Well, it looks like I once again haven't been great about keeping up with my postings on a regular schedule. Perhaps one day I'll be able to manage that but until then I'll keep trying.
When we heard that Nicola and Matt were engaged I began thinking about what I wanted to give them for a wedding present. By the time we returned to California in early October I had decided to make them a quilt and I decided that I wanted to give it to Nicola at her second bridal shower on December 12th. This was quite an ambitious decision because I still have yet to finish the two quilts I started this past January! (one of them is Sammy's Quilt which I have blogged about before)
I decided on a queen sized version of the Fat Quarter Frolic pattern by Larisa Key for Nicola and Matt's quilt which is one I had seen displayed at our local quilt shop and have admired for quite awhile. It was reported to be quick and easy to piece and since I had never before followed a pattern when making a quilt and was short on time, I figured that was just what I needed. The quilt is a bit crazy and doesn't have an overall design. Instead, it is much more about using fun interesting fabrics.
The piecing required 40 fat quarters so I set out to collected a bunch in colors that went along with Nicola and Matt's wedding color scheme of turquoise blue and brown. I started out at our local quilt shop in downtown Los Gatos: Natural Expressions. I gathered up 40 fat quarters in one afternoon, brought them home and laid them out on the floor of the living room.
Once I saw them all together I decided that I didn't like the way some of them looked with the group so I decided to head back out to the quilting stores to see what else I could find. Using Google Maps I located about 4 quilting stores in the South Bay and decided to visit them all in one afternoon. Here's a brief review of the ones I discovered with our local Natural Expressions listed first:
(photos are from Natural Expressions' web site)
Natural Expressions is located in downtown Los Gatos on Santa Cruz Ave. and is my favorite quilting store in the Bay Area. The store is large, airy, and well lit and has an impressive selection of fabric. They have one of the largest collections of Amy Butler prints that I've seen in the Bay Area and every time I visit their shop I come out with tons of new ideas for quilting and sewing projects. The staff is always friendly and very helpful. In addition to selling fabrics and quilting supplies they also have a large beading section which is very fun to browse. They are happy to cut fat quarters and have a variety of classes each month. I love love love visiting this shop and highly recommend it!!
18 N. Santa Cruz Ave. Los Gatos, CA 95030
Sunday and Saturday: 11am to 5pm
Monday: 11am to 4pm
Tuesday: 11am to 6pm
Wednesday: 10am to 8pm
Thursday: 10am to 6pm
Friday: 10am to 6pm
(photos are from the Prairie Queen Quilt website)
Prairie Queen Quilt was such a nice store! They are located on Camden Ave. in San Jose. They had an amazing collection of lovely flowered prints that made me want to start sewing pillows and several sets of fabric that had me dreaming of new quilts I could make. :) The ladies who worked there were very helpful and the store had an open layout and a very good fabric selection. They quilting classes and quilting services - the samples in the store looked beautiful! Unfortunately they don't cut fat quarters but they were very upfront about that policy so I didn't really mind since I know its not very convenient for them. Overall, I really liked this shop and I'll definitely be heading back there soon to check out more of their fabrics and quilting resources!
Prairie Queen Quilt Shop
14922 Camden Ave. San Jose, CA 95124
Monday and Tuesday: 10am to 6pm
Wednesday: 10am to 8pm
Thursday and Friday: 10am to 6pm
Saturday: 10am to 5pm
Sunday: closed most Sundays but open one Sunday per month, see their website for dates.
(photos are from the Golden State Sewing Center website)
The Golden State Sewing Center is located on Winchester Blvd. in Campbell, CA. It turned out to be quite a bit smaller than I had expected as it is a small section of a strip mall. However, they do seem to make excellent use of their small space and they have some fun fabrics that I didn't see anywhere else. They also sell sewing machines, have classes and do long arm quilting right in the store. They have fat quarters available in most of their fabrics and they are very happy to cut more fat quarters if you can't find one in the fabric you want. The shop keepers were very friendly and helpful! Since this shop doesn't have quite as big a selection as some of the others and since it's a bit further from my house, I think I will probably just visit it every now and then when I'm looking for some extra special fabric.
