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Getting cozy: From baby blankets to T-shirt memory quilts, Durocher puts love into every stitch

By Susan Shinn Turner
For the Salisbury Post

For the past decade, Leslie Durocher has made quilts, accessories and other outfits through her business, Cozy Quilts by Leslie. But she’s only recently made the decision to take the business to full-time status.

“I have been sewing for years,” says Leslie, who recently started working part-time at the Rowan Public Library circulation desk. “When I was young, I was in 4-H. That was really my start. My mom sewed and my sister sewed. My mom did it out of necessity, but my sister did it because she loved it.”

Leslie calls her sister a true seamstress. “She took to it like a fish to water.”

Leslie, on the other hand, struggled to learn the art of sewing.

“I was an impatient seamstress,” she admits. “I wanted it done! I didn’t want to take the time to learn and do it at a slower pace to get better results.”

Leslie, 60, started her business about 10 years ago, she says.

“Quilting has always fascinated me,” she says. “Growing up, we had a quilt from my father’s side of the family. I was intrigued by that quilt.”

Leslie’s sister, Valory Wright of Missouri, is the owner of Cotton Queen Quilting. “Initially, she showed me some small projects, and I started making quilted purses. That was my only instruction. I have learned how to do this on my own.”

Leslie always sewed for her children. She and her husband, Rob, have two daughters, Ondria Witt and Brittany Brownfield. Leslie now sews for Ondria’s daughter, Sabine, 2, making those darling ruffled pants sets that are all the rage in the toddler demographic.

She’s also made baptismal gowns, yoga bags — “all kinds of things.” But her focus is on baby quilts and T-shirt memory quilts. It’s all custom work. Customers can specify color and gender for the baby quilts. Leslie says nurseries don’t really carry themes these days.

But, she adds, “Elephants have been a big thing the past few years, and grays and navy blue or pinks and grays are huge color combinations. And then some mothers-to-be want more traditional quilts.”

Depending on the size and complexity of a pattern, Leslie can typically complete a baby quilt in two to four weeks.

Elizabeth Derrick bought a baby quilt for her niece, Anna Panning of Simpsonville, S.C., whose son, Jacob, was born in July. Elizabeth chose a quilt with a vehicle theme — a helicopter, a dump truck, a train, a sailboat, a jet, and a car. She says that Anna uses it for Jacob’s play quilt.

“I love it,” Elizabeth says. “I was very pleased with her work, and my niece loved it, too. Her prices are very reasonable. I had never placed a custom order before, but I knew I wanted something special for the baby. It is beautiful, and I will go back to Leslie again.”

Marie Leonard-Hampton is already a repeat customer. She recently purchased baby quilts for her 14-week-old grandsons, Hartsell and Cecil Chisholm, who live in Asheville with their parents, Matt Chisholm and Julia Hartsell Chisholm.

“They’re perfect,” Marie says of the quilts. “Leslie personalized them with their monograms, and added a hemlock tree and Pike’s Peak, two special things to their parents. She also added little boy things like airplanes and trucks.”

Marie, the grandmother of six, was so happy with the quilts that she immediately placed orders for her other two younger grandchildren.

“It’s quality work,” she says. “She puts love into each quilt.”

T-shirt memory quilts, Leslie says, “help preserve those treasured memories from our growing-up years. Even adults love them.”

Leslie typically makes these quilts in full or queen size. She’s not done a king-sized quilt yet, she says, but she’s willing to try. Again, depending on design details, Leslie can complete a T-shirt memory quilt in four weeks.

Sandy and Troy Buechler have purchased a T-shirt memory quilt for their daughter, Abby, who graduates this spring from Gray Stone Day School. She’s already collecting T-shirts from their son, Ty, 14.

“Oh!” Sandy says of the quilt — under wraps ’til May — “it’s gorgeous! It really looked the way I thought it was going to look. The T-shirts we chose are grouped together nicely, and then Leslie added a paw print border because Abby loves dogs. The whole quilt really encapsulates Abby’s first 18 years.”

Leslie, who works about 40 hours a week at her business, will continue to sew in between her shifts at the library.

“I think I’ll really like it,” she says of her circulation job. “I’m excited about it because it’s part-time, and it will allow me to work on my quilting business. I’m pushing myself to make Cozy Quilts a full-time job.”

If you’d like to place an order with Cozy Quilts by Leslie, contact her via her Facebook page.

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