East TN Quilt Shop Hop (Part 1): Full-on shopping is back!

Car quilt at Sewing Bee, Jonesborough TN

If you’ve wondered whether we would ever get back to “normal” after the corona virus quarantine, hear this: quilt shops are full, and shoppers are spending at the East Tennessee Quilt Shop Hop 2020! Owners of all ten shops participating in this year’s event mentioned the rush of visitors (all masked!) who have not only returned but have purchased fabric in a big way — perhaps because many quilters finished projects during the quarantine or maybe they just want something new. Whatever the reasons for the surge, I wanted to join the shopping fray. After all, it’s been five years since I wrote about the Shop Hop, and I wanted to see what’s new and “to die for” in the quilting world.

If you’ve never been to an East Tennessee Quilt Shop Hop, here’s what you can expect. First, passports listing all 10 shops are stamped at each shop and then entered into drawings for prizes. Second, each shop distributes a free quilt block pattern and small gift to each shopper. And, not to be missed — demos of new techniques pull shoppers in to learn more about the ever-evolving craft of quilting.

East TN Shop Hop passport

This year’s theme — Blooming Blue in Tennessee — features soft blue florals and geometrics from the Leah Collection by In the Beginning Fabrics, and it must be a hit. Shops have reportedly re-ordered several times!

Quilt blocks, Blooming Blue in TN, Little Blessings Quilt shop
Two sample blocks from Blooming Blue in Tennessee made by Little Blessings Quilt Shop, Crossville, Tennessee

It took me three days to see all 10 shops that are within a 100-mile radius of each other. But driving through beautiful East Tennessee was a great way to spend my summer days; meeting nice people was another. Here are highlights from the first five shops.

Dizzy Diva’s Fabric Shop

4740 Centerline Dr., Knoxville, TN http://www.dizzydivasfabricshop.com

Long-arm quilting machine, Dizzy Diva's in Knoxville

When you first walk in to Dizzy Diva’s, you’ll be mesmerized by the long-arm quilting machine rhythmically adding a design to whatever is being quilted that day. But as charmed as you are by that comforting hum, you’ll want to see the vast array of fabrics for sale and then walk to the back where you’ll find a great space for classes and instruction. Although Dizzy Diva’s has only been in this space since February 1st, owner Wanda McCarter has filled it with fine fabrics and accessories and hired knowledgeable staff like Wilma who handed me my first gift: a “fat quarter” ( measures 18″ by 22″ — a generous quarter yard of fabric.)

fat quarter of fabric from Dizzy Diva's Fabric Shop, Knoxville TN

The Cherry Pit

115 Bruce Street, Sevierville, TN http://www.cherrypitquiltshop.com

Even with construction on the street in front of the shop, quilt enthusiasts gathered inside this multiple-room shop known for its vast array of fabrics on the shelves and walls filled with good-idea quilts to get you thinking about your next project.

Window display: The Cherry Pit, Sevierville, TN
Inviting window display of quilts in a “home” setting at The Cherry Pit, Sevierville, Tennessee

Theresa’s demonstration on how to embellish a tea towel with winter motifs intrigued us all. And I realized then that “quilt people” must be true lifelong learners, always interested in a new technique to try.

The Cherry Pit, Sevierville TN demonstration
Theresa at The Cherry Pit demonstrating how to add a winter border to a tea towel.

Mountain Stitches by Susan

601 Glades Rod, #13, Gatlinburg, Tennessee http://www.mountainstitchesbysusan.com

I remembered this shop from my first visit because it was filled with Civil War reproduction fabrics — and, being the lover of antiques that I am, I fell in love with those fabrics for their historical value and muted colors. But this visit helped me see a number of new products (like a 1/4″ ruler that I bought) and several quilts on display that made me (and others shopping that day) interested enough to purchase a parcel of fabric for a late-summer project. Since my hometown of Knoxville has a Dogwood Arts Festival, I was especially interested in how this springtime flower was represented in simple, but tasteful little blocks. This shop is small in comparison to some of the others, but it’s filled with interesting color combos, quality heritage fabrics, and people who know what they’re talking about!

Twisted Sisters Quilt Shop

240 Gill Street, Alcoa, Tennessee http://www.twistedsistersquiltshop.com

Owners Margaret and Mary Wildi invited shoppers into their spacious shop filled with neatly organized racks of fabric. The rainbow assortments were delightfully dizzying, but I also knew that if I needed anything, any color, it was probably there.

I also received the most unique gift of all the shops at Twisted Sisters. Samantha share this little tin box with a magnet in the bottom to keep my needles in their place! (See how much fun Shop Hop is?)

Little Blessings Quilt Shop

4351 Hwy 127 N., Crossville, Tennessee http://www.littleblessing.net

Joleen Audet, Little Blessings Quilt Shop
Joleen Audet at Little Blessings

The first blessing of this little shop was meeting Joleen Audet, the daughter of the owner of Little Blessings who was ill and couldn’t participate fully in the Shop Hop. But Joleen, who came to Crossville from Vermont just for the event, jumped right in helping customers and shared versions of the Blooming Blue in Tennessee quilt patterns. This store is known for room after room of quality fabrics, but also for individual and whole-class sessions that enable quilters to feel confident that they can make something from start to finish. Even on this very busy day, all shoppers received personal attention and a very generous goodie bag!

If you’ve never been to a Shop Hop, look to see where one in your area will be held next. But if you miss the event, I can almost guarantee that owners and employees of quilt shops everywhere will welcome you with new ideas, new fabrics, and answers to your questions.

quilts at The Cherry Pit, Sevierville TN
Connie and Theresa measure fabric for a customer at The Cherry Pit in Sevierville, Tennessee

It could be that “quilt people” are just good anywhere you go!

Thanks for touring the shops with me. And look for my next post — East Tennessee Quilt Shop Hop (Part II) — coming soon!


Photo credit: The cute car wall hanging at the top of this post was made by Carol Mahar, owner of Sewing Bee in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

11 thoughts on “East TN Quilt Shop Hop (Part 1): Full-on shopping is back!

  1. Anonymous

    Although I’m not a quilter, I am always interested in beautiful fabrics and what people create .

  2. Pingback: East TN Quilt Shop Hop (Part II): Fresh new looks! – Oh, the Places We See . . .

  3. gallivance.net

    Talk about fun, Rusha! As a quilter, I would have been in 7th Heaven. 🙂 So many gorgeous quilts for inspiration, but I must admit the one behind Connie and Theresa really caught my eye. Thanks for the excellent tour. ~Terri

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I love looking at quilts (old and new) about as much as I enjoy making baby ones. I’m amazed at the science of it and the variations that can be made. Thanks for visiting. It’s fun to think of something other than travel to faraway places these days!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      It’s been fun traipsing around East Tennessee in search of these quilt shops. And when I got there, I was intrigued with new colors, patterns, and what’s popular now. Thanks for taking a look. There’s one more post to come.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I fell into loving quilts when I saw the enthusiasm my mother shared when she was making them. I never thought I would even care, but now I find them quite interesting. It’s kind of like working a puzzle — there’s color, texture, pattern and a little math involved. So, there’s plenty to love. I’m making baby quilts for now. We give them to Project Linus which, in turn, sends them around the world to places/countries in need. It’s fun!

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