In November, we posted on our blog about our tour to visit MadamSew customers throughout the country, with a promise to write more extensively about each visit. Having an online store is a great way to offer the newest tools to sewers, but we were missing the face to face interactions of a traditional brick and mortar company, so we set out to meet with some of our customers! One customer we met with was Cathy, from Spring Hill, Florida.
Originally from New Jersey, Cathy and her family relocated to Florida 11 years ago in order to take care of her parents. She began making crafts over 45 years ago, not long after she married her husband- they recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary!
As an anniversary gift, her husband bought her a very nice sewing machine that can even make lace! Cathy has done just about everything over the years, from crochet to knitting to cross stitch to painting, but seems to frequently return to quilting. One of her first quilting projects was for her mother, when she was ill. Other quilts were too heavy, so she made that quilt - out of love and necessity - to be lightweight for her mother’s comfort. Quilts, Cathy says, become memory projects.
She has created quilts for her daughters, friends, and two each for her grandchildren - one when they were babies, and another when they grew bigger. She finally even finished one for herself, and is currently working on one for her husband.
Cathy spoke about what it was like crafting in the beginning, when her children were small. She described keeping her projects in a box, working on them in the evening, and having to put them up and out of reach when she was finished working. She fondly recalled a toy train that she had made from kits, which has since been passed down to one of her daughters for her grandchildren to play with.
Now, their move to Florida has allowed her to have her very own room for her crafts, so there is no need to pack things away when she is not working on them. Even so, now that she is teaching her granddaughters to sew, she teaches the importance of cleaning up and keeping work areas organized. Cathy is the proud mother of four daughters, one of whom learned to sew, and 4 grandchildren - 3 of which are granddaughters, and all 3 of whom she has taught to sew.
Her granddaughters inherited their Grandmother’s creativity, excelling in design and the arts. Cathy learned to sew as a kid, and still does the mending for her family, but her passion lies in being able to create beautiful quilts, holiday crafts, and cross stitch works for her family and friends.
In addition to her projects, Cathy takes time out to sew items for charity sales including pouches for walkers that she was selling through her church, as well as a granny square blanket that she made from leftover yarn that her daughter had given her. She also started a sewing club which meets once a month to work on projects. She not only provides space for the women to meet and work together, but also has projects that the women can choose from and helps them to learn new skills. She believes that the best teacher is actually practicing the craft- working hands on.
While Cathy worked as a secretary for years, it is easy to see that her biggest priority is her family. Shortly after they moved to Florida, the recession began, and she and her husband found themselves in a unique position to help their family. Her brother, and a couple of their grown daughters have come to stay with them, all eventually moving out, but staying relatively close. The family gets together as often as they can, and family photos are prominent in their home, along with the beautiful crafts that Cathy has made.
When asked about what Cathy likes regarding MadameSew, she stated that she appreciated being given a timeline when she would receive items. She has had poor customer service experiences in the past, and is frustrated when items are shipped from far away with little warning. In the past she has ordered panels online, only to wait and have to return the panel because she was sent the incorrect item. She appreciates the customer service that MadameSew provides and that the products she has ordered arrive when they are supposed to. Most recently, she ordered the felt fabric pens. She appreciates that the marks do not fade until heated - previous pens she has worked with fade overnight, and then she would have to take the time to re-mark her work.
Throughout our visit with Cathy and her husband, two themes became prominent- the idea of legacy, and the importance of family. Creative projects are the ones that hold Cathy’s attention and which inspire her to learn new skills, and these projects are the ones that become family keepsakes and which are passed down to her daughters and granddaughters. Cathy’s father worked for Singer after WWII, and purchased a singer sewing machine for her mother. When it was replaced with another machine, the Singer was passed down to Cathy, and Cathy has since passed it down to one of her daughters. Cathy has used her skills to create beautiful objects for generations of her family to cherish, as well as learning new skills and passing those skills on to her children, grandchildren, and her community. It was wonderful to visit Cathy and to see the warmth that sewing brings into her life, and the impact it is having on future generations of her family.