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Once Jacquie Gillis boots up the Husqvarna Viking Designer Epic 2, it’s apparent that this isn’t your grandmother’s sewing machine.
The side of the device includes a touch pad that gives access to a host of options. The machine is connected to an online cloud server that enables you to upload your patterns (since uploading via USB is considered to be a bit passé, of course). It even has animated instructional videos to show anyone how to, for example, sew on a zipper.
Yes, embroidery and sewing have entered the 21st century and in a big way. But a top-of-the-line machine like this will cost you — the machine retails for about $17,000.
“They’re like computers with sewing machines attached to them,” said Gillis, owner and operator of Mira Stitch ‘n Post in Marion Bridge. “When I do kids classes and I sit my 10- and 12-year-olds in front of a $17,000 sewing machine, they’re not intimidated in the least.”
Gillis and her husband, Joe, moved back to Marion Bridge after he retired from the military. She’s been quilting all her life and decided to turn her passion into a business.
Gillis started out of her home and moved to their first location in Juniper Mountain for about a year. They’ve been at their current spot for the past 12 years.
“I had met a couple of our new neighbours and it appeared that quilting was a very avid activity that was going on in Cape Breton,” she said. “What my research showed me was that there were a lot of people quilting, but not a lot of expertise. The art of quilting had really gone through a transformation about 30 years ago with the introduction of new equipment and new techniques.”
The Mira Stitch ‘n Post is considered a full-service quilt shop, which includes all the supplies needed to complete a project. They also offer long-arm quilting to finish a quilt.
Gillis’ clientele consists mainly of retired women and professionals, but sse ays they’ve noticed an increase in the number of young people looking to get involved. They teach quilting classes each day to help grow their client base and will expand to offer general sewing classes in the new year.
“All of these women we’ve brought together who didn’t know one another — some do, but a majority don’t know one another — but through what we offer here, we’ve created this micro community where new friendships have been forged and old friendships have been rekindled because their paths have crossed again,” said Gillis.
Gillis and the Mira Stitch ‘n Post recently earned some big praise. Last month in Phoenix, she was named one of the top 15 dealers in North America for SVP Worldwide (SVP stands for Singer-Husqvarna Viking-Pfaff, the company that manufactures the sewing machines she sells in her shop). It’s the third such honour she’s received. The Mira Stitch ‘n Post was also recognized by the Better Business Bureau in 2012 for business ethics and won the Locally Yours Award from the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce in 2015.
Gillis praised her seven employees and have all been by her side for a long time.
“I’m very proud of everything we do here and the environment and the community that we’ve created,” she said. “I’m very proud of the fact that my staff have been with me since the get-go with the exception of one that retired and one that passed away. The other two that are fairly new to the team have no intentions of going anywhere, they love it. I think that says a lot for what we do here.
“My clientele is amazing and my staff is amazing.”
Shop manager Monica MacDonald of Albert Bridge has been with the Mira Stitch ‘n Post since it opened and worked with Gillis when she was home-based. She says quilting has experienced a revival and the social aspect of the hobby is huge.
“We tease and say it’s cheaper than therapy,” said MacDonald. “It’s a very family atmosphere there. People come in and do their classes there. The first thing they do is sign up for their lunch menus and lunch treats. People who take a Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening class come in and sign up for that over and over and over. That group of 12 has become a family.
“Some days they’ll come in and sew, other days they come in, plug in their machine, sit and chat and socialize. It’s their quality downtime they enjoy. They enjoy the quilting as much as the socialization that they get there.”
Mira Stitch ‘n Post
- What: Offers a full range of quilting services and supplies
- Address: 3850 Gabarus Hwy, Marion Bridge
- Phone number: 902-727-3423
- Online: mirastitchinpost.com
- Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.