A stitch in time saves tradition
By By Kathy Hall/Special to The Star
Feb. 25, 2001
French hand sewing, is a Southern tradition passed on from mother to daughter for centuries. The Corner Stitch is dedicated to preserving, teaching and sharing this art with today's generation.
We have on display gowns and dresses handmade by my grandmother and mother for their daughters and granddaughters. These are truly family heirlooms representing many hours of handwork lovingly stitched by accomplished artisans.
In recent years, advances in technique and equipment have made it possible to achieve the time-honored "French hand sewing" effect by machine, reducing the time and effort required to create unique heirloom garments. Even so, the historical hand work tradition is one we continue to enjoy and teach at The Corner Stitch.
Helping to preserve and teach this art led me to open The Corner Stitch in 1995. I saw an opportunity to turn an art form I loved into a business, and provide others with a source of hard to find imported fabrics and laces, as well as teaching the heirloom tradition. Since my husband and I already owned a beautiful two-story Prairie-style home built about seventy years ago, we had the opportunity to preserve a piece of Meridian history by locating The Corner Stitch there. The house at 1820 23rd Avenue was from a time when elaborate children's clothing and embroidery were quite popular. Customers love the old house with rocking chairs on the front porch, original woodwork and fixtures. This is a wonderful place to come to work every day.
The four of us who are The Corner Stitch n Kathy Anderson, Janis Shelton, Marie Wasson, and Cathy Hall share a combined 150 years of sewing experience. We love what we do, and we love to teach our customers the varied techniques for smocking, embroidery, heirloom sewing, and other aspects of these arts. Heirloom sewing draws people into a community of shared interests and skills.
We have been amazed at how that community is growing, especially with the advent of the World Wide Web. Our Web site, www.cornerstitch.com, with secure, online ordering, has over 3,000 items, including fabrics, laces, smocking designs, patterns, books, sewing kits, and more, with selections added and updated each week. We ship to customers throughout the country, as well as to Canada (our top international market), Australia, Germany, Japan and Mexico.
The Internet has not only allowed us to expand our local market to the world, it has also opened up a new community of shared tradition and artistry.
Several of our Internet customers have made trips to Meridian to visit our shop, and others keep us posted on their projects through emails, letters, and pictures of their heirloom creations. As much as we love traditional heirloom sewing, our customers also want children's clothing with a fun touch. We carry prints with whimsical designs and a selection of cute buttons.
Janis Shelton, who enjoys a type of quilting known as paper piecing, has recently developed designs for paper pieced quilting patches ideal for ornamenting children's clothes.
Children love these designs, and mothers and grandmothers find them easy to create from Janis' recently published book, Dimensional Paper Piecing. The book has patterns for a girl's jumper and tow paper pieced originals: a baby chick and a tulip. Janis has several other books on the drawing board.
Tracking sales of the book on the Internet has been fascinating, as we have shipped to fourteen states and Canada in just one month. A design from the book, as well as several other projects from The Corner Stitch, has been featured in CREATIVE NEEDLE, the sewing magazine.
Did you know?
In January 2001, the Corner Stitch Web site had just under 9,000 visitors. That was up 64% over December 2000.
A big advantage of the Web site is the number of people who can "browse" when the shop is not open.
58.5% used the site in normal business hours (9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
41.5% viewed during hours when the shop is normally closed
28% "visited" on Saturday and Sunday
International visitors have come from 30 countries, with the 10 most frequent being: Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Japan, France, Indonesia, South Africa and Belgium
Orders have been sent to Canada, Mexico, Australia, Germany and Japan
The Corner Stitch's Web site at www.cornerstitch.com lists about 3,000 items that can be ordered via a secure online ordering system. New items are added each week.
The site is designed and maintained by Pace Cooke Emmons at Cooke Communications and Design, LLC, a Meridian-based business that also produces the quarterly printed newsletter and print advertisements. The original watercolors commissioned for the Web site are by Robin Musser Agnew of Ann Arbor, Michigan.