Tisha Carpenter likes to remark about anyone who enters her quilt shop, “Come in as a customer, but leave as a friend.”
It’s certainly true with all the care Carpenter puts into her work, the numerous volunteers who offer to help her out, plus all the charity work she supports with her quilts.
My Little Quilt Shop is located at 4230 Winter Ave., just off Summers Lane and a block south of Mia’s and Pia’s restaurant, in Klamath Falls.
It’s a great place to stop in if one is a newbie to quilting, or would like a quilt refurbished, or has a special item in mind for a remembrance or is just interested in learning the art form.
Carpenter has been quilting professionally since 2009. Born in Illinois, she grew up in the Basin when her parents moved out here in 1981.
“I wanted to raise my kids myself and found myself as a single mom and two little boys. I didn’t want to hire someone else to teach them morals and ethics and values. And so, I sewed,” she said. “I made, quilts, valances, pillowcases, and grocery bags, anything that was pretty flat and square. I was not into sewing clothes.”
For a time she worked at Kay’s Quilted Rooster on South Sixth Street before striking out on her own.
Her father, Mike, redid the first home she was working out of, installing a large, north-facing window for the best light while sewing. When she moved into her current location, he did the same.
“I really like that north light over my back.” The home took about one month to renovate, but the shop a little longer — 11 months — as her father had hurt his back during the remodel.
Today it sports a large display room of her work, complete with quilting machines and a room for holding classes and gatherings.
“I like to have what I call pillowcase parties, where a group of women can come in, chat, and gossip, drink coffee and sew.”
Carpenter offers classes on all types of quilt sewing, one just has to ask. She recently did a jellyroll rug class, which involves some 50 yards of precut string and backing twisted together to form a unique pattern.
Refurbishing old, worn-out quilts is a specialty of Carpenter’s.
“We have refurbished some quilts that date back to 1911. The fabric was so worn, you could hold it up to a light and read a newspaper through it.”
There remains quilt designs from the ‘20s and ‘30s that Carpenter can use to restore an old quilt. The quality of the fabric is better today than in years past, so refurbished quilts should hold up longer, but will maintain that older look and feel.
But what is impressive is the amount of charity work her shop turns out.
She has made quilts for the Hope Pregnancy Center, Ryan’s Case for Smiles, Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, or Quilts of Valor for veterans; plus a whole host of specialty quilts and items of remembrance for those who have lost loved ones.
Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch by Bend, rescues starving and neglected horses and matches them with disadvantaged children, while also offering a Christian ministry.
“The group ministers to a lot of children,” Carpenter said, who is a horse lover herself and trained many horses as a young girl. “My dream is for those kids to have a horse quilt as part of their experience,” she said.
She also designs quilts for teens in the CARES program or Child Abuse Response & Evaluation Services. While the designated Child Advocacy Center for Klamath and Lake Counties is in Klamath Falls, CARES also serves Modoc and Siskiyou counties in Northern California, providing objective evaluations for over 350 children suspected of being abused each year.
And Carpenter can do custom quilts of remembrance.
For instance there was a firefighter who had died a while back, and Carpenter gathered up his sweatshirts, T-shirts, Winema “Hot Shots” emblems and jackets to make a remembrance quilt for his children.
In another instance, Allums Nathan Robinson, a 24-year-old, drowned while camping. He was one of seven children to Clifford and Terri Robinson, who also are foster parents. The quilt shop is raffling off a quilt to help cover funeral costs for the Robinsons.
A Klamath Falls city police officer and Afghanistan veteran is having a “defenders of freedom” quilt made for her. And the national group, Quilts of Valor, sends Carpenter information to make quilts for veterans, too.
There are also free charity quilt days at the shop, listed on her website: www.mylittlequiltshop.online/, the second Saturday of every month.
“I provide lunch, fabric and all the ladies have to do is come, site and sew and gab, have a good talk,” she said.
When asked about her monetary investment into the business, she replies, “My heart.”