I teach at a local quilt shop in Springfield, Missouri. When I was first asked to teach at
the shop, my husband’s response was, “What is this going to cost?” He totally understands
me and my love of quilt making. Each time I walk into the shop to
teach a class, I see a new bolt of fabric, a pattern, or a book that I want to
buy. I love going to "work," but I seldom walk out of the store without
purchasing something. All of the clerks at the store understand
this passion. We seldom see a full paycheck because we all tend to “work for fabric.”
In the past few years, I have also discovered other stores that are great for my quilt
making “addiction.” Here are some ideas to broaden your horizons and passion to shop.
Scrap Book Stores:
Quilt makers are discovering all sorts of tools and ideas at these stores. “Die-cut” shapes can be
purchased for as little as 25 cents. They are perfect for appliqué shapes and designs. Rulers with
fancy edges make great Victorian edges for quilts. Scrap book magazines provide inspirations for
appliqué and folk art designs. Letters in all sorts of shapes and sizes are available for tracing.
Stickers or single sheets of paper with fancy borders work well for designing a quilt label, reducing
it in size and photocopying it to photo transfer paper. Rubber stamps, fabric inks, calligraphy pens
and permanent pens are also available. Cute paper frames on photos provide ideas for framing quilt
Office Supply Stores:
I like to visit these stores and go to the area that contains design and architectural tools. I’ve
found inexpensive templates for circles, ovals and lettering. Flexible rulers work well for
designing floral stems. Paper glue sticks can be purchased in bulk packages. These can be used to
temporarily hold a piece of fabric in place.
Home Improvement Stores:
My husband is a carpenter so I often shop with him at these stores. While he orders lumber
and supplies, I wander the aisles. A retractable metal ruler is a must for quilt makers for
measuring quilts. An empty chalk line holder can be purchased for under $5. I’ve filled this with
white chalk and can now snap long quilting grid lines on a quilt. Insulated foam boards can be
purchased for a sewing room design wall. T-squares and L-squares are great for measuring and
cutting perfect corners. Levels help to check straight lines in a quilt’s border. Paint color
chips help for learning coordinating colors and color values. Plastic and metal washers can be
used for appliqué circles. Wallpaper books are filled with floral designs that can be simplified
into appliqué patterns. Peg board is available in 4 x 4 and 4 x 8 sheets for hanging sewing tools.
Tiny drills can be used to make holes for sewing embellishments.
Freezer paper is a must for designing borders, appliqué shapes, and patterns. Jell-O, Kool-Aid, food
coloring, coffee and tea are all great for fabric dyes. Bleach and dishwashing soap are good for
discharge dyeing of fabric. Zip-lock bags and small plastic containers are a must for organizing.
A ball of kitchen string is great for making piping or for measuring irregular shapes and edges.
Art Supply Stores:
These stores are filled with items to get you in an artistic and creative mood. Colored pencils can
be used for designing and choosing colors. Brushes and fabric paints can be used for stenciling on
fabric. Color wheels and books on color, composition, perspective and focal points are available to
help boost your design capabilities.
Hunting & Fishing Stores:
Head for the fly fishing section and you will find all sorts of neat metallic threads, feathers and
embellishments. Wildlife displays provide ideas for fall quilts. Purchase your husband a store
gift certificate so he won’t complain about your next fabric purchase.
Stained Glass Hobby Stores:
This is the best place to find stained glass patterns for quilt making. They have every pattern you
can imagine – angels, birds, church windows, Frank Lloyd Wright designs – you name it, they’ve got it.
Flower Shops & Greenhouses:
These are great places to get inspired to make a floral appliqué pattern. Bring your camera and ask
permission to take photos of their flowers and arrangements. You will learn lots about color and
design. Purchase silk flowers for leaf and petal shapes. Purchase real flowers for “flower pounding” on fabric.
Kitchen & Home Organizing Stores:
Is it time to organize your sewing room? These stores have every container you can imagine. Plastic
shoe boxes are good for organizing notions and small projects. Larger boxes can be used to store
fabrics – one for each color. Small glass tubes with caps are good for holding beads and buttons.
Tired of shopping? Meet your friends for lunch. Ask the manager if you can purchase large, unused
pizza boxes. They hold 14” blocks perfectly. Label each one along the edge to identify your UFO’s.