A simple love of fabrics would have been enough to entice you join the East Tennessee Shop Hop for quilting enthusiasts. But even if you were a novice as I am, you’d find much more to love — and learn.
You begin by picking up a bright orange card with names and locations of 12 quilt shops in the East Tennessee area. If your card gets stamped at each shop, you’re eligible for prizes — like gift certificates or baskets filled with quilting gear. But even if you didn’t get to all 12, the bonuses are great. Shops spiffed up their displays with the latest, greatest patterns and fabrics and demo’ed new techniques while we watched. Not only that, you could walk away with a free fat quarter, block pattern, or both!
This year’s theme — East Tennessee Barn Quilts — featured 12 different barns in the East Tennessee area each with mammoth quilt patterns painted on the sides. By transferring pictures of the barns into signature blue-themed fabric, each shop could then make a quilt using the 12 squares in various ways. Kits containing the shop’s designated barn photo and enough fabric for a square sold for $5.00.
As a novice quilter (This is what happens when your Mom dies, and you inherit sewing machine, fabric, cutting boards, etc.), I was looking for inspiration — and here it was right here in East Tennessee. The first six shops got me started in style.
(114 Boone St., Jonesborough; tennesseequilts.com)
Located in historic Jonesborough, Tennessee Quilts stocks over 8,000 bolts of fabric. Especially appealing: the newest colorful fabrics by designer Kaffe Fassett and shop-made samples using patterns by Judy Niemeyer. Classes on how to make a poof looked quite interesting, especially after seeing how helpful the staff was during the Shop Hop demo.
(107 E. Jackson Blvd., Jonesborough)
How can a small town like Jonesborough support two quilting shops? They each have specialties. Sewing Bee has the largest supply of flannel in the area as well as some of the latest gadgets for quilting and sewing. Not to mention some of the friendliest staff anywhere. The colorful, happy quilts on display looked perfect for children’s rooms or anywhere you need a perk-me-up.
MidSouth Sewing & Fabric
(7240 Kingston Pike, Suite 108, Knoxville; mbsew.com)
Folks in Middle Tennessee may know the MidSouth shop in Murfreesboro, but the Knoxville one is stocked, too — several lines of sewing and embroidery machines, accessories, and fabric. Ever need to take a quilt class on Sunday? Well, sometimes at MidSouth you can! Just check the listings online. And while you’re there, look under Tips & Tricks for lots of how-to’s. The owner, Karen, demonstrated how to make wings using a Quilter’s Magic Wand. (Of course, I had to have one!)
Little Blessings Quilt Shop
(4351 Hwy. 127 N., Crossville; littleblessings.net)
Owner Julia Ranney, whose farming background inspired the basis of the American Gothic take-off featured on their version of the Shop Hop quilt, demonstrated how to assemble the flying geese variation border. Little Blessings, housed in a spacious building with areas dedicated to different types of fabrics, offers long-arm quilting and plenty of classes, fabrics, and notions to make quilting fun and ever-interesting. Plus, you’ll just love Julia’s enthusiasm!
(1211 S. Roane St., Harriman; loosethreadsquiltshop.com)
Loose Threads offered something many budding quilters need — 5-yard bundles of fabrics ready for those of us who want to quilt but can’t put colors together! For the Shop Hop, Keith (owner Elaine Lindsay’s husband) demonstrated a Curvy Log Cabin pattern and then offered patrons a game to determine which prize they’d take home. A full-service shop open since 2003, Loose Threads has plenty of fabric, notions, and accessories for quilting fun.
Pappy’s Quilting Place
(3426 Sevierville Rd., Maryville; pappysquilting.com)
Shelby Edwards, owner of Pappy’s Quilting Place, takes pride in the variety of fabrics offered (love the new Woolly Charms), designer books by Cindy Blackberg and others, and her “like-family” employees you can read about on this best-of-the-bunch website. We lined up to get the barn quilt pattern tucked into a most useful zippered plastic tote!
What took us two days to see might only take dedicated hard-driving quilt enthusiasts one day, but it was worth it. Lots of ideas from talented, helpful employees selling the finest in fabrics, books, machines, and notions. Watch for our next post on six other great shops mostly in the Gatlinburg and Sevierville area.
And be forewarned: if you go to one of these Shop Hops, you just might get bitten by the quilting bug!
Disclaimer: This post was written mostly by Rusha Sams. (Bert made it to historic Jonesborough ’cause he loves to look at old homes and historic markers and eat at Main Street Cafe! But hey — I’m good with that. He doesn’t know how much I spent at the other shops!!!)