A new business on High Street isn't exactly new.
Sue's Machine Quilting Company is moving from basement to storefront after seven years of creating quilts for Jefferson City.
Owner Sue Christian started helping her mom make quilts around 15 years ago and branched out on her own about seven years ago. Now, Sue and her husband, James, have moved the 14-foot long-arm quilting machine out of their basement and into a space at 111 E. High St.
The machine may take up a large amount of the space, but it allows Sue to create quilts up to 144 inches, or 12 feet — large enough for even the biggest of beds. Her first 12-foot machine could go only up to a little over 10 feet, and she was turning away customers who were asking for 140- to 144-inch quilts.
"I don't want to see the beds that these go on — because your California Kings are only 110 (inches.) So they're huge," Sue said with a laugh.
The quilt shop is open, but the Christians won't have their grand opening until later this month. For now, they're experimenting with the best hours — when people will want to come to the shop and when they can be open around their full-time day jobs.
Inside, the front of the store currently displays quilts Sue has already made, which can be purchased. There are bolts of fabric to choose from and a wall display of multiple colors of thread. In the back, the large quilting machine whirs to life as Sue quilts.
If customers are interested in having a quilt made, they can choose from the fabrics and thread colors and have Sue make it or make their own top — the designed, fabric portion of the quilt — and bring it in. Then, using her machine, Sue quilts the top, batting and back together. Customers can choose from more than 3,000 patterns for their stitches.
If customers sew their own top, quilts run from $30 for a crib size up to $250 for an extra-large California King. Depending on how much work the quilts need — if Sue makes the top or not — they can be done anywhere from a week to a few months after the order is made.
The machine may make the process easier, but it's still hand-guided, not computerized. Sue guides the machine through the pattern using an attached laser pointer, which she uses to follow the pattern on the bottom half of the table, while the machine does the stitches up top.
For Sue and James, being able to offer options for fabric and quilting at affordable prices is key. They want to keep their prices as low as they can and will even offer payment plans. Sue said she's seen people give things up to have quilts made.
"People are having to choose — do I get my meds filled this month, or do I get this quilt for my grandson for graduation? We don't want them to have to make that choice," Sue said. "Are we going to make a million dollars? No. But that's OK, it's something that we love doing."
The Christians hope to keep the store operating after they retire and one day want to open another shop in Marshfield, where Sue's mother lives, that their daughter can run.
Sue's Machine Quilting Company offers custom quilting, binding and T-shirt quilts, as well as selling fabric, thread and scented wax. Sue also makes baby changing pads, burp cloths and cloth books, and pot holders and bowl cozies.
"We're wanting to expand it and be a one-stop quilt shop for everybody — get all their thread, their fabric, patterns, do their quilting for them, or they can come in and rent time on the machine," Sue said.
For now, Sue and James are busy setting up the shop, figuring out their hours and already working on a few Christmas gift orders.
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