Beth Markel

Quiltventuring in Michigan

Posted on August 27, 2012 by Beth Markel

I began a journey ten days ago, to visit as many quilt shops as I could as I traveled through Michigan, beginning waaaaayyyy up in our UP in Houghton, working my way down to beautiful Grand Rapids where the AQS show went on for four days.  We have a son at Michigan Tech, and when I say this is off the beaten path, I really mean OFF THE BEATEN PATH.  It’s about as far north as the middle of Maine…when we moved to Michigan, I didn’t know you could drive for ten hours north and still BE in Michigan.  What did I know?  Anyway, this is the perfect time of year to see what fabrics are coming into the shops as the seasons begin to change…and what glorious fabrics there are… strangely, some were calling my name, and snuck into the car with me!  Sneaky fabric.

There is an extensive and very talented group of quilters in Michigan’s UP.  Exactly five miles off the beaten path from Rt. 2 (from the Mackinac Bridge toward Houghton) is Lavender Cottage…which is attached to a house, including a room for the long arm, and really great prices on Aurifil thread.  The women here were friendly, knowledgeable, and happy to help me look for anything I needed.  This isn’t a big place, and come prepared…cash only.  Also 5 minutes outside of St. Ignace is Georgia B’s place, a smallish place also just a few minutes off Rt. 2, but with really current fabrics, some stunning brights and batiks, and beautiful Fall browns, golds, and oranges lining the shelves.  Both of these quaint little shops had very reasonable prices on their fabrics.  Equally important was the staff, and both quilt shop owners were waiting on people, answering questions, helping choose fabric, etc.  Some seriously bright fabrics found their way into my car…it’s sooo strange how that happens sometimes!

Batiks and brights…

After lots of driving, and a burger at Clyde’s back near the Mac Bridge, we ended up in Charlevoix, MI.  There are houses in Charlevoix called “The Mushroom Houses” because of their shapes – let’s just say they are very organic in their lines!  I found a great shop called Hearts to Holly, and visited 3 times in 3 days.  It’s my kind of place… floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall fabric, plus a notions wall, where Emily was happy to open a chalk pen package to find out how narrow the chalk tip was – plus a w-i-d-e variety of fabrics.  There were brights, kids fabrics, the “flannel room,” Kona solids, an entire line called “Charlevoix,” tons of primitive and Confederate fabric, modern fabrics, and sexy Black/White graphics as well.  Their website is and they are the home of Holly Bunch patterns.  Best part…they have a husband’s patio, with outdoor seating in front of a fountain, Golf Digest and Woodworker’s magazines, and a coffee or tea if desired.  Nicely done, folks.

Mushroom houses:                           


OK, on to Cadillac, Michigan.  Yes, it really is called Cadillac, and there’s a lovely quilt shop in the lower level of a beautiful building – Julie Ann’s Quilting.  There I found some yummy gray solids – light to dark and lots of in-betweens, along with a really spacious room across the hallway for classes, great choices in fabrics, from flannels to moderns, and just an fyi, they’re also a Janome dealer.  It’s a husband-wife team, and they were just terrific about answering questions, helping find things, etc.  This is where some very stealth grays, along with a yummy lavender, found their way into my trunk – I told you that fabrics could be sneaky!


and thread…


 On to beautiful Grand Rapid where AQS was in full swing.  Great facility, with lots of room in the aisles to walk, photograph, and just soak in the quilts.  The vendors were also terrific – lots and lots of variety, styles, patterns, fabrics, books, threads, notions and more.  There were beautiful hand-dyes which came to live at my house, more thread, and a book about Shibori, which I plan to begin this afternoon.  I do love my indigo and dye techniques, but this book has tons of new information.  As you might guess from earlier posts, I’m really enjoying making the fabric before using it – it adds to the creativity for me.

So on to the quilts themselves…’stunning’ just doesn’t do it justice.  This was an international art show.  The Egyptian tent makers were interesting to watch, and their pieces were remarkable.  Many of their quilts look like hand-woven rugs.  The Japanese exhibit was also simply spectacular.  The meticulous detail, the use of color, and the range of designs was extraordinary.  There was also a tremendous variety of quilts, from appliqué to organic lines, traditional to modern, and whimsical to abstract.  I’m just going to drop in the AQS winners video link to give you an idea of the variety.  Bear in mind, each of these is a piece of art unto itself, so enjoy the show.

Happy Sewing,




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