Ma’s Got’a Notion in Havana is our regional winner for Illinois!
A lifelong lover of crafts became a longarmer, and then that longarmer became a shop owner! Read on to learn more.
Please tell us your store’s story.
In 2001, Sue Schaeffer became interested in longarm quilting machines. She spent time reading articles, perusing ads, listening to anyone who had a story to tell about longarm quilting, and even going to a few quilt shows, including MQS.
In Sue’s family, she is known as “Ma.” One evening, while sitting around drooling over a Gammill ad, she told her husband Don she was really thinking hard about buying a longarm. This wasn’t a new conversation at home, as she and her husband had this conversation from time to time. On this particular evening he said, “Ma’s Got’a Notion.” Don, not even knowing what a “notion” meant in his wife’s mind, had come up with a name for her shop that very night. Neither of them had a clue what a journey this “notion” was about to take them on!
While she had test-driven a lot of machines, the Gammill Longarm kept drawing Ma back. In 2003 she took the plunge and bought her first Gammil, and the love affair began. With the total now at three Gammill longarms, Ma teaches beginners how to do basic longarm machine quilting and rents out time on one of the longarms to those who have studied under her. She also brings a national instructor into the studio every year or so. All of the above offer her students and other area longarmers a chance to hone their skills.
Ma’s specialty is quilting for hire. Lots of people love the piecing process, but prefer to quilt by check — and this is where Ma comes in. She quilts for people throughout Illinois and often receives quilt tops from piecers who live in other states of the Union, too! Ma can’t also help but love the stories that each client tells her about the quilts brought in; some are gifts, some are found when cleaning out a loved one’s home, and some are just because.
Ma’s lifelong love of crafting naturally drew her to quilt shops for fabrics. She did part‐time and eventually full-time work for two different area quilt shops before she decided it was time to put all of her hard work and efforts into an adventure of her own making. When Ma decided to purchase a longarm, she had no intentions of opening anything but a longarm studio, but fate had something bigger in store for her.
In October 2003, the first edition of Ma’s Got’a Notion Quilt Shop was opened. With humble beginnings that included a handful of patterns, very basic notions, and one line of Civil War Fabrics, Ma’s was open for business. In 2009, the studio and the retail part were separated with the purchase of another building located on Main Street. Finally, there was more space to expand upon the beautiful fabrics, patterns, and other quilting must-haves, while a dedicated space for the longarms and classes remained at the Schrader location. Because Ma just can’t say no to fabric, 2013 brought another growth to the business. At this time, Ma and the hubby purchased and restored the building next door to the Main Street store. By making an opening between the two buildings, the retail space almost doubled.
With all this growth through the years, the inventory greatly expanded as well. Known for the wide backings (well over 1,600 bolts to choose from) plus lots of pre-packaged quilt backs, the store motto is, “At Ma’s, we got your back, quilt back that is!” Right now, one can gush over 6,200 bolts of 42” goods, consisting of 1800’s reproductions, the freshness of 1920/’30s, or the warmth of homespuns and beautiful rich flannels. There is something for most tastes in décor including a whole assortment of solids, tone-on-tone, dots, and stripes…there’s eye candy throughout the entire shop! Also, Ma has a Wool Barn, stuffed full of beautiful rich wool and even a nice assortment of wool on the bolt, as well as wool patterns and samples. Last but not least, one can’t leave without checking out the notions, patterns, books, embroidery block fabrics, and wide backings.
Visiting this early 1900s retro shop will put anyone in the mood to quilt — just ask any number of satisfied customers! Our goal is good, friendly, and fun service. Ma’s helpers, who she refers to as the shop angels, keep plenty of wonderful samples made up for Ma to quilt, but she is the first to admit, the angels can piece faster than she can quilt. At Ma’s, they call the sample, “Must haves!!!” Ma’s offers full kits of our samples, and the angels and Ma are always on hand to answer piecing and quilting questions.
When you come to Havana, IL, to visit Ma’s shop, plan for the day…because yes, there is that much to see!
— 2023 Contest Customer Comment —
“The level of customer service is unmatched! They are always ready to help you find fabric for
your next project, answer any questions, show you how to do something on the spot, offer
encouragement, etc. The list goes on. It’s my happy place!”
For those who have not seen the store, please describe it.
Ma’s tends to have a bit of several different styles of fabrics, from rustic to modern and lots in between, too! The shop walls that are exposed brick are graced with ever-changing samples. Erected in the late 1800s, the brick building shares the outer walls with its neighbors. The original brick walls, tin ceilings, and wood floors have seen several owners over the years but have never lost their luster or beauty. Everyone who enters the front door marvels and remarks that they feel drawn back in time. Customers say they feel sucked into a vortex of fabrics and their visit that was planned for a few minutes often turns into a few hours.
Located on the Illinois River in Havana, IL and just an hour from Peoria, IL and an hour from Springfield IL, Ma’s is very centrally located and easy to get to. Our motto is “Ma’s got your back, quilt back that is”. With over 1,600 bolts of 108″ + wide backings, Ma’s is a must-visit shop, even if you have to make a trip. It’s worth the trip!
— 2023 Contest Customer Comment —
“You cannot leave Ma’s without finding absolutely everything you need for your project. Their
knowledge of fabrics is unending! I’ve traveled to many fabric stores in many states and have never
seen a better one. They are pros!”
Please tell us about your staff.
Debbie Stell manages the shop for Ma. Deb is the most energetic, trusted, and knowledgeable employee and has become a valued friend over the years. Ma has coined a phrase/pet name to describe Deb…”The Folding Queen”, because Deb is always dreaming up new folds to interact with the beautiful displays she puts together.
Please tell us about any upcoming special events at your store.
Ma’s Got’a Notion will be participating in the All Illinois Shop Hop in August and September 2023.
— 2023 Contest Customer Comment —
“It’s a wow moment every time you walk into the shop. A huge selection of fabric for every
project you have to the large selection of widebacks and notions. It’s just an awesome place to
When asked about the impact of the Local Quilt Shop Contest, Ma’s Got’a Notion replied: “It was fun to be honored in this way by my faithful customers. Ma truly does have the best customers. I have high regard for them, and value the friendships with many of them over the years.”