Anniversary Sale Ongoing!
17th Anniversary Sale!
Every day we put out something new and add to the previous day's special.
Wednesday's special was 20% off Bloc Loc rulers
A new ruler to keep the half square triangles from slipping while you trim and cut to size. There is a handy groove in the middle that holds the seam in place and prevents the 1/2 square from moving. If you have wanted to try the ruler, now is a chance to get one at a discount. They come in all sizes, or just buy the set from 1.5 inches up to 9.5 inches.
Wool Pressing mats are on 20% discount. We have many sizes. Try this new pressing mat that presses both sides of the block at once. Specials good through rest of the week!
Thursday's special was 20% off any batting.
Good through the rest of the Anniversary sale week.
Friday (today's) Special is $4/yd of fabric in $5 rack (minimum cut 1/2 yard), plus all the above
Ongoing special - clearance notions at 1/2 off - until gone. Bias tape makers, yo yo makers, selected rulers, all the English paper piecing papers (it's not our thing)
Saturday is the annual SCRAP Sale. Doors open at 10 am. No Early Birds.
$2/pound. You pick out the scraps, stuff a bag, get it weighed and pay $2/pound. One pound is about 3 yards.
Scarps are leftovers from custom quilts, end of bolts, fabric with minor flaws found when unwrapping goods, fabric with smudges that will wash out.
Scraps are my favorite to sew with. I grew up and watched mom as she diligently cut squares and triangles of various sizes from leftover fabrics after sewing our clothes, pieces of sleeves from shirts that were remodeled into short sleeves, and any other useable fabric. Cut the squares and triangles, organized them into stacks of various sizes so when she was ready to make a quilt, just grab a piece and sew. She was way ahead of the "precut PODs" we sell today! We lived near a factory that made pajamas. Someone who worked at the factory brought to mom bags of scraps from cutting out layers of pjs. The prints look like shirtings. I got so tired of these prints in mom's quilts, of course she felt like she had to "use them up." Maybe that's why I don't buy many shirtings for the shop! So did I inherit the shoeboxes of little squares? No, Mom gave them to another quilter. She said I had enough fabric in the shop.
So can you believe is is our 17th year. The shop opened in 2002 to give mom something to do after Dad died; the first shop in Sarasota. There was one to the north in Ellenton and one to the south in Venice.
We opened with a business plan to provide quilting services, didn't plan to be a fabric store. My business background told me branding was important, so we picked the name of two quilters from Ohio, Sue was my mother's name and Alma was the name of the landlord, thus the shop became "Alma Sue." A cute little name like "Bee Quilting" is a dime a dozen, but there's only one Alma Sue. Location was important. A space opened in the Pinecraft community next door to the Der Dutchman restaurant. My mother, myself, and aunts would do the hand quilting, but as quilt tops started pouring in to be finished (service!), it became apparent we couldn't do all the work. So I hung a sign at the Pinecraft post office, thinking that some Amish snowbird quilters could help us out. And they did! So many that I was able to pick and choose the best stitchers from the crowd.
We started out with about 100 bolts of fabric, a mixture of solids, tone on tones, and two dynamite collections, Azalea Trails and Caravan, along with widebacks. We bought what was needed to make custom quilts. The quilting community came in and laughed at us. Solids? Who wants solids? Quilting services? Who needs services. We want fabric. So we sold the 100 bolts and bought 200 bolts, then 400 bolts, then 800 bolts; I built the inventory the old fashioned way - put everything back into the business and watched it grow. A machine company asked me to carry the franchise for their machines. We declined. Didn't want to get into machine repair, financing, forever training, constantly having to urge owners to "buy an upgrade." I favored quilting services because I knew we had the expertise to provide a wide range of services and that is a unique area that few people know. It took a few years to build the services side of the shop, but now the services surpasses fabric sales. From a business standpoint it was apparent that fabric sales alone won't pay the rent, unless you plan to be the proprietor and do all the work yourself. By the time one pays for labor to cut up a bolt of fabric there isn't enough margin left to buy another replacement bolt, plus pay the rent.
So the quilting community laughed at us. Have you looked at their shelves lately? Solid colored fabric! And they laughed at providing services. Have you looked lately? Guess who is promoting long arm quilting services? He who laughs last.....
And we still do not plan to sell machines, even though approached again several years ago. We made one major dive into the retail internet world, selling our goods online. In 2019 we plan expand the online presence and add selected fabrics to our offerings.
So that's our story. Fortunately we found other quilters and people who enjoy working with fabric and have a repository of knowledge that rounds out what mom and I knew. Dawn has been on this journey from the beginning. . .assembling chairs, setting up fabric racks, advising us where we had gaps of knowledge. We started out with several hundred bolts of fabric, then I took Dawn to a quilt show. We came home with three times the existing inventory!
We bought with abandon at the show, egged on by mom who liked everything, not considering where in the world would we put these bolts? We came back, scratched our heads and called Karl the Carpenter. He found space to build more racks in the "quilters room" at the little shop.
Altogether between Dawn, Duke, and Faye we probably have a bank of 200+ years of knowledge, spanning every aspect of quilting, restoration, repair, applique, paper piecing, free motion quilting...... If one person doesn't know something the other one will. Along the way we were lucky to find Dena our sewing magician, Teresa a whiz on the Bernina Q20 and Mary who does everything even before you can think of it, binding, cutting, pricing, stocking, pinning quilts. She is like a tornado whirling around the shop. So the shop is going into 17 years, and although we don't like to think about it, we all have that many more years of age. Our brain is sharp as ever, the body begins to break down! I do believe keeping busy with something you love keeps you out of the doctor's office. We want to keep a presence in the community as long as possible.
Two new class dates. BARGELLO Friday afternoon 1-4 March 1, 8, 15 $85
ONE BLOCK WONDER Thursday morning 10-1 Feb. 28, March 7, 14 $60
Call 941-330-0993 for a seat.
Dena is working up a third round of double wedding ring. Call to get on the waiting list. Dates to be announced. Full class details on www.almasue.com