Evart's Juneberry Cottage holds quilting heaven

Essner: ‘You can make quilting as complicated or as easy as you want’

EVART — Quilting has historic roots in the United States, and one Evart business owner has been focused on bringing quality products to quilters in West Michigan.

June-Marie Essner has been dedicated to quilting since opening her fabric shop Juneberry Cottage in 2014.

She was inspired to open Juneberry Cottage after finding the length she was forced to travel to find quality fabrics unbearable and saw a need for a fabric store in Evart.

The store, at 220 North Main Street, is among many quilting organizations in Osceola County. It sells a variety of fabric options and offers several services and classes for quilt and sewing lovers.

“I've always enjoyed sewing,” Essner said. “I've always wanted to have a fabric store since I was in middle school, and when we moved up to this area, pretty much by the time I opened, people weren't really making a lot of garments, and I wanted to bring in the (quilting) culture.”

Juneberry Cottage carries materials from quality fabric houses and designers including Anthology, Hoffman, Jaftex group: Blank, Free Spirit, 3 Wishes, A.E. Nathan, Lewis and Irene, Maywood Studios, Moda, QT Fabrics, Shannon Fabrics, and Stof Fabrics.

Essner also served as the director for the Evart farmer’s market and said this helped her learn about her love of working within the community.

“I love the customers and showing all the different people that come through,” Essner said. “(Running the farmer’s market) helped me also to make my decision to open more than ever, because I knew there was actually more traffic here than people thought.”

In 2021, Essner and her husband expanded the business through a purchase of a building that was formerly a medical center to remodel and create a new space.

She said since opening up the shop she has seen a growth in new quilters visiting to learn more about fabrics and techniques.

“We opened it up as much as we could,” Essner said. “The building has a different dynamic when people come in, and I teach kids classes right now regularly. I have a social day where people come in and fill in whatever project they want when they offer their classes.”

The building has a sewing machine repair station, and Essner hopes to make the second floor another repair room and then add a classroom space on the lower floor.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, fabrics have also seen the impact of inflation and prices have risen, causing some strain for business owners like Essner.

According to the Craft Industry Alliance, prices for fabrics have increased anywhere from 2.5-10%.

Essner said despite the challenges of the pandemic and the Ukrainian war, many people who stop into the shop are those looking to get started.

“You can make quilting as complicated or as easy as you want,” Essner said. “There are a lot of different tools and templates that help the process go a lot easier. It’s always really helpful for beginners to come to one of the all-day quilting events I host at the store or another group’s to get a good introduction.”

The basic tools needed are fabric, a sewing machine, some kind of cut cutter, simple cardboard templates, and scissors or a rotary cutter.

Essner teaches classes for kids ages 7-14 and adult classes in sewing and quilting tutorials and often enjoys engaging with young crafters.

Moving forward she hopes to continue making connections through the fabrics she shares in the community and the classes she teaches.

“Having some kind of a hobby or an interest outside of work is beneficial,” Essner said. “Quilting is a skill that as you learn it, helps with your brain development. Even if someone is older studies show that it helps with your aging process being more delayed. I also enjoy the fun of getting to know everybody and interacting, I've made really good friends by having the shop people I probably wouldn't have met otherwise.”

For more information on Juneberry Cottage and its products and services, visit www.juneberrycottage.com.