Golden State Sewing Center
2435 South Winchester Blvd. Campbell, CA 95008
Monday through Friday: 10am to 6pm
Saturday: 10am to 5pm
Sunday: 12pm to 4pm
(photo is from The Granary website)
The Granary is my new second favorite quilting store in the Bay Area (right behind our local Natural Expressions)! It is located a bit further north on S. Mary Ave. in Sunnyvale, CA. From the moment I walked into the store and spotted their huge collection of 1940s reproduction fabric I felt right at home. The store isn't too big but is packed full of the most beautiful fabric! To make things easier for us they have almost every fabric readily available in fat quarters and half yard cuts that are conveniently rolled or folded up in baskets next to the different sections of fabric. If you can't find a fat quarter that you're looking for they are more than happy to cut one for you. I found a ton of fabric here that I simply adored and that I hadn't seen at any of the other stores - the reproduction fabric was my favorite though. I have so many quilts in mind now! The ladies where very friendly and helpful and as I shopped I noticed there was an area at the back where they hold classes. Although there wasn't a class going on while I was there, there were several ladies gathered together who were visiting and sharing quilting ideas. It felt like this was the type of environment where you could get lots of encouragement and help on projects and maybe even make a few friends. They have a wide selection of classes and I think I'll try to take some early next year. This is a shop that I know I'll go back to again and again.
1326 S. Mary Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Monday - Saturday 10am to 6pm
Thursday 10am to 8pm
Last Sunday of the Month: 10am to 4pm
(photo from Eddie's Quilting Bee website)
Eddie's Quilting Bee is probably one of the largest and most well known quilting shops in the Bay Area, or at least I found out about it before I discovered any other Bay Area quilting shops. Despite the fact that they have a large store with some really fun fabric, tons of classes, and a variety of quilting notions and sewing machines for sale, I can't say I like shopping here. The store is haunted by Eddie, the owner, who is a bit creepy and only seems to be friendly to customers when he's trying to sell you a really expensive machine. (Since I bought 2 machines here I know that he can put on the charm when trying to sell you something.) Although this store does seem to have a big following, every time I've visited, the sales staff hasn't really seemed interested in being helpful and I always feel uncomfortable - more like an intruder in their sacred quilting shop.
However, I was ready to try again as I continued my search for the perfect fabric for Nicola and Matt's quilt. I entered the store and began collecting fabric. I asked if I could set it somewhere while I continued shopping and the store clerk grudgingly said I could put it on the counter. As I piled more and more fabric up she eyed it warily as if dreading the moment when I would ask her to waste her valuable time cutting it for me. When I had finally collected all my fabric I asked her if they cut fat quarters. She replied that it depended on how busy they were and suggested that I look through a huge wall of tupperware containers that were stuffed with an odd assortment of pre-cut fat quarters. Together she and I spent a long time looking through the stash but we didn't find any of the fabric I had selected. Eventually she sighed, glanced around as if looking vainly for more customers to help so that she could get out of cutting my fabric and, since no one else was in site, said that she guessed she would cut my fat quarters. She started in and things were going along pretty well until another couple of shoppers came over and were waiting to be helped. I would have been happy to wait while she helped them and almost spoke up and asked to help them first but at that point I was feeling pretty uncomfortable and just wanted to get out of there. So they waited and she kept cutting. Eventually, Eddie came over and stood there fore a few minutes watching her and not offering to help the other customers. Eventually he seemed to give up on the hope that she would help them and turned and offered his assistance. However, he kept glancing over reproachfully as she cut my fat quarters. Finally, he seemed to get complete fed up and asked harshly, "How many fat quarters are you cutting her?" I didn't know how to answer and the sales clerk was silent so I gestured at the fabric that was left to cut - I hadn't counted it so I didn't have a definite answer. "Well," he continued, "We have a limit of 5 fat quarters cut per customer." I was taken aback and told the sales clerk just to cut half yards of the rest even though I didn't really want that much fabric and I knew it would be a lot more expensive. At that point I just wanted to get out of there. I was especially upset because there were several fabrics that I liked a lot and would have really liked to have an extra fat quarter of. However, because they weren't clear about their policy up front (or perhaps Eddie just made it up to get his sales clerk free of me), I didn't get to pick out the ones that I wanted to get fat quarters of vs. half yards and some of my favorites were already cut up as fat quarters. When she finally finished cutting my fabric I checked out and beat a hasty retreat back to Los Gatos.
As I drove away I was still a bit upset but I comforted myself with the fact that since I had now discovered so many nice quilting stores in the Bay Area, I never need to go back to Eddies again!
When I got home I spent the evening washing, drying, and ironing my newest fabrics! Then I laid them all out again and realized that I had just over 80 fat quarters, twice as many as I needed (silly me for not keeping track as I went). However, I was excited because I decided to make 2 quilts and keep one of them at our house!
All I had left to do was cut and piece the quilt!