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Where Do We Begin???

January 29, 2011

That is the question!  How do we start a blog for a shop that has been in business for six years?  Do we just jump in or do we give you some of the background information?  Or do you even care……….whoever you are!  In pondering this question for the past few weeks, we thought it would be nice to give you a brief glimpse of our history and some insight into the players of our team.  So, I guess we should start at the beginning…….

In the beginning, there was an empty store front and some BIG Dreams.  It looked something like this…………

With more hard work than we really want to talk about, or even remember, this is what Prairie Queens looks like now! 

It is full of  thousands of bolts of beautiful fabric, incredible quilt samples made by our extremely talented staff and teachers, and more laughter and fun than we could ever impart to you through the net!  We have been so blessed by the love of all of our customers, teachers and wonderful staff!

So who are the players you ask?  Some say that we all make a great team, but we are more like one big family of mostly sisters. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and we have learned to use each of our strengths to the benefit of the store. 

Team Owner and Team Manager is none other than our “Mr Wonderful”,  Mark .  He can be found most afternoons lurking in the office with boxes and boxes of fabric or notions waiting to be checked in.  He is also the guy that takes care of our “Honey Do” list.  He works a full-time job and then comes to the shop in the afternoon to work another full-time job……….managing us!  He brings humor and much laughter to all of the ladies in the classroom.  At home, he has taken to managing flocks of birds and bees.  He and his lovely wife Debbie (our Pitcher) are raising 7 chickens, more quail than we can count, and have three bee hives to help pollinate their ever-increasing and producing garden.

Debbie, our Pitcher, is the brains behind the whole operation.  Having more than 20 years of quilting experience under her belt, Debbie dreamed of owning her own store someday.  That dream became reality in February of 2005, when Prairie Queens opened it’s doors with only 400 bolts of fabric on the shelf.  She kept her sanity through the hard first years……… learning to run the Long-Arm machine, managing employees, buying fabric for the store, and feeding Mark………all at the same time!  She has grown to be a very talented long-arm quilter, producing many beautiful award-winning quilts!  Recently she has been contracted to quilt tops for Carrie of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co. and Kaari Meng of  French General for Moda Fabrics.  She and Mark are most proud of being the parents of two very handsome grown men, two sweet daughters-in-law, and six wonderful and adorable grandchildren!

The Catcher is our store manager, April.  She constantly catches the projects that Deb throws her way.  With 19 years of quilting experience, she always thought she would love to own a store someday, but has since decided that managing one is the PERFECT job!  She enjoys helping Debbie buy fabric for the store, putting kits together, picking fabrics for customer’s projects, designing our show booths and teaching.  She has worked for the shop since June 2005.  When she is not at the store, she is managing a small house with a handsome husband, three beautiful teenagers (1 princess and two princes), two dogs, and two goats!  Her plate is full, but she manages to find time to quilt in the small corner of her small living room, in her small house full of love.

Eli, our First Basewoman, started playing for the team in April of 2006.She has been quilting for 15 years and has designed several  patterns that have been published in various magazines.  She brings a great sense of humor to our store and classroom.  She has the great gift of computer skills and manages our store website and computer needs.  She enjoys teaching machine appliqué and seems to make a new quilt every week!  The joke around the shop is that she must be ignoring her two beautiful daughters and husband, but we all know that couldn’t be true!  She just doesn’t sleep!!!  Eli also enjoys gardening, scrapbooking and card making.  She lives in a beautiful home with her sweet girls, husband, dog and three tortoises.

Our Second Basewoman is Mary B.  She has worked for the store since September of 2006.  Mary has the ability to help any student tackle any quilt!  She loves teaching ALL DAY on Fridays……….from 10AM to 12PM, with only a few hours of a break in between!  She is our busiest Working Bee who never chooses to sit for ANY project!  Mary and her husband have lived in many states around the country and  are the parents of three grown children,  five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  Mary started quilting in 2000 when one of her children asked if she could whip them up a quilt.  Being Mary, she started with one of the easiest patterns she could find………a double wedding ring!  She has made hundreds of quilts since, all just as easy as her first!

At Third Base, we have beautiful Tiffany.  She is one of the sweet daughters-in-law of Mark and Debbie.  She has six years of quilting experience and makes a lot of baby quilts for all of her friends who are having babies.  She and her husband Brian are the proud parents of three beautiful and very active children.  Tiffany works a full-time job during the day and helps us out on the Long-Arm machine in the evenings.  When not working one of her many jobs, Tiffany serves as PTA president, sports team Mom, and manager of their very busy home.  Her biggest asset to Prairie Queens is her always present, beautiful smile!

At Shortstop, we have sweet Marie!  There is just no other way to describe her!!  The fact is, Marie is the most senior staff member, yet she can work circles around all of us!  She has been quilting for many, many years and started working for Prairie Queens in January 2006.  Marie’s specialty is hand appliqué.  She currently has a “quilt show” on display in our classroom of small wall hangings.  They are a sight to see if you live in the area.  Marie and her husband have three grown children and four beautiful granddaughters.  When Marie first started at Prairie Queens, she  told us that she didn’t think she would enjoy making store sample quilts.  After being talked into just one, she has produced one a month for us since!  She hates being without a project and is so meticulous in her piecing…………’s  “beautiful scary” perfection! 

In the outfield, we have our three newest employees.  Within the last year, Becca and Annette have joined the team. 

Becca comes from “Quilting Royalty”, having been born the granddaughter of Carolea, of Carolea’s Knitche.  If you did any fabric shopping in the San Fransisco Bay area in the past two decades, you most certainly have been to the store once owned by her grandmother.  The store is now closed due to retirement, but the family tradition of quilting still lives on!  Becca brings a great knowledge of  fabric’s and quilt shop experience.  She enjoys teaching and spending time with the ladies from her grandmother’s store.

