New Jersey gets a bad rap for a lot of things (some justified; most not), but I’ve got to tell you that it’s a terrific place for a quilting shop hop.
The NJ Shop Hop has been a springtime staple since before I started quilting, and although the shops that participate have changed a bit, the concept remains the same. Shop hoppers pick up a passport and visit every shop within a specified time frame. Each shop “stamps” the passport and provides a free pattern. Kits are available to purchase for each pattern, and visitors also get to enter a daily drawing at each shop. When the passport is full, the shopper is entered into a grand prize drawing and gets a small prize for completing the hop.
Each year’s quilt patterns have a theme of some sort. This year, it’s Fill In the Blanks. South Jersey designer Merry May provided pieced block patterns to every shop. The block patterns have been kitted with Michael Miller Project Dovetail fabric (but you can use your own fabric, of course). After completing your passport, you get a page with the layout for finishing your quilt (and a mug is the 2018 prize for getting to every shop).
Because New Jersey is so small, it’s possible to visit every participating shop in one day if you plan well. My schedule didn’t allow for that, so I split my hop into two days: the five “western” shops on Wednesday, the four “eastern” shops on Thursday.
I like to buy the kits from every shop to support small business, but I usually reserve other purchases for the shops I don’t usually visit other than for shop hops or other special events. As a result, my first day was not very expensive…. I bought a few zippers (that I needed) from The Pin Cushion, a yard of striped fabric that was on sale and caught my fancy at The Quilted Nest, and a few fat quarters plus some sale fabric from Pennington Quilt Works. I visit Needles and Pins and The Village Quilter pretty often, so I didn’t buy anything other than the kits. I even pitched in to help at the cutting table at Needles and Pins (my mom works there, and the shop was swamped with shop hoppers!).
On day two, I headed north immediately after my kids got on the bus and arrived at The Quilt Spot shortly after it opened. I’d never been there before, but I immediately felt at home. It’s a cheerful and friendly shop. Despite its small size, they’ve fit a lot a fabric, notions, and samples in there. I bought a Moda quilt kit and one of their SEWCIOPATH Row by Row license plates.
Next on the list was Sew Jersey, another shop that’s new to me. The shop is currently expanding into a neighboring storefront, so it felt a little cluttered in there with all the work going on, but I can certainly see the potential there when the expansion is complete. It’s a second floor shop with LOTS of huge windows, so there’s an airy feel. My favorite part about the shop was that every customer (well, except newbie me) was greeted by name, so clearly there’s a strong local following. They carry a lot of machines and I searched through impressive piles of precuts, too. I bought some brick fabric that might be just the ticket for a small project I’m working on.
And just like that, I was back in familiar territory. Mouse Creek Quilts is a little out of the way for me, but I do get to that area occasionally and make sure to stop in. There always seems to be something happening in their classroom! I found some bright green and yellow fabric in the sale section that I bought for my son (a new quilter), and was happy to dig through a pile of free books and magazines, too. I picked up some Quilting Arts magazines from before I subscribed, and some books that I snagged for a friend who enjoys silk ribbon embroidery.
Finally, Quilting Possibilities! This shop is probably a teensy bit closer to my house than any other, but I seldom go in that direction and don’t stop in as often as I should. They have a terrific collection of hand-dyed wools, so I couldn’t resist a kit for a lilac tabletopper. Fortunately for me, the shop was in a bit of a lull between the waves of shop hoppers, because I had a great deal of difficulty picking out matching thread for that little project! Seriously, I’m not usually so high-maintenance and I really appreciated the patient attention of the staff.
I turned in my passport and picked up my mug and hustled home to start the after-school chauffeur duties, satisfied with my two-part adventure and with LOTS more sewing lined up.
If you’re in the NJ area, the hop continues through Sunday, April 22, 2018, so you still have time to participate.