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THE TRAVELING QUILTER: A Michigan Quilt Shop
By Christina Holland
570 South Main Street
Frankenmuth, Michigan 48734
Fax: (517) 652-6832
While visiting my mother in Michigan this week, my husband and I found ourselves in the small, but renowned, town of Frankenmuth. Frankenmuth dates from 1845, when a band of fifteen Lutheran missionaries left their native Germany to bring Christianity to Michigan's Chippewa Indians. Since that time, the town has preserved and expanded upon their Bavarian origin, with German restaurants (and world famous fried chicken, for whatever reason) and a main street full of cheese, fudge, doll-making, woodcarving, candy, and clothing shops. People apparently come from all over - I've been three times now and it's always a hopping place.
Stopping in at the Frankenmuth Woolen Mill and Sweater Shop was a must. The mill was first built in 1894, when sheepherding became important in the area. During World War I, they made 66,000 pairs of woolen socks for the soldiers, under a government contract. Although it was not running on our visit, the mill itself is still operational, and you can watch the process through a large window in the back of the store.
The store is divided into two sections: the sweater shop, and the quilt shop. The sweater shop has some gorgeous clothing - not only sweaters but shirts and vests. However, like most of the items for sale on Frankenmuth's main street, they are expensive. I saw one vest I loved, but I could not see paying $60 for a vest. Maybe it's just me, though.
The quilt store is small, but also worth a visit. Most interesting are the custom made comforters, filled with wool from the mill. The comforters are hand tied "according to Bavarian Tradition". I picked up a pricing guide, and it appears that a king size comforter, including the wool, lining, and construction, costs $168, plus the cost of the fabric used in the covering. Smaller quilts are lower in price, down to $32 for a cradle quilt (36"x45").
The fabric selection was good but not impressive. Most of the small room was filled with a rack for comforter construction, leaving only the wall space for fabric bolts. Prices ranged from $6.50 to at least $9 per yard. The one exception was a piece of fabric with a Noah's Ark theme. I had recently purchased some of that fabric at JoAnn's for about $4/yd., and it was marked at $2/yd. at the Frankenmuth Woolen Mill. However, there was less than a yard of it available, so apparently this was simply a remnant sale.
If you have reason to travel to Michigan, definitely try to work Frankenmuth into your schedule. It's about 15 miles outside of Saginaw, Michigan, and a couple of hours drive from Detroit. The somewhat campy German main street is great for window shopping and a good source for chocolate and cheese (and even chocolate cheese) to take home. Do visit the Frankenmuth Woolen Mill, too. You may or may not decide to buy anything, but it's bright and cheery and full of pretty and interesting things. Auf wiedersehen!
TVQ * Planet Patchwork