Louann Gram uses a long arm machine to stitch the shimmer pattern to its backing, which is always cotton. Gram said that customers who buy all fabrics from her qualify for a discount on both materials and use of the machine. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News
Louann Gram uses a long arm machine to stitch the shimmer pattern to its backing, which is always cotton. Gram said that customers who buy all fabrics from her qualify for a discount on both materials and use of the machine. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Archived Story

Louann Gram makes quilting a friendly addiction

Published 10:37am Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CAPRON—Louann Gram finds comfort in quilting, especially lately as her workload has increased. She’s owned and operated Quilters ‘N’ Friends in Capron for nearly six years. That’s a full-service shop full of colorful bolts of fabric, patterns, books and even a long-arm to bind the quilts to the cotton backing.

“Busy, busy,” said Gram about her life lately. “I’m keeping up with new trends.”

Business is coming along so well that she’s doing research to expand.

“It’ll be nice if we can. We’ve outgrown the classroom,” she said.

Nothing would be done until enough money is accumulated for any construction. Going into debt would be “too risky,” she added.

But Gram has no hesitation taking chances when it comes to what can be done with quilt patterns and colors.

Her enthusiasm for the craft is evident as she talks about quilts.

“I’m very creative,” she said. “My imagination can go wild with colors. I’m blessed with that.”

A recent example is taking a student’s craft using old pillowcases, and turning it into a wallhanging.

Gram’s also more than willing to gamble on her customers, especially the new ones.

“Lots of women don’t know how to sew or have never applied it to quilting,” said she.

Either way, Gram patiently holds the novices’ hands. She recognizes that to start with a group of experienced quilters can be intimidating.

“Some students feel a little embarrassed,” she said. “We offer classes one-on-one or in groups of three. I don’t talk down, but with the students.

“It’s very much hands-on. When your quilt is binded, then it’s done.

“We don’t give up.”

The ‘we’ to whom she refers are her daughter and husband, Robyn and Dean Gram, who are also proficient in quilting. Dean, a retired submariner, is one of five or six men that Gram has gotten interested in the craft.

Another gentleman who quilts is Pat Callahan. He and his wife, Kay, are two of Gram’s “most wonderful customers.”

Pat has been interested in the embroidery machine and wants to use it to create gifts — embroidered shirts and the like — for his brothers who golf.

“She’s a whizz for all that,” Kay Callahan said about Gram’s skill with embroidery.

Kay Callahan could not say enough good things about her teacher.

“Our friendship has grown through being students,” she said. “She’s the absolute instigator. She’s got the patience of Job. She taught me almost everything I know.”

Kay Callahan describes herself as “an experienced beginner,” and has been doing the craft for four or five years.

“[Gram] was my beginning teacher. A real mentor, that’s what she’s been. A great person to deal with. She really is,” said Kay Callahan.

She also affirmed Gram’s comment about the talent with fabrics.

“She can put colors together as well as anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Kay Callahan also said quilting for her, at least, is “a lifetime commitment. It’s addictive.”

To cope with it, she belongs to a guild in Emporia where the couple lives, and also in Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

Another student is Linda Cooke, a recent student who’s brought some familiarity to quilting.

“I’m from Alabama, and my family did it then. I just decided a couple of months ago to look into it and take it back up,” said Cooke. “I’ve got the bug.”

She praised Gram and the quilting shop as “a little jewel nestled in the county.”

Another group of novices that Gram wants to bring into the quilting fold is children.

She’s planning a workshop for them in late June. The youngsters will learn to make pillowcase covers, placemats and potholders, perhaps even how to make little dresses for girls, “depending on how much they know.”

They’ll have pride of ownership in what they make, said Gram, and that will give them an incentive to learn more.

“I think it’ll be fun.”

Located at 17293 Pinopolis Rd., Capron. Quilters ‘N’ Friends is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. Call 434-658-4564, email quilters287@aol.com, or visit the Facebook page for more information.

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