A Visit to Missouri Star Quilt Company

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This past week I accompanied my husband on a long weekend, when he went to a scientific conference in Kansas City, Missouri.  I’ve been going to this conference with him for many years, and have a close friendship with Beth, the wife of another scientist.  When she found out the meeting was in Kansas City (the venue changes every year), she looked up on the map how far it was to Missouri Star Quilt Company (about an hour from the city center). Tuesday morning I hopped in her car and we were off to see the Wizard Missouri Star Quilt Company.missouristarquilt_1a

Missouri Star Quilt Company is in Hamilton, Missouri, a small one-blinking-stoplight town in the rolling plains of the Midwest.  I snapped this photo while walking in the crosswalk underneath the blinking red light.missouristarquilt_1b

It does have other shops than the Missouri Star Quilt company, such as the grocery store above (pronounce the name out loud), as well as a bank and a park, which notes it is the site of the boyhood home James Cash Penny, the man who started the J.C. Penny stores.missouristarquilt_guide1Here is the merchandise bag, when you buy a T-shirt or other such souvenirs at the main shop.  They also hand you a brochure, and you fill out a badge that you let them scan in every shop, saving you the hassle of giving them your email every time, and also helps you acrue their quilt bucks, or whatever they call it; every time I made a purchase, I’d gathered a bit more savings, which I applied to my purchase.  I didn’t get all this until the third shop we stopped in, but I put it here to give you an overview.missouristarquilt_guide2missouristarquilt_guide3We parked in front of Shop #24, and walked across the street to begin our fun.missouristarquilt_2 We start with Florals.missouristarquilt_3Nearly every shop is like the one above, long and narrow, as shops were back in the day.  The fabrics are in slightly tilted shelves along each wall, with bins/buckets/containers in the center, near the cutting tables.  All the quilts that you’ve seen in Block Magazine are lining the walls, which made me feel like I was in quilt heaven–and that I needed to add about 20 more quilts to the Get These Made Before You Die list.missouri-star-fabric-collageWe soon realized that we could be in serious financial danger if we bought as we went, so we decided to browse, then buy.  To keep track of what I was interested in the first time through all the shops, I started snapping photos.
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Next up is what we called Vintage, but looks like on the map is Mercantile.  It was filled with lots of Civil War, reproductions and 1930s prints.missouristarquilt_5

I don’t think this character is part of the Missouri Star Quilt displays, but I loved his look.missouristarquilt_6

I was consistently impressed with the little touches–like these fabric butterflies in the Main Shop window.
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Sometimes I kind of felt this was like a cross between a quilt shop and Pottery Barn, which is really fun.  Lots of light, well-curated extra touches (like the seating area up above by the woman in the pink) and great displays with lots of charm.  In the Main Shop, we picked up our badges, looked at all the merch (see below) and noticed that around the edge of this shop were sections of fabrics that matched the shops around on the street: florals, baby, primitives, modern, etc.missouristarquilt_6b missouristarquilt_6c missouristarquilt_6d

Quilts are everywhere…even under the cutting tables.missouristarquilt_6e missouristarquilt_7

Moving on, we enjoyed the murals on three of the buildings.  The first is above, and I laughed when I saw them painting the side of this building (below) with BRUSHES!missouristarquilt_7a missouristarquilt_8

We were headed to Penny’s.missouristarquilt_9

Store front window, because this place is filled with solids, or near-solids, of every kind (just not my favorite solids: Paintbrush Studios).missouristarquilt_9a

Again, there are lots of small vignettes of color, and lots and lots of quilts and quilt tops.  The big crime was that because my plane was leaving that night, we only had a few hours to spend here, but I could see that a quilter could save up all their money and stay for a long day or two.  You’d better drive, though, because you’ll be hauling a lot home.  Since both Beth and I had small suitcases, we limited our purchases (another crime), which was hard to do, because everything is so beautiful and well-displayed.missouristarquilt_9b missouristarquilt_9c

