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'All things quilted,' Kirschman plans quilt show and sale

Seamstress Anita Kirschman works on a quilt that will be donated to charity. She will have a quilting show Nov. 11 at the Sunset Center.

Seamstress Anita Kirschman, of Dickinson, spends up to 12 hours a day in her sewing room that she calls the “Woman Cave.” As owner of “All Sewn Up,” she’s either mending, doing alterations, teaching sewing lessons or sewing another quilt.

Storage is filling up with her quilts, table runners, purses and wall hangings, hence the necessity to host a quilting show and sale. It will be held from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Sunset Center Senior Center.

“It’s all things quilted,” said Kirschman. “I need to reduce my inventory.”

The show will feature a variety of quilt sizes, from twin and throw-size, all the way up to a large full quilt.

“The colors are nice and bright -- I do lots of baby quilts and blankets,” she said. “I will take orders, and I want to get my name out there.”

“All Sewn Up” is her retirement job after she retired  from working at Dakota Sew and So.

“I do quilts but it’s not my primary source of income --- I do prom dress alterations, suits and shortening jeans -- jeans every week for sure.”

How she started

Kirschman started sewing doll clothes as a youth.

“I took home ec when I was in high school,” she said. “I was in 4-H, but we didn’t do  a lot of sewing -- we did a pincushion and apron.”

She was a stay-at-home mom and farm wife, living west of the New England near the Rainy Buttes. She taught school early in her career and is a self-taught seamstress.

She started visiting Bernina Sew and So in 1992 and helped customers.

“That led me to an invitation to help out on the floor on Saturdays, which grew into an oversized part time job, especially in the summers when Bev Haas was called back to the Taylor Nursery. When her partner, Betty Volesky became ill, the decision was made that it was time to retire.

The store was sold to Holly Martinson, who renamed it Dakota Sew & So.

“I guess I followed as part of the deal -- I stayed with the store a total of 20 years, of which I  enjoyed every one. It was being able to share my love of sewing with so many customers and making good friends along the way.”

Since she “retired” about five years ago, Kirschman has created her own business.

“Or should I say I reignited my earlier life by putting myself out there as a seamstress,” Kirschman said. “I love the challenge of creating a solution or fulfilling an expectation. I mend, quilt, alter or finish and I also teach sewing. What began first as a passion, I honed into a skill that became an opportunity to build retirement equity. Now it is a necessary method to supplement my means of support.”

She  picked up quilting from books while working at Bernina.

“That’s one place where I’ve learned patience -- I’ve taken on projects people have started and I’ve had to dismantle and start over because things didn’t match,” she said.

When it’s time to piece the top, filling and backing together, she turns over the quilt to friends who have  long-arm quilting machines.

“I know ladies who still quilt by hand. A friend of mine makes maybe one quilt a year,” she said.

The grandmas of by gone days also would use refurbished fabric -- maybe fabric from their little girls’ dresses.

“Now it's all purchased -- quilts are made of cotton and most of clothing today is not cotton,” she said. “I think the whole genre of quilting is thriving -- it’s a way for people to use their skills without embarrassment -- if it’s crooked, nobody cares. If you make a dress that doesn’t fit, you’re not going to wear it.”

Kirschman is approaching the  milestone of 100 quilts.

“I don’t do huge quilts -- I like to make throws and twin-sized quilts. I don’t have any use for the big quilts -- there’s not the market for big quilts.”

When she has time, Kirschman will embroider squares to use in quilts.

“I love to do the handwork. It’s what gets me to sit down and just unwind -- that’s what embroidery does.”

Kirschman greets customers in her downstairs workplace.

“They bring me their projects -- sometimes they only seek advice. I constantly  surprise myself on the things I know,” she said.

True perfectionist

“Anita is a true perfectionist, that’s for sure, and she’s well-versed in tailoring skills,”said Martinson. “She knows how to do it right -- there’s a difference in doing it and doing it properly. She’s been working with Bev and Betty and myself for so long -- I’m not sure how much of her knowledge came from them or if she did her own research. It’s the preciseness of her quilting, and she only uses high quality materials,” Martinson said.

Recently, Kirschman has been helping Holly with her quilting project for  disaster victims.

“She tore my quilt apart and redid it… I laughed, and said she was a nut,” Martinson said. Martinson has direct contact with a person who works with schools in the Florida flooded area, and with a family friend in the Santa, Rosa, Calif., where homes were destroyed in the fires. Quilts also were donated to homeless veterans in the region.

“Really, what we need are donations for shipping,” Martinson said.

Quilting also is a way as a way for Kirschman to give back to the community -- especially children at the Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center.

“I donate about 20 quilts every year and send them with the children when they leave,” Kirschman said. “Part of the reason for the show is to generate some funds, so I can continue to give them away.”

For more information, contact Kirschman at 701-483-6370.

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