Annette has been quilting for over 18 years and brings to Prairie Queens a sweet disposition and years of teaching experience.  She has the ability to help the most frustrated quilter figure out how to complete their project. She enjoys teaching new students the art of quilting and has developed her own curriculum for a beginner class.  Annette has lived in many states across the country and currently lives with her husband, two teenage children and a dog, here in San Jose. 

Leila is the newest and youngest employee on our staff.  She is a Junior in High School and is working hard to begin saving money for college.  While she might not always know how to answer a question about quilting, she has proven to be a very important and hard-working member of our staff. Over the years,  we have had several wonderful young ladies join our team, including Hannah and Megan.  Hannah graduated from college last spring and Megan will be graduating  this spring. These two beauties have bloomed right before our eyes!



Our team would not be complete without two of our biggest fans,  Phyllis and Sue.  These two ladies keep us laughing and sane.  They can be found in our classroom at least three  days a week.  They met here at the store in a class and have become close  friends since.  They vacation together, along with Sue’s husband and always come back with a suitcase full of crazy stories.  They have blessed so many people they have come in contact with here at the store with their caring hearts and great sense of humor.  You can always hear some fun stories about these two and all of their quilting (and non-quilting) adventures!

There’s the team.  It takes every one of them to make Prairie Queens the store that it is today.  If you live in the  San Jose area, come by and say Hi!   We would love to meet you! We hope that you will visit our blog often as we plan to update it on a weekly basis. 


17 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2011 12:20 am

    I love it! Great job! So proud of you guys, and so honored to be mentioned in your very first post! Love you guys!

  2. January 30, 2011 3:13 am

    Welcome to Blog Land Prairie Queens! I loved your inaugural post and look forward to many more!

  3. Erick + Michael permalink
    January 30, 2011 3:33 am

    Wow!! Me gusta el trabajo de mi mama! What a team!

  4. Pati McFerran permalink
    January 30, 2011 6:13 pm

    What a beautiful opening for the blog….I look forward to the next installment!! Love ya guys!!

  5. Ann Tanna permalink
    January 31, 2011 5:14 am

    Wow what a great blog, even tho I have never been there I feel as tho I know you all. I can’t wait to come and visit. Perhaps I can play a position on your team someday!

  6. Lou Ann Vasek permalink
    February 9, 2011 9:00 pm

    What a wonderful website! Although I live in Mississippi, my son and daughter in law live in San Jose so I have a connection with you. If I lived there, Phyllis and Sue would be my best friends. I will see you on our next visit!

  7. February 21, 2011 4:57 am

    Welcome to blogland. How exciting to meet you all and see your store. I am looking forward to watching your blog and reading more interesting posts.

  8. sandy lee permalink
    February 21, 2011 5:32 am

    I love your new facebook page and blog. You guys are the best. You bring out the best in your students. I just wish I could be there as often as Sue and Phyllis. I look forward to my Monday night open sew class with April and feel just as welcome when I crash in unannounced to Eli, Annette’s and Mary’s open sew. You guys ROCK.

  9. Kath Kershaw permalink
    February 21, 2011 7:45 am

    Please come to England and open a shop. Our shop owners try really hard but there is always something missing. Your shop looks fantastic on the blog. I would love to be part of your team. I work hard on my quilting and general sewing,but then again something is usually not quite right ,I could however do a bit of cleaning and folding of fabric. My cherrie scones are my saving grace so how about it? Love Kath.

    • Kath Kershaw permalink
      February 21, 2011 10:14 am

      My spelling isnt good I mean cherry scones.

  10. Paula Zumaris permalink
    February 21, 2011 4:21 pm

    I am so happy to learn of your website! I wish I could visit your store. It sounds so wonderful, but Illinois is so far from you. That is what makes websites so wonderful. We can now get ideas from shops far away. Keep tempting me with new projects.

  11. Robin permalink
    February 21, 2011 6:26 pm

    What a beautiful shop and team you have!

  12. Karen permalink
    February 21, 2011 6:33 pm

    What a great story about your shop and all your staff. Someday when I’m back in CA, visiting my cousins in San Jose, I’ll make a stop at your shop. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching your website.

  13. Jamie permalink
    February 22, 2011 2:33 am

    I have enjoyed reading about your store via your new blog. It’s alot of fun to find out how the store came about and that everyone in the store has contributed to its success. I look forward to learning more about the store and the fun that is sure to happen.

  14. February 24, 2011 5:41 am

    Becca–who is your Mom? I love(d) Carolea’s Knitche. Shopped for Cross stitch, yarn and fabric there forever (I was in the Navy there for 7 years) and still would visit when I came down to get my Hobee cake fix and my Armadillo Willy bbq sauce/rub.

  15. Shelly permalink
    February 24, 2011 2:25 pm

    I love Brenda Riddles patterns and fabric. I was really lucky to purchase one of her sample quilts. I would love to win her fabric and make a quilt. Thanks

  16. Carla permalink
    March 18, 2011 4:22 pm


    I’m new in the neighborhood and have always wanted to learn quilting, especially modern artistic styles. I am a busy working mom but hoping to sign up for a beginner class soon at your store. I just wanted to make a comment that I appreciate you having a website and all the info (like meeting the staff, etc. and the background story of the store) because it makes me more interested to get started and join in the fun…. seriously! So that’s just a kudos about the website.

    I’ll be stopping in soon to at least get inspiration. I have a brand-new sewing machine in the box but I don’t even know how to thread it yet! 🙂 Hopefully end of spring or summer will find me the time to sign up.

    Thank you & best of luck!


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