“Predictable” and “easy” are two words that aren’t in Deanne Moore’s vocabulary. She attributes her nontraditional outlook on life to being a middle child, and its influence can be seen from her first quilt to the way customers can expect the unexpected when they visit the Quilt Haus in New Braunfels, Texas. From moving 1500 bolts of fabric into an empty suite for a blow-out weekend sale, to hanging king-sized quilts from a rug fixture she bought from a defunct furniture store, Deanne’s not afraid to try something new. “My ideas tend to be overboard, but if I’m going to do something out of the box, I do it big,” she says.
Deanne’s love of quilting started when she learned to hand piece as a child, from her father’s relatives. “During the Depression my grandmother had ten kids and made survival quilts—precision, accuracy, and heirloom quality were not a consideration at that point—keeping people warm, was” says Deanne. “They had a quilting frame that hung vertically from the ceiling so kids of all different heights could help quilt.”
While Deanne learned to quilt from her dad’s relatives, it wasn’t until she finished getting her chemistry degree and was teaching at two different colleges that decided to take a formal class. While her mom watched her young children, Deanne tried her hand at a first quilt. The pattern she decided on? “I dove straight into Dear Jane,” says Deanne. “Even if I’d known it was hard I would have done it anyway, because the challenge is the most fun part.”
In 2002, a month after Deanne had moved to New Braunfels, the owner of the local shop put up a For Sale sign. “I couldn’t stand to live in a town with no quilt shop, so I bought it,” she says. Two years later she moved the shop to its current location, just off I-35, a convenient stop for quilters traveling through from Austin and San Antonio. The shop’s offerings reflect her wide range of customers and fabric lines extend from Civil War and 30s repros to modern prints. Quilt Haus also carries an extensive line of “basics,” including the top 100 colors of Moda Marbles and lots of Cross Weaves and Essential Dots.
Deanne can’t say enough about her Moda rep, Jim Salinas, who’s been in the industry for decades and who she describes as “down-home Texas friendly with a wealth of knowledge.” She appreciates his interest in her business and that she can bounce ideas off him. “I’ll call him up and say, ‘Can I buy your lunch and pick your brain?’” says Deanne. “He has credentials in the industry like you wouldn’t believe. Moda is lucky to have him.”
Deanne talked with Jim when contemplating a shop expansion into the next-door suite. She made the move last summer, adding Pfaff sewing machines and sewing furniture. Quilt Haus has been a HandiQuilter dealer for 11 years and the new space also houses two longarms that customers rent by the hour. The classroom is busy with a Marti and Me club, a strip club, sew-ins, periodic “schoolhouse” sessions that introduce customers to new classes and products, and charity quilting groups (one recently produced more than 80 quilts for Texas flood victims.).
In addition to her shop, Deanne designs patterns under the name Creative Sewlutions. “The whole thing started with a Moda panel,” says Deanne, remembering the Kathy Schmitz fabric that came into the shop. Customers loved it, but weren’t sure how to use it. With her chemistry and math background, Deanne decided she could design a pattern for it and when the samples she made were popular, she created the pattern for sale. She’s now got 24 (some available through United Notions) and last fall Martingale published her book Change the Fabric, Change the Quilt.
While Deanne’s got a lot of energy, she knows she couldn’t do it alone. She calls her staff of nine “amazing, so customer-oriented and friendly.” Her customers are instrumental, too, volunteering 400 hours last year to “reinvent” the shop. “They sorted and folded fabric, they dragged in their husbands with power tools, they built a cutting table,” she says. “It was a great big three-day party.” Deanne’s willingness to try the unexpected keeps the Quilt Haus an exciting place. “I guess I’ve got a little of my dad’s engineering and problem-solving skills,” she says. “I’m not afraid to say we’re gonna do this, it’s gonna be massive, and we’re gonna do it next week.”