Friday, September 25, 2015

Shop Hopping and A Local Best of Best Quilt Stores

Do you shop hop? Yesterday my mom talked me into doing part of the North Central Washington's Quilt Shop Hop. Ahh... So much fun, but so very dangerous. We live in a rural part of Washington so the quilt stores are spread apart by so much as two hours or more. It's pretty much impossible to make all the stores in one day although some people talk like they're trying!
Looking at some pink and red fabrics
 And that is only one reason why I rarely ever take part. The fuel, the food and then the fabric...... It adds up {with me} to something that is just flat our perilous to my wallet! So I judiciously do my shop hopping all year long. Take a long drive on a Saturday via a town that has a quilt store. Go to the second hand store I love up the valley and drop by the quilt store. Make a grocery run and hit the quilt store. Do a stock-up Costco type day and check out the new fabric in the local quilt store. Much safer for me really and then I'm doing my part to support the brick and mortar stores all year long.
Starting to buy more gray than brown these days....
Before we got started yesterday, I thought it would be fun to do a post about the various quilt stores we dropped into. Then something happened that kind of put a damper on my enthusiasm. Let's talk quilt store employees {and owners} for a moment here. Every store has a personality {do you agree?} and the help is definitely is a huge part of that very unique experience. Some stores are very fun, vibrant and welcoming.
Always love a good neutral....
Others are a bit dour, reflective and maybe even grumpy, especially concerning cutting fat quarters or dealing with a large stack of fabric to cut. I've had quilt store owners treat me like an absolute moron who barely even knows quilting 101 {to the point that my daughter was furious}. Some are pushy about the merchandise. NO! I do not want to work with wool. I am allergic to it, thank you very much! Does that mean I have favorites? You bet I do. But that doesn't mean that I'm unable to appreciate the merits of my less favorite quilt stores. Maybe they have a fabulous thread selection or stock the only text fabric for hundreds of miles around!

Yesterday I had a very odd experience. A clerk appeared shocked and even somewhat titillated by how many fat quarters I was purchasing {and the total amount of my purchase}. She kept talking and talking and talking about the amount of fabric I bought until I started to wonder myself if I was making a huge mistake. Maybe I should return it and leave? Then when she was ringing up my mother, she told her, in a big 'I'm-telling-you-a-secret' sort of way, the amount of my receipt. Frankly, it made us both feel very uncomfortable.
Can never get too many greens and blues...
Now, just so you don't get the wrong idea, my mom and I have went fabric shopping together for years. Sometimes she spends more and sometimes I do. We don't ever comment on or judge each other about the amount of fabric we buy because, hello? We are quilters! I buy more in the fall than throughout the rest of the year. If I drive two hours to a quilt store, I am a whole lot more likely to spend MORE than when I drop into my most local quilt store on a grocery run. When I actually make it to a store that has fabric I love and adore, can't buy anywhere local to where I live, I tend to go a bit crazy. Who doesn't? I love stocking up on discount fabrics for backing etc. etc. which can quickly add up to a big receipt, but the point is, who cares? If I don't have money, then I don't shop, even if that means months without going into a quilt store. Does a clerk ever have the right to even comment one way or another though? Maybe, maybe if she knows me very well and we have a relationship. Maybe it's okay then.
A couple backs and some border fabric...
I guess the thing with me is that I don't like any judgement or implied criticism whatsoever. I buy fabric and stock my stash when I can. No, I rarely have a pattern in mind. No, I don't know what I'm doing with these fabrics, but don't you worry, I do use my fabrics and will figure it out as I go. And if I don't end up using this fabric? Frankly, that's none of your business. Am I buying more fabric today than normal? You betcha. The vacuum sweeper money I've been socking away is coming in very handy today. I'll worry about getting a new one next month, but really, that's none of your business either. Oh, you don't think these fabrics work well together? Hmm... How many quilts do you make or is that just your art degree talking? Because I really don't recall asking....

Haha Mostly I just shake it off, try to get amused rather than irritated and keep to myself. Yesterday I actually emailed a quilt store owner and told her about our experience. I'm glad to say that she wrote back very quickly with a positive response. Now I'll go back to that store in a heartbeat if I'm ever in the area. Some quilt store employees {and the owners} are actually a joy to chat with. Then I leave in a great mood, wanting to come back when I have another opportunity.

So without telling you all my various personal pro's and con's to each quilt store in our area {I'm sure you'd have a different opinion than me}, let me just give you my absolute top five quilt stores. The best of the best. If you are ever in the area, you won't regret it!

  • Woven Threads, Chelan Washington
  • Experience Quilts!, Odessa Washington
  • Leavenworth Quilt Company, Leavenworth Washinton
  • 3 Bears Cafe & Quilts, Winthrop Washington
And one more that isn't on the shop hop this year, but well worth a visit:  The Fabric Patch, Ephrata Washington.

Go forth, buy beautiful fabric and enjoy.*wink

**For those who are dying to know, these fabrics were not all purchased in a single day.....


  1. My mom would have just laughed, as we always bought different amounts depending on the store. She always said, as long as you pay for it, who cares!! Thanks Mom for giving a running excuse for buying what I like and need!! (Miss her every day). I now work at a quilt store & love to cut fabric for customers. I just think I go a little slow for some. We have to record the number from the bolt, so the computer recognizes it. We have one price for fat quarters & that makes it go faster!! I always chat with customers & it helps to remember them for the next visit!! I can't say all employees are the same, even in our shop!! The manager, would rather answer the phone and do paperwork, than help customers!! One rule I have for myself--never say out loud the punt someone is spending. I have had credit cards be declined for customers & I always do sign language for if it was declined. I want people to come back and see me. I want to see finished projects. I want to know about grandkids & family. I will talk people out of buying things, if they are not sure. Sometimes, customers just want to chat or be somewhere, that doesn't need cleaning. That is who I was, before becoming an employee. My boss kept asking me to come work. I do not buy fabric each time I go in now (working for 2 months). I buy less than I did as a customer. I am also making samples, which makes me happy. New fabrics to play with right now & try out new designs. Finishing seems to be hard!! Wish you could come see me. I would cut you a large stack of fat quarters & not bat an eye. Unless, you were taking the last of a new fabric line!!! Lol.

