The Time I Went to a Quilt Shop and Didn’t Buy Anything

My family and I are on summer vacation. We are all having a lovely time visiting southern Maine, staying in a  vacation home on the coast. Ray and I started our vacation by touring a bit of Massachusetts and New Hampshire on our way up to the house in Maine.

We made a stop in Portsmouth and spent an afternoon wandering around the city. Guess what we stumbled across? I’m not sure why, but it surprised me to find this shop right in the middle of the city. Unsurprisingly, I was eager to take a look inside. Ray went off to wander and Julia stayed with me, as I promised Ray- ‘I’ll only be ten minutes’. (Famous last words.)


The shop was a crazy riot of color. It is the second largest seller of Kaffe Fasset fabrics in the United States so that is probably enough for you to envision what it looked like. Here is some help, should you need it.

It was vivid color, wall to wall. Really gorgeous fabric everywhere, making it so much fun to walk through and drool over all that color.


It was kind of funny though; because I was there without intention, I couldn’t decide on a single thing to buy. These fabrics are not ones that I would buy without a plan. They are bold, large focus fabrics that are deeply saturated and don’t easily work into a project unplanned.  

The two women that were working that afternoon were a delight. They were preparing their kits for the Row by Row challenge. I noticed that they were ripping, rather than rotary cutting, the fat quarters. She explained that they don’t cut hardly at all. Ripping is more accurate (and watching her, it seemed to be much faster.) She snipped the fabric at the top and tore straight down. Worked every time.

Browsing was just as good. It was good to see familiar designers being stocked in a shop like this. Go Amanda Jean!


There was plenty of inspiration to be had. I thought this maple leaf table runner was very pretty and it seems like a fairly simple project to create for the fall.


So, while I didn’t adhere to my promised quick ten minute visit, I did feel very satisfied to have browsed this amazing shop. I watched them rip precise fat quarters, drooled a bit over all of the lovelies they had, and came away with another possible project in the works; all the while not spending a dime.

Lest you think I am always this disciplined (and actually, if you have been reading my blog for long, you know I am not) you should know that I have a list of quilt shops to visit while in Maine. I need to do a bit of thinking first so I have an idea of what I will actually buy though.  I feel better when I shop for fabric mindfully. It is just too easy to go crazy otherwise!

Linking to Main Crush Monday. Find the link at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

18 thoughts on “The Time I Went to a Quilt Shop and Didn’t Buy Anything

  1. Rosemary Bolton

    I am a little bit shocked, but I know that feeling. I have done that…. a few times.
    Overwhelmed but certainly very inspiring environment.
    Thanks for sharing the pictures

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Rosemary! How’s life? Hopefully all is well with your parents.
      It was a very fun shop. I have to be in the right mood, or have a specific goal in mind. Kind of the same with shopping for clothes. Sometimes the perfect thing pops out and sometimes, I just walk out empty handed. Hope you’re are enjoying this beginning of summer!

      Reply
  2. Wendy

    I have done this as well, but often find myself a little frustrated when I want to buy the fabric, but don’t have a plan. What a fun shop, though! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Reply
  3. Diana @ Red Delicious Life

    If I don’t have a project in mind, I sometimes walk out of a store without making any purchases. And I agree – very bold prints are hard to use unless you have something specifically in mind. I’ve heard of people ripping fabric instead of cutting. Which way did they rip it? From selvage to selvage?

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Yes, the fabric is ripped selvage to selvage. Seems to work really well. I thought it was pretty interesting. Always something new to learn, right? How is summer going?

      Reply
  4. Tami

    I hope you are having a lovely family vacation! Are all of your kids there? What a treat it must be!

    If I get to visit a new to me shop and don’t have a particular project in mind, I look for low volumes, or dots. I seem to want to use those a lot. Well, at least I plan to use them a lot. Lol.

    Have a fantastic rest of your trip. It looks beautiful there!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      It is a huge treat. We haven’t all been in the same place at the same time for five years! It is so hard for everyone to juggle their schedules and make it happen. So yea, really happy to be with all of them!

      Reply
    1. Mona

      I always rip my fabric, because it will always tear along the weave, either warp or weft. Sometimes when you buy fabric, it is so off-kilter already that you lose several inches in the straightening of the fabric. Of course, I don’t throw the fabric from the straightened edge away….I always use it in scrappy patterns or strip piecing. I just like to have my fabric on the grain whenever possible.

      This may be less important in quilting, but when I was taught to sew, it was very important that your fabric be straightened and the fold line accurate before you began laying out your pattern so that you were on the grain. Otherwise the clothes hung funny.

      Reply
      1. Bernie Post author

        Definitely, I am fairly careful about getting a straight grain when I sew clothing. I do think it helps with qulting as well. Cutting with the grain seems to give a better line and helps control some distortion. I thought the ripping was really interesting tho.

        Reply
    2. Bernie Post author

      We are definitely having a great trip. I brought just a small amount of hand quilting to work on and it seems strange to be away from it for a long stretch. Ever so nice to be hanging out with my kids tho!

      Reply
  5. Stephanie

    I always feel guilty when I don’t buy anything. But I have been there, when you don’t have a plan it’s hard to settle on picking something to add to your stash. Enjoy your vacation!

    Reply
  6. JanineMarie

    I can totally relate to not buying. I like to check out quilt stores on vacation, but I get overwhelmed when I don’t have a project in mind. I’ve been known to walk out of a store full of fabric eye candy with a yard and a half of Kona Snow. Boring, but I had to buy something, and I knew I’d eventually use that. It is easier when you have a project in mind. When we went to Vermont one fall, I decided to make a fall leaf quilt, so everywhere I went, I bought a few fall colors batiks for my vacation souvenir. I’m thinking you need some “Maine” fabrics. I’m glad you’re having a good time. It looks like the weather is fabulous!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      The idea of collecting a series of batiks is a good one. I really like that maple leaf project and that would be a fun way to make it!
      The weather has been awesome- we certainly got lucky. We are all in full vacation mode, sleeping in late and eating ridiculous amounts of food. Great way to start the summer!

      Reply
  7. Kaholly

    I do that often! I get overstimulated! I’m from S. Maine! Haven’t lived there in many years, and it’s grown up a lot since I left, but I still visit annually, and it’s still pretty. Enjoy!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Exactly. There was so much to look at and I think it became sort of overwhelming,
      We are loving Maine. This is our first time. We have done some wandering, looking at gorgeous coastline, eating too much and generally enjoying each other’s company. Perfect!

      Reply
  8. Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts

    It’s always very overwhelming for me to walk into a shop of that size, especially without a plan. Kudo’s to you for your restraint! That table runner looks amazing, and like a fun project. I hope you find more inspiration in the other shops you visit. Enjoy your vacation!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      We are having such a nice time Beth. I am really excited to tackle that fall leaf project. I think it would be so pretty, with as a mini for the wall or a table runner. Maybe I will give it a try later this summer as fall comes closer!

      Reply

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