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Keeping Traditional Handcrafting Alive One Piece at a Time

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Keeping Traditional Handcrafting Alive One Piece at a Time

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Lynn Hackman

Lynn Hackman

1/15/2024

Updated: 1/16/2024

COSTA MESA, Calif.—Entering Piecemakers Country Store is like taking a step back in time—when life unfolded no faster than the pace of hand-stitching a family quilt with friends and neighbors.
Located in an unassuming office park, the 11,000-square-foot store is filled with showrooms displaying bolts of colorful fabric, and all manner of ribbon, yarn, beads, and bobbles.
A Christmas room displays the cheer of the season year-round, while a farmhouse room offers vintage and collectible household items such as delicately patterned, fine China dinnerware.
Another room is filled with gently-used clothing, shoes, purses, and accessories and a garden room beckons green thumbs with flowerpots, gardening tools and planting almanacs.
Downstairs, a cozy tearoom lures visitors to savor a cup of cocoa, a warm slice of homemade pie, or a nourishing bowl of soup. Shoppers leisurely peruse one-of-a-kind gifts, jewelry, and decorative home accessories, while the smell of fresh baked goods wafts from its kitchen.
Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Upstairs, a full-service hair salon buzzes with hair dryers and cheerful laughter.
Each room represents a hallmark of traditional homemaking, with classes and workshops on everything from hand making quilts, to knitting and crocheting, and soap milling and candle making.
Time-honored cooking and crafting traditions fill every nook and cranny of the store which is staffed by a dedicated group devoted to the ideals established through Piecemakers’ sometimes controversial founder, Marie Kolasinski, who passed away in 2012.
Yet, despite a history of ups and downs, and the loss of its founder, Piecemakers Country Store continues its mission to hone crafting skills and homemaking traditions that many might assume forgotten in today’s modern world.

Piecing Together Faith with a Spirit of Americanism

The history of Piecemakers is rooted in the life, faith, and vision of Kolasinski, who moved to California in 1967—an era known as the “Summer of Love”—and joined a popular born-again Christian movement.
Known for being focused on the needs of the community, Kolasinski was driven by a calling that was complimented by her creativity, business sense and commitment to Christ and the grassroots spirit upon which the nation was built.
Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

For Kolasinski, both faith and limited government were crucial to the well-being of individuals and the community.
She and a small group of likeminded individuals began a home fellowship in the late 60’s that grew to become a tiny quilting shop in the 70s.
By 1978, Piecemakers had become a growing business; an extension of the group’s commitment to Christ and dedication to grassroots Americanism founded in an allegiance to the traditions, institutions, and ideals behind the founding of the United States.
Naming the new business came about during the group’s regularly scheduled bible study.
According to Piecemakers Country Store class coordinator, Jean Moller, the organization’s name derived from an unlikely source.
“During a discussion about naming the group, one of the members shared a bumper sticker he’d seen that read ‘Blessed are the quilters, for they shall be called piecemakers,’” Ms. Moller told The Epoch Times.
“He asked, ‘What about Piecemakers?’—to which everyone responded, ‘Amen!’ and that’s how we got our name,” said Ms. Moller.
Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Over time, Kolasinski became known both as a champion for Christ and a staunch advocate for limited government, garnering a reputation for being a cantankerous combatant when it came to the fine line between religious freedom and government oversight.
Often railing in personal writings and newspaper op-eds about the evils of government oversight, Kolasinski’s was a stance that would eventually lead to trouble when she began blocking Orange County health inspectors from gaining entry to the Piecekeepers Country Store kitchen.
As far back as 1991, Piecemakers was cited by the Orange County Health Agency for selling candy from open bins.
Then, as reported in the Orange County Register, after years of ongoing conflict with the health department, in October 2005, a court-ordered health inspection of the kitchen was blocked by Kolasinski and a group of Piecemakers, landing her briefly in jail in 2007.
Kolasinski carried on with the mission until she died peacefully of natural causes at the age of 90.

A Legacy of Homemaking Traditions

Today, Kolasinski’s legacy continues through more than 115 students each week that attend classes for beginner to advanced instruction in everything from quilt making, silk ribbon and patch embroidery, adult and kid’s machine sewing, crochet knitting, and embroidery. Popular classes also include cooking, doll making, and instruction in various other art mediums.
Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

According to Deborah Scherfee, Piecemakers’ graphic arts manager, approximately 35 to 40 homeschool and afterschool children arrive each week for activities in everything from creating fairy gardens and heirloom bears, to needle felting and basketmaking.
Ms. Scherfee said that the Piecemakers tearoom continues to offer soups, salads, and sandwiches to its customers, a tradition that started after students began requesting a dedicated onsite area to have a break during all-day classes or a meal before or after class.
“Food always seems to be the center of fellowship, whether it be spiritual or physical food. Piecemakers’ tearoom is no different,” Ms. Scherfee told The Epoch Times. “Now we have people who come specifically because they love the delicious down-home cooking and the atmosphere of the store.”
Ms. Scherfee said that over the years, many friendships have been formed by strangers over meals in the tearoom.
When asked about the future of Piecemakers Country Store, both Ms. Scherfee and Ms. Moller said the answer lies in a paragraph from “The Story of Piecemakers” written by Kolasinski.
“Where we go from here, only God knows,” Kolansinski wrote. “There are many things on the horizon. However, unless God brings them forth, we of ourselves cannot do it. So, we live in today and look toward to new adventures in tomorrow.”
An extensive quarterly calendar including classes, free teacher-led demonstrations, local hand-crafts fairs and a Peddler’s Flea Market is available on the Piecemakers’ website, along with access to books and original patterns that are shipped to stores and retail customers worldwide.
Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Lynn Hackman

Lynn Hackman

Author

Lynn is a reporter for the Southern California edition of The Epoch Times, based in Orange County. She has enjoyed a 25-year career as a senior-level strategic public relations and contingency planning executive. An editor, blogger, and columnist, Lynn also has experience as a television and radio show producer and host. For six years, she was co-host of Sunday Brunch with Tom and Lynn on KOCI 101.5 FM. She is also active in the Newport Beach community, serving as chair emeritus of the Newport Beach City Arts Commission, among various positions with other local organizations.

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