Above each section of shelves is a small round blackboard, with the name of the manufacturer written in chalkboard paint, and framed by a small embroidery hoop.missouristarquilt_10

We peeked into the Man Cave, or as they call it, Man’s Land.  It is equipped with big recliners, wide screen TVs, and a pool table.missouristarquilt_10a missouristarquilt_10b missouristarquilt_11

Upstairs, above the row of shops on the Penny’s side, are four side-by-side upstairs quilt shops: Kids & Baby, Backing and Trims, Sew Seasonal, and Modern.missouristarquilt_11a missouristarquilt_12 missouristarquilt_12a missouristarquilt_12b

Access is via these steps, or another set of wide ones (with a bright yellow wall–the colors here are really fun and bright) in the Licensed to Sew Shop, or via an elevator.  They’ll get you up there every way they can.  About this point, I asked about all the charms I was seeing: different ones in every shop.  If you spent more than $50 (pre-tax) in any one of their shops (you can’t carry the total forward between shops), you get a free charm.  I ended up buying a few, instead of qualifying (I told you I had a small suitcase).  They give you the little bracelet at the Main Shop, when you print out your badge.
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Okay, lunchtime!  J’s Burger Dive was highly recommended for great burgers, but we went with Mama Hawk’s Kitchen, where we each got a salad.missouristarquilt_13a

Another mural and a couple of locals.missouristarquilt_14

We circled back around through the shops, picking up the fabrics we wanted, where I snapped this last picture at the “Machine Shed,” where they had notions and machines.  One other place is the Sewing Center, but they had a retreat, so we couldn’t go in (but we peeked through the window–it was packed!) I also heard that Rob Apell was around somewhere, but I didn’t spot him.  Beth and I tucked our goodies and ourselves back into our car and headed back to Kansas City, happy to have stolen a few hours to browse Hamilton and visit the Missouri Star Quilt Company!

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Ready, Set, Begin: Summer Fun 2015

Lake Fire June 25 Map

To truly begin summer off correctly in Southern California, you need a fire, and we have a doozy of one going on right now, only a few miles from my house.  The above map, from today, shows 21% containment, and I could see clouds of billowing smoke yesterday when I went to the grocery store.  Usually we like to END our summers with a fire, but not this year, the fourth year of the drought.

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So my friend and I decided to hit the road this morning, in order to recover from the ardor of Registering for QuiltCon 2016 (no, I didn’t get the Gwen Marston class), and visit the newest shop not too far from our town in the neighboring city of Temecula: Needle in a  Fabric Stash.

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Our only other dedicated-modern-shop is in Los Angeles, way too far away for a casual stop, so it was nice to find out about this place.

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Sue Stone, the owner, has a well-curated selection of fabrics, from Alison Glass to Cotton and Steele to Dear Stella, and isn’t locked into one line too heavily, but instead displays them to encourage mixing between the designers.

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Some fun displays and stacks of fabrics.

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The displays and patterns are well organized and encourage browsing.

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Here Sue is helping a young customer choose fabrics for a quilt.

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A nice selection of solids, plus more lines.

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Needle in a Fabric Stash is owned and managed by Sue (above).

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She’s been in operation about 7 months, and has already set up some great classes.

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We grabbed some lunch and kept going. . . over to Primitive Gatherings Quilt Shop, not located in Wisconsin (that would have been QUITE a road trip) but in the next town up, in Murrieta.

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This friendly fellow, an import from Wisconsin, helped us get signed up in their store system, and showed us around.  Since I used to live in Wisconsin, we traded that old joke about there being two seasons in Wisconsin: Construction and Winter.  I knew the one about three seasons: June, July and Winter.  He admitted that he would like to be back there during summer, but come winter. . . he was happy to be in California, where the car doors didn’t freeze shut.

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As the name of the shop implies, the bulk of their fabrics are Civil War era prints, and they have lots of very cool displays.

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The Modern Section.

IMG_5073 IMG_5074I was amazed by the teensy tumblers quilt they had on display–along with teensy precuts to go with it.

