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We Quilt This City

Color, Cloth and Creativity Combine—It’s All Under One Roof at The Quilter’s Studio

Article by Nicole Browning

Photography by Matthew J Capps

Originally published in Loveland Lifestyle

“Quilting is a community activity—it’s an endeavor that brings people together.” Karen Breed, owner of The Quilter’s Studio of Loveland, cannot emphasize this point enough. And when you walk through the doors of her shop, the community of quilting immediately wraps you up in a warm, cozy hug (much like, well, a quilt). Not only will an associate greet you with a smile and offer assistance at the door, but everywhere you look there seems to be someone engrossed in conversation, discussing tips and tricks, material options, someone’s latest project, and what could be most helpful for them. If you happen to wander back into the workroom—where you’ll find five longarm machines all happily humming away—quilters are busy at work and cheerfully chatting, enjoying their craft and the company they keep. Karen’s store is incredible—walls are lined with quilts made to show off the bright and intricate patterns. Everywhere you look there’s a smiling face. 

From baby patterns to screenprints, The Quilter’s Studio has a wide selection, but what really stands out is their beautiful variety of batik fabric. “Batik is created using a different kind of cotton. It’s a lot more densely woven, and it doesn’t unravel easily—a really great thing for quilting since you handle the fabric a lot during the process,” Karen explains of this unique style of cloth she’s come to be known for. Not only is it practical, but through a series of dyes and resists, wax and salts and drying in the sun, these batik fabrics boast beautiful, unique patterns that give quilts a whole new dimension.

But that’s not the only way her shop is distinctive. “Our tagline from the very beginning was ‘for the artist in you,’” Karen explains of her studio. “So we’re very art-focused ... a contemporary type of quilting as opposed to traditional. The unique thing about the shop is we don’t have a lot of kits—here, we use quilts to inspire, and we have a massive selection that allows people to make their own quilt.” So instead of buying a prepackaged kit with pre-determined fabrics and exact instructions, you’re free to browse and brainstorm and create a quilting pattern of your own. 

While quilting is an old art form heavily steeped in tradition, you won’t find any stagnant stereotypes in this shop. “There was a stigma way back when that you did everything by hand,” Karen explains. “But it’s become totally acceptable to do things by machine. Quilting started out as something very utilitarian—you put it on your bed to stay warm. What it evolved into is more of an art form, you put it on the wall … it’s a way to give a very personal gift. ”

And as technologies have evolved, so has quilting. But the structure of quilt-making has stayed the same, and it all starts with the quilt top, or the vibrantly designed layer of a quilt that gets displayed. Small pieces of fabric are sewn together to create units, which when stitched together in patterns create rows, and thus the quilter’s own distinctive design. Once that top is finished, it’s time to get to quilting …

The act of quilting itself is joining together layers of fabric to create one complete piece. At The Quilter’s Studio, there’s a whole workshop dedicated to the act of quilting, and the space contains some of the most amazing technology in the industry. Karen has installed the longarm quilting machines and programmed them through a computer that’s able to quilt intricate and beautiful designs right into your piece. “There’s a program on the computer attached to the machines, and customers pick what pattern they want—they tell the machine where it is on the quilt top, how big the quilt is, then the computer puts the pattern onto the quilt and stitches it in rows.” These impressive machines measure 12 feet long, with one very special one in the back coming in at a full 14 feet. They hum away as they fly across these quilt tops, stitching in flowers or geometric patterns in colorful thread to better display the beautiful patterns they create. 

The store hasn’t always had as much space as it currently boasts, though. In May of 2020, the Quilter’s Studio underwent a major face-lift when Karen decided to build an addition onto her existing shop, expanding their workroom and creating a brand-new classroom. Prior to this expansion, the studio could only host about 9 or 10 people per class, and things were crowded. Rolling dividers were used to block off working areas, whereas now there’s a gorgeous, up-to-date classroom complete with plenty of usable space, outlets in the floor, and boards to display quilted artwork on the walls—perfect for up to 15 students. Not only that, it allowed Karen to invest in that 14-foot longarm, while also creating a storeroom for batting (the material that goes between the quilt-top and the backing), creating space for the backing fabric to move into the workshop space. Customers can now better utilize the workshop, whether choosing time to rent the longarm machines or having one of the workshop employees custom quilt it for them.

From beginner quilting courses or Studio clubs to popping in for supplies or simply getting another eye on a current project, Karen’s new space allows quilters to share in the rich culture of an art they love. “People like to see quilting passed down, so we offer mother-daughter or grandmother-granddaughter classes to help the next generation get into it. Quilting is a unique hobby that people like to enjoy together.” What’s more, Karen has crafted the perfect space for artists to do just that. | 535 W. Loveland Ave, Loveland |  513.683.3666

The appeal of quilting is it’s right and left brain together. Quilting is extremely precise but extremely creative, so it gives you both.