Stitching together connections

It is always satisfying to know when a Creative Hands article has made an impact for artisans.

South of the border quilting was published less than two weeks ago, and the Expo Quilting México Internacional was held this two weekends ago. As soon as I walked in the door, organizer Silvia Barba wanted to introduce me to a visitor from Mazatlan. Turns out this visitor has a fascinating story to tell.

Linda Hannawalt has been associated with Mazatlan for only three years and living there for one, but a quilting project she began here has already made an impressive impact.

The San Francisco Quilt Shop de Mazatlan is not your typical quilt shop. Although it sells quilting supplies and even finished products, much like any such business in the States, its purpose is not to make Hannawalt money, but rather to provide economic opportunities for local Mazatlan sewers.

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Hannawalt is an expert quilter, specializing in art quilts. She has made over 500 quilts since she began in 2006 with many winning prizes in contests in the States. She is also an entrepreneur, having started both for-profit and non-profit quilting ventures in San Francisco.

News report about Hannawalt and her work in San Francisco

In 2014, she was in Mazatlan visiting a friend and decided to do work on some projects during her time there. Interest from locals in her work and meeting a local women’s sewing cooperative resulted in a collaboration which is still ongoing. Hannawalt began to teach the women of the cooperative how to make quilted items, even bringing the group of 10 all the way to her then home in San Francisco with her own money. For 10 days the women concentrated on the US handcraft, then they went home each with a sewing machine, cotton fabric and quilting tools all as gifts to continue the project. (For seven of the 10, it was their first time outside of Mazatlan.)

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One of Hannawalt’s art quilts

Meanwhile, she fell in love with this coastal city popular with Canadian and US expatsand has just completed tasks needed to live her full time indefinitely.

While it is impossible to leave out Hannawalt’s role in the founding of San Francisco Quilt Shop en Mazatlan (its name bears homage), she insists that the success and its future is in the hands of the cooperative women who have worked so hard. Together they moved the shop from Hannawalt’s house to a prominent spot on Mazatlan’s Blue Line, making it the first shop cruise ship tourists see when the get off and the last they see as they are leaving. Hannawalt’s art quilts hang in the shop to attract customers, but they come in the see the quilts and leave with items that the members of the cooperative make.  The women have been quick not only to learn quilting, but entrepreneurial skills as well, gaining confidence in themselves.

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Long-arm machine working on a quilt

The shop sells varies products from small quilts, handbags, along with other locally-produced products such as jewelry. In-house products are tagged with the name of the artisan, who receives 80% of the price. The other 20% is for the maintenance of the shop. The shop also offer services such as quilting classes, repairs and a long-arm quilting (sewing) machine for fixing the three layers crucial to any quilt.

The cooperative is growing with each of the original ten women teaching one other to double the number of quilters. They have also reached out to local high school students to work the store and help them learn retailing before they graduate.

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At the Expo Quilting México Internacional

Hannawalt and company admit that they thought they were the only quilters in Mexico until seeing the Creative Hands article, and in that short time, set up a trip for three of them to Mexico City to attend the Expo Quilt México Internacional. Here they have had a chance to interact with quilters from central Mexico, compare business practices and brainstorm projects with local quilters to continue the growth of this craft in Mexico. I look forward to the chance to report on these developments that are sure to come.

The cooperative has a web site at http://www.sfquiltshopinmazatlan.com/  and a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/San-Francisco-Quilt-Shop-In-Mazatl%C3%A1n-145723962584873/

 

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