Quilt Shop Spotlight: Cool Cottons, Portland, Oregon

28 Sep 2011

quilt shop spotlight; quilt shop; art quiltsOur Quilt Shop Spotlight continues with a visit to Cool Cottons in Portland, Oregon. Owner Marie Ritten was kind enough to share the story of how her shop got its start, how Cool Cottons fits into Portland's DIY scene, and what unique fabrics and materials she carries. Read on to learn more about Cool Cottons.

Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed. Can you tell us about how Cool Cottons came to be?
Cool cottons has been in business for four and a half years now! We are located in a 100-year-old house (which showcases fabric beautifully) on SE Hawthorne Blvd in Portland, Oregon. The sewing and crafting community in Portland is so vibrant and a real DIY attitude rules. We've got new moms and dads outfitting their baby nursery or making their first quilt, expert sewers looking for the newest contemporary fabrics for garment sewing or intricate piecework, and a lot of "collectors" who just need to have a piece of the latest beautiful Japanese fabric to add to their stash. We are extremely fortunate that Portland crafters love to shop local and really support small independent businesses.

I have always loved fabric, crafting, and sewing. I started quilting when I needed some handwork to occupy me while I was working in a call center for an airline. Seventeen years later, a transfer across country, and dozens of quilts later, I was offered a buy-out that enabled me to move to Portland and open Cool Cottons. Originally I started with a business partner (who I have since bought out), we wanted a place that was a bright happy place to be. That is one of the best parts of this business; it's hard to be in a bad mood when you're surrounded by such fabric goodness. It's not a bad way to spend the day.

What fabric lines, items, and products do you carry in your store?
Although our emphasis is on contemporary prints (Free Spirit, Michael Miller, Moda, and Westminster) we do have almost all of the Kaffe Fassett shot cottons and a large selection of fabrics by Robert Kaufman, Northcott, and Kona Bay solids that modern quilters use to such great effect. Japanese fabrics from Kokka and Yuwa are also well represented (from gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze to the cotton/linen lines from Echino and Heather Ross). I recently ordered the Lotta Jansdotter line "Echo" from Windham.


What sort of classes and events do you have?
Since the rise of several sewing studios in Portland we no longer offer much in the way of classes. There are five studios that have opened in the past two years within five miles of us and between them they do a great job of reaching every age and skill level and offer more variety than we as a small shop could ever hope to. We get a lot of new customers from their referrals and in turn we send folks their way. That said, we do have a Block of the Month Quilt Club that has proven to be popular with both novice and expert quilters. For some it's about learning new techniques, and for others it all about the social time.


Is there a short story or anecdote you'd like to share about your store or your customers?
When you open a fabric shop you expect to get the quilters and garment sewers in. What surprised me is also what the rest of the world is doing with fabric. We've had book binders, people knitting with fabric strips, costumers, doll makers, photographers looking for back drops and lots of sewers and non sewers alike making curtains. We've even rented out our fabric for a photo shoot! 

What plans do you have for the future?
No particular plans for the future. I love what I do so I hope to be able to keep on doing it. Hopefully the fabrics I love will be what my customers are looking for...so far so good.   I don't have as much time to sew as I once did, but my favorite part has always been playing with different fabric combinations, and now I get to help other people do it too.      

To learn more about Cool Cottons, visit coolcottons.biz


Photos by Marie Ritten


Filed under: ,
Related Posts
+ Add a comment


designcamp wrote
on 1 Oct 2011 12:40 PM

Marie is a genius when it comes to prints. She has an incredible sense of what goes together, often in unexpected ways. I always appreciate her input when I am working on a project!