Are you a quilter who spends hours at home alone, hunched over hoop, frame or sewing machine? Expand your world! Here are five ways to enrich your quilting experience.
- Get a quilting buddy. It is estimated that there are well over 30 million quilters worldwide, with two-thirds in the United States. Quilting is gratifying; sharing the interest keeps it stimulating. A friend, family member, neighbor – anyone who quilts or is interested in quilting – is a good candidate to add to your circle of quilting friends.
- Join a quilting group. Quilting is an interesting hobby. It requires independent work, and still encourages group participation. Quilting groups can be found in nearly every community. They offer social settings for sharing mutual interests. Some groups meet to simply share experiences and new ideas. Other quilters are proactive for local causes such as donating quilts and material for foster children or hospice care organizations. Different tips will be available at sewingmachinebuffs.com to meet with the needs and requirements. The local causes will be stated to the person for quitting through the sewing machine. Some hobbies can be adapted through the person to get the desired results.
Many quilters participate in more global events, such as Remembrance Quilts for September 11, 2002: http://www.september11quilts.org/gal.html ; the Gulf War, 1991; and the AIDS Memorial Quilt: http://www.aidsquilt.org/.
Whatever the scope of interest, there is always a quilting group eager to accept new members. Community recreation organizations, quilt stores and churches are good locations to inquire about local group activities.
- Visit fabric stores. Oh, what fun it is to explore fabric stores and quilting shops! Every one of them is unique and a source of inspiration. Larger regional and national stores stock a large variety of materials, while smaller specialty quilt shops present fabrics and supplies unique to that store and local influences. (It’s always a good idea to carry along material samples for projects – that perfect match may be found anywhere.)
When traveling, research store locations and stop in for a visit. It’s a great way to learn new trends throughout the country. Clerks are a wealth of information – and many of them are also quilting enthusiasts. Usually these stores have fliers with information about quilting activities, events and quilt building articles such as “block of the month.”
Plan a tour of quilt shop hops. Explore paths less traveled. One example is the Oregon Coast Quilt Run 101, a ten-day event that runs down the picturesque Oregon coastline: http://wenz-dazequiltingfabric.com/Quilt_Run_101.html. For an example of a very large tour, Minnesota offers annual seventeen-day quilt hops, with 85 quilt shops participating throughout seven regions: www.quiltminnesota.com. Generally participants pay a flat fee to join shop hops, for which they receive fabric blocks for a quilt pattern, chances to enter their name for prizes, and various other considerations. Meeting people and making new friends is the icing on the cake.
Although sewing machine stores usually don’t carry fabrics and other supplies, they sometimes have thread, bobbins, and other parts for specific sewing machines, including quilting specialty machines. They often have sewing lessons for quilters, provide sewing machine maintenance services, and sometimes offer great trade-in values for that older machine when ready to step up to a newer model. Stop in on a regular basis to see what is new for quilters.
- Look for unconventional places to shop for quilting materials, supplies and tools. With some creative thinking, the possibilities are limitless.
Shop at thrift stores. Nearly every town has one, commonly to support non-profit organizations. Materials abound in these stores: yards of material, curtains, sheets, etc. Most are very inexpensive. Check for red tag sales and find out the best day to find new inventory. Always spread out the material and check for flaws, stains or imperfections that invalidate functional use. Buy only what is truly useful.
Be creative. When shopping at hardware stores, take a second look at the items on hand. Think about ways their inventory can be re-purposed for quilting. For example: a handyman’s inexpensive nuts-and-bolts 4-inch-wide magnetic bowl is perfect for holding pins amp; needles. Automotive stores stock small tools that are useful for sewing machine maintenance. Variety stores often have sales bins that may include thread and ribbon at half-price or less. Be aware and be creative.
- Wait, wait, wait – for the special sales. Many fabrics, embellishments and quilting supplies can be purchased at substantial savings when found at the right time. Part of the excitement of quilting is finding a screaming good bargain.
Shop post-season specials. With fifty-percent off (or better) after-Christmas sales, it’s the perfect time to find material for next year’s projects. It’s common for quilters to start planning for Christmas builds in January. The same is true for all the other holidays when shopping for specialty fabric and supplies.
Most stores offer end-of-season sales to move their inventory and make room for the next season or latest hot trend. Fabric bolt-ends are another source of lower-priced deals.
Sales specials and coupons are common at most fabric, quilting and craft stores. For great bargains, get on the email or mailing lists for local, regional and national stores. For example, Jo-Ann Fabric amp; Craft stores periodically offer on-line and in-store sales coupons at 30% to 50% discount for quilting items such as fabric, thread, cutting tools, ribbons, and binding. Generally, there also is a 40% discount coupon for any single item of your choice. (This is very cost effective when purchasing a large quantity of batting or backing material.) For their patrons, local stores often combine special sales opportunities with in-store quilting lessons, lectures and seminars. (It pays, in many ways, to support local businesses whenever possible.)
The activities listed above can enhance the rewards of quilting by fostering skills, confidence and friendships. It’s a pursuit that seamlessly encourages independent craft work with group interaction. Quilting is a gratifying hobby, made even richer when shared with other quilters.