Na-La Quilt Shoppe | Design, geometry and challenge Fuels Local Store

Photo courtesy of Nani Kaai.

Quilting can be a matter of willpower, individuality, and focus. Nani Kaai, the owner of Na-La’s Quilt Shoppe in Fountain, Colorado, was drawn to the sense of design and geometry.

“First of all, I missed sewing at school. I don’t like sewing clothes at all. So, I never thought I would be in this business. Kaai lived in Alaska, and one February, when it was around 25 degrees, she was watching a show on PBS and made a quilt. Quilting for her is so different from sewing clothes. “The quilting part is more geometry, angles and measurements. And I kind of fell in love with that.

She made two quilts for her nieces, who at that time (2001) were newborns. At the same time, his sister from Colorado, the mother of said nieces, also became interested in quilting. “We always joked that wouldn’t it be fun one day to just have a little quilt shop where we can just quilt all day? Well, that’s a lot more work than it looks. .

Kaai’s sister is a long arm quilter (she does the finishing touches on the work) while Kaai herself is more of a machine quilter (creating intricate designs in fabrics). “I have a background in packaging, trading, inventory and stuff like that, so that was my motivation. Long-arming was his passion, so it made sense to do it together. I was basically running the store and it worked pretty well for the first few years, then we broke up because she needed to pursue her passion. I was torn because at that point, in my opinion, we were too far along for me to give up and come back. It was like, ‘We’re right here. We’re just at that almost five-year mark where you can say you’ve been a success.

Na-La's Quilt Shoppe Quilt designed by Nani, assembled by Angela Gilpin and Eddie Gray Quilted Laura Farnham
‘Quilt designed by Nani Kaai, pieced together by Angela Gilpin and Eddie Gray, and quilted by Laura Farnham, Whispering Stitch.’ Photo courtesy of Nani Kaai.
Na-La's Quilt Shoppe Colorado Quilt
‘Colorado Quilt hanging in Na-La’s Quilt Shoppe.’ Photo courtesy of Nani Kaai.

Create a new passion

Kaai decided to continue on her own. Kaai says she’s always been good at math as she loves angles and dimensions. “I like to design. Yes, I have the store. Yes, I direct it. But I write a lot of my own models. And I do a lot of my own design.

For Kaai, there are different design challenges in the art of quilting. “First of all, anyone can put any type of fabric together, sew it and quilt it. And that’s design. But the second half of that, which is the hardest part, is to write down the model so that other people can make the same product.

It takes a lot of math because there are seam allowances when you’re quilting, which is different from making clothes.

“Everything has to fit together.” She explains that there are different types of making quilts. “There is a straight line. Basically, you’re just sewing pieces together. There’s paper assembly, which is a bit more angular and straightforward, where you actually draw on paper, and glue fabric onto a paper size, and then stitch it all together.

Kaai has also progressed in the creation of its own models. She says she comes up with her best ideas around 3:30 in the morning. “Then it morphs and changes.” The process begins with drawing the design on grid paper, then she continues to adjust it until she arrives at the final product. She then needs to write the template that outlines how to get each element of that design put into a kit that people can buy.

Design for a wider audience

“I’m just a baby beginner in spreading my models. Most of my models, I make them, I have a sample, I make a kit for it and sell it in my store. She recently partnered with a pattern distribution company and they collaborated on a few patterns. She will create under their name and hopes it will help more of her models find international audiences.

She tries to bring that experience and perspective to come full circle by managing the boutique and interacting with customers as well as the local quilting community. If there’s a brand new quilter and she finds a store she initially likes, her first response might be, “Oh, I’m only going to shop at your store.” And I tell them all the time, “Uh-uh. You can not do this.

Kaai explains that each quilt store has its own personality. “You’re not going to find traditional fabrics in my store because I don’t make traditional fabrics. I do a bit more modern, a bit heavier, color saturated. I do not make old-fashioned reproductions or fabrics. I don’t do civil war or primitive type stuff.

Na-La Quilt Shoppe inside
Photo courtesy of Angela Gilpin.
Na-La's Quilt Shoppe Inside the store
Photo courtesy of Angela Gilpin.

Join the Colorado Springs Quilting Community

As a community, especially in Colorado Springs, Kaai says all quilt and fabric store owners know what each store specializes in. we think they can find it or even call that store and say, ‘Hey, do you have this? I’m sending someone over there. ‘We’re kind of a tight-knit community

Kaai says her store is known as the Luminous Store. “I tend to like very bright and bold colors, high saturation and color intensity. A lot of my fabrics can have a grungy modern street look – it’s not all rabbits. And my quilts for babies, I’m very picky about what I shoot for children’s fabric. She also tries to stay neutral, “I don’t do anything religious.”

Na-La's Quilt Shoppe Beautiful fabrics inside Na-La's Quilt Shoppe
‘Beautiful fabric wall.’ Photo courtesy of Angela Gilpin.
Na-La's Quilt Shoppe Fabric Wall
“Beautiful fabrics on display at the Quilt Shoppe in Na-La.” Photo courtesy of Nani Kaai.
Na-La's Quilt Shoppe Shiny Fabric
‘Clear fabrics at Na-La’s.’ Photo courtesy of Angela Gilpin.

Bright store with unique fabrics

The most common comment she receives from customers who come is, “You have fabric that looks like something no one else has.” And I laugh because we all see the same salespeople. We all see the same fabric. It’s just a matter of taste. »

Kaai advises anyone looking to open a quilt store to stock what they love. “If you buy what you like, you’ll make samples and resell it. If you buy what you don’t like, it will stay on your shelf forever.

She says one store may be good at darker, more primitive colors, and another store may be bright neon colors. “There’s a place for all that fabric, and if a store owner sticks to what they love, then they’ll be successful.”

The Maverick Observer is a free-thinking online publication covering events in our region. We launched in February 2020 to hold our politicians and businesses accountable. We hope to educate, inform, entertain and instill a sense of community in you.

Abdul J. Gaspar