First Place Prize Winner

Winning hat of the first place prize winner

I discovered my lifetime passion for sewing could also be a full time career. I have been sewing ever since my mother permitted me to run her Singer Featherweight on my own. In 2003, after 20 years as a freelance graphic and exhibit designer, I moved back home to New England. With a very tight budget, and two young children to support, I launched Custom Textiles. Setting up in a studio in the Collinsville Axe Factory, I purchased a new industrial Juki sewing machine. With a manual written in 12 languages, love of the industrial arts, determination (and a few expletives) I learned to work this big machine in no time.

The internet guided me to the Window Covering Association of America, WCAA, founded by Sheryl Strickland, where I registered for the training conferences in 2004. The first one I attended in Philadelphia held a hat contest in honor of Sheryl, who was battling cancer at the time. I was the first place prize winner! The reward was her entire library of instructional videos. With this volume of guidance, I opened fabric accounts, purchased supplies, and have come to discover that I am part of a remarkable community of workrooms who, like me, have filled a vital niche in today’s textile industry. I am currently on the board of the WCAA-CT, meeting with other workroom owners. The education and fellowship we have, and connection on social media with other workrooms, is critical as we share successes, questions, advice, and education that could not otherwise be available.

In spite of large textile factories abandoned for overseas markets, and the decline of sewing skill training, the necessity for quality needle work will never be extinguished. As a matter of fact, talents in the hand trades are rising again so that independent business owners can fulfill their dreams. Mine is owning a beautiful country home in the Northwest Hills of Connecticut, with a Cocker Spaniel named Lucy and a warm studio where I perfect my trade. Fulfillment is when your vocation is your passion, so you are never truly working.  I’m sewing!

Learn more about Heather.