Wangara quilting shop is fabric of the community

From the First Stitch to the Last business partners Janet Collins and Lynnette Knight in the Wangara store. Pictures: David Baylis d495956
From the First Stitch to the Last business partners Janet Collins and Lynnette Knight in the Wangara store. Pictures: David Baylis d495956

WHEN Janet Collins opened her quilting shop two years ago, she never envisaged how much of a community hub it would become.

Mrs Collins went into business with her sister Jill Campbell and two friends Lynnette Knight and Sharon Rees to start From the First Stitch to the Last and Janet Collins Designs in July 2017.

“We opened a patchwork shop, but really what has happened is we’ve become a community,” she said.

Janet Collins. Picture: David Baylis

The Alexander Heights resident said it was like a men’s shed for women.

“We, predominantly women, can come in here and it’s a place where we can be safe.

“We’ve become a hub really for people to come in and just chill and relax and do what they are doing.

“We’ve got a big classroom which we use a lot.

“Everybody makes themselves at home.

“We are a working shop.

“We do a lot of charity work behind the scenes.

“We’ve got s group go women who are our quilting angels – customers we couldn’t get rid of so we put them to work.”

They support Westie Walkers Perth and the store is a drop off point for Essentials for Women.

Mrs Collins said customers came from across Perth and beyond, including Mandurah and Bunbury.

“We don’t by fabric that other people have in their stores,” she said.

“Patchworkers will travel to get what they want.

“We have three ladies that come from Beverley every month.”

Mrs Collins, who has quilted for about 30 years, travels internationally and has written books about her Westalee quilting designs.

She said her sister did the administration side of the business and kept her “calm and level-headed”.

Mrs Knight works in the store serving customers and runs weekly classes.

“We all have our specialities,” she said.

“I’ve been doing more embroidery; I’ve been doing that for about 25 years.”

She also does patchwork and applique.

“The very first quilt that I made was for my son – he is now 23,” the Edgewater resident said.

“That was a teddy bear quilt.”

Duncraig resident Leassa Hines with Janet Collins. Picture: David Baylis

Mrs Collins said she was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome when she was 55 with blinking and twitching she can’t control, which used to hold her back.

“People put barriers in the way of doing things; for a long time that was mine,” she said.

“I’m doing this in spite of Tourette’s.

“I put myself out there just to encourage other people to not think about things as a disadvantage.”

The shop has become a space where people battling depression and health issues gather and find support.

“We have lots in here who are getting cancer treatment,” Mrs Collins said.

The shop at 40 Prendiville Drive in Wangara is open seven days a week from 9am to 4pm.