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Meet the Staff

Neal’s Sewing Center employs a pool of retired part-time ladies with a vast knowledge and love of all things fabric.  Although we all hail from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, we are united in our passion for the craft…everything from piecing, long arm quilting, applique, embroidery and sharing!  The high point of every customer experience is undoubtedly the exchange of knowledge.  We get the privilege of sharing our accumulated knowledge to assist our customers and our friends to achieve their creative goals and learn of new techniques and tools from you.  We have the best post-retirement job ever…. We get paid to play!  😊

 

Caryl started working for Neal’s in 2006 (just three weeks after retiring from 37 years with Eastern Iowa Light and Power Cooperative), but shares “I started sewing in 4-H and with my Mom when I was 10.  I made my own clothes and all my children’s clothes, even their winter coats when they were young.  My first machine was the Viking1+ and since I loved it so much, I have moved up with several machines, currently the Epic 2 - with four other machines in between.  I did a lot of machine embroidery when I bought my Viking 1+.  I started quilting later, or I should say piecing.  Love it all!”  Caryl is the in-store subject matter expert on embroidery and software.  She is the “go to” person for those customers who need a bit of a refresher on working with an older model sewing machine or help setting up an embroidery design.  If this sounds like you, call the store and reserve an hour with Caryl today.  You will be glad you did. 

 

 

Deb says “I made my first quilt 52 years ago (and still have it)!  In addition to working the sales floor, she also has a side-hustle offering free motion long arm services to customers, friends, and charities alike.  A knowledgeable quilter with a big heart, Deb donates her time and talent to Quilts of Valor providing long arm quilting services to the organization free of charge.  She estimates that she turns out between 10-12 quilts a month for her clients on top of the 25 quilts she provides to Quilts of Valor annually.  No doubt about it, Deb is one busy lady!

 


Ginger started with Neal’s Vacuum & Sewing at the Davenport store in 2005. 
"After working retail for 28 years, it was a good fit.  What started out as ‘girl Friday’ turned into an unexpected and amazing opportunity to come to Muscatine as the fabric buyer for the store.  As a TOP SELLER for The Longaberger Company for 25+ years, I was thrilled to accept this position.  I love my job no matter what I’m doing.  Selecting fabric is a huge part of my job but working with customers is wonderful.  Seeing their visions come to life is very rewarding.   Currently, I own (1) Singer Featherweight that purrs like a kitten along with 4 Babylock machines…(3) sewing and/or embroidery and (1) serger.  While I love any aspect of sewing, I recently took to improving my accuracy with piecing smaller projects together.  I, also, enjoy paper piecing."



Jeanette joined the Neal's family in 1990 as a part-time salesclerk.  She has worn many hats over the years including bookkeeper, Serger Trainer, Software Trainer, leading an Embroidery Club, leading a Software Club, teaching Creative Classes, Education Coordinator, publishing the newsletter back when it was sent out via snail mail, and Manager of the Davenport Store.  Her sewing experience started in 1967 in Home Economics class.  Since then, she has taken on many projects including sewing all kinds of clothes for her family, tailoring a man's suit, reupholstering furniture and a car's interior, making prom dresses, and wedding & bridesmaid dresses for her three daughters.  Her current sewing passion lies in machine embroidery.  She is considered the store guru on all machine embroidery software FAQ's.

While Jeanette has currently taken a less active role in the day-to-day activities of the business, she remains “on-call” as an expert resource for customers and staff alike."
 

 

Karen started at Neal’s in 2005 but began sewing long before then.  She reminisced “I learned how to sew from my Grandma and Mom when I was probably in grade school, making rudimentary clothes for my Barbie & Ken dolls. Graduated to making skirts and jumpers for myself in junior high/high school.  Got the quilting bug in 2005 when I started at Neal’s.  The rest is history.”  Today, Karen has built a reputation as quite the “Bag Lady”.  😉  She has a library of bag patterns of all shapes and sizes and shares her knowledge and experience freely.  She is our very own in-house Vera Bradley.

 



Kathy has been a member of the "Saturdays Only" staff for the past 3 years during which time she also worked a full time job.  Other than scraps of fabric for Barbie dolls and the normal junior high home economics class projects, she shared that her adventures into sewing really did not start until she became a young bride looking to make western shirts for her husband.   Kathy says "I went on to making knit t-shirts through a Stretch and Sew instructor who came to our rural neighborhood group. Shortly after that, quilting came into my life.  I enjoyed sewing and cooking so much that I became a Family and Consumer teacher! I retired from teaching in 2023 and now can sew as much as I like!!"  Kathy's diverse sewing background makes her a great addition to the team.

 

Leslie got bit by the sewing bug in 1985 and started working part time at Neal’s circa 2004.  She is highly knowledgeable on applique and all things Kimberbell.  She is the host of multiple unique educational forums each month where she either demonstrates a new project or assists participants with a project of their choosing.  When not in the classroom, Leslie splits her time between the sales floor and creating signature store samples with great precision and technique.  A wealth of knowledge and innovation, she is a “go to” resource for customers and staff alike.



Marcy says " I started sewing with my mom - doll clothes and small projects in junior high, but really started sewing my own and family members' clothes in high school. I began quilting in the early 80's. A member of the Neal's team since August 2014 after working in education for over 38 years, Marcy is one of the crafters behind our many samples found throughout the store. In addition to working the sales floor, Marcy assembles many of the store created kits and provides helpful guidance when requested.  A big ask or a small one, Marcy will try to help.

 

Mary thinks she has been sewing since age 9.  A retired Home Economics teacher, she joined the Neal’s team in 2018 following her 30-year career.  Her skill set spans the entire spectrum from sewing (garments, backpacks, quilt tops) to embroidery, to true quilting.  She works the sales floor, teaches beginning sewing classes, was the creative force behind “In Stitches with Mary”, does all the long arm quilting for the store, AND manages the window displays.  Mary is not a “jack of all trades”, but rather a master of many! 

 

 

Nancy is the new kid on the block, joining the Neal’s team in 2022.  Like most of her generation, she was first introduced to sewing in junior high home economic classes.  Over the years she sewed garments, played with yarn (knitting and crocheting), and dabbled in counted cross stitch.  She discovered quilting in 2018 upon retirement and has been hooked ever since. A retired accountant, Nancy enjoys the precision and math aspect of quilting.  Her favorite part of the job, however, has to be ” The people.  Helping customers choose just the right fabric for their projects is fun and so rewarding.  A perfect fit for my retirement years!"

 

 

The Boys are without a doubt the star attractions of the store.  Rudy and Watson are pure bred Pembroke Corgis who spend a few days each week at the store with their person, Jeff.  “The Boys” are well behaved people friendly dogs that spend much of their day either basking in the window sunbeams or on the worktable supervising sewing machine repairs.  The Boys have their very own fan club – customers who pop in the store just to see them or better yet bring treats!! 

 

Jeff is the “Face of Neal’s”.  The General Manager of the store, he first began working for Neal’s in 1983.  He is a skilled technician who repairs and cleans a wide variety of vacuums, sewing and embroidery machines from beginner models to the complex computerized systems.  He has a vast knowledge of all makes and models of vacuums, sewing machines, sergers, as well as vacuum belts, bags, and general troubleshooting.  If Jeff can’t repair it, it isn’t broken!