New Gypsum shop is bridging the Eagle Valley’s fabric desert
GYPSUM — As any local quilter, sewer or crafter can attest, the Eagle Valley is a fabric desert.
Or rather, was a fabric desert until the recent opening of Motley Fabric in Gypsum.
“This is the only dedicated quilt/fabric shop of its kind along the I-70 corridor between the Front Range and Grand Junction,” said Motley Fabric owner Danise Cardona. “We are definitely living in a fabric desert — especially since the only other shop in Glenwood Springs closed its doors earlier this year.”
From a modest storefront located along Park Street in Gypsum, Cardona sells more than 150 fabrics, including high quality quilting materials and less expensive crafting fabric. She also sells an array of sewing supplies such as scissors, zippers, buttons and notions along with a library of how-to books. But in reality, her show is as expansive as the World Wide Web.
“Through my sources, I will order in any fabric I can get a hold of,” she noted. The advantage of her placing an order versus a customer making a purchase on his or her own off the internet can be summed up in one word — feel. At the shop, the customer can check out what’s on the shelf to get a better idea of a company’s product. He or she can actually feel the fabric and see the colors. In the end, purchasing fabric is a very tactile experience and relying on photos from a web page isn’t an ideal shopping experience.
While she is now the proprietor of a fabric business, Cardona describes herself as a baby quilter.
“Two years ago, my daughter got a little sewing machine for Christmas,” she explained.
While her daughter was initially thrilled with the gift, she didn’t know how to use it and Cardona herself had limited sewing skills. She decided to enroll in a sewing class and she planned to use her daughter’s machine. Her husband ultimately intervened and purchased her an adult machine.
Those two events propelled Cardona — who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University at Fullerton — to see a big opportunity. She recognized that the valley needed a fabric resource and that sewing machine ownership was a deterrent to many would-be quilters, crafters and the like.
“Motley Fabric aims to be a friendly, local resource for quilters and other people who have sewing needs in the high country and eventually serve as a hub for the mountain crafting community,” she said. “One unique service is the shop’s $20-a-day sewing machine rental which is great for emergencies or for tourists who feel inspired by their time visiting our mountains and rivers.”
What’s in a name
Cardona’s business background also asserted itself when it came time to christen her new business. Motley Fabric is a decidedly appropriate moniker.
The word “motley” is often paired with the word “fool” and it refers to the costuming of historic court jesters. Jesters would wear mismatched patterns as work apparel and the word for this style is motley.
The dictionary definition of motley is “incongruously varied in appearance of character.” Kind of what various bolts of fabric look like on a store shelf.
“To me, it was fun and it had a double meaning,” Cardona said.
Speaking of fun, in the past, sewing was a family chore. These days it is more of a recreational experience. Cardona wants to help locals discover how fun it is to sew and how rewarding it is to create something totally unique.
“My job is to help people bring their ideas to life whether it’s choosing fabrics for a special quilt, creating a gift for someone, decorating their home or making a fashion statement,” she said. “Making something yourself instead of picking something up at a big box store is so meaningful and personal; I feel privileged to be a part of it and hope that shows in the way I interact with each customer.”
Motley Fabric will be hosting project classes and will be offering special project bundles.
Cardona is already collecting suggestions for workshop projects which include everything from grocery bags to pajama pants to lawn flags. She plans to introduce a Block of the Month subscription program where customers will receive a monthly package that includes the fabric and materials for one quilt block. A six-month subscription would be enough for a wall hanging, a nine-month subscription would be enough for a throw blanket and a 12 subscription would produce an actual quilt.
With her storefront opening, Cardona has been busy introducing her store to the community with special booths at Eagle Flight Days, Gypsum Daze and local farmers markets. She said the community response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“People seem really excited about having this resource available and I want to serve the community,” she said.