A stitch at a time

                                                                                                                     Photo by Christy Porter
With hands on the bars, Mary Sullins enjoys her specialized sewing for completing beautiful quilts. Her shop displays her own quilting talents as well as the choices customers have for completion of their own works of art.
By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

A long-time love of sewing, a stitch at a time of experience and knowing that she couldn’t just sit idle after retirement was the foundation of Mary Sullins’ home-based machine quilting business.
Sullins offers long-arm machine quilting, although she does not do custom free-arm quilting. She has a wide array of quilting patterns and colored threads to coordinate with the quilt fabrics. If needed she can supply the batting, lining and binding for the quilt, as well as actually binding the quilt at an additional cost. She also makes the popular keepsake t-shirt quilts.
She began making quilts in high school and has continued to do so over the years both for personal use and available for purchase. Sullins has been doing the long-arm machine quilting since 2017. Long-arm quilting is not a cheap hobby. It is a sizable investment in the machine and requires a large area to place and use the machine. It is also a specialized sewing which requires practice and experience. Her work both in completed quilts and in only the machine quilting has been done for customers locally, out-of-state and out-of-the-country. This includes many quilts done for soldiers serving overseas.
“I have sewed since high school,” says Sullins, “making my own clothes and such. Making your own clothes was done much more years ago. Then I was a sewing operator at the Lee and Rawlings factories for 16 years before going to nursing school.”
Sullins retired from a nursing career in Rolla after 27 years. She continues, “When I retired I wanted something to do and had always liked sewing. I thought, ‘I could do this.’ And I did. In the beginning there were some hard spots but Mom would help me out.”
Mom is Mary Berry, who has been quilting on a long-arm quilting machine for approximately 25 years and initially taught Sullins when she purchased her own machine. “I practiced on my own quilts, with my mother giving me tips and instruction as I went along,” says Sullins. The mother and daughter continue to offer mutual aid when necessary.
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Sullins’ sense of humor is noted at the door.
Sullins is always honest about how she thinks quilting choices will work for various fabrics and workmanship, including the age and stability of the quilt top and the fabrics used in the top.
“My favorite part is the finished product. Doing a good job with the quilting which results in a beautiful finished product is important to me. I attempt to always have a beautiful quilted product going out the door. My specialized part of the quilt making process is to enhance the quilt top that comes to me. Even an auction or resale quilt top find is most often enhanced tremendously by a beautiful quilting job,” says Sullins.
“Mary does an excellent job, she is timely and I’m always satisfied with her work,” compliments customer, Maggie Ogden.
The different quilt sizes and quilting patterns used will determine the time spent on a quilting job, therefore the cost will vary. Supplies and finishing work are also dependent on the size. Call Mary at 573-889-8051 for pricing and availability.



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