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Cotton prices soar but avid hobbyists still buying

By Staff | Apr 5, 2011

ANDREA GALABINSKI The dolls made come in all kind of shapes, sizes and themes.

The cost of cotton has gone up over 50 percent, said one local business owner, that sells material for sewing and crafts at her shop. But that is not keeping local individuals who sew and crafters from still purchasing material.

Debbie Olive is the co-owner of North Fort Myers Quilt Lovers’ Hangout. “We see cotton up 54 percent due to crops overseas, but while the price of cotton soars we still see customers take comfort in their crafts.”

The shop sells to those who sew, quilters, doll makers and other hobbyists. They won’t give it up — these are soothing activities.

As customer Mary Lou Hannigan said, “Any hobby you have is therapy.”

“It is like comfort food,” said fellow co-owner Gayle Sheets. She did note other trends in customer spending. “Our customers do have the understanding with the economy the way it is. They may not buy that extra yard of fabric unless they have a specific project. They say they will wait, and go into their stash of material.”

Quilt Lovers’ Hangout co-owners Debbie Olive and Gayle Sheets with display of dolls made at their shop, where they see hobbyists still spending despite soaring cotton prices.

The shop is well known throughout Southwest Florida. They still have customers coming in regularly from Bonita Springs and Naples to find that perfect material, despite the price of gas.

While quilting is the big focus of the store, their doll making classes are gaining more and more popularity. For a cost of $40, participants pick a pattern and get the help of doll maker Sally Ellis. “She’s an awesome quilter and doll maker,” said Olive.

“There is not that much material involved, but lots of time. They also get camaraderie. The class is ongoing, and you don’t have to know how to make a doll to join.”

Barbara Selph, who works at the shop, noticed the soothing quality of the class, another comfort-like activity in still uncertain economic times. “Once they get here they laugh, and all have stories, both theirs and for their dolls. We call them the Dolly Divas.”

“One customer, Judy Donnelly, is doing dolls reflecting all the seasons, and her dolls each have a story to go with them,” both owners said.

Of all the recent dolls made by those in the class, Cowden said, “They are pieces of art. “

Quilt Lovers’ Hangout is located at 13494 N. Cleveland Ave. The phone number for information is 995-0045 and website quiltlovershangout.com.

The Hangout is open seven days per week 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.