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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Making A Career Out Of Quilting Left Me In Stitches

Welcome to Quilt Design Studio in Cleveland Heights, OH.
Sometimes I find stories in the strangest places. This one I found when I said hello to a woman in a hallway of an office building and kept walking with her to a colorful double glass door that had quilted curtains covering it. No other door on the floor of the building looked like this, so I had to ask some questions. After introductions and a half hour or so, I found out that making a career out of quilting left me in stitches.

I'm always fascinated by things I know nothing about. And if the person in front of me is willing to answer questions, I'll have dozens of them. That is what happened when I said hello and was introduced to Eileen Beegle. Eileen owns Quilt Design Studio in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I had never been to a quilt factory before. I always imagined little old Amish women making quilts in the back room of their farm houses. I never imagined someone making a business out of quilting.

Eileen established her business in 1984 and is still going strong. Even though she's a spring chicken in her 70's, she opens her doors five days a week and keeps running her business by herself. "Why retire? What would I do? My husband is in his 70's and he's still working, too."

We spent ten minutes as I guessed the ages of the sewing machines.
Her business employes some specialized equipment for making the quilts, but she also has a small collection of sewing machines that date as far back as the 1920's - and who says American made products don't last?

One of her specialties is "Memory Quilts" - quilts with pictures or T-shirts woven into the tapestry of fabrics that make up the completed quilt. She makes gifts for graduations, anniversaries, birthdays and other special events.

A specialized table for cutting fabric.
Making her one-of-a-kind designs is not all Eileen does in her second floor shop. On Wednesday mornings about eight to twelve volunteers come in for two hours and make sleeping bags for the homeless. What I got a big chuckle out of was the way she tied up the sleeping bags - they were rolled and tied with old men's ties.

Since 1996, her little group, working two hours a week, has donated over 2,800 sleeping bags to the homeless. That thought, alone, gives me a warm and cozy feeling, just like one of her quilts.

One of Eileen's masterpieces.
There should be a couple lessons you take away from this story. Number one, you can make a career out of anything you are passionate about. And number two, say hello to more strangers and talk to them, you meet the most fascinating people. I said hello and found out that making a career out of quilting left me in stitches. And I had a nice warm feeling after I left Eileen to her quilting.

Eileen Beegle
Quilt Design Studios
216-321-0542

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You Just Have To Watch It. Absolutely Incredible !!!!!