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The Traveling Quilter: Quilt Stores in Minnesota

The best guide for the traveling quilter!

Editor's Note: We visited Minneapolis/St. Paul in July 2000, and this review of shops there was published in The Virtual Quilt Newsletter in January 2001. Some or all of these stores may have closed or relocated since then. Be sure you call first.

By Lynn Holland

The Weather Channel says it's 20 degrees in Minneapolis, but I'm sure it's warm and cozy in the wonderful quilt stores that are in and around this city in Minnesota.

The Traveling Quilter developed a fascination for the quilt stores in this area while reading a Quilt Sampler several years ago, and so we set out to visit as many of them as we possibly could in five days time.

Country Peddler Quilt Shop
2230 Carter Avenue
St. Paul, MN
651-646-1756
(According to local sources, this store is no longer in business.)

As soon as we stepped off the airplane, we were in pursuit of the first of the stores that intrigued us. Set in the picturesque area of St. Paul known as St. Anthony Park, The Country Peddler is nestled in a European-styled village in a cottage like structure. As we were entering the store, one quilter's spouse was emerging and commented to another male friend, "I know they're in there somewhere. I just couldn't find them". It's easy to see how you could get lost either literally or figuratively in this terrific shop. With multiple rooms and lots of subdivided nooks and crannies, it's easy to see how this might happen. Old drink crates house some of the shop's 6000 bolts of fabric and fat quarter rest in vintage luggage (still bearing the tags from now-defunct airlines. Antique kitchen tables provide displays for notions, while fabric "Post Cards from Pine Tree Lodge" beckon to customers from the nearby wall. Samples rest everywhere you look, including the hallway and stairwell leading to the upstairs where you will find an iron crib stuffed with fabric choices for babies. Next to all this is a kid's area, with abundant selections of bright conversation prints and patterns for children's wearables. The "Bargain Closet" really is a closet, with lots of merchandise from which to select.

With all this fabric selection, it's not surprising that The Country Peddler offers many, many kits. One problem I found, though, was that the quilt pattern name was not listed on the attached tag, so you had to hunt to find the fabric kit that matched the sample. This store offers beautiful machine quilting done by "The Naughty Squirrel", but how can any squirrel that does machine quilting be considered naughty?

In the non-fabric department, there are lots of books, patterns, cookbooks, gift items, doll making and Santa needs, and just about anything dealing with a quilt that you can imagine. This shop is covered over with wonderful quilt goodies, so it's easy to see why it was featured as one of the top ten stores in 1997.

 They offered a generous selection of “baby bolts”, or three yard, half-width cuts to facilitate unpieced borders with purchasing twice the needed fabric.

After our dizzying voyage through The Country Peddler, we realized that we were starving. Fortunately, there were a number of great looking restaurants. Although the Swedish Bakery was sold out of many things due to the lateness of our lunch quest, Muffaletta was right across the street, and offered some of the most imaginative cuisine I've sampled in a while. (And I thought all folks ate in Minnesota was lutefisk and hot dishes!) Before we left this charming area, we stopped back at the Swedish Bakery to get some cookies for later.

Bear Patch Quilting Company
2199 4th St.
White Bear Lake, MN
651-429-1039

Restored by this really excellent food, we went looking for more fabric, and wound up in the resort community of White Bear Lake. Sitting on a downtown corner in an historic building is Bear Patch Quilts. This spacious store offers everything for the quilter and rug-hooker. The owner, Deb began working in dry goods in this town as a teenager, and her ongoing love of the community and fabric is evident in this store.

Quilt block wallpaper rings the shop, and there is lots of distinctive old furniture used for display. There’s a huge cutting table (which was rescued from its former life as a drafting table) along with custom woodworking for fabric display.  Deb’s husband is responsible for all that craftsmanship, and he’s also a trained repairperson for the Bernina machines the store sells.

In addition to a huge fabric selection, (including wonderful wools), there’s lots of linen goods for redwork, rug hooking supplies and notions of all nations. I fell in love with the little red wagon full of fabric, not to mention the two young BOYS bickering over who had selected the best quilt fabric!

Bear Patch offers a good selection of classes and hosts a monthly AM and PM group for rug hookers.

After having a cup of the coffee that is always available at the store, I left clutching my “bear cubs” or fat 1/16s that the Bear Patch offers for charm and scrap collectors.

Should you be looking for lunch, there are lots of places to eat in the town area, with choice ranging from egg salad sandwiches to caviar. A curb market was in progress the day we visited, and we were sorry that we couldn’t manage to stow some of those fabulous perennials in our carry-on luggage. We did buy some beef jerky from the “Jerky Girls” and some wonderful spices for dips and such.

