Featured Shop: Ma’s Got’A Notion


One evening, Sue Shaeffer shared with her husband Don an ad for a longarm quilting machine she’d been drooling over. It wasn’t the first time she’d thought about getting one, but after two years of looking, it was time to get serious. Don sensed that and using Sue’s nickname—Ma—declared “Ma’s got a notion!” Little did he realize where that notion would take them, or that “notion” meant something entirely different to a quilter and he’d just provided a name for Sue’s shop.front-of-shop-june-2015

Sue Schaeffer—AKA “Ma”—welcomes you to her shop.

Sue got that longarm, and started hiring herself out to folks who prefer to “quilt by check.” Her quilting studio quickly overflowed with backing fabrics, and so in 2003 she opened her Havana, Illinois shop. In just a few years, she outgrew that space and in 2009 she separated her quilting studio from the retail business, which she moved into the building that previously housed her hot tub and swimming pool business. In 2013, she and Don purchased and restored the adjacent building, creating a door between the two spaces and nearly doubling the retail space.

Ma’s proud of the restoration of her shop buildings—that’s the original tin ceiling above the seasonal quilts.

Built in 1890, the structures include original tin ceilings and hardwood floors, along with exposed brick walls, giving the shop the feel of an old time general store. But instead of feed and seed, Ma’s Got’a Notion is filled with (surprise!) notions, books, patterns, and 4,500 bolts of fabric, including more than 700 backing fabrics, between 106 and 118 inches wide. The shop’s motto is We Got Your Back!

Ma’s has your back…quilt back, that is!
Gotta love the grunge! says Sue. The shop carries 42″ and 108″ wide backing, too.

While backing fabrics at Ma’s come in brights and batiks, the shop’s main focus is 1800s-era reproduction fabrics, with some 1920s and 30s fabrics thrown in for good measure. Flannels and homespuns, tone-on-tones and patriotic fabrics fill the shelves, along with an extensive selection of whites, off-whites, and Sue’s beloved shirtings. Moda favorites include fabrics by Primitive Gatherings, Barbara Brackman, and backing fabrics by Basic Grey. “And I’m just tickled that Jo Morton is with Moda, too” says Sue. She enjoys working with Brian Wheeler, her Moda rep. “We’ve got a good rapport with the folks at Moda. They’re always helpful and know their stuff.”

Samples can be found high and low: “Ma’s is all about eye candy,” says Sue.

Sue is a big fan of samples, which line the walls of her shop. Kits are popular at Ma’s and samples help customers envision the finished projects. Sue can also assure customers that if there’s a sample on the wall, someone on her staff has tested the pattern. (While there are always new samples to see, Sue notes that some samples inspire customers for years. She recently took down a quilt stitched from a pattern she’s been selling steadily for 13 years, only because the pattern became unavailable.)

One of three of the shop’s wool “lean-tos,” filled with mostly hand-dyed wools.
More wool, in “the wool barn…”
The shop carries lots of flannel, for warm and cozy quilts.

Handwork, including wool and embroidery is popular at Ma’s, and the shop typically offers two Block of the Month classes annually. Special events include an annual central Illinois shop hop (going on now! ) and a huge January 1 sale. At the end of October the shop will be celebrating its 13th birthday with 13 days in a row of “doing what teenagers do—some really radical things and strutting our stuff for the whole 13 days.”

This 14-foot wall of notions lives up to the promise in the shop’s name.
More backings—cotton, flannels, and batiks, too.
1930s-era prints brighten a corner of the shop.

In addition to classes held in the shop, Sue teaches longarm quilting at her studio. She’s grateful that her staff, or “shop angels” as she calls them, like piecing because she really loves to quilt. Ma’s Got’A Notion has given Sue the best of both worlds—an opportunity to work quietly and peacefully, quilting in her studio, and a chance to mingle with customers and staff in the shop. “I love, love, love being surrounded by beautiful fabric and fantastic, creative people,” says Sue. “It really doesn’t get better than that.”

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46 thoughts on “Featured Shop: Ma’s Got’A Notion

  1. great article love our shop even though haven’t b
    een there in couple of years looks like a road trip with friends after harvest is over.

    1. Sharon, get the gals together and make a trip! I hear you all are not having a show in 2017…insert my sad face here….I always enjoy doing your show’s and it will be greatly missed on my vending line up next year!

  2. You can spend hours in there..make sure your husband likes to wait..lol. I love this store and don’t get over there as often as I want to. Great job Ma.

    1. We are all about fun….did you ever visit a quilt shop that wasn’t…it is all about the fabric!!!! We quilters always are having a fun time, when we are surrounded with beautiful Moda fabrics I think!!!

  3. I love the variety of fabrics and the staff are pretty special too! A trip to the store gets my creativity going! Plus I like being able to find a notion that helps make a job easier.

    1. Back at ya Miss Frieda….LOL….I know a push over for must haves when I see one….come see me soon….I have a new line of Moda (Oak Haven) it is calling….Frieda, Frieda, Frieda…I tell it to be patient, that you will be here soon!!!!!

  4. We love her here in Central Illinois and if you want some real fun, come and see her as one of our 15 shops in the Central IL Shop Hop on Friday and Saturday October 7&8 and October 14&15 for Quilting Keeps You Grounded. It’s a coffee theme this year.

  5. Great article – I have been to her shop on several occasions, and it is AWESOME. Sue also lets me send her a couple swatches of fabric from a quilt top, and she chooses a wide backing that goes with it. She rips her wide fabrics too, so the customer never looses fabric because of how the fabric is loaded onto the bolt. Very smart.

  6. Wow! You at Moda have good taste featuring my favorite shop Ma’s Got A Notion. Sue and her staff are always helpful. I love going there to see her newest “must haves”. LOL. We are looking forward to this year’s Central Illinois Quilt Shop Hop the second and third weekends in October. (Oct 7, 8, 14 and 15). Ma’s and fourteen other quilt shops never disappoint. Congrats to you and Sue on the fine article.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and all the photos. I wanna go to Ma’s!! I wish Illinois were just a little closer to Texas!

  8. Great, great. Love Hearing and then seeing about shops all over. All the beautiful material. What a neat name, “Ma’s Got A Notion”. Enjoy all your articles.

  9. This shop is my favorite! I live in NC but this shop is in my husband’s former hometown! I feel abused if I only get there once a year! So glad Sue is now on-line so I can get my fix more often! This shop is worth a drive if you get the chance!

      1. Told Mr. Wonderful that I wasn’t going to whip potatoes for Thanksgiving if I didn’t get to go to Ma’s!

  10. Oh my, that was a WONDERFUL story, and what a fabulous store!! I wish I lived up there. My son and daughter-in-law live in Northbrook IL near Chicago. Wondering how close that is. Maybe I could visit the shop on our next trip up to see the new grandbaby. I’m going to check the map now. Thanks for the story! I’m drooling over the shop, and so envious that she is able to work at something she is so passionate about.

    1. If memory serves me, last trip I made to Northbrook IL. it took me around 3 1/2 hours, if that is doable for you….come see me, and introduce yourself to me!!!! We do have some Chicago area customer’s make it a day trip from time to time! Worth the trip!!!!! I got your back…quilt back that is!!!!

  11. Ma (Sue) is a wonderful person!!! Loved your article. Really showed off her shop. It is a great shop for whatever you’re looking for except batiks. But what she has is really done very well!! I had her long arm one of my quilts. She did a really great job. You can’t leave her shop without feeling really happy. You won’t be disappointed with Ma’s got your back shop!!!

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