About two months ago, I discovered the existence of something called a "quilt shop hop," and it turns out there is one in western Washington each June. The point of the event is to raise awareness/interest in supporting local quilt shops, by encouraging quilters and sewers to visit many of them during a specific weekend. The shop hop organizers (at least here in Washington) work with local fabric designers to make a set of fabrics just for shop hop, then each participating quilt shop uses those fabrics (along with one of their choice, if desired) to design a quilt block. Each shop then creates small kits including the shop hop fabric and instructions needed to complete their block, which are given away for free to each shop hop patron who visits their store. Many stores also make "finishing kits" using their chosen fabric and any embellishments, and sell those for $1 to $4 apiece. Furthermore, there is a paper passport that each quilt shop hop participant gets stamped at each shop that they visit, and once they have obtained a certain number of stamps, they can turn it in for a chance in a raffle with some serious prizes (this year included two high-end sewing machines, several goody boxes, and lots of gift certificates).
The shop hop runs from Wednesday through Sunday, and I decided to give it a shot and see how many of the shops I could visit during that time. Of the 54 participating shops (one of the original 55 closed before shop hop began), most are along the I-5 corridor between Vancouver WA (near Portland OR) and Bellingham (up near the Canadian border), a highway stretch of over 250 miles. There are even more out on the Olympic peninsula and on the various islands, but I put those out of the running since I only had one full day and couldn't spend time on the ferries. Thus I focused on the general Seattle metro area, and managed to visit a total of 18 shops between Wednesday and Saturday, with 11 of them visited during a marathon day off on Friday between 9am and 3pm. I went on Wednesday at lunch to visit the two shops closest to work with my best friend and another coworker, hit the shop near my house on Thursday after work, and had extra time appear on Saturday so hit two shops up north that morning plus one near the airport that evening. Friday I began in Lakewood and ended in Arlington, with a total driving distance of about 250 miles! All of the shop hop block kits and finishing kits that I picked up are shown in the picture to the left...there are a lot of them! It was a very long day, but I had a lot of fun.
Many of the shops had additional fun things going on, with several offering bottles of water or pieces of fruit, others offering special bundles of items or "pick a prize" drawings, and plenty with raffles hosted by the shop or a local quilt guild. I'm all about supporting quilt guilds and other worthy causes, especially for just $1 a ticket, so I bought a raffle ticket for everything that I came across - quite a few tickets, as you can see! Most are for quilts, but one is a drawing for two Featherweight sewing machines instead of a quilt. Yes, I need another sewing machine like I need a hole in the head, but for $1 who can pass that up? This is one of several reasons why it's a good idea to take a lot of one dollar bills with you on quilt shop hop, even if it made me feel a little odd to be asking for $30 in $1's at the bank on Thursday afternoon. Now I just need to organize my tickets so I can keep an eye out when the dates for the drawings come around - I left my email and phone number with all ticket stubs, of course, but best to have an idea of what gets drawn when just in case.
And of course, I visited 18 quilt shops...so there were purchases. Just a few, nothing too crazy, although a small purchase at nearly every quilt shop does add up quickly! I wanted to support the shops for participating in this event (which was a lot of fun for me), so I tried to buy something at nearly every one. I saved up a few essentials that I needed on purpose to buy at some shops, and then of course found quite a bit of fabric here and there that needed to come home with me! My total haul is in the photo below...
Lots of fabric, including a roll of 3 yards of rock/stone pattern flannel (on clearance!) and a half-yard of laminated fabric for making a new bag. Everything else is fat quarters, 1/2 yard, or 1 yard cuts of things that caught my eye. I also picked up more basting pins, some hand-sewing needles, a spool of teal thread for finishing my current quilt project, a shop hop pin, and a super cute little zippered bag that says "Shop Hop Queen" for keeping my hand-sewing items in when I travel.
There is also a neat handmade large wood button, which are sold at a quilt shop in Tacoma and which I just adored. I bought some green embroidery floss to use as the "thread" in the button and it will be hanging up in my quilt room shortly. This picture also shows some of the fun butterfly fat quarters I picked up, as well as another photo of the laminated raindrop fabric.
I also picked up one pattern book, and of course some lovely items from Shibori Dragon in Lakewood (my favorite stop at the Sewing Expo, and their shop is even better - I got a dragon to add to my collection!). At two different shops I picked up two different fabrics that have a long repeating print that is flowers with insects growing across the width of fabric - one in purple with lilies and one in blue with dragonflies - that I'm going to interweave to form a simple pattern that should be quite striking. All in all, I'm thrilled that I got to do shop hop this year, and hopefully next year I'll be able to do it again, this time with a friend!
And of course lest this post be solely about quilting, here's what I received at the tournament last weekend - the FMCh pin for Ezri, and the FGDCh50k pins for Phoebe and Jadzia. All three girls titled at the March 26/27 tournament, which is probably the only time that will happen in my life, and I am so proud of all of them and thrilled to have the pins to show for it.
I also got the 50k point plates to put on Jadzia and Phoebe's plaques, which will be done this week or this weekend. We have also been on vacation for the past two weeks (and then rolled right into a tournament in Oregon last weekend!), so I have a lot to share from that as well but will have to wait until I can get the photos off the camera. Sometimes it's much easier to make blog posts from iPhone photos...oh well!