The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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In the Spotlight

March 4, 2011

‘It’s therapeutic’

Geistown woman turns quilting hobby into business

JOHNSTOWN — Barb Schrader loves to make quilts, and she believes that once you start there is no stopping.

“There’s just something about buying fabrics. I don’t know, I can’t quite put my finger on it,” she said.

Schrader, 52, of Geistown, said she became interested in quilting back in the early ’90s and bought a book on the topic for inspiration. From there, she began buying more and more types of fabrics and her quilting hobby was born.

Over the years, Schrader’s interest in quilting grew, and she got her niece and granddaughter involved, who in turn got some of their friends hooked on quilting.

“I had about 10 kids and adults who were coming to my home to sew,” she said.

Many of the quilts were entered into local fair competitions and earned blue ribbons.

But it was becoming harder and harder to purchase fabrics locally, so Schrader decided that she wanted to open her own shop in Johnstown. In 2009, she began operating Schrader’s Fabrics by Barb at Schrader’s Florist & Greenhouse, a Bedford Street business owned by her and her husband, Bill.

“We used some of the storage space we had for the shop,” she said.

The fabric shop is chock-full of a variety of fabrics from Minky, flannel and cotton with just about every pattern and color imaginable that she sells at a base price of $8.60 a yard.

“Then, in the fall of 2009, I started to offer classes because we displayed some of the kids’ quilts at Richland Community Days, and people were showing a lot of interest,” Schrader said.

“I had a lot of women tell me that they used to sew clothes when they were young, so they had the background and it became a welcomed hobby and it’s not hard once you’re shown how to do it.”

The shop has five sewing machines that are used for classes.

There are between 15 and 20 junior students ranging in ages from 5 to 15, and more than 100 adults who have taken classes over the past two years.

Classes are held from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and occasionally on Friday. Cost is $5 per class.

“You also can come in during regular business hours and work on your project,” Schrader said.

There are quilts for sale in the store and by special request Schrader will custom make a quilt for people who are interested in going that route.

She added that the kids really enjoy quilting and take great pride in their work.

“They love putting the time into it and seeing a beautiful, completed quilt,” Schrader said.

“Many of the kids make a quilt for their family as a gift and it’s hard to give away something that you’ve put your heart and energy into.”

It’s also a good learning experience for the youngsters, because once they start a project they have to work to finish it.

“It gives them a sense of accomplishment, and they are learning something that they’ll carry with them throughout their life,” Schrader said.

In addition, Schrader said she wants the shop and her classes to have a family atmosphere, so when the students come in they are at ease.

“It’s therapeutic and relaxing to sew,” she said.

“Plus, I don’t think there is anything better than giving someone something homemade and the quilts just keep on giving. That right there is what it is all about.”

For more information on classes or to see some of the quilts, go to or call 266-3113.

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