Monday, January 31, 2011

Closed Shop

Several years ago we had four quilt shops in our small town of 20,000. One was a home based business that specialized in batik fabrics. One was a regular fabric shop that carried a huge supply of quilting fabric. Another shop featured the newest Moda collections. And the last one carried quilting fabrics, several brands of sewing machines and gave classes.

I never really appreciated all the selection we had.  If I needed a particular kind of fabric I just checked the shop that carried it. Well over the last while, one by one they have closed. We are now down to one. I've been thinking about this a lot. Why is it that they have closed? Each shop had its own reason.  Retirement, or family reasons were what they told their customers. But I think the biggest reason is that we quilters didn't support our local merchants.

Our town is a short distance from the Canada/ USA border. In a couple of hours you can be at numerous quilt shops that carry the same fabrics and supplies that the shops in our hometown carry. However, there is one big difference. The cost of the fabric and such is dollars less in the USA. So for many people, a short drive would save them a lot of money.

I've really struggled with this. I like a deal ,so yes, I have shopped across the border. But I've also struggled with the fact that if I don't support my local shops, they aren't going to be there. I usually try to purchase what I am looking for at a local shop. Then if I just can't get what I am looking for I would go elsewhere.
I remember the days when we didn't have a quilt shop and I sure don't want to go back to that time.

It really makes me angry when I hear quilters say that the local shops are just ripping them off . That they are charging more for goods just because they can. It wasn't until I started my machine quilting business that I discovered that you can purchase many goods in a USA quilt shop for less than what a merchant can purchase the same product wholesale here is Canada. And I also discovered that a lot of big wholesalers make it almost impossible for a small business to purchase from them. They make it so that you have to order a certain amount of goods before they will accept an order from you. Often times those minimum order limits are so large that a small shop can't afford to buy from them.

Most quilt shop owners aren't in business because they want to get rich. They love quilts, quilting and quilters. They want us to have a place where we can go for inpiration, for help and for friendship.

So, if you want to keep a quilt shop in your community you'd better support them!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What is a quilt?

    A quilt is more than fabric,batting and stitches, It is a rare and wonderful creation of the soul which expresses our personal statements, our likes and dislikes, feelings, thoughts and loves. It is a bridge that encourages friendships. It supports our need for recognition,as we dislpay it proudly to the applause of admirers. It links us with those who've stitched before andwho will follow as it gives a wordlesss but meaningful description of who we are and what we feel. A quilt is all these-and more: it is the emodiment of love. (Diane McClun and Laura Nownes)
    Quilts give us a chance to express our need for giving. It always amazes me how a quilt comforts both the giver and the recipient. A number of years ago, I made a jar quilt. It was a simple quilt that I made as a joke for my sons. At the time, this was a popular pattern and most people filled their jars with bugs and other creepy crawly things that young people collect. In my jars, I decided to put different kinds of fruit and vegetables in my jars to relect my goal  to have some food items on hand for hard times. Since we have limited storage space, most of my canning went under the beds. It was a joke or fear of my sons that one day they would come home and their beds would be high off the ground (like the princess and the pea story) due to the number of canning jars beneath them.
    My sister loved this quilt and begged me to give it to her. Instead of parting with mine, I gave her the materials to make one of her own. Since she was not a quilter at the time I thought is was a perfect way to spend some time with her doing something I loved. She worked very hard to finish that quilt. I helped her cut out the fabric and she sewed. When she left my home she had a completed quilt top but it was not quilted yet. She enlisted the help of an older lady in the community she lived. This lady took her under her wing and showed her how to sandwich the layers of the quilt together and to quilt it.
    Several months after the quilt was complete, she called me. She said "You'll never guess what I did with the quilt?" "I gave it away!" One of our cousin's sons was in the hospital having a very serious heart operation. She had taken her quilt to the hospital and had given it to him. He was so thrilled. During his recuperation, it was his constant source of comfort. It is funny, my sister wanted that quilt so bad. Yet, she gave it away. This quilt gave my sister such joy making it but I think it gave her greater joy giving it away.
    The next quilt my sister made was for our father. She collected fabrics for months to have just the right ones. She just finished the quilt and was planning a triphome to give it to him but before she could, my father passed away. She was very disapointed that Dad never got to feel the warmth and the love that went into that quilt.  She decided that Dad still needed his quilt. It was a touching moment in th funeral home when she placed the quilting lovingly over my father. The joy in her eyes was a priceless gift.
    Ask any quilter why she made a quilt and there is always a story. I made this quilt for a new grandchild, or for a daughters wedding or as a gift for a son coming home from his mission or for a friend who has cancer.
   What ever reason you decided to learn to quilt, I'm glad you did! May you find as much joy in the process as I have.