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Chugwater is covered in fabric

Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18th, 2014

Photo/Whitney Helm Standing in front their collection of fabric. From left: Mary Ann Stinnette, Bryn Stinnette and Betty Coulter.

A new family-owned business opened its doors in Chugwater last weekend.  Variety Artisans Fabric and Gifts specializes in quilting fabric but  also carries Wyoming-made products and a few custom items.

Three years ago, Betty Coulter convinced her daughter, Mary Ann Stinnette, to attend a quilt show in Cheyenne. Stinnette had never sewn before, while Coulter had been sewing for most her life, participating in 4-H and working as a seamstress before owning a rock shop and retiring.

While at the show, both ladies stopped at the Project Linus booth, an organization that donates blankets to critically ill children, which had kits for volunteers to take home and sew parts of a quilt then return it to the group to be completed.

“She [Coulter] took a few, and I said ‘this might be a good way for me to start sewing’ and I took a few. Since then, I haven’t stopped sewing,” said Stinnette.

Months later Stinnette  got an offer  she couldn’t refuse; a woman in Chugwater  who  planned to open a fabric store but  couldn’t due to illness. She asked Stinnette if she wanted to buy all her fabric.

“My husband thought I was crazy. He said ‘you’re just starting to sew and you want to buy all this fabric?... I said ‘I can’t pass it up’,” said Stinnette.

Stinnette brought all 600 bolts of fabric and stored them in her spare bedroom but continued to order different kinds of fabric online; she said, eventually the fabric outgrew her house.  At that time, Coulter moved from Wheatland to Chugwater, making it easier for she and her daughter  to work on quilting projects together.

With fabric taking over her house, Stinnette said they just decided to open a store, something she had joked about for years. After waiting for  her current location to become available, they moved all the fabric to 307 Third St. and set up shop.

Stinnette said it has been a learning process to open the store, including what kind of fabric to buy.

“We knew there was a difference in the quality of the fabrics, but we figured Wal-Mart is cheap, let’s use that,” said Stinnette.  “But if you’re making a quilt and you want it as an heirloom, you don’t want to use Wal-Mart or JoAnn’s fabric, because you want it last long … the quilt-quality fabric has a better weave to it.”

For the complete article see the 06-18-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 06-18-2014 paper.

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