As you watch the ladies attending the first Wednesday of the month hand sewing group at , located at 2070 Sugarloaf Parkway, one can’t help but reminisce back to simpler times. Back to a time when the popularity of ladies gathering to form “sewing circles” was commonplace. Or your mind wanders back to childhood memories of your mom and grandmother quietly sitting and quilting.
“I’ve been hand sewing, knitting and crocheting since I was seven years old,” said Mita Chatterjee, Patchwork Cottage owner and operator, “but when I learned how to quilt through a friend and a book about seven or eight years ago, I was just hooked.”
In November of 2007, Chatterjee started making plans to open Patchwork. Her plans became a reality in February of 2008.
Patchwork is housed in what was a classroom for Stitch and Quilt, the previous quilting business in the plaza. Chatterjee found outStitch and Quilt was closing six months before they shut down.
When she told her husband that she was quitting her job as an accountant with a local accounting firm to open the quilting shop, he told her she needed her head examined.
“As for the day-to-day operations, I love it (owning Patchworks). I love hanging out with my customers. I love the surprises that they bring in. As soon as I see their stuff I want to make it also. My whole life is one big quilt,” said Chatterjee.
The passion for quilting is also found in Patchworks’ customers and employees. They all describe quilting as if it is a drug, upon which they have become addicted. And sewing groups and classes are where they come to get their “fix”---of quilting ideas, training, and support from a sisterhood of fellow sewers.
“No boys are allowed,” said Marty Miller, as she works on her appliqué. “We love coming here because it is women being with women; the fact that you make a quilt is an extra added attraction. It is just about being together.”
Miller has been a Patchwork customer since its opening. She is happiest when working with traditional quilting fabrics and doing intricate hand work. In observing Miller in efforts to get her to teach, Chatterjee said that Miller would be good at teaching traditional quilt making.
Sewing group member Ginny Wineinger multi-tasks during the session to finish the binding on a traditional quilt, while also working on a crimson Hawaiian appliqué. Ginny has a very special claim to fame with two of her quilts.
“During the 1996 Olympics my quilts were given as gifts to the countries of Libya and the Republic of Moldavia,” said Wineinger.
Several of the members of the sewing group are also members of Quilts of Valor. They make quilts, using the colors of red, white and blue which are shipped to physically or mentally injured military men and women around the world. Some of these quilts are also shipped “with dignity” to surviving families.
Patchwork is involved with the Quilt Guild program “Just for You”. Quilts are made and distributed once a year to children who are terminally ill. And each month Chatterjee participates in a charity that is close to her heart. She donates 10 quilts to Northside Hospital's Neo-Natal Unit. These quilts are sent home with the baby upon release or with parents as a gentle reminder of the little one that they lost.
Chatterjee attributes her love of quilting to health and wellness benefits. She said that quilting as a great “stress buster” has reduced her blood pressure and makes her more “cheerful”.
“I have seen in the past two years, especially with the economy being so tough, people running away from reality and their worries by quilting. In a way I consider it (to be) a yoga. With each stitch I am using a breathing technique and thinking, trying to make each stitch as perfect as I can,” said Chatterjee.
Patchwork has sewing classes for kids ages nine to 13. In these one week classes, kids are taught how to make clothes, cell phone covers, CD covers, pajamas and overnight bags. During the summer’s Kids Camp, the class of eight vote on what they will make each month. Chatterjee teaches this class, but she said she learns the latest dances and who are the hottest pop stars from the students.
Most of Patchwork classes for adults and kids are eight dollars an hour. Adult classes include: Stash Management, Love, Laugh & Learn and Stack & Slash.
Some of the Clubs at Patchwork are: Heart Warmers, Hand Piercer’s Unite, The Sassy Stitchers, Thimbleberries Club-Border Blast and the ever popular Patchwork & Pizza.
For details on Patchwork’s classes, clubs, fees and availability, visit: www.patchworkcottagequilting.com