Master Seamstress Has Years Of Experience To Share
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WATER VALLEY – Gladne Harris is a master seamstress with 45 years of sewing experience who wants to share her knowledge with others. In her Main Street studio, Sew Classy Studio, she maintains all of the products needed to instruct a new generation.
Harris moved to Water Valley from Bayou Blue, Louisiana, after paying a visit to her brother in Taylor. Her family was searching for a better environment to purchase land and raise children.
“Water Valley is great because the community raises your kids here,”she explained
Gladne Harris and her husband, David, appreciated Water Valley’s neighborhoods and accessible land. It was on a road trip with her young children that she decided to make her home here. She has never looked back.
“My friends laughed at me and said I’d be back in a year,” said Harris, who has now lived in Water Valley for 24 years.
Initially, the small town element was unappealing to her kids, but they thrived in school and all three graduated from Ole Miss. Nicholas now works as an engineer for Toyota in Tupelo. Further from home, Jillian lives in St. Louis, and Gretchen lives in South Florida.
Harris joined the Gulf States Quilting Association 28 years ago, where she attended seminars led by world-famous quilt book authors.
Harris learned smocking from American Sewing Guild Hall of Fame inductee Martha Pullen, who published the sewing magazine, Sew Beautiful.
“I was able to perfect my skills just by being with her,” said Harris. “She taught me all the tricks.”
She envisions her space as a place to get away from interruptions. A library of sewing books sits on the shelf in her studio, where she produces quilts and rugs. She hoped to share her knowledge with those who want to learn, but Covid led her to put these plans on hold.
When the pandemic put most to a halt, Harris used the opportunity to create face masks.
Her studio has space for anyone from beginners to those who are struggling with a project and need guidance and mentorship. She has been teaching at a quilting shop in Memphis, where she helps students make rugs that can be passed on through generations.
“I’ve had plenty of students tell me that they don’t think they can do this, but they can,” said Harris. “I’ve never run across somebody I couldn’t teach.”
Harris participated in 4H sewing competitions and wants to pay it forward to a new generation that may not understand the value of these skills. She encourages students of all skill levels to seek guidance when they come across a frustrating obstacle.
Her studio is set up for education and personal projects. She is not focussed on performing routine alterations, but rather on promoting the notion that learning to do things yourself is cheaper and more rewarding.
“I know that there are people who want to do this,” said Harris. “If somebody calls and asks me to hem their pants, I say ‘I’ll teach you how.’”
Harris recalls one of her most endearing students, who designed and created her own stuffed animal.
“Kids have their own idea of what they like, and I just let them go for it.” said Harris. “They don’t like thread that matches.”
Beginner students start out by making quick and simple throw pillows, to inspire confidence in their ability to learn more complex skills.
Harris wants to connect like-minded people and create an environment where they can enjoy themselves. She likens quilting to creating a piece of artwork, noting that it takes time to invest oneself in the process.
Lessons are currently available by appointment in her Sew Classy Studio at 20 South Main Street in Water Valley. She plans to have set hours, two days per week in the future. Harris can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.