Quilting in the Valley

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #80, August 2020. Written by Rita Farro.)

Lisa Furleigh, Quilting in the Valley Owner.

This story sounds so much like a fairy tale, it should start with Once upon a time . . . .

In 2014, a woman who loved quilting decided to cash in her 401K and open a little quilt shop in a small town in the middle of the country. Business was so good, Quilting In The Valley in LaSalle, Illinois was forced to move to bigger quarters not once, but TWICE. Quilting In The Valley has become a BRAND, and by the end of 2020, QITV will have stores in four cities. Plans are in place to expand to 12 locations.

Really. This is happening.

To understand the secret sauce that is Quilting In The Valley, you’ve got to meet Lisa Furleigh. She is a Midwest girl born and raised. She was born in Indiana, attended the University of Iowa, and followed a then, now ex-husband to Illinois.

Growing up, she was passionate about music. She plays the classical flute. She had a double major at the University of Iowa in liberal arts: Flute Performance and French. At the time, her idea was to become a music librarian, which requires a master’s in music.

As a college student, she worked as a shift manager at a local Pizza Hut. At some point, she discovered that there were approximately 12 music librarians in the country, and they all made less than she would make if she accepted the promotion Pizza Hut was offering her.

Pizza won . . . .

Click HERE to read the whole story of how Lisa went from pizza to quilts.

Coping with the Pandemic – Gail Yellen

After a February serger workshop for the Sarasota, FL ASG Chapter, the whole country shut down. Like thousands of sewists around the world, I made masks (between 150–200). My husband and I did a quilt themed jigsaw puzzle.

Then I decided it was time to get back to work. I did a couple of new YouTube Serger Tip Clips, but, due to social distancing, without my terrific videographer. It was quite a challenge!

Zoom has been a great tool for sewists to keep learning and stay connected. On Memorial Day weekend, I did a Zoom mini serger workshop “Decode the Stitch.” Here’s a link if you haven’t seen it yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRH4c6iXGtY&t=1051s. I also did a Zoom interview and demo for the Plano, TX ASG, and have a couple more scheduled for ASG National and the Chicago Chapter.

I’ve been trying to exercise daily and get in a bit of gardening along with sewing/serging adventures.

Hope everyone stays well and that we can get together in-person when safe!


If you can’t wait to read the individual stories, you can view SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #79 by CLICKING HERE.

Coping with the Pandemic – Angela Wolf

Being home for the past few months has been a huge lifestyle change; going from traveling every other week for events to working out of my studio and staying home. Ironically, I have come to cherish this time. Not traveling has allowed so much more time, time to write music and play the piano again (although I really wish I had the thing tuned before the quarantine). I gave a try at cooking, but I think I will leave that to Winn for now!

Thanks to today’s technology, I was able to continue working, hosting daily live Facebook and YouTube shows and virtual classes to stay connected with friends and fans. Although the reason for the quarantine is a tragedy, the time I was able to spend with my husband, enjoying coffee in the morning, dinner at home, and walks in the evening will be forever cherished.


If you can’t wait to read the individual stories, you can view SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #79 by CLICKING HERE.

Coping with the Pandemic – Cathy Wiggins

Though the stay-at-home order has been detrimental to a small business like mine with the cancellation of teaching gigs and the loss of revenue from shows and classes, it has been a true blessing for my creative soul.

For almost a year, I’ve had signed contracts for two new books, but no time to work on them due to my travel schedule. In working on the books now, one on cosplay/costuming and the other on home décor, I’ve gotten to explore new areas of leather crafting and figure out how to combine multiple techniques to achieve different looks. I’ve discovered ways to create three-dimensional leather art forms that can be easily done at home with only a few special tools.

For the home décor book, I’ve made quilted Christmas stockings and tree skirts, leather vessels, masks, pine-cones, flowers, and more.

My goal is to use quilting as a way to introduce leather to the home sewer, then guide them to all the new possibilities leather crafting can bring. This pandemic, despite all the negative effects on my business, has given me the opportunity to take another step forward in achieving that goal by getting a good chunk of my first book done.


If you can’t wait to read the individual stories, you can view SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #79 by CLICKING HERE.

Coping with the Pandemic – Annie Unrein

In late March, Utah authorities encouraged everyone to work from home, if possible, and told all high-risk individuals (including those over 60, me!) to “avoid contact with any other person.” Having watched as my daughter-in-law’s family in Spain dealt with hospitalizations and deaths, I was definitely ready to self-isolate. I was also confident that I would be SO much more productive and that I would really get ahead of the game. Assuming that we might be in isolation for about a month, I made a tentative schedule:

  • Week 1: Finalize all five new/updated patterns, making at least one model of each to ensure testing is complete.
  • Week 2: Write scripts for add-on and marketing videos for those five new patterns.
  • Week 3: Sew step-outs for filming for all videos.
  • Week 4: Begin filming (if allowed back to work) or begin work on new patterns for Fall Market.

It is now 10 weeks later and I am still working primarily from home. Progress on my schedule? I’ve mostly completed the Week 1 and Week 2 projects. We did begin filming a couple of weeks ago but are only about halfway through that process. Not only am I a very-overly-optimistic judge of how long something will take, but I was also surprised by how much time went to dealing with effects of the shutdown: reviewing regulations and programs, communicating with staff who were working in several places, trying to make sense of all the news, and working to make good decisions when everything was so unsettled around us.

Fortunately, I also added a few fun things to my list. Most enjoyable was participating in several Facebook Live events with stores and companies who were also dealing with shutdowns. For example, I presented a five-week series with FreeSpirit Fabrics which focused on projects we’ve made using their fabrics. https://www.facebook.com/freespiritfabrics/videos/894994557683611/

We shared tips and techniques for bag making, from choosing fabrics and coordinates to making smooth, wrinkle-free bindings. Preparing for those events each week took MUCH more time than I’d expected (no surprise there), but feedback and engagement made it all worthwhile. Being able to connect with makers around the world, even when we were all stuck at home, was definitely a highlight of the shutdown for me!


If you can’t wait to read the individual stories, you can view SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #79 by CLICKING HERE.