  2. Hello,
    I have been to the Leavenworth Quilt Company!! I love that store. I live on the west side, and out of your 5, this is the only one I have been to and will stop again.
    Love the feelings, I am sure we all relate at one time or another,

  3. Oh I couldn't agree more with you about each quilt shop having it's own personality! I love that quilt shops are each unique and special in their own way, and the people who work there are a huge part of that personality. I am lucky to have several quilt shops within an hour or two. I haven't had a bad experience, but I have approached an owner about someone else's negative experience. I did it because I very much want the shop to stay in business and had I been the owner, I would want the information! It's hard to say why this person felt the need to make such a fuss, but I'm sure the owner was thankful for your feedback. She may not have been aware, or she may have been waiting to have a reason to discuss it with the employee. Who knows? The good news is that you got some awesome fabric! Yay for you!

  4. Go forth, buy beautiful fabric and enjoy! I love that! It looks like you found lots to inspire your next projects and I can't wait to see what you create :0)

  5. Gasp! Well, hopefully other shop owners are reading this too, and will set their employees straight. I don't know if there could be a sufficiently positive response to make me go back to some place where I had that experience.

    Ok, I have just deleted a significant amount of griping! But let me just say, stores should realize that you don't have be an octogenarian to be a quilter, and that some respect would go a long way, especially when it is the younger quilters that have more shopping options. I imagine that I am not the only one who could say a lot more on this subject!

  6. Your fabric choices exhibit your unique quilting muse. I always love to see what you come up with. I think my absolute favorite quilt shop experience (as far as employee interaction goes) is "Ye Olde School House Quilt Shop in Cedarburg Wisconsin. I was only there twice but amazingly they remembered me from my first visit. I felt like I was among friends, it was so warm and nurturing. It helped that they carried the CW fabric I love. I wish I could visit them again and again but living in Utah makes that difficult.

  7. I can understand. I have a quilt shop 10 minutes from home but the last two times I went in to buy fabric it was like you stated above...should I put it all back and not buy. I have never had a clerk go on and on about what or how much I buy until that store. And like you I rarely buy fabrics that match at that time...I like to think I have a pretty good idea what is in my stash.

    Last month, on a whim the hubs and I drove up to Big Bear. They were having their Fun show around the in everyone drives around the lake. And once in line it is a bit hard to get out of line, lol. Anyway, we stopped at a wonderful quilt shop called, Bear Country Quilts and Gifts. Long story short, I will certainly drive the 50+ minutes to go there from now on. Loved their fabric selection (I would say about even on traditional and newer styles of fabric) loved their customer there when I need you but otherwise let me shop to my hearts content. Another local shop I love is Becky's Busy Bee in Calimesa. Becky is a sweetheart and again I am allowed to shop for as long as I like. She has mostly the newer fabrics, a great selection of 30s prints, plus a wonderful selection of batiks even though I do not use them. I did notice some flannels on my last visit that are new to her shop, so maybe she is starting to get more traditional type fabrics???

    Thanks for this post as it is nice to know that maybe it wasn't me after all;-)
    blessings, jill

  8. here in maine they have a month-long shop hop for the same reason....from the canadian border to the NH border it is one huge drive....i refuse to do it just for that reason....a friend did and she racked up 2500 miles alone, not counting purchases...too much

  9. The lady mentioning the amount of your receipt to your mom sounds a little crazy! Maybe she makes crazy quilts :)

  10. Oooh that's not a nice experience. Some people really know how to take the pleasure away don't they! It sounds like you handled it with great composure - I'm not sure I would have. I love your selections too - those pinks and reds are fab :)

  11. Have to say I've never had that particular experience in a quilt shop, thankfully! And your post is quite timely since we've been on vacation along the Oregon Coast this past week, and it's been such fun visiting nearly every quilt shop along the coast on a very personal shop hop. Probably went slightly overboard since we don't have any shops near where we live and hadn't been to a quilt shop in over a year. They certainly do have their very unique personalities, but every one is a new adventure awaiting.

  12. How fortunate you are to have many shops including some that sound like they are quite nearby your home. The only quilt store we have here is a Joann's which is a good 45 minute drive in dense traffic. [and sadly the quality of their cotton is not so great]
    I used to get to visit a wonderful shop on Cape Cod, once a year--the highlight of summer vacations to the Cape. But yes, the ladies there felt that they could comment critically on what I chose, what I spent, and why, for what, etc. It was embarrassing and spoiled the joy. Our local library staff does the same thing--what makes them think I want their opinion on my choice of books?! I am so glad I switched to Kindle. And on line fabric resources.

  13. Eeek! What a horrible experience you encountered, so glad that you emailed the owner. I loved seeing your groupings of fabrics, and I'm a sucker for a pretty neutral, too. And I say that they all look terrific together!!!

  14. have never done a shop hop - it would involve an overnight stop in my area - far apart are the shops. get what you can when you can!!

  15. How rude of that employee! As you say, it's none of her business how much you're buying - and hey, you spending money there helps pay her wages!! Besides, quilt fabric shopping is way cheaper than therapy and far more enjoyable!


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