About Little Cottage Quilt Shop

DSC_0529

Well, here I am !!!   WOW !!   Never in my wildest dreams, a year or so ago, would I ever have thought I would be here today, doing what I’m doing.  It’s been a long and bumpy journey over the past year. But a thrilling adventure.

I have always sewn, A LOT, from the time I was very young. Owning a fabric store has been a dream for me for over 35 years. I got very close once, but it never came to fruition. Then, in early 2013, it sort of fell in my lap, kind of like jumping onto a freight train as it goes by !! Carpe Diem and all, you know.

So, I am learning more than I ever knew there was to know about the fabric store business. It’s sew much fun, (pun intended) it really is, it’s exciting and it’s terrifying all at the same time. Every day is a new challenge and a new learning experience. Every day another first. Every day I feel so fortunate to be able to realize my dream in real life. (I pinch myself a lot)

We spend several years looking for our “dream” place to retire to, and finally settled on Bandera County, in the Texas Hill Country. We had a specific type of property in mind and thought that we would build a new campground with “big rigs” in mind. (that’s a whole other story for another post) When we finally found the right property, it came with an unexpected bonus, the wonderful little town of Medina. We feel like we hit the jack pot, and we did. The community has been so loving, welcoming and supportive of us, even before we opened the Quilt/Fabric shop. Thanks you Medina for all of it.

Stay with me as I fill up this blog with pictures, history, ideas and thoughts. Maybe even a pattern or two if I can figure that out. LOL  Check out the calendar for events and schedules. Watch the progress of the new classroom. See all the beautiful new fabric collections that arrive every week. Admire the projects of those who bring their “show & tell” into the shop to share with us.  Stay tuned…………………….:)

Donette

Once upon a time………….

Once upon a time, in the wonderful little historic town of Medina,  in the great state of Texas,  there was a little quilt shop,  named Medina Domestic Arts Studio.  I drove back and forth past it for over a year.   I wondered what it could be.   It didn’t look like a quilt shop.   Then one day I decided to stop in and solve the mystery.   What a discovery it was ! 🙂  It was a sweet little quilt shop, friendly and welcoming, filled with glorious fabrics !

Then suddenly one day the lease was up on the space and it was going to close.   The very large quilting community in the area was in mourning !!   We would be loosing our quilt shop.

Christer and I had plans to build a camp ground catering to big rigs.   We had the perfect spot on our little ranch to build it. It was going to be our retirement project.  Then, the need for a quilt shop for the women of our community became a higher priority.   We talked and decided that we would approach Michele (the owner of Medina Domestic Arts Studio) and see how she would feel about selling her remaining stock and we would open a new quilt shop.   After she thought about it for a couple of weeks,  she decided to take us up on our offer and Little Cottage Quilt Shop was conceived.

Owning a fabric shop has always been a dream of mine.   It almost happened about 20 plus years ago, but it wasn’t meant to be then.   It’s a good fit for us.   If you have been reading the Story of Me, you already know that sewing and fabric have been a huge part of my life since I was very, very young.   And if I had my choice, a fabric shop wins hands down over a campground !

And So It Begins………….

Signed, sealed, delivered, it was ours.  Now the work could begin.  And it did with great vigor !!

IMG_0154

At first, it was a bit intimidating.  Where to start.  The house was old and run down and in need of much repair.  We knew we wanted to put in new windows and a new front door.  New roofing was pretty obvious to anyone.  And the old siding was a no brain er too.  But as it would turn out, much much more than we ever expected was needed to make the structure safe.

Now, I have to explain a few things here;

Christer and I have spend our whole life together rebuilding, remolding and adding onto houses.  We have done it in every house we have lived in over the past 42 years, as well as one house we rented and a few houses for other people too.  We have had lots of experience with all kinds of different structures.  We have accumulate the skills and tools over the years to do this job.  We knew we would have to do some serious work on the Cottage, but it really exceeded our expectations.  The deterioration damage the Cottage sustained over the decades, was, shall we say, covered up instead of repaired.  So the farther we went, the worse it got.  There was no way to see that kind of damage with an inspection.

