! The illusion of movement without stitching a single cureve makes this pattern appealing to quilters everywhere.

Saturday, October 15th

Time: 11 am - 3 pm
Instructor: Daniela Hogan
Fee: $30
Have you ever fallen in love with a preprinted panel but not known what to do with it? Chenille it!!! In this class you will learn this stunning technique that works on any sized panel!

Tuesday, October 6th

Time: 10 am - 3 pm
Instructor: Daniela Hogan
Fee: $35
Get ready for Winter with this beautiful quilt. This class will concentrate on my favorite technique for making multiple half square triangles that come out perfect EVERY time!

Tuesday, October 22nd

Time: 10 am - 3 pm
Instructor: Daniela Hogan
Fee: $25
Need some extra time and instruction on a project? Stumped on the next step of something you started? Join Daniela and get the help you need with those WIP's (Work-in-progress). Thsis is a free form class that you can bring your own project and work at your own pace!


Thursday, October 1st, 8th, 15th, & 22nd

Evening Class

Instructor: Mary Sue Christenbury
Time: 6 pm - 8 pm
Fee: $95 (includes all 4 sessions)
If you have always wanted to learn to sew, now is your chance! mary Jo's is offering hands on sewing classes that will get you comfortable with all the basics of sewing. This class is great for first timers as well as those who just need to revisit the fundamentals.

In this 4 part class you will learn: sewing machine maintenance, tools of the trade, pattern layout, fabric selection, cutting and matching repeat patterns darts, gathers, zippers, tucks & pleats.

Saturday, October 3rd

Instructor: Mary Sue Christenbury
Time: 10 am - 1 pm
Fee: $25
These crafty carriers have handles, outside divided pleated pockets on front and back, and a single outside pocket on each side. This is a great catch all bag for craft supplies, school tools and even your holiday necessities!

Wednesday, October 7th &

Instructor: Kathy Dykstra
Time: 10 am - 1 pm
Fee: $45 (both sessions)
In this class the student will learn how to construct a ready-to-smock bishop dress. Tiny French seams as well as beautiful bias bands will be mastered in this class. After sewing the fornts, pleat their bishop dress iwth confidence under the watchful eye of the instructor. Those without a pleater will have their dresses pleated by the instructor. Although bias band sleeves will be sewn in class, a quick and easy way to stitch an elasticized puff sleeve will also be discussed for use in future projects. An easy, self-packet with 2-button closure finishes the back of the dress. With the bishop dress full constructed, smocking and keeping stitch tension even is much easier to accomplish.

Tuesday, October 6th, 13th, 20th, & 27th

Instructor: Mary Sue Christenbury
Time: 10 am - 1 pm
Fee: $95 (includes all 4 sessions)
If you have always wanted to learn to sew, now is your chance! Mary Jo's is offering hands on sewing classes that will get you comfortable with all the basics of sewing. This class is great for first timers as well as those who just need to revisit the fundamentals.

In this 4 part class you will learn: sewing machine maintenance, tools of the trade, pattern layout, fabric selection, cutting and matching repeat patterns darts, gathers, zippers, tucks & pleats.

Friday, October 16th

Instructor: Mary Sue Christenbury
Time: 10 am - 2 pm
Fee: $25
This is a modern take on the classic duffle bag! It has plenty of room for that weekend getaway with a roomy inside and lots of pockets. It also has a zippered enclosure that keeps your treasures safe! The Daily Duffle finishes 18" wide, 10" tall and 10" deep. Super easy piping gives this bag a professional finished look. Can be worn as an over-the shoulder or carried by the handles.

Thursday, October 29

Instructor: Sheila Antell
Time: 10 am - 1 pm
Fee: $25
Need some help finishing an apparel or home dec project? Too many distractions at home? Join us for a "Get it Done" sewing class with our expert Mary Sue Christenbury.


  • Sewing 1 - Friday - October 2 - 9:30am - 12:30pm
  • Sewing 1 - Tuesday - October 13 - 9:30am - 12:30pm
  • Sewing 1 - Thusday - October 15 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm
  • Sewing 1 - Friday - October 23 - 9:30am - 12:30pm
  • Sewing 2 - Friday - October 9 - 9:30am - 12:30pm
  • Sewing 2 - Tuesday - October 20 - 9:30am - 12:30pm
  • Sewing 2 - Thusday - October 22 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm
  • Sewing 2 - Friday - October 30 - 9:30am - 12:30pm
  • Sewing 3 - Friday - October 16 - 9:30am - 12:30pm
  • Sewing 3 - Tuesday - October 27 - 9:30am - 12:30pm
  • Sewing 3 - Thusday - October 29 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm
  • Serger 1 - Tuesday - October 1 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm
  • Serger 1 - Thusday - October 15 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm
  • Serger 2 - Tuesday - October 8 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm
  • Serger 2 - Thusday - October 22 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Home Dec Days

Saturday, October 10th

Chair Cusions

Instructor: Susan Woodcock
Time: 11 am - 12 pm
Demo - Located in the Home Dec department

Clubs & Events

Saturday, October 10th

Instructor: Pam Carter
Time: 9 am - 10 am
Fee: $10
Hooping Bulky items. Personalizing quilts, blankets, bath towels and sweatshirts is fun and gratifying if you know how. The challenge is properly hooping these bulky items. We will review the essential techniques and tips to easily hoop and embroider any bulky item.

