Written By: Dana Goyer and Deb Luttrell
The Wonderful World of Quilting. So much to learn. So much to share. One thing for sure: when you discover quilting you will want to learn about quilt shops. You will find not all are created equal.
Trust is the most Important Thing.
Your quilt shop needs to demonstrate it not only in word but in action that they will do what is right. All the time. Every time. This is by far the most important part of the relationship with the perfect quilt shop. When trust is demonstrated, everything else will work out.
Is there a knowledgeable staff who is willing to share and help you?
Providing a knowledgeable staff is the 2nd most important aspect of the perfect quilt shop. They will be eager to show you paper piecing and suggest designers like Judy Neimeyer to help you get started.
They will want to know what fabrics you like the best whether it is batik, reproduction, or modern fabrics. Expect them to introduce you to the latest from Kimberbell, Lori Holt, and Elizabeth Hartman.
Satisfy your creativity with the right product.
Now this is where your perfect quilt shop will really shine. As a quilter, we all love our quilting tools.
You want to find the best quilting sewing machine because it will be your best friend. You will want to start out with the one that will be best for you. BERNINA sewing machines are known for their reliability and precision.
Whether you are an expert quilter or new to the craft, BERNINA has a machine that is just right for you. We believe BERNINA has the best quilting sewing machine.
When you are purchasing a sewing machine, another vital consideration is your proximity to maintenance for your machine. Keeping your best quilting sewing machine in top condition will ensure its longevity throughout your quilting journey.
Embroidery and Quilting really do go together.
Sewing machines started offering machine embroidery options in the late 1990’s and this opened up a new world of creativity with those who love to quilt. This fun technique allowed the quilter to include embroidery in the quilting projects and make them even more interesting and beautiful
Most of the major brands offer a machine with embroidery. When looking for this kind of machine you will want to first consider the reputation of the brand - how long has it been in business, what is the reputation in the industry, and how the machine is made. Then you should consider the support you will receive after the purchase.
Machine embroidery designs are diverse and readily available. Some of these designs are available as free embroidery downloads while others can be purchased through the perfect quilt shop. Creations by Claudia and Kimberbell are two of the top designers.
And then there is FABRIC.
Your perfect quilt shop will have an abundant selection of fabric whether it is solid fabric, Grunge fabric, or novelty fabric. Your perfect quilt shop will also have a good selection of 108” wide backing fabric and panel projects. Fabric brands like Hoffman and Northcott are well-known for these.
Start out with some basic tools.
At a minimum you will need a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, and an acrylic quilting ruler. Your perfect quilt shop will carry a good selection of these.
The best rotary cutters are from Olfa and Martelli. You will want to purchase a 22” wide cutting mat either from Olfa or Creative Grids Rulers. All cutting mats are not created equal so beware of off-brands!
Many quilt patterns require a specific ruler to complete; it is typically listed in the “Recommended Tools” section of the pattern. If you are a beginner wanting to start your collection with a variety of rulers, consider going with the Creative Grids Rulers.
Some of the other favorite rulers are the Bloc Loc, Folded Corner Clipper, and Studio 180 Deb Tucker rulers. More often than not, your project will require a specific ruler, so be sure to familiarize yourself with all the tools you will need.
Pressing is a pressing matter.
Did you know that pressing is a critical element in your quilt block construction? The right iron and ironing surface can make all the difference to the quality of your projects.
The Oliso iron is one of the best quilting irons on the market. Used alongside a wool pressing mat and Best Press starch, we guarantee that you will be satisfied with the outcome of your precision sewing.
When piecing a block, it is often suggested that you press your seams open. Both the Strip Stick or Wooly Seam Pressing Bar (my personal favorite) can make pressing your seams open a breeze.
And then there is a bunch of just fun stuff.
Need those magic pins that are literally called Magic Pins? They will make your project much easier. Are you familiar with the stunning Tula Pink accessory line? Oh my - so pretty. You will want to indulge in the scissors, snips, and rotary cutter for sure. And, yes the stiletto please!
The Bobbin Buddies or Bobbin Nest is a great way to keep your tools and supplies organized and within arm’s reach.
Quilting doesn’t have to be hard.
So often you can find much of the work already done for you when it comes to quilting projects.
An example is quilt kits. The perfect quilt shop will have a variety of quilt kits pre-packaged for you and ready to go. This will eliminate the task of choosing all the different fabrics and you can be confident with the selection because it is done by someone who knows what they are doing.
You won’t have to worry about clashing patterns or a shortage of fabric. Now, you might think, “What if I make a cutting mistake and need just a little more fabric?” The perfect quilt shop should be willing and eager to provide you with additional fabric.
The easiest quilt kit ever is the Scrap Crazy quilt. These quilts can literally be cut out and sewn together in a day.! Kits include your 10” squares, border, backing, and binding fabrics. Add the 8” Scrap Crazy Template Set and you are ready to go.
Be sure and use the Martelli cutting mat—this is a cutting mat that can be used with many projects. Use alongside the thread cutter block to cut apart all your strip pieced units, and you’ll find your project finished in no time!
Block of the Month Programs make it sew easy.
A Block of the Month Program will allow you to make the quilt of your dreams without having to tackle it all at once or make a big up-front investment. You will receive the perfect fabrics that are cut into workable pieces each month.
The perfect quilt shop will provide a Facebook Group for your Block of the Month program so you can stay in touch with others participating in the program. There is also a fabric key for each program and a calendar so you know when your package will be mailed each month.
Laser Cut Fusible Applique: No work. All fun.
Consider learning about Laser Cut Fusible Applique if you want an easy way to complete an applique quilt, table runner, or even pillow.
There are a plethora of designs available so choose one you like and have fun. You will learn to use an applique pressing sheet and a variety of applique stitches on your sewing machine in the process.
Find a friend by getting involved.
Quilters are like-minded and generally a fun group to be around. You will not find a nicer community of people than quilters. They will support you, encourage you, and educate you.
Did someone say chocolate?
A great way to spend your day or sometimes a weekend or even a week is to take a quilting class or attend a quilting retreat. Whenever quilters are together, you can bet there will be chocolate!
The perfect quilt shop will have a complete list of classes for you to be able to choose the one you want to join.
The classes will be taught by the staff at the store or they might be taught by nationally known teachers like Judy Neimeyer, Tula Pink, or even Kaffe Fasset. Most of the time there will be a retreat center to provide lodging and class space.
Often the perfect quilt shop will organize a bus trip to allow you to ride to the shop to spend time shopping for quilting supplies while feeding you lunch, organizing games, and there probably will be some wine involved!
Cruising and quilting with friends. What could be better?
Consider a quilting cruise as a way to connect with quilters.
These cruises provide you with a sewing machine and you will have quilting classes while onboard with some terrific teachers. Optional pre-cut quilt kits are offered or you may choose to bring your own fabric.
Learn while you are in your jammies
Don’t think you have to physically go to the perfect quilt shop in order to connect. There will be virtual events, social connections like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and well as a YouTube channel with a variety of educational topics. You can pop in any time of the day or night and pick up a few snippets of wisdom.
Conclusion: Building that relationship
Once you find that perfect quilt shop you will find they are going to be eager to build a lasting relationship with you. They will invite you to parties, help you to continue on when you hit a tough part, and will celebrate your victories. Much like it is in a typical family.
So be ready to be entertained and encouraged and also be ready to do the same in return. Because in the end the perfect quilt shop is made of some not-so-perfect people who want to be involved with you as much as you need them.
In the end you just might find a nice group of friends.