Meridian Industrial

QUILTS & TREASURES

4/30/2020 | Keith O'Connor

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A sign greeting customers when they enter the Quilts & Treasures shop in East Longmeadow during the winter months reads: Quilting…. The Other Winter Sport.”

“Someone gave me the sign, and it’s true, quilting is something many people do in the wintertime when the cold weather keeps you indoors,” said store owner Valerie Morton.

And with more people indoors practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are finding this spring that quilting is something more to do than in just the wintertime.

Morton noted she has enjoyed good online sales while her store has been closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with many orders for fabric to make masks.

“All of my quilters are now making masks as fast as they can. Nobody I know is selling them. They are giving them away to folks in doctor’s offices and hospitals. And, now that we’re being asked to wear them when we go out in public, these masks are going to friends, family, neighbors, contractors, anybody out in the public,” she said.

Whether online or when the store reopens its doors to customers, Quilts & Treasures offers a wide variety of premium cotton fabrics, books, patterns, notions, threads, and embroidery collections. Additionally, as an authorized Pfaff dealer, they offer sales and service of the brand’s home sewing, embroidery and quilting machines, as well as Tutto luggage and Horn & Koala sewing machine furniture. On-site service and repair of most home sewing machine makes and models is also offered.

The store also has an active list of informative classes for quilters of all skill levels, helping them improve their skills and increase their creative options. Morton has also encouraged the development of a variety of clubs to engage the many styles and interests of her customers, including the Batik Club, Pfaff Club, Reproduction Club, Scrap Club and Machine Embroidery Club.

There is evidence of quilts dating back centuries to the ancient Egyptians and early Syrians. Quilting became evident in Europe during the 12th century, and eventually made its way across the shores when the first immigrants settled in colonial America. A nostalgic interest in the quilting tradition resulted in its revival during the country’s bicentennial celebration in 1976.

Morton has her own idea as to why quilting remained popular once again. “I went to work one day and was greeted with a desk piled high with computer reports. I worked hard that day to decrease the pile. But, at the end of the day when I was shutting off the lights, I looked back to see a desk still piled high with paper. And I thought no one would ever know I worked as hard as ever that day. So, when I went home, I made a quilt block that night and said to myself, ‘Now I have something to show for this day on Earth,’” Morton said.

“The reality is that nobody really needs to sew. We do it for the creative enjoyment it provides, and to join with others who share that same passion,” she added. Morton was in high school back in 1976 when she became interested in quilting with the rest of America. She went on to earn a business degree from the University of Maine at Orono, later working in the accounting departments at United Technologies and The Hartford in Connecticut after she and her husband moved to the area. After leaving the corporate world to raise their children, Morton continued her interest in quilting once they started school by taking classes in 1995 at Thimbleworks. Eventually, the store’s owner, Pam McLaren, asked Morton after taking so many classes to work for her.

“I worked at the store for 10 years and laughingly called myself ‘part-time, temporary, seasonal help.’ Eventually I saw that the owner was getting ready to move on after owning the store for so long. I figured my children were growing up and would be leaving the nest, and that I was going to need something where I could socialize with people. I also thought that it would be a good opportunity to put my business background into motion once again. So, one day I asked her when she was ready to sell to please give me first right of refusal. And, in the 19th year of owning the store she did, and I bought it,” Morton said about the purchase and eventual renaming of the store to Quilts and Treasures in 2005.

A look at the Quilts and Treasures website in March and April under “classes” listed a treasure trove of programs to sign up for – such as Easter Placemats, Beginner Rotary Cutter Pillow, Paris Purse, and Totally Centered Apron to mention just a very few – before the closing of most businesses in Massachusetts due to the coronavirus.

“We try to always have a quilting class for beginners each month, as well as a nice variety of classes for beginners to advanced sewers on topics from quilts to table runners to home accessories and more,” said Morton.

“My employees have been anxiously awaiting the store’s reopening. They have been working on new samples for classes and hoping that they can return by summer. The many clubs at our store are also busy coming up with ideas for their return,” she added.

Morton and her staff also manage to find the time to give back to the community, hosting a number of fundraisers throughout the year. Among the many events held to benefit different organizations and illnesses are Quilt For A Cure Day to benefit breast cancer research; With Tea There Is Hope, a head trauma awareness event to benefit traumatic brain injury research; Quilts of Valor, ALS – quilts for the benefit of those suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease; as well as food drives for Open Pantry/Rachel’s Table.

Morton noted that she sees a “silver lining” in staying home beyond preventing the spread of the virus.

“This time at home has allowed people to have an opportunity to get out that sewing machine they put away. They may have put it in the closet for 10 years while maybe raising a family or because life was just too busy. But, now is a chance for them to get sewing again and to remember the enjoyment they got out of creating something themselves,” said Morton.

“And, hopefully when the doors to our store are open once again, we will see faces that we haven’t seen in a long time coming back to quilting,” she added.

Quilts & Treasures is located at 56 Shaker Road in East Longmeadow, Mass. Hours are Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 413-525-4789 or 413-525-6647, or visit quiltsandtreasuresinc.com

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