Friday, October 2nd or 9th

Create Your Own Scarf

Instructor: Melanie Stilwalt
Time: 4 pm - 6 pm
Fee: $25 (either session)
Instructional class designed to teach kids to sew by completing a project. This class focus on a decorative scarf created from strips and scraps of fabric as well as yarns, ribbons and metallic thread. It's a colorful fashion accessory that can be worn year round!

From Nancy Rink, this quilt pairs her flair for color with prints inspired by California's rich history, a blend of Spanish Mexican and Native American traditions. Bright color and intricate motifs echo the decorative tile work of El Camino Real (The King's Highway) and the architecture of the region. The finished quilt measures 94 1/2" x 114"

We reserve the right to substitue fabrics based on availabilty.

Class Policy:

Class Policy
  • The class fee must be collected when you sign up for the class to guarantee your seat. Each fee is listed next to the class listing.
  • If you cannot attend a class for which you have registered you must let us know 7 days prior to class time. We will be happy to refund you class fee and/or register you in another class.
  • If you cancel after the 7-day time allowance, up until the day of the class, your class fee is nonrefundable.
  • A minimum of 3 students is required for class. If this requirement is not met, usually the class will be canceled and you will be refunded your class fee.
  • Mary Jo's' reserves the right to cancel classes for any reason. If this happens, you will be refunded your class fee.
  • There are no refunds on class fees for 'Special Event' teachers/classes within 30 days of class date unless we can fill your spot with another person. NO EXCEPTIONS!
We reserve the right to substitute fabrics based on availability.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

64 Years of Family Service at Mary Jo's Cloth Store

Keeping Up with the Times 

While we strive to maintain Mary Jo’s Cloth Store’s original values, we have changed with the times. In 1951, when Mary Jo first established her business in the back of her father’s grocery store, her clientele was mainly stay-at-home moms on a budget. Thomas Cloninger, Mary Jo’s son and current CEO and CFO says, “She kept her markdown low to keep it affordable.” Mary Jo never advertised. She would say “It isn’t good money sense… That money could buy fabric and give customers a second or third selection instead.” And, adds Thomas, “she never looked at a balance sheet.” However, with the fall of the textile industry and a loss of interest in the sewing community in general (think of making clothing versus back-to-school shopping) we’ve had to alter this part of Mary Jo’s business plan. Of course, our biggest concern is keeping our prices low, our inventory high and our customers happy, but bringing in new customers and letting people know what we have to offer is now more vital to our business than it was 50 years ago.

Today we work with a small, local marketing team who helps us gather new customers and stay connected with returning customers. They help us run our social media accounts, plan our major sales events and manage our website among a list of other things that help us stay connected. While Mary Jo might have never considered a luxury like a website herself, we understand that it is crucial to our business. Our online orders span the entire globe – something we could have never done with the physical store alone. But, don’t worry about us getting too crazy; we stick to a plethora of Mary Jo’s original wishes, like our handmade signs that still adorn the store. Take for instance the one that hangs above the checkout counter - “Mary Jo's will always be open to serve our customers” – that’s something that will never change.

Same Family Business; Same Ideas and Service

Mary Jo has retired, but we still honor the characteristics of a family business. Several of Mary Jo’s direct family members remain strongholds of the Mary Jo team. But, Mary Jo never worried about selling out. Instead, she fretted about selection, pleasing her customers and making sure that her store lived up to its reputation. At the end of the day, she believed that the future would never be a problem and that everything would take care of itself. While Mary Jo could have gone nationwide early in her career, she would say, “I belong to no one. I run an independent business as I see fit. I am the exception to the norm… I am asked every day to open up a new store…  I will not, because if you can’t do it well, don’t do it – and I can’t be in three or five places at once.”

Mary Jo’s has succeeded because we don’t follow the usual level of retail markups. We have a lower overhead, and we attribute our success to the tremendous values we pass along to our customers. We offer a better value than most of the competition because of our huge volume, but the secret is that we truly care about our customers. We try our best to make their trip worthwhile, because people are taking time out of their day, sometimes even traveling, to get here. We try to make it an exciting trip.

Changes in the Industry

Just a few decades ago, future brides and their families would come to Mary Jo’s for one intense shopping spree. During the spree, they would buy everything necessary to make each of their dresses and turn themselves out as an ensemble by virtue of their coordinating clothing. Today, the bridal inventory is much smaller - an index to the fabric business at large. Fabric that used to come in quantities of 2,000 yards or more, are now reduced to as few as 500 yards. Large quantities of fabric must be requested months in advance, and chances are it’s “one run and done.” No manufacturer wants to be sitting on thousands, or even hundreds, of unsold yards of fabric.

Despite the shifting conditions, Mary Jo’s has continued to thrive as one of the only one-stop suppliers in the nation to designers of theater productions, films, quilting fests and sumptuously appointed homes. “She was the first big-box store in the industry,” says Thomas concerning his mother’s enterprise. As more garment manufacturing moves overseas, fewer leftover bolts of fabric, called “off goods,” are available to fabric retailers in the United States. Less selection hurts independent stores like us who built their reputation on having the widest selection around. While in the past we might try to keep 15 shades of denim on the shelves, that’s just not possible if manufacturers cut back to only seven shades.  Today only enough goods are made to fill orders – nothing extra like in the past.


Just like the textile industry as a whole, our business plan has transformed during our 64 years of business. However, our core values, ideas and service have remained the same. Mary Jo’s is in the trusted and valued hands of her dearest children, and they strive to keep Mary Jo’s Cloth Store as true to its name sake as possible, day in and day out.