At dinner one evening back in 1977, Linda Worley, a needlework enthusiast, complained to her husband that she was frustrated by not having available every single color of DMC floss. "Why don't you open a shop and carry all of the line?" he replied. And she did. Her shop, "Patches and Stitches", celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018.
Located in Huntsville, Alabama, "Patches", as the locals affectionately say, mirrors the astonishing growth of its home city. It was first housed in a 400 square foot space. Two years later the shop moved into a charming little house in the old part of town.
In 1988, Linda found a centrally located site, near a busy shopping center but on its own quiet street. There, only a block away from Huntsville's main north-south thoroughfare, she built her own building.
In 2001, she decided to move the shop back to an old house located in one of the historic mill villages of Huntsville. In the early part of the 20th century, a large portion of the population of Huntsville worked in the mills some of which made the grey goods for making cotton prints that are now so popular in the quilting industry.
We have had many loyal employees over the 40 years. Linda Gewin, who worked at the shop over 30 years retired in 2017 and moved to the state of Washington to be near her children and grandchildren. Sharon Stifflemire is the buyer/manager for the quilting are and has been with the shop for over 20 years. Rachel Freeman, retired from a 25-year career with a large retail firm in the Midwest has been working at the shop for over 20 years. She is also Linda's sister. Many other talented stitchers and quilters are shop assistants and teachers.
"Patches and Stitches" offers a full schedule of classes for all skill levels. The class schedule changes quarterly with often as many as 30 classes offered. Over the years we have offered classes in needlepoint, tatting, tassel making, pulled-thread, cross stitch and quilt classes of all kinds. Most of our classes now are on some technique for quilting.
When Wehrner Von Braun and his team of German scientists were sent to Huntsville (located in the foothills of the Appalachians in north Alabama) it was a sleepy little town of 10,000. Its population is now approaching a quarter of a million. Many of these are highly educated professionals, who work directly or indirectly in high tech businesses supporting NASA or the computer industry. "Patches" mirrors both the rapid growth of the town and the eclectic progressive nature of its customers, who are rarely from "these parts." The shop carries the latest books, tools and a wide range of fabrics including traditional lines, reproductions, documentaries, batiks, Japanese, and novelty prints.
The Huntsville area has three very active local guilds; Embroidery Guilds, Madison Station Quilters and the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville, which boasts a membership of over 200. The shop houses the quilter's guild extensive library. "Patches" supports it local guilds with monthly raffle gifts, advertising in their publications, and invaluable expertise and encouragement in their guild endeavors.
While "Patches and Stitches" attracts customers from a 200 square mile radius between Nashville and Birmingham, and serves a loyal base of Huntsville residents, it still exhibits an unpretentious air of practicality and neighborliness. Beginning stitchers and quilters are made to feel at home, customers on a tight budget receive helpful advice, and experienced innovative needleworkers are assisted, all in a seemingly effortless blend of what has to be true Southern