April 22, 2015 by Rebecca McKinsey
A local couple is fusing together several crafts — quilting, woodworking and metalwork — to create a new business in Guthrie Center.
Seven J’s Custom Creations and Quilting, located at 320 State St. and owned by Jim and Joanie Grace, will open May 1 and will have a grand opening soon after. Joanie will provide quilting services, while Jim will offer custom-made furniture, signs and other items.
Joanie used to think quilting was too difficult, but when she was looking for a bench cushion pattern, she stumbled on a quilting pattern and thought, “I can do that.”
Now, she’s been quilting for several years, and she enjoys the relaxing nature of running the store’s longarm quilting machine.
“It’s almost like fabric is paint,” she said. “You can take the same pattern with different fabrics and end up with two completely different quilts. There’s so much room for creativity.”
She is excited to offer a full-service quilting shop — with quilting services, fabric, notions and classes — and is looking forward to sharing tales and ideas with other quilters once the store is open.
The store will offer pre-cut fabric for busy quilters or those for arthritis, saving them time and effort and allowing them to jump immediately to quilting, Joanie said.
Seven J’s Creations also will also work with several other people and companies to offer hand-made candles and soaps.
But it won’t just be a quilting shop. Jim builds custom furniture — often re-purposing discarded wood and metal bedframes and other pieces — and refinishes furniture and creates metal items, including custom plasma-cut signs. Implementing both woodworking and welding, he has created benches, shelves and more in his shop at home for years.
“I like taking nothing and turning it into something,” he said.
Jim added that one of the best indicators of a satisfied client is an immediate request for another item.
“It just feels good to have your work appreciated,” he said.
Between the two of them, Jim and Joanie have five kids, all with names beginning with J. That sparked the idea for a name incorporating “Seven J’s” years ago, Jim said.
Their children are spread out: Joshua and Sabrina Grace live in Iowa City; Jennilee and Aaron Anderson live in Boone with their children, Jack and Lilly; Jared Lewis lives in Boone; Jessica Lewis and Jeanna Lewis both live in Guthrie Center, working as certified nursing assistants. The Graces are also expecting two more grandchildren.
The couple lives south of Guthrie Center.
“The community support is amazing,” Joanie said. “We’re thankful we’re in this community.”
Jim retired from the U.S. Postal Service two years ago and now works at Orscheln Farm and Home. Joanie travels often for her work as a nurse. Balancing the store with their other work will be an interesting challenge, they said.
The couple is renting the State Street storefront and began putting the store together in March. They hope to eventually to have the store open Tuesday through Saturday, although it might be open mainly by appointment at first.
“We’ve been told we have some pretty good ideas, so we’re going to run with it,” Jim said.
Courtesy of Rebecca McKinsey, Guthrie Center Times, 4/22/15.