Lyn Heilman was just 9 years old when she made her first quilt, a nine patch, with her great-grandmother.
Though the decades have passed since that special time, Heilman’s passion for quilt making hasn’t waned. She owns Quilted Memories at 7913 Santa Fe Drive and says it’s the perfect place to share the art of quilt making.
“When I walked in I knew this was the space I was meant to be in,” Heilman said. “It just felt right. It was in historic downtown Overland Park and it felt ‘quilty’ to me. It was old and charming.”
Quilted Memories carries supplies for quilting projects, everything from fabric and thread to the special sewing machines they are made on.
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Q: How did you get into the quilt-making business?
Heilman had been piecing quilts for pleasure for years and paying someone else to sew them together for her. In 2006, she bought a quilting machine that allowed her to put together her own quilts.
It wasn’t long before friends started asking Heilman to do the same for them. Heilman made the quilts in her home and while looking to buy a certain type of batting made by Hobbs, she found no one local who carried the material. It wasn’t long before Heilman became Hobbs Bonded Fibers’ local distributor, and she added other supplies, as well. Word traveled fast in quilting circles, and Heilman’s quilting supply business grew. In 2008, Heilman added a website to accompany her word-of-mouth business.
“My whole garage was full of supplies,” she said. “We traveled to craft shows and sold supplies there.”
During that time, one of Heilman’s daughters worked with her with Quilted Memories. By 2011, “we just outgrew our home,” said Heilman, and she decided to open a retail shop three years ago.
Q: How has your business evolved?
As part of Quilted Memories, Heilman is also a distributor of Nolting Long arm Sewing Machines, an American-made product. Heilman sells the machines, which run $4,100 and up, and also rents time on the machines in her store.
“That’s one thing I strive for is American-made products,” she said. Heilman’s sons-in-law help out by doing sewing machine installations.
In addition to sewing machine sales, Quilted Memories will sew T-shirt and memory quilts for customers as well as custom items. The memory quilts have done very well, said Heilman. The special blankets are made from a deceased loved one’s clothing, ties, pajamas and other personal items supplied by the customer.
“It’s a unique item, so we price it by the job,” Heilman said. “It really helps people, particularly spouses, to let go. They don’t want to get rid of their clothes, and this is a way they can wrap themselves in the love.”
Quilted Memories also makes teddy bears from personal materials; she’s made bears from mother-of-the-bride dresses. Heilman and her team also make wall-hanging quilts and pillows.
Today, about one-third of Quilted Memories’ business is sewing machine sales, one-third supply sales and the rest making quilts and retail sales. Customers can order supplies from anywhere in the country through Quilted Memories website.
Classes in machine quilting are another aspect of Quilted Memories’ business mix. The store also hosts four quilting retreats annually.
“We rent a hall in an area church and encourage quilters to come,” Heilman said. “We sew, we visit and play games and have prizes. It’s great fellowship.” The shop will also start its Block of the Month in September in which quilters can come in to learn one technique each month.
Q: You have a charitable component to Quilted Memories?
Each Friday, from noon to 5 p.m., area quilters are invited to come to Quilted Memories and piece quilts for Catholic Charities hospice.
“That’s been very rewarding,” Heilman said. To date, 25 quilts have been completed for the hospice.
Q: You have been in business for a while. Is there anything you still find challenging?
“Balancing payroll with sales, and time management is still one I struggle with so much,” Heilman said. “Your list is never done.”
IN A NUTSHELL
COMPANY: Quilted Memories LLC
ADDRESS: 7913 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, KS