Primitive Gatherings: Handmade sewing projects from start to finish
For those of us who love crafting, an initial interest often carries us into a lifelong passion and down roads we never expected. As a child, Lisa Bongean would see her friends in unique and beautiful clothes. She was especially struck by the original Halloween costumes, and the interest was cemented when she found out their parents were stitching these creations together. Wanting to hone this creative skill, Lisa took it upon herself to learn how to sew throughout her school years.
Bongean’s interest in the craft went no further until she was watching her son’s swimming lessons and noticed a woman near her quilting a baby quilt carefully by hand. Lisa struck up a conversation with her, eager to find out how she cut up all the pieces and knew how to put it all back together. This inspiration drove her to learn the basics of quilting and completing projects of her own. Lisa’s passion led her to eventually work part-time at a quilt store, and her work inspired others to learn quilting as well – with Lisa as the teacher. Since she’d been in their shoes not so long ago, teaching others came to her naturally.
Initiative and leadership has shaped Bongean’s career in many ways. As a single mother, she often couldn’t afford the perfect fabric for her next quilting project. Admiring the hand-dyed look and softness of certain wool fabrics, she set out to create some of her own. Taking the time to learn the process and invent her own formulas and design, Bongean is now the owner of Primitive Gatherings, a family business that creates quilting materials from scratch, specializing in wool dyes.
20 years of experience teaches one a lot, and motivated Bongean to push the boundaries of what she ever thought she was capable of. Today, Lisa says the most important thing that she had to learn was how to delegate. When you love what you are doing, you want to be a part of every step in the process. As the business grew, Bongean knew that she could not do it all if she were to continue to be successful. “I did not want to give away the best part and that is working with my hands and creating and teaching almost every day.” Learning to trust others with portions of the company was difficult but rewarding, as Bongean now has the time to focus on her specialty – designing and completing projects.
Lisa Bongean has so much to be proud of at Primitive Gatherings. A business built from the bottom up that has culminated in wide praise for her handmade wool and designs. Bongean has the distinction of being included on the cover of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, an honor typically reserved for featured quilt designs only. Her simple desire to learn a new skill evolved into a business that brings something truly unique to the craft, and that success is shared by the family that continues to help it grow.
The next big adventure has already begun for Lisa Bongean and Primitive Gatherings, who recently purchased 10 acres of land. They plan to open a new storefront suited for both retail and wholesale purposes and a warehouse. Opening a 20-person retreat house complete with chickens and sheep is also part of the dream. Going forward, Primitive Gatherings will continue to be a place where quilters will be inspired to create new things.