Jean Wells, one of the foremost quilt entrepreneurs of our times, came to quilting through her career as a Home Economics teacher. In 1969, in the process of fulfilling a new curriculum requirement for the boys in her class, Jean came across some English patchwork in a book. What appealed to her were the geometric shapes. Geometry, numbers, math! What an excellent vehicle for teaching various lessons, not the least of which was accurate cutting and sewing. Jean had the boys make floor cushions, but she was soon taken with the whole process of putting colorful fabrics together in a variety of new shapes.
Jean decided to rent space in Sisters, Oregon, where she could teach quilting as well as sell quilting supplies. She opened The Stitchin’ Post in 1975 and also launched the first Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on a whim. How could she possibly imagine what lay ahead — an outdoor quilt show that would eventually exhibit some 1,200 quilts each year from around the world and would utilize some 3,000 community volunteer hours; an annual week-long “quilt school” showcasing more than 30 teachers; 27 books, including 11 co-authored with her daughter Valori Wells Kennedy? Because of those first steps she dared to take, the dream became a reality, enhancing countless lives.
It is quite possible that Jean’s quilt shop The Stitchin’ Post is the oldest quilt shop in the U.S. Certainly it’s the oldest quilt shop still in the hands of its original owner. In acknowledgement of her business acumen, Jean was named recipient of the Michael Kile Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1998, the highest award that the quilting business industry gives. She was also the first quilt shop owner to be inducted into the Independent Retailer Hall of Fame in 1997. She is a generous, creative business woman and a great example to all.
By Karen B. Alexander, Quilt Historian
Photo courtesy of Jean Wells
"What an amazing journey it has been, being in the quilting business for thirty-five years. I love what I do! It is never ending- one idea just leads to another. 'Engaging the creative spirit' is the very best part."
Stitchin' Post Class Schedule