Think Global, Craft Local: Eddie’s Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale, CA

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Welcome to our first edition of Think Global, Craft Local, where we will share ideas and resources for staying within your local community for your crafting needs. Shopping from a local retailer has many advantages. You are supporting your local economy, and in return you get the support of your local dealer, who can answer questions for you face to face, and may offer hands on classes, events, and groups.

To kick off this series, we interviewed Eddie Leonie, the owner of Eddie’s Quilting Bee, at 480 S Mathilda Avenue, Sunnyvale CA. We had a lot of fun talking with him, and he was very helpful in answering our many questions. Eddie’s Quilting Bee looks like an amazing store!


Craftster: Where is your store located?

We are located at 480 S. Mathilda, Sunnyvale, CA, on the corner of Olive, 1 block North of El Camino Real. Between 280 and 101 freeways; 8 blocks away from Apple Computer headquarters.

Craftster: How long have you been in business?

Approxomately 35 years. Originally founded by my mother Diana Leone. She wrote some of the very 1st quilting books, at that time there weren’t any with comprehensive value.

Craftster: Is there an interesting story behind your store name?

Originally it was called “The Quilting Bee” and was renamed to Eddie’s Quilting Bee when I bought the biz from mom. Then we also added the name “Dawn’s House of Sewing” to give people the right idea that we sell everything to sew with; we’re not all a bunch of old ladies sitting around quilting.

Craftster: Give us a run-down of the kinds of products you sell.

We sell everything to sew with and every new tool. 89 different Sewing Machines, 6,497 different fabrics both cotton and also fashion which includes silk, knits, wool, rayon,linen, flannel, minkee, organic, bamboo, stretch velvet, poly screen and sew much more. Every kind of sewing notions. All accessories and feet for all the sewing machine brands. We are authorized Bernina, Babylock, Janome, Viking, and Tin Lizzie Dealers. 18 brands of thread incuding Mettler, Robison-Anton, YLI, Superior, Gutterman (hand quilting only), Coats American.792 Books covering quilting, and sewing & Patterns like Amy Butler and kwik sew.

Craftster: What are the services you offer regarding repairs and maintenance of sewing machines?

We repair on location all brands of machines. Our experts are fully trained on everything from gear jobs on old Singers to board replacement on high end computerized machines.

Craftster: What are the services you offer regarding classes, lessons and other events?

We offer over 1,000 classes a year that include Sewing Machine Know How, Quilting Classes, Sewing Classes and Special Guest Teachers. During the summer (and school breaks) we schedule 8 weeks of Young Sewers Camps and all year during the weekends Young Sewers Clubs.

Craftster: What are your three favorite products in the store right now and why do you like them?

(1) The Bernina 230 is under $1000 and dependably sews thru everything, handles all thread including metallic, Swiss quality and does programmable buttonholes.
(2) We sell screen in a large variety of colors and webbing which is very popular, especially today where people are making their “Go Green Bags” to take shopping. We also offer a class of the Go Green Bag. The kids enjoy it also to make their own tote bags.
(3) The Gypsy Gripper, a tool for your ruler to keep your fingers away from the rotary cutter, as well as it helps hold the ruler from shifting.

Craftster: Why do you think it’s important for people to buy from a local sewing dealer when possible? What are the advantages of this versus shopping online?

The local dealer will offer invaluable classes to go along with your purchase. At EQB we offer a 6 hour know how class with every machine purchase, as well as a 3 year membership to Eddie’s Sewing Club, which takes the sewer beyond the basics of their new machine. We also offer 2 years free service, as well as discounts. All of these benefits are part of our “Millenium Club” exclusive for people who have bought their machines at EQB. Purchasing from a local dealer you are able to get the support and knowledge from someone experienced in the industry.

If someone was to make the trip to your store from a bit of a distance away, are there some other great craft-related stores near your store that they should check out while they are in that area?

Two blocks away is Purlessence Yarn. Three miles away is Global Beads in Mountain View, CA.

Craftster: What is your role at this store?

I am an active owner as I do work the sales floor and assist our customers in their fabric selection as well as helping them choose a new sewing machine. My wife works in the store as well, along with our son.

Craftster: How did you come into this role and why?

