From the outside, Stitch N Sew Cottage just looks the way a stereotypical quilt shop should, complete with primly neat flower boxes and a bench that invites you to “sit and rest a spell”, nestled snugly just off the main street of a picturesque small town in the heart of Iowa. In fact, Kalona is known justifiably as the Quilt Capital of Iowa.
Once you step through the door, Stitch N Sew Cottage doesn’t disappoint. You walk into a world of cheerful fabrics and pleasant, helpful people.
Everything seems just as you could have imagined it. Delightful sample projects adorn the counters
and line the pristine white walls.
And there are racks of quilts for sale, too, many of them designed and created by Amish and Mennonite quilters from the surrounding communities.
Since 1982, Stitch and Sew Cottage has been a family affair. We sat down in the well-lit classroom with Mary, whose sister Grace is the shop owner. Grace took over the shop from her mother-in-law Dorothy several years ago. All three ladies are quilters with a deep love of both the craft and of sharing it with the people who come to their shop.
Mary learned to quilt with her mother and her sister Grace. Twenty years later, she can’t imagine her life without quilting. “I never thought I was an artist,” she told us. “I couldn’t draw a stick man that looked like a stick man. But when I got into quilting, I discovered that I am an artist!”
And she loves to encourage others to find their own inner artist. When someone comes in for help with a project, she remembers how her mother would encourage her, “Let’s try a piece or two and see how we get along.”
Stitch N Sew Cottage sponsors a full calendar of classes and projects all presented with the same gentle encouragement and attention to detail that makes learning both fun and satisfying.
We talked about favorite quilting styles
and about what makes Stitch N Sew Cottage special. Each April during the annual Kalona Quilt Show, the shop provides a quilt top for the quilting demonstration that is set up in the local hardware store.
Several years ago, downtown Kalona underwent a major facelift, with new sidewalks, new lighting and planters installed. Mary told us about a unique part of the project, the Sidewalk Quilts.
I was thrilled to be able to purchase one of the Sidewalk Quilt books to take home with me. It was fun to see the various blocks appear beneath our feet as we walked around town. I can hardly wait to piece some of them as a remembrance of a wonderful visit to Kalona and Stitch N Sew Cottage.
Things to Know About Stitch N Sew Cottage and Kalona IA
Facebook: Stitch N Sew Cottage
What to see and do in Kalona: Kalona offers an amazing array of quilt-related fun. Start off by visiting Kalona Historical Village. Wander through the Quilt and Textile Museum at the Historical Village. Pick up a brochure from the Chamber of Commerce and stroll through Kalona to see those amazing Sidewalk Quilts. Or spend a pleasant afternoon drive along one of the four Barn Quilt Trails of Washington County.
Where to eat lunch: Mary suggested a stop at the Kalona Bakery (209 5th St) for fresh sandwiches, homemade potato salad, and delicious pastries and baked goods. While you eat, you can watch them make their hand-crafted noodles and then take home a package or two. Tuscan Moon Grill (203 5th St) offers a lunch menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes and is also highly recommended.