Bayside Stitches Quilt Shop — keeping the tradition of quilting alive
There’s nothing quite like a quilt. Not a blanket, a doona, comforter or duvet. Traditionally made by hand, a quilt is made up of a top woven cloth, an inner layer of insulation fabric like batting and a woven back, all stitched together in an innovative pattern.
Quilting has a rich and diverse history throughout the world but in America, it is rather special. It’s a craft that’s a very important part of our heritage. Colonists made quilts to keep warm, wrap newborns in, as comfort during sickness or used as door and window coverings to keep the home warm. Quilters used all sorts of salvaged fabrics because new cloth was often not available. And because making a quilt can be a lengthy process, often groups of women would gather to work on the same quilt.
Those gatherings were called “quilting bees.” Keeping the tradition of quilting alive in Hernando County is Cari Lester and her daughter Heather, both nurses. Cari, and her family, moved from Alaska 3 years ago and started her quilting enterprise called Bayside Stitches Quilt Shop here in Hernando County. Within a year though, the family found there was a larger demand and so moved to their larger location in Winchester Plaza on Commercial Way, US19.
A self-taught quilter for more than 25 years, Cari explained that she first learned quilting as a hobby and then took classes in her small town in Alaska.
“I love quilting so much, my husband built me my very own cabin and that became my sewing room,” she said. She and Heather Lester and two other daughters can be found helping customers at their 3,000 sq. ft., premises most days. Cari is able to offer everything you need to get started in hand or machine quilting.
Bayside Stitches Quilt Shop offers notions, fabrics, patterns books, special orders and a longarm quilting machine service to “finish” your quilt for you. By “finish,” it means adding decorative stitching and that final edge to cover the raw edges of the fabric. Some quilters like to use a double binding on their quilts – meaning two layers to the binding edge thus giving it an extra thickness of fabric to hold up against wear and tear.
“Cutting long strips of fabric perfectly is not easy,” said Cari. “So we offer a variety of pre-cut fabrics including fat quarter packs, jelly rolls, layer cakes, charm packs and pin wheels. Quilting fabric pieces are now mostly sold pre-cut — simply because cutting techniques have changed over the years. Quilters don’t use scissors any more. They use rotary cutters which allow for quick cutting with precision around templates and patterns. There’s a variety of sizes and styles of rotary cutters available at Bayside Stitches. For decorative edges, use a wave, scallop or pinking blade.
“We hold regular classes on how to “finish” your own quilt,” said Cari. “And we also have a range of longarm machines that customers can use at home.”
The benefits of using a longarm machine is that it takes significantly less time than hand quilting or more traditional machine quilting. This time saving is a large factor in the popularity of longarm quilting “Making a patchwork quilt is such a good way to use up old scrap fabric, and a great first sewing project,” said Cari. “We carry Ever Sewn products, including a first quilters basic starter kit to help you along the way to your first quilt.”
Bayside Quilt also offers a variety of classes - around $20 a class depending on the skill level. Classes are held in a large separate room to the quilt shop itself. It’s equipped with a design wall, ironing boards and a longarm machine. There’s also a small kitchen for customer’s convenience. Classes include quilt design, paper piecing, appliqué, and binding.
“Often, we have certified teachers who come and demonstrate special techniques like paper piecing,” said Cari. The next specialty class will be led by a certified teacher from the Judy Niemeyer Quilting Company. Niemeyer’s techniques help quilters with minimal previous experience to be able to create intricate and complex heirloom quality quilts. Cari explained that there are numerous classic patterns and traditions regarding the design and characteristics of quilts. Many are made or given to mark important life events such as marriage, the birth of a child, a family member leaving home, and graduations.
“Some are made to give words of hope for cancer patients,” she said. “Modern quilts are not always for bedding, and may be used as throws, wall hangings, table runners or tablecloths.” The Lesters’ mission is to promote friendship and comfort and offers its classroom area for regular get togethers. “We just gather and chit chat. It can be one person or twenty,” Heather said. “We also hold children’s birthday parties.”
Bayside Stitches Quilt Shop holds once a month ladies night out, bingo sessions and an indoor quilters’ yard sale. “It’s a safe environment where they can set up their little area of goods,” said Cari. “It targets just quilters and crafters where they can sell their items.” “And it’s not just older people that come,” said Heather. “I did 4 workshops for beginners and a lot of young people came along.” “The youngest was 5 years old.”
IF YOU GO
Bayside Stitches Quilt Shop is a family oriented business located at 5164 Commercial Way (By Golden Corral)
Spring Hill, Florida
Call (352) 584-3743
BaysideStitches is on Facebook @Bayside Stitches.
Check regularly for upcoming events and classes.