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Stitching the community together year after year

October 6, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - There's no such thing as too much fabric.

Just ask the ladies at Portage Quilt House who are celebrating their eighth anniversary in business with storewide savings to help customers replenish their craft bins.

"This is a good time to stock up for your fall and winter projects," co-owner Judy Stallings said. "All of our quilting and related merchandise will be 20 percent off."

Article Photos

Portage Quilt House owners Joanne Moros, left, and Judy Stallings sit on the porch steps to their business Monday. Portage Quilt House is celebrating its eighth anniversary with a week-long sale Oct. 7 through 13.

The anniversary sale kicks off Thursday, Oct. 7 and continues through Wednesday, Oct. 13. Customers who drop in throughout the week can put their name in a drawing for daily prize giveaways. A grand prize drawing on the sale's final day will award one lucky winner a handmade backpack stuffed with as many quilting supplies as it can hold.

"Each October we like to look back at where we began and remind ourselves how far we have come," Judy said. "Some of those early pictures make us realize how much inventory we have in comparison to 2002. This sale is a great way to thank the loyal customers we have, remind any new ones that we are here and that a small retail business can survive in the Keweenaw."

Judy and co-owner Joanne Moros opened Portage Quilt House Oct. 14, 2002 in a yellow, two-story farmhouse two miles south of Michigan Technological University on U.S. 41. It's the area's most inviting full-service quilt shop, with its wooden floors, stone fireplace and home-sweet-home feel.

Browsing from room to room, shoppers will find a wide variety of fabrics, patterns, project kits, notions, books, gift items, and much more. Decorating the walls and shelves are colorful samples of completed quilts, table runners, banners and, small projects like embroidered Christmas tree ornaments, oven mitts and needleboxes in outhouse and barn themes.

"The outhouses are catchy items with the tourists," Judy said. "They make a neat little keepsake for your visit to the area."

The needleboxes come with everything crafters need from start to finish, except for the fabric.

Project kits and patterns for handbags, pillows, clothing and other craft ideas are also available.

"We're sewing all year long," Judy said. "We're constantly taking down the quilts and making new ones. We have to be representative of the new fabrics we carry."

In turn, their number one seller above all is fabric, and they have lots of it. Seasonal and holiday patterns, sports-themed fabrics, wool and flannel are but some of the variety customers will find. Portage Quilt House also carries cuddly soft plush fabrics, knits, fine wale corduroy, Australian fabrics, fabric with the Michigan Tech logo and even oilcloth material for making waterproof items.

"You can use it for bag liners or table mats too," Judy said of the vibrant floral-patterned material. "We also carry patterns for adult's and children's rain jackets."

It's important to stay fresh in the items they carry, Judy said, which is why she and Joanne attend an international quilt market annually to purchase new merchandise for their shop.

While at a quilt show this summer, Judy said they picked up a new item for embroidery projects called Transfer Eze, which cuts back the hours spent tracing and level of difficulty of stitching a pattern onto fabric.

"You use your computer and printer to copy the image onto a film," she said. "Then you peel the back off the film and stick it to your fabric. When you're done with the stitching, you use cold water and the film disappears."

Along with new products, Portage Quilt House offers new classes for customers, like their monthly Stashblasters tutorial. The half-hour tutorial, held from 10 to 10:30 a.m., highlights a particular technique, pattern or block to use up accumulating stash fabric.

"What I do is I demo a technique using a pattern and then I show them how it's completed from their fabric stash," Judy said. "Then I give them the pattern so they can do it at home."

Time is set aside for a project show-and-tell.

The next tutorial is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 9. The fee is $5 and customers are asked to call in advance to reserve a spot. Coffee and bakery will be served.

Portage Quilt House is holding its annual Quilting Retreat in Silver City Oct. 22 to 24 at the AmericInn.

Judy said there are spots available for anyone wanting to join, however must call to make a reservation. For more information, call Portage Quilt House at 487-5500.

As Judy reflects on their eight years in business, she said it has been "just wonderful."

"Getting into the small business realm, it's always a gamble," she said. "We've been supported very well by the local community. It's good to see our dreams come true."

Portage Quilt House is located two miles south of Michigan Technological University at 46509 U.S. 41 in Houghton. Business hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 487-5500 or visit

Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Portage Quilt House of Houghton. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.



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