Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Maine Road Trip: How Many Quilt Shops Can I Visit in a Week?

The answer to that question is:  not all of them!

When my daughter and I began planning a road trip to Maine for vacation, I did a web search to find fabric stores, bead shops and rubber stamp stores along our route, hoping to stop in a few and see what different items they would have that I can't get locally.  Yes, it's feeding my three favorite hobbies, but in addition, I'm trying to support small, local businesses.  If we don't shop locally, soon there will be no small retailers left.  Additionally, shops in vacation destinations do a seasonal business -- they probably make 75% of their income during the summer (or winter) months, when tourist dollars are being spent.  So, I needed to do my share!
My daughter, Kaitlin, and me in Bar Harbor, Maine.
I found a website that had a map of quilt shops in Maine (http://www.maineshophop.com/Home_Page.html -- go to the printables page for the map). After deciding our itenerary (a 'foodie' walking tour of Bar Harbor, a whale watching boat trip, etc.), I mapped out, from North to South, the small towns that we would drive through along U.S. Route 1, the original Atlantic coastal highway, and made a list of all of the shops I hoped to see along our drive.

The first stop was Quilt 'n Fabric, owned by Ruth Davis, located at 11 Sealcove Road, Southwest Harbor, Me., 04679.  A little off the beaten path, this store carries yarn and needlepoint notions, as well as quilt fabric.  I picked up a pattern for an adult-sized stocking cap my sister wanted, as well as a piece of green 'blending' fabric for those Irish-themed quilts I make.  I also scored some soft baby yarn on sale, for my other sister.  This shop wasn't on my 'list', but I was happy we stumbled upon it.

Driving south from Bar Harbor toward Freeport, we passed through the town of Belfast.  The second shop was off the highway, in the downtown area.  

Fiddlehead Artisan Supply, located at 159 High Street, Belfast, Me., 04915, carried a bright array of quilting prints and panels.  The shop is very cute, and has a lot of sample projects on display.  In addition to quilt fabric, they also carry wool roving, beautiful papers for card and book making, some rubber stamping supplies, and paints, pastels and sketching supplies.  We saw an adorable 'ABC' panel for a baby quilt, and my daughter picked out the companion fabrics for the blanket.

We stumbled upon the next shop on the way to Boothbay Harbor and our whale watching excursion.  On Board Fabrics (www.onboardfabrics.com) is on Route 27 (660 Boothbay Road, Edgecomb, Me., 04556).

It is a few minutes out of town in a old barn that doesn't look like much from the outside, but is really cool on the inside, with exposed beams and a rustic feel.  The shop has been there since the 1990's, but current owner Molly Hutchins purchased it about two years ago.  She has her own line of decorative pillows for sale, and carries home-dec fabrics alongside the quilting cottons and batiks.  I picked up a hand-screened panel of a starfish that will make a cute pillow for my friend who owns a beach house, as well as some Maine-inspired kiddie prints for another baby quilt.

My daughter needed coffee so we stopped in the small town of Brunswick.  It has an old-fashioned downtown feel, and I found a small shop called The Fabric Den at 124 Maine Street, in the lower level of the Senter's Place building.  While the fabric selection was a bit limited, the owner has a busy schedule of classes and project days for her clients.  She also recently purchased a long-arm quilting machine, and is gearing up to teach others how to operate it and will offer machine-quilting services.  After losing her husband a couple of years ago, this is a new venture for her and she hopes to expand and move in the coming year.

Freeport, Maine, is home to L.L.Bean, and they have a huge flagship store (and an outlet across the street, too).  It's worth a stop and is open 24 hours a day.  A couple miles south of L.L.Bean on Route 1 in a small strip mall was by far my favorite shop on this trip.

 Cottonweeds  (www.cottonweeds.com) is a full-service shop.  It has books, patterns, 100% cotton quilt fabrics, batiks, hand-dyed 100% wool fabrics, sewing machines and offers a wide variety of classes.  There are many completed quilts and projects on display throughout the store, and the fabric selection is vast.  It has a sensible layout and lots of  'eye candy.'  I could have spent hours in this store, and maybe someday I can go back and take a class with them.  But, alas, we were moving on, heading toward Boston.

Our Friday morning destination was the Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, for a brewery tour and beer tasting (my daughter's idea, of course :).  Well worth the trip!  It was an informative tour, the free samples were generous, and I especially liked that they recycle or re-purpose things.
I love this chandelier made from recycled beer bottles...may have to go on my project list!
Not far from the brewery was the last stop on my quilt shop quest -- Sew Portland, 306 Warren Avenue, Portland, Me. 04103.  This unassuming storefront has a large display area and carried plenty of ocean and beach inspired fabrics.  Patterns for all sorts of quilting projects, both big and small, are available here.

I kept seeing lobster print fabric, but just couldn't think of anything to do with it!!
They are also a Pfaff sewing machine dealer and have a classroom for in-store lessons.  Owner Kathy Stanley has another shop in central Maine (Sewing by the Sea, 11 Periwinkle Lane, Trenton, Me), that I didn't get to, but if the selection of fabric available in Portland is any indication, I think it will be a 'must visit' on my next trip.  

There were many other shops on my list, but eight days just wasn't enough time!  I wished I had stopped in Nobleboro for Attic Heirlooms, Alewives Fabrics and Mainely Sewing.  Fabricate, a little shop in Bar Harbor, is closed on Monday, the only day we were in town, so I missed that one.  Knight's Quilt Shop in Cape Neddick will have to wait until next trip, along with the Mariner's Compass in Bath.  There are about 44 quilt shops in Maine, and I only scratched the surface, but I have a lot of new projects to keep me busy through the fall and winter, and something to look forward to the next time I road trip to the North!

One more thing I think any sewer would appreciate...while in Boston, we walked down Newbury Street, considered the 'fashion district' of Beantown.  In the front window of AllSaints Spitalfields, a European fashion house for men and women, there are over 300 antique sewing machines.  I stood there for 10 minutes admiring the display, wondering how they amassed the collection.  I only hope that when they change the window display, those machines find a loving home!


View of Newbury Street, from inside the store, showing just a bit of the display.

1 comment:

  1. Gee, Renee, where are you going to find enough beer bottles for the chandelier project!? ;-)