In order to make this little old house into a retail space, it had to be opened up and walls removed.  Piece of cake for us…….right ??  We dove in.  The nasty old shag carpets were ripped out.  The  walls opened up for inspection, wiring located and checked, the old kitchen removed.   Trips to the dump became at least a weekly occurrence.  Pulling the 1970’s era paneling off the living room walls revealed decades of rodent poop between the 2 X 4s at least 2 feet deep !  We found old wiring, that should have burned the house down years ago, in the walls and attic.   And then there were the insects!!  [still give me the creeps when I think about it]  Every invasive insect know to the area were in the walls our little Cottage.   There were days of despair thinking we could never accomplish our goal.   The more we did, the more we found that had to be done.  Time was marching on and our goal of opening right after Labor Day became a thing of the past.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom.  We found lots of fun and exciting things along the way.  It became like an “archeological dig”.  We discovered that the house was not built in the 1950’s as the MLS listing claimed.  To the best of our knowledge so far, it was built in the early 1920’s !  We had a real piece of Medina history.  We found newspapers rolled up and stuffed in the cracks between the exterior boards for insulation, dating back to the 20’s.  Then, over that rolled up newspaper in the cracks, they glued pieces of old clothing.  (shirt sleeves and parts of old jeans).  Then wall paper over that.  We found an attic entrance so we could check the roof structure and see where the bearing walls were.  That was our first real exciting discovery.  The 8 foot ceilings through out the house, with the exception of one room, were false ceilings added probably in the 50’s or 60’s.  We had 9 1/2 foot ceilings !!!  We were so excited.   We had found the original bead board ceilings !!  It was looking better and better all the time.

We would have people stop in every day to see what we were doing.  Both locals and tourists alike.   Most people would say to us, “wouldn’t it just be easier to tear it all down and start over?”   Absolutely it would be easier !  But we would be destroying a piece of Medina history.   We also had people come by to thank us for saving and fixing their grandma’s or uncle’s house.  Lots of locals have stories to tell and strong ties to this little house.  We felt like we owed it to the community to restore as much as we could of the original structure.

And So It Begins – Part 2

It was a filthy job.  We were in the worst time of the year to be working out in the summer  heat doing hard physical work.  But there wasn’t really much of a choice, we had to get it done.  Our kids came to help us when they could.  (2 of our kids and their families live in San Antonio)  And we hired a man to help us wade through the demolition and reconstruction.  But it was, without a doubt, very hard physical work in the sultry heat of the summer.

We decided that all the wiring in this little old house was beyond dangerous and needed to be replaced right back to the power pole.  The power company decided that we needed a new power pole too.  The service was only 100 amp coming in and we needed 200 amp for all the modern electronics and equipment we would eventually have, including air conditioning !!   This little old house did not have any air conditioning, nor heating systems for that matter, in it.  There is an original fire place that was a heat source originally, I’m sure.  And it looks like there was maybe a wood cook stove in the kitchen at one time.  We also found the connections for propane heaters in a couple of rooms and pipe under the house that had been cut off.  But the fireplace isn’t in working order now, the wood stove is gone and the old propane heaters have long since been taken out.

Back to the electrical,  we found old knob and tube wiring in the attic.  We found arced and burned wires circa 1950-ish.   It’s amazing that this little old house didn’t burn down years ago.  We discovered incorrectly installed fixtures and overloaded circuits.  Dangers every where in the house.  We also needed to remove the wall that the breaker box was in.  So all the electrical, EVERYTHING was removed for a fresh start right from the power pole on.

It was a similar story with the plumbing.  So everything came out and we started back at the septic line with new lines and parts.  In that process we discovered that the entire back end of the cottage was completely rotted out and falling down.  Three different kinds of ants inhabited the walls.  Huge ant nests, eggs and all !! It was enough to give even the toughest guy the creeps !!   I felt like I had ants crawling on me for a week.

