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.
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!
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
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.)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.