The central stop in Washington for all things quilting, the Attic Window Quilt Shoppe in downtown Wenatchee, is about more than what it sells.
If you go to the store, the owner and proprietor, Diane Garlini, is happy to tell you all about her quilting community.
Garlini, who opened the Attic Window seven years ago, has been a long-standing Wenatchee resident. Growing up learning to sew, Garlini has contributed her services around town for years, including the costumes for the Wenatchee Ballet. In addition to her sewing skills, Garlini has placed her name around town in other ways. Garlini and her husband, Richard Garlini, also owned and operated Garlini’s restaurant for 13 years.
And in 2006, when JC’s Stitching Post went up for sale, it was at the suggestion of a friend to look into buying the business.
“I started to look at it and the idea of owning a shop, and I thought maybe it could be done from scratch. So we started looking into it further, got a hold of the right people, and then we went for it.” Garlini said.
Originally located in the Red Apple Center on the north end of town, the Attic Window Quilt Shoppe was run by Garlini and Marilyn Martin, and inhabited 2,500 sq. feet, complete with a technical longarm sewing machine. It is there that Garlini quickly adapted to the small business environment.
“As time went on, I worked my business. I worked it and worked it and I was just hot for it. I slept, ate, and my whole 24 hours was about the business. I was learning so much about the retail industry every day,” Garlini said.
And as time continued on, the business inevitably some saw some changes. Martin retired in 2010, leaving Garlini as the sole proprietor, and in 2012, the store changed locations to its current address at 4 S. Wenatchee Ave.
Nestled in the downtown district, Garlini aimed to make a comfortable atmosphere for the new store. And through the decorative quilts hanging from every wall, coupled with the comfortable seating options and soft hum of sewing machines, many would agree that she succeeded. And when asked about the new location, Garlini smiled and looked towards the sun-filled storefront overlooking Wenatchee Avenue.
“I’ve been really happy downtown, I love the atmosphere and I get a lot of out-of-towners walking through the door. Being a part of downtown, and participating with the art walks, it’s been a lot of fun.”
With the move, the Attic Window lost half its space (the new store is 1,200 sq. feet). But Garlini said it was a good way to narrow down and focus on the important parts of her business. And it’s not the products she’s referring to.
Although the Attic Window does carry high-end sewing supplies for every need, including patterns, fabrics, books, and notions (thread and needle), what really establishes the Attic Window as a business to stay is the services they offer.
The list is long and Garlini is behind much of it. Classes, demonstrations, presentations, projects, and much more, the Attic Window goes well beyond products.
Garlini offers classes in the back room of the shop for all types of projects including braided table runners and Bargello quilts. The Attic Window even offers kid sewing classes, where children 7 years and older can come in and make pillowcases and pajama bottoms.
For complete information on all of the classes offered, including dates, rates, and package deals, go to www.theatticwindow quiltshoppe.com and click on the “classes” link. There, you can also sign up for the newsletter which announces the registration-required classes.
“I think when it comes down to it, I really love to teach. I love to teach people to do a great craft that’s fun to do,” Garlini said. “So many people say to me that they just can’t sew, and I tell them they just need to try it and I’ll be there to help them every step they need it.”
The love for teaching has also extended beyond the walls of the Attic Window, and Garlini offers a beginning quilting class at Wenatchee Valley Community College. These eight-week classes, taking place each semester, have students go over the basics, complete an entire quilt, and in Garlini’s mind, make some future customers for the Attic Window.
And the community engagement doesn’t stop with the classroom. Garlini also hosts “Evenings at the Attic” every other Wednesday featuring demonstrations, door prizes, and show-and-tell. Alongside that, Garlini also sponsors presentations from fabric vendors, and if you have ever wanted to go on a quilting retreat, Garlini has you covered.
Every year, Garlini brings 15 quilters on a Mountain Springs retreat. Garlini is the cook, dishwasher, and overall hostess for this weekend sewing extravaganza, and it’s not the only trip on the calendar.
Garlini also recounted a recent trip to Clothworks Fabric Company in Seattle, where she brought a bus full of Attic Window regulars to visit the fabric-producing facility, talk with designers, and enjoy a quick stop at Saint Michelle’s Winery to end the day.
To keep up to date with all that is going on at Attic Window, besides checking their website, you can like their Facebook Page at The Attic Window Quilt Shoppe.
And through all that there is to offer, the customers at Attic Window seem to positively respond to the programs available. And if you are like Lenora Branstetter, who has been shopping at the Attic Window since it opened seven years ago, it’s those extra-curricular activities that keep you coming back for more.
“I love the atmosphere in the shop; it’s so bright and cheery all the time. I have yet to take a class where I haven’t learned something new,” said Branstetter. “It’s a wonderful place to be inspired.”
On top of the in-store events offered at the Attic Window, Garlini also finds time to participate in larger quilting events in the area and across the country.
Row-by-Row is a nationwide event, connecting over 1,250 quit shops across the nation, and the Attic Window represents Washington state. Quilters can come to the Attic Window, or any participating location in this shop-hop event, and grab a unique, free pattern to add to their own personal quilts. If anyone collects and stiches eight of these patterns from different shops, they can come into the nearest location to collect a fabric bounty reward.
To fully immerse you into the world of quilting, anyone is welcome to attend the Wenatchee Quilters Guild’s “Harvest of Quilts Show”, where the Attic Window will have a prominent booth and display.
Harvest of Quilts, Sept. 12-13 at the Town Toyota Center, is the premiere event for the Wenatchee Quilters Guild, an organization comprised of over 300 quilters in the valley. The show will exhibit some of the finest quilting in the region, hold classes, and stich together a community for a weekend of networking and show-and-tell.
Garlini or any of her five part-time employees will be working the booth.
“I feel quilting is an art form. The thing with it is you’ve got this beautiful piece of fabric, and when making a quilt, you have to cut it all up into little pieces and sew it back together. But to make it work, to make it a piece of art, you’ve got to throw lots of different fabrics into it, you have to arrange it, and you have to make it pop.” Garlini said.
And as for a final piece of encouragement for anyone to not only check out her store, but also check out the world of quilting, Garlini only had one thing to say.
“Just sew it.”