If you’re a quilter like I am (when I can get a few moments away from my other projects, that is), then you are probably familiar with the tee shirts depicting a large pile of folded fabric and the initials FART across the top. They stand for Fabric Acquisition Road Trip. In recent years, quilting has taken off again as a hobby and so has the “shop hop” or “FART” as individual quilt shops get together and offer specific parts to a collaborative project and freebies in an attempt to drum up foot traffic. It works so well that its part of every quilt shop’s marketing plan.

When I travel, I make it a point to go to every quilt shop in the area. I always find something interesting whether it’s a local themed print (like turtles sunning on the beach in Hawaii, orcas swimming with their babies in Seattle, or barnyard animals doing yoga in Wisconsin) or a really cool Christmas print.

If you follow my Facebook pages (The Singing Seamstress –Houston and The Singing Seamstress LOVES Santa), you know I like to make all my Santa suits unique. A lot of what contributes to this are the details–interesting buttons on shirts and vests, distinctive trim and embroidery, and different prints for all parts of the suit.

In my travels, I’ve come across a few interesting quilt shops. One of these is The Sewing Basket in Prosser, WA (www.prossersewingbasket.com). They have a HUGE Christmas fabric section year round . . . AND it also happens to be the next town over from where my mom lives.

It’s always an adventure when I mix business and pleasure on these trips. Mom tends to do her own shopping, while I attempt to video call my clients in the spotty Wi-Fi of the old house and detached garage that functions as the shop. That’s all part of the fun! I think I amuse the owner and her employees as my use for her materials is definitely outside the norm. That and I usually spend over $1,000 adding to my stash.

This year, I had to divide and conquer. I visited the shop over several days to accommodate the number of clients and even met one of the local Santas there. This local Santa brought his wife (still trying to talk her into being Mrs. Claus) and his daughter, who very proudly and precociously introduced herself as “Elf Pearl.” All four of us helped Santa decide on his vest and shirt fabrics, and we even got both employees to help hunt down the perfect candy cane print.

A few years ago, I attended my cousin’s wedding in Wisconsin. While there, I also went looking for materials. I figured there would be plenty of quilt shops in the Midwest, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. In addition to finding all sorts of Christmas fabrics to add to my stash, there were all kinds of fun farm themed prints, including the aforementioned barnyard animals doing yoga. The hubster just had to have this made into a shirt, and it’s still one of his favorites.

Another memorable shop I found was In Ketchikan, AK, called Whales Tale Quilt Shop (https://whalestailquiltshop.com). Mom and I found this one while on a cruise to Alaska. The shop in Ketchikan was interesting in that the GPS showed it as being in the water. It wasn’t until we found the shop that we understood; it was on a pier OVER the water! It is a tiny shop but stuffed full of native prints, Tlingit glyphs, and local fauna. I didn’t find anything for Santa, but I did bring home many prints for the camp shirts the hubster loves to wear and fabric enough to make myself a quilt. Mom and I will be going again next summer, we’re taking the hubster this time. I think I may need another suitcase for all the fabric he will find. LOL!

Traveling and meeting new folks and learning about new cultures is a ton of fun, especially the micro cultures we have here in the U.S. I love how the local quilt shops reflect those micro cultures and how their distinctiveness helps me add magic to my projects.

Until next time, dear readers. May your bobbins be full and your seams be straight!