My dear friend Sharon Dixon has had what she calls her "15 minutes of fame" recently, with several articles about the West Houston quilting industry.
"Sharon Dixon uses a computerized quilting
machine to make custom designs." (Katy Magazine)
Hobby Thrives Despite Economic Downturn - Houston Chronicle, February 17, 2009
(article slightly abbreviated due to length)
This month, many Katy and Fort Bend quilting entrepreneurs will be showing their wares at Katy’s Merrell Center, where the West Houston Quilter’s Guild is hosting its biennial quilt show and sale. With 213 entries and more than two dozen vendors, the “Threads of Time” show runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, February 20 and continues 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
WANT TO GO?
• What: West Houston Quilter’s Guild is hosting its biennial quilt show and sale
• When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday (Feb.20-21, 2009)
• Where: Leonard Merrell Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane in Katy, Texas
• Admission: $6 per day; $5 for seniors
• For information: www.whqg.org
Show visitors can take chances on a raffle quilt, vote for their favorite show entry and buy more fabric for their next project. Downtown Katy merchants have organized their own quilt show and sale as part of their monthly Market Days.
Quilting business owners say their customers love the color and feel of fabric, and seem compelled to grow their “stash,” a store of extra fabric kept in closets, under-bed boxes, or guest rooms turned into quilting studios. They are “destination shoppers,” planning day- or weekend-long “shop hops” with their friends, or retreats to country locales where they gather to sew and shop together.
The Emporium books quilting cruises, allowing crafters to sail away with their sewing machines to exotic ports of call. For most avid quilters, a first step when arriving in any new town is turning to “Q” in the yellow pages of the telephone book.
Quilt shops have many ways to lure customers in the door. Like other shops, Quilt ‘n Sew Studio offers classes and a buying club. The Feathered Star has a weekly “Sit and Sew” where customers can bring their machines and visit while working on their latest projects. Several times a year, the Emporium schedules a popular “pajama party” where quilters show up in their nightgowns and fuzzy slippers for a late-night quilting party.
Business is still good, said quilt shop owners, despite the current economy. “Quilters are obsessed with fabric. It’s a type of hobby that is handed down from generation to generation,” said Debbie Bertrand, owner of the Quilter’s Cottage in Richmond. “When the economy takes a turn, people turn to their hobbies and do more things at home.”
Sharon Dixon, whose workshop is behind her Katy, Texas home, is one of several machine quilters listed on the WHQG Web site at http://www.whqg.org/. She began her business full time in 2001, after she and her husband sold their hardware store in Old Katy.
Dixon sews youths’ T-shirts into bedcovers, and has been asked to turn a stack of old shirts into a quilt honoring a loved one who died. She’s now on her third room-sized long-arm machine.
“Business is going very well. I’ve been a little bit nervous with the economy, but it has not slowed down so far. I think quilters are so addicted they just have to keep going. It’s their therapy."
Last month, Sharon was again featured in an article about quilting in Katy Magazine:
(again, article slightly abbreviated for length)
(Hey, that's MY t-shirt quilt that Sharon made and quilted for me!)
Quilting is a big deal in Katy. According to Nita Beard of the West Houston Quilter’s Guild, half of its membership are from the Katy area. “The popularity of quilting is astounding. People have quilted forever,” says Beard. “Some still prefer hand-quilting, but many of today’s artists quilt by machine. It’s an ancient craft that has evolved into a modern-day art form.”
The WHQG was formed in 1993 with only 25 ladies and now boasts hundreds of diverse members including teens, new mothers, grandmothers, and even a few men. Every other year the WHQG hosts a quilt show, attracting thousands of onlookers, shoppers, and artists. Last year, guild members presented a check for $3,000 to Katy Christian Ministries through proceeds from a raffled quilt. “Our 2009 show will be held in February at the Merrell Center, and the excitement is building!” says Beard.
Most modern-day quilters cut out squares from high-quality quilting fabric, follow specific patterns, and machine sew the squares together. Then they either hand quilt the top, or take it to a professional machine quilter. These quilts can cost hundreds of dollars to make, but can be passed down through families from generation to generation.
Quilting has come a long way. Just ask Sharon Dixon of Katy T-Shirt Quilts. “Customers come to me with boxes of their children’s school t-shirts, or Rock-n-Roll t-shirts, or any collection of t-shirts. And I sew them into the most beautiful memory quilts you can imagine! It means so much to snuggle with all of those memories,” says Dixon. “Quilting is a unique way to share your love with future generations.”
Dixon also has a long-arm quilting machine business. “People who don’t stitch by hand come to me for specialized machine quilting. My quilting machine is on a big table and runs stitching through the entire quilt, based on a design my customer chooses.”
Learning the Craft
Some quilters are self-taught, while others learn from family members. Most join a quilting guild or take lessons at a local quilt shop. Many young mothers are learning to quilt because of the design appeal - quilts give a custom look to a bedroom and are lovely on the wall of a nursery. Devoted quilters visit the International Quilt Festival every October at the George R. Brown Convention Center to learn the latest about quilting world-wide. Whether you’re a master quilter or you just appreciate the art form, there’s no doubt that Katy has plenty to offer the quilt enthusiast.
If you’re interested in purchasing a quilt, taking lessons, or buying some supplies, be sure to visit each of these stores.
(Owner Terri Burton is a big supporter of the West Houston Quilt Guild ... thank you so much, Terri! )
829 S. Mason Rd.
Bonnie Blue Quilts
1002 Ave. A
Katy T-Shirt Quilts (Sharon Dixon)
3020 N. Saddlebrook Lane
West Houston Quilter’s Guild
Reporter KM MELANIE SAXTON is a local area writer and editor, community
volunteer, and proud mom to daughter, Emily.
I would add one more quilt shop to the list of great places to visit near the West Houston/Katy area ...
920 FM 359
Richmond, TX 77406
Owner Debbie Bertrand opened this wonderful shop in 2006, and has a huge selection of quality quilting fabrics, plus gift and quilting supply items. The last Saturday of every month is “Build Your Stash” day, when a selection of fabrics are chosen and priced at a 25% discount , and they also have a fun sew–in on Friday mornings. Debbie is a generous supporter of the West Houston Quilt Guild, and we appreciate her! Quilter's Cottage is a "destination" shop ... well-worth the few minutes' extra drive to Richmond.