Capitol Hill fabric store Stitches celebrates ten years on E Pike

IMG_2009IMG_1994A week knitted together with discounts, prizes and treats hits Capitol Hill thread shop Stitches April, 30 as it celebrates its ten year anniversary on E Pike. Owner Amy Ellsworth is looking forward to adding another decade on the Hill.

“I’m excited to see people… and say hi and thank you,” she said. From April 30 – May 6, the store will serve up snacks from local businesses and conclude each day with a raffle for classes and gift certificates – when you buy something you’re entered – as well as 20% off anything for the week.

Ellsworth has been selling fabrics and related crafting tools since 2004 on Capitol Hill, and like many Seattle start-ups, her story started at a local tech giant.

IMG_1983Before she opened Stitches, Ellsworth worked for Amazon.com, she said. The Capitol Hill resident had a love for connecting seams but a frustration over driving to Ballard to get materials. Feeling like she could not be the only person on Capitol Hill with this issue, she decided to do something about it and opened Stitches on May 5, 2004.

In the beginning, Ellsworth says the business required a lot of work, but she isn’t complaining about the effort it took to hold the stitches together. “Luckily, it’s been more good than bad,” she said. But keeping her business afloat in the ever-changing Capitol Hill neighborhood has required a little more than luck.

IMG_2005“We’re good at listening to our customers… we’ve gotten better at it over the years,” she said. Ellsworth has created her niche with a part-time staff of three and an emphasis on customer service. This has allowed the store to branch out its inventory while accommodating odd customer requests and adding more things the neighborhood wants, she said.

“It’s grown a lot. It’s definitely changed,” she said. The store’s inventory continues to expand to fit the unique threads of Capitol Hill customers. Some of these folks include apparel designers, burlesque performers, drag queens, entertainers as well as young mothers and retirees, she said. “Lots of regulars.”

However, the appeal of Stitches isn’t only in providing a DIY station to collect fabric, notions, needle felting supplies, patterns and threads, and more, but also in promoting a space where neighborhood designers can learn and teach. About six months after opening the store, Ellsworth launched classes in the back room.

The old classroom is now used for inventory, but Stitches still teaches beginning and intermediate sewing as well as knitting 101 covering everything from bags as well as pants and hats in an apartment above the building. A class in the past featured lessons from Capitol Hill artist Mark Mitchell.

With nearly a decade under her belt, Ellsworth has grown to love her regulars and hopes to give both them and new customers alike a reason to check out Stitches for another ten years to come. “I look forward to coming into work every day,” said Ellsworth. “I just love it.”

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