Colorful Quilts and Textiles
2817 Hamline Ave. N
St. Paul, MN
651-628-9664

Returning to St. Paul, we located Colorful Quilts and Textiles in a well-worn strip mall. Despite a rather bland exterior, inside we found nothing run of the mill. Colorful Quilts is well named, describing the distinctive selection of batiks, hand-dyes, silks, Orientals, moles and artful textiles that this shop features. There was a silk-screened fish you would swear had been in the lake that morning. I couldn’t resist a paper-pieced wall hanging kit with stunning batiks; although there were many other selections I found tempting.

The shop itself showcases the works of different fiber artist in its exhibit room, with a different exhibit each month.  If you want to learn the basics, there are lots of classes, but there are also sessions on dyeing, painting and surface design to challenge your creative efforts.

Probably the most unique store I have visited outside of California, Colorful Quilts has very friendly outgoing staff  (Diane Swallen and Anya Williams) were there the day we visited) who will make you feel right at home the minute you enter.

Grand Remnants
1136 Grand Ave.
St. Paul, MN
651-222-0221

Moving down the road a piece, we found Grand Remnants tucked in a converted house in the upscale-funky Grand Avenue neighborhood, near Macalester College. Featuring vintage items, Grand Remnants carries a wide variety of old stuff, including birdcages, kitchenware dresses small furniture and you-name- it. There are bolts of old fabric, available by the yard, and a selection of vintage fat quarters. There are matched and mismatched quilt blocks, quilt tops, old quilts, bedspreads, carpeting, just about an old thing in fabric you can think of. The whole neighborhood is a fun place to visit, and you should plan your visit around eating, because the choices are amazing. We wound up picking an eclectic college hangout, with menus that were probably printed back when we were students in the 60’s, but there are many more toney places available.

 

Fabric Town
7655 148th St. W
Apple Valley MN
952-432-1827

South of town you’ll find Apple Valley, and Fabric Town. Although the shop is in a standard cavernous shopping center space, clever use of quilts and displays transforms this into a rather cozy store. Fabric shelving divides the space into “rooms” and quilts hung all around tend to minimize the openness. There’s a ledge running around the store that is loaded with wonderful samples and displays items so interesting that I wound up with a sore neck from looking up! There’s a “library” of half-yard homespun cuts, beautiful flannels, a good selection of doll and SANTA patterns and a general air of attention to customers at the store. Although the person using the store’s big basting table or the quilter getting some color advice might have told me, what really clued me in was the wide selection of doll making items and novelty buttons that were available for purchase individually. My own stash of twenty-four wooden button noses that I drove to six stores to find is testimony to the convenience this offers.

Country Needleworks
3924 Cedarvale Drive
Eagan, MN
651-452-8891

Next on the list was Country Needleworks. As we have learned from experience, quilt stores are frequently found in improbable places, and CountryNeedleworks does have some unlikely neighbors. The Cedarvale Mall in which it resides also houses a sizeable Bally Fitness as well as a gigantic game parlor-snack bar-amusement area, and not too much else. The afternoon we visited, the center was sufficiently un-trafficked to allow a toddler walking practice. Country Needleworks was friendly. It, too, masked its mall store bones with lots of hanging quilts and cute displays. I was particularly fond of the Bodine Electric Co. boxes, which were used to hold fabric. This store offered a variety of standing hoops and frames, in addition to a very colorful selection of fabric. The classroom is in the center of the store, out in the open, and someone was working on a “stack and whack” quilt using a novelty “bug eyes” prints.

No trip to the Twin Cities is complete without a stop at the monster mall, The Mall of America. Located on the site of a former stadium, this place has plenty of parking and is certainly a worthy monument to America’s REAL pastime, shopping. We concentrated our shopping efforts on local products and limited our purchases to a must-have cheese head hat and some Betty Crocker red signature spoons. However, we liked this place better than we expected to and wouldn’t mind a return trip.

Glad Creations
3400 Bloomington Ave.
Minneapolis, MN
612-724-1079

Just a short distance from the mall is Glad Creations, tucked in a stucco building decorated by a Storm at Sea mural painted on its side. This store has been in operation since 1976, which probably makes it the senior shop in town. Owner Gladys Raschka was named Minnesota Quilter of the Year in 1999, and her original designs are displayed throughout the store. There are 20-plus original designs that Gladys offers in pattern form, designed especially for machine piecing.

