Quilting is a tactile art. No matter how pretty something looks from afar, when you are cuddled with a quilt on the couch it needs to feel good wrapped around you.
Likewise, fabric needs to respond to your touch when you are cutting, sewing, pressing. Some fabrics are softer, drape more, or are even silky between your fingers. And those are just the quilting cottons! Quilt batting varies in drape and feel too. From brand to brand and between fiber content. Then you add the quilting and a new dimension of texture emerges. Not just texture you see, but something that rubs and nubs under your fingers and over your legs when the quilt covers you.
This tactile experience begins right when you buy the fabric. Standing the store, too many bolts piled under your arm. Picked for their colours, but when you start editing and dreaming you start to feel the fabric. Some will get discarded because they are too stiff and you aren't sure how much that will wash out. Some will seem too flimsy, seemingly ready to fall apart with a pull on a seam.
This tangible beginning to a quilt is only possible in a quilt store. (With no offense to the wonderful on-line fabric retailers out there.)
Just as quilting is tactile, it is also social. Blogs and more are wonderful for connecting quilters across the world. And for many in rural or remote locations, those surrounded by kids more than quilters, or sewists living in a world of athletes the internet is a fabulous thing indeed. I love my connections that started here. But I do quite enjoy getting into a store and chit chatting as I pull fabric. From the store gossip to the latest fabrics not quite put on the floor, building a relationship with the owners and employees builds more than a retailer relationship. Quilters are drawn together and are tied by a bond only cut by rotary cutter.
As confident as I feel in my choices, a second opinion is always good. It is a challenge to my own sensibilities at times, but always welcome. When shopping in the store it is wonderful to hear and see what someone else might do with that particular fabric. And I'll be the first to admit that there are a lot of good ideas out there, and they might indeed be better than mine.
I must admit that when I was a beginner I heavily relied on the local stores to guide me through challenges I was having. Bring in a WIP and nearly anyone in the store (employee or another customer) is almost always willing to offer insight, opinion, and a little lesson. And usually lots of laughs! Now, if you run into me in a store and you are looking for an opinion you can count on me to offer it, even if you didn't ask me!
Geez, now I really want to go visit my LQS, or the 5 that I am lucky enough to have within 15 minutes of me...
My Sewing Room
Out of Hand
Along Came Quilting
A Sewing Sensation
And on January 24th I encourage you to get and shop your LQS, wherever you may be. Load up the kids and make it a day trip if need be. Support Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day!
See more blog posts on the Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day Tour. A whole host of wonderful quilters are there extolling the virtues of their local shops. Between now and January 24th you can add your post too! I'd love to see where you all shop! There is even a photo contest with some great prizes.
See you at the store, fabric in hand. I promise a chat and a extra bolt of fabric in your pile.