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We both liked their mini tote designs–they had several.

IMG_5076 IMG_5077All in all, a good outing on a hot summer’s day!

Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, CA

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My friend Beth and I headed over to Pacific Grove to explore Back Porch Fabrics, located in Pacific Grove, California, just up the road from Carmel and next door to Monterey, California.

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It has nice high ceilings, an abundance of quilt samples, and lots and lots of interesting fabric.

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The sale table, easy to find because of its umbrella, and since they are located near the coast (you can see the ocean from their front door), a beach umbrella makes perfect sense.

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Some shops like to carry lines of fabrics, but I found Back Porch Fabrics unique because they carry a LOT of different lines, but not all the pieces or colorway in each line.  I found this to be invigorating, as I saw many interesting and new bolts of fabric.

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They’ve grouped their black and whites together.
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These are not all blenders, but instead different novelties, patterns, and designs, grouped by color family.

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Dots and little sewing machines!

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They carry a wide range of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

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In talking the person who was cutting our fabric, she said that since they are the closest fabric shop to Asilomar (which runs quilting seminars), they need to be able to provide a wide range of fabrics.  They also had a section of traveling fabrics for the tourists who stop in.

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Solids.

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A view into the classroom, by the side of their wide selection of books.

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I’d love to take a class here, with all the interesting quilts on the walls.  Apparently these quilts switch out, as they can be an exhibit from one quilter.

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Fat quarters.

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The cutting table is in the center of the main room, a beautiful solid wood table.  Wood is everywhere, which makes me feel like these shop is here to stay.  In talking with another customer, she confirmed my suspicion that this began as Back Porch Press Patterns (I have a couple of those), and the shop has been here for 17 years.

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If you are ever in the Carmel/Monterey area, leave time for a stop here.  Pacific Grove also has a lot of cute shops to browse and if you are there at lunchtime, head to Red House Cafe, which is a couple of blocks from the shop.  Amazing food, and quick, so you can head out to the coast.  (Don’t forget to pick up their Red House Signature cookies: Oatmeal, Apricot and Pecan cookies.)

Elaine’s Quilt Block–Salt Lake City, Utah

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Whenever we go to Utah to visit relatives, I try to find a quilt shop to visit.  Elaine’s Quilt Block quilt shop is very close to my sister-in-law’s house, which could be verrrry dangerous, as you’ll see once we step inside.  Featured in the Quilt Sampler edition of Fall/Winter 2011, the building was built to be a quilt shop, and it is a delightful place to visit.  The address is  6970 South 3000 East, Salt Lake City, Utah 84121, and their website is *here.*  Their phone number is 801-947-9100.  They are located inthe Cottonwood Heights section of the city, up on the southeast bench of the mountains, if you know your way around, and are just off the 215 belt route freeway.

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This is the view as you step inside the front door–bolts and bolts of fabrics, notions, light and bright, tall ceilings, a welcoming staff and so much to see!

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Elaine’s has three levels and this is the stairs headed up to the upper level, which I’ll show you in a minute.  The lower level is classrooms and I didn’t visit there, but wanted to post this photo so you can see the cute displays they have tucked around the shop.  There are many project and quilt samples and they are all such good ideas–I want to make so many of them.

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I’m still standing in the doorway, looking to my right. . .

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. . . and a little further inside.

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At the back of this main room/entryway, they have all their magazines, some more displays and samples.  The main room is flanked by two other large rooms with dramatic high ceilings–the better to show off quilts!

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Entryway into the left room, which trends to Thimbleberries, Civil War and reproduction-style fabrics.  They have a huge selection.

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The room to the right is where my heart resides: Kaffe Fassett fabrics, Australian imports, brights, batiks.

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There are tables everywhere so you can lay out the fabrics for selecting colors for a quilt.  I loved the small decorative motif at the top of the shelving units.

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The black and white section.

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Rows of batiks.

