I originally started a fabric sales and custom-made knitwear business in my home. Two years later I moved into a very small space in a different building in Baldwin City and in a few months realized I was ready to expand. The owner of the dry goods store in the same town was retiring, so I bought her building and reopened the doors January 3, 1989. I am at least a fourth generation quilter–two of my great grandmothers quilted for customers as did my mother in her later years and both of my grandmothers made quilts. My daughters, Laura and Leanne, are fifth generation quilters, and my granddaughters are sixth generation quilters. Yes, quilting is in our genes!
My customers tell me that I have the best selection of fabric in the area. We carry quilting cottons, batiks, flannels, wide backings, solids, landscape prints, novelty prints, our own hand-dyed wool for applique and rug hooking, 30’s reproduction prints, 1800’s reproduction prints, Asian prints, and much more.
Quilters’ Paradise is located in downtown Baldwin City. It is a brick structure of the early 1900’s and was originally a bakery. The original oven doors (imported from Germany) for the bakery are still partially visible in a back wall. The building later housed a dry goods store and eventually became my quilt shop. There are two sizable rooms of fabric and quilting/sewing supplies and a classroom. The building is situated in a row of business buildings and is across the street from the Lumberyard Arts Center and a park with lovely flowers and a fountain. Baldwin City is a quiet rural community, approximately 4,700 people and has a significant population of retired people. The town is home to Baker University, a small private college that borders the downtown district and adds to the eclectic feel of the town, with the college students, visitors on football weekends, and visiting families. Baldwin City hosts the annual Maple Leaf Festival every third weekend of October for two days. During this weekend the town’s population grows from 4,700 to approximately 30,000. The festival includes the longest-running quilt show in Kansas. Each year we display over 100 quilts.
In 2019 we received a state proclamation naming Baldwin City “The Quilt Capital of Kansas.” I am working with the director of our Lumberyard Art Center, Jeannette Blackmar, to promote quilting and expand quilting and sewing as an art form in our community among all generations. We are also partnering with our city library to feature books about quilting that relate to the classes and programs we offer. Quilters’ Paradise and The Lumberyard Arts Center is currently hosting an outdoor community quilting bee in conjunction with the Santa Fe Trail’s 200th anniversary celebration and Baldwin City’s 150th anniversary celebration (delayed one year by the pandemic). The quilt we are quilting will be donated to the Baldwin City Community Emergency Fund to be used as a fundraiser. During the pandemic the Lumberyard Arts Center partnered with Quilters’ Paradise to produce face masks that were distributed free in the community. Our volunteer sewists made over 15,125 masks!!!
We typically offer a beginning quilting class, a Block of the Month (or two) that runs throughout the year, and a variety of one-day classes that are project-based (bags, tuffets, quilts or table runners from specific patterns, etc.) Free motion quilting on a domestic machine, classes that teach new techniques, and a class for those interested in starting Longarm quilting are also rotated through the class schedule. One of our current Block of the Months features a facebook presentation/tutorial by the designer, Liz Granberg-Jerome, for each block. Additionally we offer machine quilting service, both basic and custom. There is a Gammill hand-guided machine and a Statler Stitcher in the shop, and we presently have three operators, Cathy Miles, Laura, and me.