At this point, we realized that we would be rebuilding most of the cottage from the ground up.  There seems to be a wet weather creek that ran directly down the center of the house and out the north east corner.  Rendering the “foundation” useless.  [During that time period, setting cedar stumps on the ground and building on that was an accepted building method.]  Cedar stumps are rot and bug resistant.  But this little old house has been standing here for almost 100 years with water flowing around those stumps and keeping them wet.   It was amazing that it was still standing.  Back to the drawing board, we gotta do something different here. 🙁

Our solution was concrete and more concrete.  We built a concrete dam, now under the front porch, to push the water around the house, not under it.  Then pour concrete footers under the perimeter of the house to support it and build from there.  We had already put concrete blocks and treated lumber under the center of the structure.  The more we did, the deeper we got into the massive repairs and rebuild.  The more we saw,  the more depressing it got.  But by now we’re too far into the project to stop.  The only way out is straight through, so we kept at it.  Seven days a weeks, 14 to 16 hours a day.  Keep your eye on the prize.

Part 5

After the initial shock and realization that we were going to have to rebuild almost the entire Cottage, we set out to formulate a plan.  A lot of arguing and bouncing back & forth took place before we settled on what to do.  Our open day just kept slipping farther and farther toward the end of the year.  It was hard to keep a positive outlook when all around us was a massive outlay of dollars and no income to balance it.

I’ve always been an optimist and I don’t stay down for very long.  So it was time to ramp it up another notch.

We knew from the beginning that the roof had to be replaced.  We now knew that  3/4s  of this little old house was going to have to be torn down and rebuilt.  So as long as that was happening, we might as well square up the structure and unify the roof.  More concrete.  Completely new roof structure now.

We built trusses to span the entire width of the building.  Poured the new concrete footers.  And started building new from the ground up, around the existing structure.  Not the easiest of construction methods.  In hind sight, it might have been easier to just tear the back  3/4s  of the house off and then start the construction.  But the problem was, we didn’t decide to do that until too late in the game.  We had already done most of the rebuilding of the front part of the house and needed to protect what we had already accomplished.  Oh well, the best laid plans and all…..you know how that goes.

This picture shows the new footers around the old house ready for the new structure.  Once the walls were constructed and sheeted, we started tearing down parts of the old house.

IMG_1012

The north side of the back 3/4s was a bit different story.  You can see from the old roof, that the pitch and ridge line were different and it had to be almost completely taken down before we could start the new roof.  It was a surreal experience to see this little old house like this.  We had to be careful where and what we took out to make sure the entire building didn’t collapse on us and itself.  A few very intense days.  And of course at the most vulnerable point, it poured rain !  I guess you take the rain when you can get it, regardless of the situation.  We were grateful for the rain, but boy did it reek havoc with our project.

IMG_1058

The front part of the house looked like the original house, built in the early 1920s.  Subsequent additions were added over the years, resulting in a “patch work” kind of construction.  The original house, the front part, was much more stable and secure with a solid floor.  The “add-ons” weren’t as good.  All of the those floors and joists needed to be replaced.  The wet weather creek could have been responsible for a lot of that damage.  That allowed us to get under the house and stabilize the center of the floor.    This part of the floor was so rotten, that I pulled most of it up with my gloved hands, without much effort 🙁

IMG_0263

As I explained in My Story, my husband, Christer, is an engineer.  That has come in handy on many an occasion.  As we have gutted, rebuilt, remodeled and built new on many houses.  With just the 2 of us doing the work most of the time, knowing how to “engineer” the job for less brute strength, I’m sure is why we are still able to do this today.

Once a sufficient amount of demolition was done, we could start putting up the trusses.  Christer devised and ingenious way of sliding the trusses up the ladders a few rungs at a time.  I was at one ladder and he at the other until it got to the top.  Then I climbed up the ladder and onto the remaining old roof section to balance and pull them over onto the new walls for setting, while he pushed from the bottom.  It worked very slick.  In one long day, the 2 of us pulled up all 10 trusses to the roof and set 7 of them in place ready for sheeting.  Not bad for a couple in our 60’s

IMG_0284

Once the roof was on and secured and water proofed, we went back to the main demolition of the remaining back  3/4s  of the old house.  Then we could put in the new sub-floor insulate, build the new bathroom, do the new plumbing, run all the new electrical and hope to be open before the holidays !!

Little Cottage Quilt Shop – Part 6

Day after day the work droned on and on.  It seemed like it would never end.  I was so anxious to get started on the interior reconstruction and be done with the demolition.  I also had to start thinking about getting the systems set up for the shop and start ordering fabrics to stock for our opening.  I had to split myself between the 2 jobs.  Every other day I would switch from work on the old house, to computer work and shop business.

