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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Cornerstone Quilts takes to a new corner

College students being college students, we often find unexpected holes and tears in our clothes with no way of repairing or re-sewing them. Grinnellians being Grinnellians, we constantly find ourselves wishing that we could modify our clothing to be the trendiest person standing in the Grill, but alas, we are incapable of doing so. Seeking to be comforted by our lack of needlework ability, we look to weep into a knitted scarf or a crocheted sweater, yet we lack the know-how to make one.

Fortunately, Lee Plisch, the owner of the newly remodeled Cornerstone Quilts is teaching classes in knitting, sewing, crocheting and quilting, which are available to Grinnellians of all needlework backgrounds. With two new booths consolidated into Cornerstone’s revamped 901 Main St. location, a wide variety of new classes and DIY materials are being offered.

Plisch’s first Cornerstone Quilts was founded in 2004 in Newton and a second followed up in Grinnell in 2010. Seeking to stay close with family, Plisch soon closed the Newton location and has spent all of her time since dedicated to the Grinnell location.

Entering the store felt like going home to your grandma, from the antique sewing machines that sat directly under the old tin roof to the genial old ladies who shopped and chatted together, asking about children and grandchildren. Jovial and warm, Plisch greeted all her customers by first name and proudly pointed out a colorful quilt behind the register, which would be featured on the cover of a new quilting book.

In January, Marketplace on Main, which was a consolidation of smaller booth vendors that sold everything from homemade ice cream to beeswax candles, approached Plisch to consolidate their stores with her own.

“Basically, the Marketplace needed to vacate their space and they needed a big one, and I had a big space,” Plisch said.

The headache caused by scheduling each vendor here and there was getting overwhelming, so they asked Plisch to take over.

“Marketplace thought it would be better to have just one person in charge, rather than a bunch of people,” Plisch said.

However, the move did not work out as planned and Plisch retained only two vendors’ products: scrapbooking and pottery.

“I want to focus mostly on my fabrics, quilting and knitting,” Plisch explained. “Custom work, especially anniversary quilts, signature quilts, wedding quilts and t-shirt quilts, are really important to me.”

Due to the restructuring after Marketplace moved out, Plisch moved Cornerstone Quilts back to 901 Main in favor of a smaller building. Despite the change of plans, the addition of the scrapbooking and pottery products have increased customer interest in her store and her classes, and she is especially looking forward to renewed interest from Grinnell students.

“Come in and talk to me about a beginning class, any beginning class.” Plisch said. “I love it when the students come back. They’re young and we’re not.”

In particular, Plisch encourages artistically inclined students to come in and try their hands at new styles and techniques.

“Students are artistic and they have a wide variety of ideas,” Plisch said. “They come from all parts of the country and the world, and, because of the arts program at Grinnell, what they want to do is so nontraditional, so different.”

Knitting and sewing can also be meditative, and a great way to relax.

“It’s fun, you know. It’s a creative outlet,” Plisch said. “It’s a nice hobby to have.”

More importantly, with holiday season just over the horizon, these newfound hobbies can be a great way to give out more personal presents to friends and family.

“When you’re knitting something for someone, you think about the person when you do it,” Plisch said. “We’re having some classes where you can make little gifts, just in time for Christmas.”

And what about simple repairs, for the clumsy college student?

“Yeah, I do a lot of repairs,” Plisch laughed. “Students are always getting zippers repaired, or sleeves re-sewn.”

With something for everyone at Cornerstone Quilts, take some time and stop by to relax, create and discover.


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