You know that question people ask at cocktail parties, “If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be?” Well, my latest answer, is Pat from Ryco! Not only is her shop wonderful, her personality, zest for life, for her business and for the industry is so inspiring! Head over to our Facebook page to see Pat talking about Ink & Arrow fabrics!
My colleague and I visited Ryco’s Creative Sewing Center in early April, and we were so impressed with the shop and it’s offering, the staff and the overall approach in this unique store! It is not just a shop, it’s an experience. Ryco is a place to visit, get inspired, hang out, chat… and for some, a place to do their charity work and longarm quilting. It’s appropriately named, a “Creative Sewing Center”.
I asked Pat about her history, how she got her start in the business and the shop itself. I was thrilled to learn more, and even more excited to return to the shop for a class or to find the latest patterns and notions… Here’s what Pat had to say:
I have sewn since I was a little girl. My Mother made all of my clothes. We would go shopping for school clothes, she made sketches of the things we liked, then she went home and made them for us. She also knitted the sweaters. It was a rare time when we purchased a dress.
Our home was the same, my Dad built and repaired everything and my Mom made the slipcovers, curtains , bedspreads etc. You get the idea. Because my Grandmother was blind, every season, my Mom would move everything around and have a “seasonal” set of slipcovers and drapes. ( Grandma raised 3 kids and so things had to stay in the same spots all the time)
It was natural that I would learn to sew and I started with Doll Clothes.
Then when it came time to go to college, my major was Home Economics ( another sign of the times). I worked for Sears all the way through school and when I graduated, they offered me a job in the NYC buying offices – the fabric departments.
So, you can see that sewing carried me to a lot of wonderful places personally and professionally.
I made most of my clothes as I was climbing the corporate ladder. I used to love to come home on a Friday night with a sewing project. I would sew until the wee hours of the night and start again when I woke. If you look at some of the pictures in the store with Claude Offray (Offray Ribbon), John Wright (Wm E. Wright Co.) you will see I made all those outfits. There is a great thrill to someone asking where you got something ….and you made it. I decorated my apartments and, eventually, when I was married, my house by making the bed spreads, curtains, table linens, the fabric on the walls for wall paper and on and on. My skills made it so I could dream what I wanted and then get it.
My first quilting experience – I was visiting my parents in California after my divorce. My parents had a new king size bed and Mom wanted a country-look quilt. A quilt that had 6” squares, in a random pattern, so we did it. ( P.S. it was tied, not quilted)
I started a new career in NYC at Talon ( the largest notion company at the time and now part of Coats and Clark). More sewing, but now developing products for sewers. Now I met Don, and when we were married, it broke company policy as a married couple could not work in same division and the other closest division was London.
That lead to us starting our own business – Ryco Trimming Co., and we were very successful, selling all the majors and then purchasing an old mill for production. Again this ole’ sewer was sewing developing products for Fabric and Craft Stores.
The 90’s were a whirl wind of change as the business world changed – NAFTA, Sewing Retailers disappearing, and then in 2005, a devastating flood, and all that we built was destroyed.
So what you see in our store was born out of all of that. Sewing has been a constant thread in my life. I have supported it professionally, in my career, and in my personal life. I wanted more people to have that same peace, passion and fulfillment that I have received from sewing. I felt that retailers needed to show more passion for what they sell to encourage more people to sew. We need to change the perception of educators that somehow believe sewing is a negative influence upon women. We need to change the perception that we only sew to save money (even if it might be a factor). We need to tell new sewers that you don’t have to be perfect to start having fun.
Everyone sews for different reasons, and throughout your life those reasons change. It also is such a large hobby that it satisfies many artistic needs….like, I love the puzzles of quilting and definitely dislike any applique hand work. When I have time, I love perfecting a technique. When I am in a hurry ( like making a store display) I could care less about making the hidden side perfect. My thrill comes when I see someone discover “their” side of sewing.
You asked what motivates a project. I am a believer that the fabric talks to you. You see it and it tells you what it wants you to make out of it. After a super beginner class, I love speaking with the students as they find a fabric that told them “ me, me ME!”
Patterns are like the big special signs on the highway…..they tease you into visiting a new place along the road. You learn and explore with patterns.
Now how does this all relate to Ink and Arrow? We have a large section for Ink And Arrow fabrics in our store. The fabric quality is worthy of our investment. It is good for all types of sewing, not just quilting. The designs relate to many types of sewers – modern and traditional. It evokes happy thoughts when you look at it and the customers like that.
I was impressed to learn that Ryco also hosts a charity quilting group. Working with donated fabrics and organized by “Queen Bee” Sue, the quilters involved in this group get together once a week to create quilts for various charities and organizations in the area. Sue, who was a social worker in her main career (since retired) has a lot of connections to the community. What a wonderful way to connect with people, work together on a fun project and then to donate to someone. The actual (physical) warmth and warmth of spirit of sharing your passion for quilting and giving it to another is an invaluable gesture. Kudos to Sue and her friends who provide smiles and comfort to those in their time of need. There were over 20 quilt tops in-progress… it filled my heart with joy to see… ❤ ❤ ❤
I hope you enjoyed this look at Ryco Creative Sewing Center. I enjoyed meeting with Pat and her wonderful staff. I was inspired to make a project and I am hoping to sign up for an upcoming class! If you are in the Rhode Island area, stop into this gem of a shop!