When we started the reconstruction, I realized that the old original fireplace needed to have some sort of face.  What ever was there originally was long gone, all except for the bricks.  So I started looking for an antique fireplace “face” to put on the wall around the brick.  I was beginning to think that it was an impossible task.

My youngest daughter, who is an engineer and a whiz at computer work, had flown in to help me establish an inventory system.   We were tied to the computer from 6:30 am to 11:ish pm working on the inventory.  It was grueling, but we only had a few days to accomplish much work.    However, we decided that we had earned a short field trip to some antique shops to continue the search for the fireplace face.  We both love to browse for antiques and such.  It was a Monday, and we didn’t know that the antique mall we planned to go to was closed. 🙁   We pulled in and parked anyway, because we saw people going in and out.  They told us that Mondays were their “clean up” days and they were closed.  I told the lady I talked to what I was looking for and ask her if  she knew if there were any in the building.  She graciously told us there was one and she would show it to us.  I was very grateful.  I was so busy I didn’t have time to waste coming back if it wasn’t what I needed.  She led us through a maze of pathways through the mall, down a ramp and around a corner, and there she was, in all her sad glory !!!

IMG_1059

She was perfect !!!  Just what I was looking for, and the size would work too.  We thanked the kind woman for allowing us to look and told her we would be back the next day to pick it up.  We were so excited !!!!  I had almost given up on finding one and was starting to think about less desirable alternatives.

She needed a lot of TLC and I knew just what I had to do.  I made a work station inside the shop on saw horses and a sheet of OSB.  I gathered all my tools and equipment.  Then I started the long and tedious process of stripping  12 to 14 layers of paint off her tired face.  As the layers came off, her history was revealed.  Just about every color in the rainbow was uncovered,  along with years of use and abuse.  She would need many repairs and some modification to fit our original little fireplace.

IMG_0311

As the layers of paint came off, I was  discovering detailing that was so completely covered with all the years of paint, you couldn’t see it.  Beautiful filigree and delicate applique work came to the surface.  I was delighted with my find and couldn’t wait to get it done and installed.  (But that would proved to be a long time off).  I laboriously labored on the project almost everyday for 5 weeks.  It was to fragile to use power tools on.  So I had to be inventive with all kind of tools and used just about any thing I could find.  The head of a big nail was the perfect size to fit in the fluting of the columns.  Dental picks were an indispensable tool for getting around all the fine detailing.  Plastic & metal putty knives of all sizes scraped off the chemically soften paint, grout brushes helped in the dental moldings.  Some of the layers required 4 and 5 re-applications of the stripper before they would finally release.  It was such a nasty, messy job, but, in the long run, worth every minute I spent.

Once all the paint was removed, the repair work began.  Holes to fill, plugs to sculpt and joints to re-glue, and missing filigree to locate or reproduce.  I spent  2 1/2  full days hand sanding the newly exposed bare wood to a satiny smooth surface.  It was beautiful !!!  But we weren’t quite ready to install her yet.  I had to wait a few more weeks to see her in place and modified to fit our fireplace.  But what an addition to our little cottage.  Things were finally  starting to take shape.

IMG_1166

At some point in time, someone had built a thick second brick face in front of the original.  I took a sledge hammer to that on.  But I salvaged and cleaned the bricks.  I used some of them to make a “floor” for the fire box and hearth.  The newly modified and smoothly sanded face was attached to the wall and ready for paint.  At one point I considered just sealing the bare wood and leaving it that way.  But as you can see, there were too many different woods used and the repaired damage was such that it would have never looked right.  I think she was made for paint originally.  So I started putting paint back on her.  First the primer, 2 coats, then the semi-gloss enamel.  It still needs one more coat of enamel before it is complete.  Then a dear friend here in Medina is going to gold leaf all the detailing on the top part around the little mirror.  Dressing her up, back to her original glory.  I’m sure she is very happy in her new home.  She gets lots of compliments and admiring attention.   We are very glad to have her be part of the  Little Cottage Quilt Shop.

One comment to About Little Cottage Quilt Shop

  • Barbara Edrington  says:

    best ever. The treatment in the shop is superb. Best instructions and warm friendly atmosphere anywhere

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>