Quilting for a cause

Elsmore native Connie Schmidt opened a new quilt shop in Yates Center, where she makes Quilts of Valor for veterans.

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July 30, 2021 - 1:16 PM

Connie Schmidt is the proprietor of 4 Golden Stitches, a new quilt shop on the east side of the Yates Center square. They specialize in custom quilting and are an affiliate of the national organization Quilts of Valor. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

YATES CENTER — Connie Schmidt loves to sew.

So much so, that she’s opened 4 Golden Stitches, a new quilt shop on the east side of the square in Yates Center.

According to the Elsmore native, the name was inspired by her former address in Iola, 4 Goldenrod Lane, and seemed to be the perfect moniker.

“It is a big step, especially since I’m over retirement age,” Schmidt said of opening the shop, but she didn’t want to be idle in retirement, either.

“I just had lots and lots of fabric at home that I wasn’t using,” she added, and as they say, the rest is history.

“I love listening to the sewing machines run. It’s relaxing,” Schmidt grinned.

A colorful quilt, above, hangs on the wall in 4 Golden Stitches. “I’m not stocking the super high-end fabric, to keep the prices reasonable,” Schmidt said. “My main goal right now is trying to keep the prices down.”Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

SCHMIDT has been sewing since around 2004, she said, and has been experimenting with a “long-arm” machine for the past decade.

Last October, she first piloted a quilting business in Yates Center’s “Town Hall,” a refurbished church just south of the square on Main Street.

“We got a big group of quilters there,” Schmidt said.

After only a few months, her confidence in the possibility of running a full-time business had grown, and soon she was looking at a place to house it.

“I could always see this building being a quilt shop,” she said of her current location.

Now it’s just a matter of reeling in customers, but so far Schmidt has seen a lot of success, with some folks driving from as far away as Topeka and Emporia.

“I love being around the people, and getting to visit,” Schmidt added. “There are quilters all over.”

Connie Schmidt looks over multiple Quilts of Valor. Photo by Trevor Hoag

ALONG with Schmidt’s general passion for sewing and quilting is her connection to the national organization Quilts of Valor.

“I had always wanted to do Quilts of Valor. It was my dream for years,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to give something back.”

And as Schmidt explained, “Quilts of Valor is a national organization that gives our veterans who’ve been overseas a quilt, to show our honor and respect for the service they’ve given us.”

Interestingly, however, each QoV quilt is quite unique, with no two being the same.

“They’re all different,” said Schmidt, “whatever the quilter wants to make.”

Quilt products.Photo by Trevor Hoag

AT PRESENT, Schmidt works with five different counties on providing Quilts of Valor: Woodson, Wilson, Greenwood, Coffey, and most recently, Allen.

Program participants have already given out 28 quilts to local vets, including “a few for people in Iola that were family or people that we knew who were veterans.”

Anyone can request a quilt for somebody who’s a veteran, Schmidt noted, but it’s important to remain patient as the intricate process can take a while to complete.

To learn more visit the Quilts of Valor Foundation at: qovf.org.

Quilt products.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

ALONG with providing custom quilting, fabric, thread, notions, gifts and more, 4 Golden Stitches will soon also start offering classes for quilters at all skill levels.

“We’re going to start doing some lessons, from beginning quilters on up,” Schmidt said.

She’s even recruited a couple advanced teachers to help lead workshops on especially tough quilting tasks.

Schmidt is likewise a big fan of quilting retreats, where folks get together to quilt for multiple days in a row.

“We sew all day and all evening. They’re a blast,” she said.

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