Quilting headquarters: Though patterns are changing, friends reopen and rename Hettinger quilt shop
HETTINGER — The seamstresses and quilters of southwestern North Dakota rely on the Buffalo Creek Quilt Shop Inc. for their fabrics and sewing notions.
Co-owners Colleen Galbreth and Lou Ann Eaton saw the need for a shop when the area’s only fabric supplier closed in 2012.
Describing themselves as sisters at heart, Galbreth said, “We’ve known each other forever and do quilting together and raised our kids together. Even when the fabric shop closed here, we came down to the empty building and sewed.”
The building sat empty for six months before the women decided to start a fabric business. It opened on April 22, 2013, taking its name from the Buffalo Creek that runs through both of their farms.
“We have an enormous number of talented quilters along the North Dakota, South Dakota border, over to Baker, Mont., and to the north,” Galbreth said. “When the quilt shop closed, we knew it was something everybody would like.”
The women also invested in a long-arm quilting machine that comes with 900 computerized programs. It also can do free-hand quilting, which the shop plans to offer shortly.
“It was something we felt would benefit our store here,” Eaton said.
“It’s a real asset in the area,” Galbreth added. “People don’t have to send quilts out to other places.”
The long-arm quilting is done by employees and master quilters, Barb Verhulst and Rose Kooiman. They also assist customers with purchases and teach classes.
Verhulst worked for the previous owners and ever since the current shop opened.
“I am very, very fortunate,” she said. “I get to go to work and get paid for doing what I love.”
Six classes will be offered this spring. Paper-piecing expert Carolyn Cullinan McCormick from Colorado will teach a class April 25-26. Additional classes are planned this summer for youth.
“We have some really young, talented seamstresses right now who are into quilting,” Eaton said.
“We also have women in their 80s who are still quilting and taking classes too,” Galbreth added.
The co-owners listen to the quilters’ requests when they place orders for fabrics.
“Certain quilters like certain colors or styles of fabric,” she said. “Our Moda Fabrics representative comes out once a month and she will have all new lines coming out for the spring.”
Eaton credits her knowledge of quilting to the 4-H program.
“I dabbled a little bit as a kid in 4-H and my mother sewed all my clothes for school,” she said.
Galbreth learned to sew as a young girl, using her grandmother’s treadle sewing machine. She started quilting about 10 years ago.
Quilting isn’t the same as back in grandma’s day when leftover fabric or discarded clothing was used.
For grandma, quilting was a necessity. Today, quilting is an expression of art, Galbreth said.
“Now your fabrics are of higher quality,” she said. “You can purchase pre-cut yardage and you don’t have to spend the time cutting out the patterns.”
Galbreth said the process is much easier and quilters have the option of either machine quilting or quilting by hand.
New patterns are always coming out, but quilters still like the replica patterns going back to the Civil War or the 1920s. Quilters also will convert memorable T-shirts and blue jeans into quilts, she said.
“It’s a very relaxing hobby and the gratification of sewing is the finished project — the joy of a table runner or wall hanging given as a gift,” Eaton said. “There is a sense of pride in your finished product and the person you give it to loves it as well.”
Buffalo Creek also participates in the Quilts of Valor national program.
People can bring their Quilts of Valor quilts to the shop to be finished, free of charge, on the long-arm machine. The quilts are then given to veterans. To learn about the requirements, call the shop for further information.
Buffalo Creek is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Fridays and after hours as needed.
“If the lights are on, then we’re open, Galbreth said. “If somebody forgets something for a school project and they are running late, we’ll stay open — we aim to please.”