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THE STAY-AT-HOME QUILTER: Quilt Stores in Greater Atlanta

By Lynn Holland

[Editor's Note: Unfortunately, Village Quilt in Stone Mountain, mentioned below, closed in July 2002 when its owner, Joyce Selin, retired. We wish Joyce the best and will miss seeing her at her wonderful shop!]

Living in Atlanta has spoiled me. On any day, there is an open quilt store within 15 minutes of my house. If it's not Sunday, there are two. And if I want to extend my travel time to a half hour, there are at least four available to meet my fabric needs. Of course, the closest two are the ones I frequent the most, and not strictly due to proximity. My relationship with Village Quilt in Stone Mountain Village (975 Main St.,Stone Mountain, GA 30083, (770) 469-9883) began before I became seriously interested in quilting. I can remember wandering into this store when my children were little (Village opened its doors in 1981), and wishing I had both the time and other resources to take a class at this imaginative place. Today, of course, I am addicted to the monthly Santa Club workshop and visit there practically weekly. Joyce Selin, shop owner, has assembled a sizeable collection of wonderful fabric and an even more wonderful shop staff. The staff seems to truly love being there, and no one leaves the store a stranger.

Although not the largest shop in the area, Village stands in my mind as the "cornerstone" store of the Atlanta area. The selection is varied, but solid. The range of classes is impressive, both in number and type. In any given quarter, there are multiple hand applique/hand stitching classes, several wearable offerings, lots of machine technique classes and of course, monthly Santa and doll club meetings. There is a block of the month, Millennial Stars, which is designed and "kitted" in-house. For those not into Marge La Benne's scrappy style, there are two other BOTM offerings. In general, if you need it or want it, Village Quilt has it. Although the stock at Village is always current, and the fabric selection is wide, the emphasis here is NOT on the funky or offbeat. They are like family -- traditional, reliable, always welcoming.

Should you need sustenance after shopping at VQS, give the Magnolia Tea Room (just down Mountain Street from the shop) or The Village Corner Restaurant (just down Main Street) a try. Magnolia does a lovely Southern lunch while Village has the most fabulous bread and other continental goodies. Both are high on my list of places to go even when you're not visiting quilt stores.

Lynn and Pamela admire the dolls and patterns in the "Santa Corner"
at Tiny Stitches

Not too far from Village, in the next little town of Tucker, Dream Quilters (2343-A Main St., Tucker, GA 30084, (770) 939-8034),opened in 1991, the joint venture of two sisters. Although both sisters have left the business, the new owner, Jan Holdorf, has managed to preserve much of Pam and Libby's uniqueness and added her own stamp as well. DQ has always had a flair for color and unusual design techniques, although there is an emphasis on traditional fabrics and methods as well. There is always a good supply of novelty and seasonal fabric, often right up front to make it difficult to resist temptation. Beautiful batiks and Balis, as well as a good selection of oriental-style fabrics, round out the hallmarks of this store. The staff is friendly and helpful and ladies of the shop frequently participate in shop challenges, which the customers judge by their votes. This year there are four Block Of The Month opportunities at DQ. My favorite is Cynthia Willard's "Angels More and More," based on a pattern from Curtis Boehringer Quilting. Each month a 20x30 block is completed, yielding a bed-sized quilt when you're done. There's also the intriguing "Piecing the Trail" which offers history lesson each month along with each new section of the quilt, to give you the flavor of the quilting experience in the 1850s.

The shop is well-lighted from the large picture windows, making it easy
to see true colors.

Classes cover the time-honored basics and then expand your horizons to include the very latest, including origami, fabric dyeing, foundation piecing and silk ribbon techniques. Yes, there is a monthly Santa Club, and VERY importantly, Dream Quilters has now begun to offer its newsletter via e-mail for those of us who hate to wait for the class schedule. Another great feature is that DQ is open on Sunday, which is a real plus for those of us who can't get there during the week.

Every so often, I visit the far reaches of Marietta, about a 30-minute trip from my house if it's not rush hour. Within a few minutes of each other are two wonderful stores, Tiny Stitches and Little Quilts.

Far from being diminutive, Tiny Stitches (2520 E. Piedmont Rd., Suite H, Marietta, GA 30062 (770) 565-1113)is a sizeable shop with tons of fabrics (4,000 bolts), books, patterns and about every other quilt-related gift and notion imaginable. At the front of the store is a nice playtable with decent toys, ready for the restless tot who comes shopping with Mother. Since the attractions are so vast here, Mom's visits are probably not just quick trips. Just beyond the kids area is a giant selection of cute pins and mini-ornament patterns. After that, there are bolts and bolts from which to choose. I was particularly taken by a cute Noah's ark themed quick quilt, which was available in kit form, but very attractively packaged. Tiny Stitches has the best Santa, snowman and doll pattern selection I can remember. The day of my visit, someone was carefully sorting through the big scrapbasket and selecting a huge number of pieces (for a charm quilt?). There was a respectable crowd at the cutting table, everyone having a great time admiring the choices of everybody else.

This store is a host store for the Debbie Mumm Friendship Club. Among their monthly offerings are a Baltimore Album class, a Strip of the Month quilt, Marti Mitchell Sampler, a holiday items group and a Santa QUILT group. In addition to the expected basic techniques classes, Tiny Stitches features classes in the latest ideas such as T-shirt quilts and photo transfer methods. Add to this a beautiful selection of polymer clay buttons and other gorgeous embellishments and you're got one fabulous shop. My one regret is that I didn't sign up for their cat jacket class - but maybe next time. After all, you've got to go back to a store which features as "sad news" in the newsletter that this is the last year to buy 20th century fabric!

Just a few minutes away is Little Quilts (1450-C Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30062, (770) 578-6727), operated by the ladies of Little Quilts fame -- Alice Berg, Mary Ellen von Holt and Sylvia Johnson. Opened late last fall, this store is a house that used to be home to an antique store. If you're ever seen one of their charming publications, you'll feel like you've stepped into the book. This store is too charming to do justice in a review, not to mention that Mary Ellen von Holt was behind the counter that day! Most of the fabric is of the small prints/reproduction variety that typifies the Little Quilts look. There is a healthy selection of primitive embroidery patterns, an extensive redwork collection, Little Quilts "cheater cloth" and yards and yards of the familiar "magic" variety for which they are known. There are also rug hooking supplies, and many other goodies that will get your nostalgia bone to aching.

The shop shows the sense of style the Little Quilts books have
made famous.

In addition to fabric, there are beautiful pottery items, country wood and tin creations, and fabric dolls to complement the quilts you'll want to make. And the quilts you'll want to make! Many of the familiar patterns are available in kit form, and there are classes to go with them, too. The four block of the month choices for this year are gorgeous beyond description; it's impossible to decide which one should be your next UFO!

There's a Little Quilts museum room in which the trio has enshrined the mementos of their business, which was started 15 years ago with $47 and fabric from the collective stashes of the owners. To commemorate the opening of their retail shop, the ladies have designed a charm quilt with 470 pieces for which they are asking -- yup -- $47! The Marietta stores are easily accessed from I-75 (Okay, we did get lost, but it was not the fault of the directions), so if you're travelling through town, it's not a huge sidetrip. The only drawback I can mention is that the quaintest eating spot was the McDonald's across the street from Little Quilts, but I'm sure someone will e-mail me with a recommendation for a great lunch place not too far away. And please e-mail me quickly. These stores are so inviting that I feel a return trip coming on.


TVQ

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