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And underneath the lines of fabrics are folded fat quarters.  I had a fun time with those, as I had a limited time and had to pick quickly (note to self: leave more time for Elaine’s in the future).

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Upstairs are children’s and sale fabrics and Christmas and I believe, solids.

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No, I didn’t have to carry my bolts downstairs to be cut–there is a large cutting table right in the middle of this room, and they cut it for me there.

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At the main register, where I checked out, was this board of Block of the Month quilts they are running through the store.  I snatched one more pattern to add to my selection of fabrics, because of course, I need another project like I need a hole in the head, but it was the Thimble Creek Christmas quilt Santa’s Village pattern and it was charming (see below).

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And that to me is one of the values and advantages of shopping at a local quilt shop like Elaine’s.  When you physically step inside, you are energized by all the creativity and samples and ideas that the shop owner has brought to their store.  I do both LQS and online shopping, but I feel more inspired by visiting a shop and seeing the fabrics, touching the samples and projects, turning them over in my hand and in my mind.  I hope you feel the same!

Pins and Needles, in New York City

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I’ve been in New York City for a week, and while there I discovered a new quilting/fabric shop, on the upper East Side, a few blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It’s called Pins and Needles.

Map to PinsNeedles

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Ring the buzzer, and they’ll let you in.  Head up the stairs to the second floor, and their door is on the left.  It’s like going up to fabric heaven from the gritty bustle of the streets.

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I am standing at the window overlooking the street, and photographing toward the back.  It’s not a big shop, but it has such a variety of modern fabrics and ideas and even a little classroom area, that I felt it had a lot to offer.

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The classroom and looking out the window.  There are basically three fabric stores that cater to quilters and home sewists in New York City: City Quilters (midtown), Purl Soho (Soho, or lower third of Manhattan) and now this gem of a shop.

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I was immediately welcomed by two very friendly women: the owner Rachel Low (on the left) and Lauren Rucci; Rachel gave me permission to take photos. She also maintains a Facebook page for the shop, if you’re interested, as well as a blog.

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Though compact, it felt spacious.  They have a wide variety of modern fabrics, well-edited, and I could see lots I wanted to take home.  But since I had practically sat on my suitcase that morning to get it closed, I was constrained by space.

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While most of us diehard quilters approach fabric with a fair amount of gluttony (unless you are sitting on your suitcase to get it closed), in the shop Lauren has taken more of an arts and crafts approach, as opposed to quilting, even using the term “patchwork,” as their clientele is more geared toward sewing.  Smart move, as you can learn to do the quilting after a good knowledge of fashion sewing has been established.  One of the most successful things a shop can do is to know who their customer is.

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I loved their wall displays.  Rachel has worked in the fashion industry, including a two-year stint at Prada, so the shop incorporates these themes into their decor.

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I loved their wall with fashion pictures, fabric swatches–so many ideas!  I have noticed the trend towards sewing; many quilters are trending towards making dresses and clothes not only for themselves, but also for their children.  I just happened to do it the reverse, majoring first in Clothing and Textiles, then discovering quilting later. I say, no matter how you come to it, sewing something for yourself or for your home is extremely rewarding, and this shop brings all of those ideas together.

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Crafting table.  They hold several classes for children’s crafts.

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I loved the window overlooking the stree, with a comfortable banquette with cute pillows.

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And what did make it into my suitcase? Three cuts of fabrics, some Itty-Bitty Scissors, all done up in a very cute bag.  These scissors are about 1 1/2″ inches long, have a point cover; Rachel says her customers have been successfully taking them on airplanes to do their stitching.  I bought an extra, and would love to share it with you.

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Leave me a comment below and I’ll choose a winner on Tuesday morning.  In your comment, tell me where you’ve traveled recently and have needed a pair of teensy scissors, as well as which color you’d prefer: turquoise or pink.  And if you are not a winner, I’m sure that Rachel of Pins and Needles would be happy to ship you your own.  Contact her at her Etsy Shop, or by email (rachel@pinsandneedlesnyc.com).