In 2001, Sue Schaeffer became interested in Longarm Quilting machines. She spent time reading articles, perusing ads, listening to anyone who had a story to tell about Longarm quilting, and even going to a few quilt shows, including MQS.
In Sue’s family, she is known as “Ma.” One evening, while sitting around drooling over a Gammill ad, she told her husband Don she was really thinking hard about buying a Longarm. This wasn’t a new conversation at home, as she and her husband had this conversation from time to time. On this particular evening he said, “Ma’s Got’a Notion.” Don, not even knowing what a “notion” meant in his wife’s mind, had come up with a name for her shop that very night. Neither of them had a clue what a journey this “notion” was about to take them on!
While she had test-driven a lot of machines, the Gammill Longarm kept drawing Ma back. In 2003 she took the plunge and bought her first Gammill…and the love affair began. With the total now at three Gammill Longarms, Ma teaches beginners how to do basic Longarm Machine quilting and rents out time on one of the Longarms to those who have studied under her, and she also brings in a national instructor into the studio every year or so. All of the above offer her students and other area Longarmers a chance to hone their skills.
Ma’s specialty is quilting for hire. Lots of people love the piecing process, but prefer to quilt by check — and this is where Ma comes in. She quilts for people throughout Illinois and often receives quilt tops from piecers who live in other states of the Union, too! Ma can’t also help but love the stories that each client tells her about the quilts brought in; some are gifts, some are found when cleaning out a loved one’s home, and some are just because.
Ma’s lifelong love of crafting naturally drew her to quilt shops for the fabrics. She did part‐time and eventually full-time work for two different area quilt shops, before she decided it was time to put all of her hard work and efforts into an adventure of her own making. When Ma decided to purchase a Longarm, she had no intentions of opening anything but a Longarm Studio, but fate had something bigger in store for her.
In October 2003, the first edition of Ma’s Got’a Notion Quilt Shop was opened. With humble beginnings that included a handful of patterns, very basic notions and one line of Civil War Fabrics, Ma’s was open for business. In 2009, the studio and the retail part were separated with the purchase of another building located on Main Street. Finally, there was more space to expand upon the beautiful fabrics, patterns and other quilting must-haves, while a dedicated space for the Longarms and classes remained at the Schrader location. Because Ma just can’t say no to fabric, 2013 brought another growth to the business. At this time, Ma and the hubby purchased and restored the building next door to the Main Street store. By making an opening between the two buildings, the retail space almost doubled.
With all this growth through the years, the inventory greatly expanded as well. Known for the widebackings (well over 1,000 bolts to choose from) plus lots of pre-packaged quilt backs, the store motto is, “At Ma’s, we got your back, Quilt back that is!” Right now, one can gush over 4500 bolts of 42” goods, consisting of 1800’s reproductions, the freshness of 1920/30’s, or the warmth of homespuns and beautiful rich flannels. There is something for most tastes in décor including a whole assortment of solids, tone on tone, dots and stripes…there’s eye candy throughout the entire shop! Also, Ma has a Wool Barn, stuffed full of beautiful rich wool and even a nice assortment of wool on the bolt, as well as wool patterns and samples. Last but not least, one can’t leave without checking out the notions, patterns, books, embroidery block fabrics, and widebackings.
Visiting this early 1900’s retro shop will put anyone in the mood to quilt — just ask any number of the satisfied customers! Our goal is good, friendly, and fun service. Ma’s helpers, who she refers to as the shop angels, keep plenty of wonderful samples made up for Ma to quilt, but she is the first to admit, the angels can piece faster than she can quilt. At Ma’s they call the sample, “Must haves!!!” Ma’s offers full kits of our samples, and the angels and Ma are always on hand to answer piecing and quilting questions.
When you come to Havana, IL, to visit Ma’s shop, plan for the day…because yes, there is that much to see!