I started in this industry when my mother needed assistance in moving the location of her store from Los Altos to Mountain View. I was a jack of all trades and jumped in to help her build the shelves and re-model. After we moved, I joined the staff and began helping the customer choose fabric and took my first quilting class learning all the tools of the trade and how to create a quilt. Since then quilts of mine of been published in 2 of my mother’s books, Attic Windows and Crazy With Cotton, (both out of print). After working for her for 5 years she decided to retire, I then purchased the business from her.

Craftster: What tips do you have for others who may be looking to open a business of their own perhaps related to crafts, sewing, etc?

It is very rewarding but a lot of work, I work 7 days a week, my wife works 6 day a week.

Craftster: What’s the most unexpected thing about owning/running your store?

The amount of hours.

Craftster: What’s the most rewarding thing about owning/running your store?

All of the different hats that I wear, working with the customers, purchasing all of the fabric we sell, repairing machines, demonstrating sewing machines, as well as the constant remodeling that we do. Very rewarding is to see a finished project from the customer, to see the color & the use of fabric that people have put together. It is fulfilling to a finished product after we were responsible for the raw materials.

Craftster: Are you a crafter or sewer yourself? If so what was the first thing you remember making?

I am primarily a quilter, but have made some garments as well. I enjoy working with my hands.

Craftster: Describe your worst craft botch.

I cut out 3 flannel shirts at the same time, which they were all too small.

Craftster: Why do you think it’s important to teach future generations how to make things by hand?

It is fulfilling to create with your hands. Also, in todays world the youth are in a very fast paced world, with immediate gratification. Sewing provides a delayed gratification. Also the fulfillment of having something you made yourself, and is one of a kind.

Craftster: What craft or sewing tool has not been invented that should be?

My sewing tool has just been created. I have always wanted a walking foot with a stitch in the ditch feature. I have worked & been consulted on inventing a 1/4″ foot with guides, as well as the new walking foot with the stitch in the ditch feature.

Craftster: What has someone else made you that you will treasure forever?

A birthday card made from fabric.

Craftster: What is your favorite thing you made for someone else?

An Attic Window Quilt for my grandmother.

Craftster: Do you make gifts for others? What are some that have been a hit?

The biggest hits are the baby quilts backed with the minkee fabric. They are so soft and delightful a big hit at a party.

Craftster: How do you recommend picking out your very first sewing machine?

Go to a reputable & knowledgeable dealer.( I believe the dealer can be more important than the sewing machine you purchase.) Budget the most you can afford, giving you better quality and room for growth. Write down a list of your needs. There are also many easy to use machines today, and a computer machine would be great.

Craftster: What’s the best way to learn the basic techniques of sewing?

A good sewing class.

Craftster: What are your favorite tips to give to beginner sewers?

Buy quality fabric and tools. After spending your time sewing you don’t want it to shrink or not last from an inexpensive fabric. A good scissor is an investment for life.

Craftster: What sewing projects do you think are the most rewarding for a beginner to try first?

A pillowcase, tote bag, pajama pants.

Craftster: What’s the funniest question someone has asked in your store?

Do you have to prewash thread?

Craftster: Do you customers come back and show you what they’ve made with your products? If so, what’s your favorite thing you’ve seen lately?

Our customers bring in their completed projects all the time. A guitar quilt made by someone who had never quilted. Currently we are in the midst of our kids camp, and every day we are seeing great new projects from our young sewers. At the end of each session we do a mini fashion show.

Craftster: Thank you Eddie for spending so much time answering these question! It’s heartening to talk with a business owner who obviously cares so much about running a GREAT local business.

We just had to include this one last picture. At first we all thought it said “Eddie-nator” like the “Governator” of CA but now we see it’s “Eddie-vator” — your very own Eddie-branded elevator. Even funnier!

Visit quiltingbee.com to learn more about Eddie’s Quilting Bee.

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2 Comments

  1. Amy says:

    This is my local shop and I can confirm that it’s great! They let me hang out all day in their classroom space to pin-baste a queen-sized quilt. :)

  2. Hello from the UK. We have been visiting your site so thought we would say hello. Please say hi if you take a look at our blog any time.

    Chinwaggers Anonymous x

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