A true family operation, Gladys’ daughters and granddaughter work at the shop.  Glad Creations features somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 bolts, and there is fabric everywhere. WE counted bolts lined up 14 and 15 deep on the floor! There is a nice selection of quilt-related gift items, a huge selection of quilt note cards and some unique Polish wooden sewing boxes.

Classes are numerous and varied, with a mystery by mail available periodically throughout the year, as well as “mystery weekends” where quilters spend two days in classes at the shop working on a mystery quilt.

Upstairs is a good-sized offering of half-price fabric, a long with many other quilts in various stages of completion.


Wayzata Quilting Emporium
927 Lake St. E.
Wayzata, MN
763-475-2138

Leaving Glad Creations, we ventured out to Wayzata, another wonderful Minnesota lake community, with lots of super boutiques lined up on the shore. In the Bay Center sits the Wayzata Quilt Emporium, which just celebrated its 20th birthday. There was a stuffed moose in the window the day we visited, along with many other items consistent with a “lake house” community. Wayzata Quilt Emporiums has a fabric of the month club, as well as many special events for its customers. There is a very large teaching faculty listed in the newsletter, which offer a good class selection. Rug hooking and supplies are available here, as are many books and patterns. Many of the unusual choices feature outdoor themes, especially the Pine Needles collection from Montana. There are many items available in kit form, and the overall fabric selection runs the gamut.

Wayzata has lots of wonderful places to shop and eat, but I was especially disappointed that the corn stands were not open the morning we were there! 


Quilter's Basket
11735 96th Ave. N
Maple Grove, MN
763-493-5577

Moving to another suburban outpost, we stopped by The Quilter’s Basket in Maple Grove. Set in the Zachary Square Shopping Center, The Quilter’s Basket occupies two storefronts, one for merchandise, and the other for a classroom. The store’s signed is actually quilted, and there is lots of originality at this shop. We fell in love instantly with an unusual Irish chain executed in batik fabrics, but quickly ooh-ed and ahh-d over the other samples on display. The Quilter’s Basket offers a good book selection, with an emphasis on regional choices. Fat quarters were tied up in tulle, while modern wire bins loaded with goodies expand the wall space, I especially loved the “Fabric Finder’s Board”, where customers can post a swatch of a fabric they need to see if someone has some left. I loved all the polymer clay buttons the store carries, and bought a bunch of bananas for my monkey doll’s pinafore.

Should you want to make a real basket, this shop carries the necessary supplies and offers classes for that, too.

Next door, a children’s class was in progress, and there were two boys in the group, working busily on their projects. The generously sized classroom gives everyone lots of room to spread out, which must be great when working on those really large projects.

 So that I don’t forget them, Quilter’s Basket tucked a cute ballpoint pen into my bag, along with a business card that shows how much backing and/or binding fabric is needed for all the standard bed quilt sizes.

Quilts by the Falls
402 Mill St. W
Cannon Falls, MN
507-263-2528
(This store has closed. There are other fabric/quilt stores in Cannon Falls).

We saw lots of farmland on our drive to Cannon Falls, where Quilts by the Falls is located. Since the 1999 article on this shop in Quilt Sampler was the original impetus for our trip to Minnesota, we were particularly excited about this visit.

The day we were there, a Fourth of July Quilt adorned the beautiful antique bed in the front of the store, and an old oak settee provided a spot to sit. Stuffed bears peaked at us from various spots, sitting among old wagons, school desks and other vintage artifacts. Many crocks provided homes for fabric, and other aged treasures are displayed throughout the store. There is a whole wall of flannels, a great felt selection and an excellent choice of cottons. Formerly part hardware store, the shop still has a home decorating emphasis on one side of the store, and you’ll find quilts hanging in and around the wallpaper and paint.

The three solid aisles of patterns are mind-and eye boggling, as are the extensive collection of wearables. The book selection is excellent, and they carry locally produced books as well. Other craft items such as yarn, wall stencils and Aunt Martha’s transfers are offered here, so you can easily spend a whole morning exploring the store. If you need some quick sustenance, the Hi Quality Bakery is across the way, and you can find some treat to restore you for the trip back.


Sampler
535 W. 78th St.
Chanhassen, MN
952-934-5307

Chanhassen offered an interesting contrast to our morning in Cannon Falls. The town of Chanhassen features a theater (not movie) complex and its interest in the arts and culture is reflected by the sleek look of the stores in the community. The Sampler’s window featured a boating theme, and inside, there were a number of art quilts on display by local artist Sherri Lanay. The fabric collections lean toward Bali’s, Orientals and more modern than traditional, including some gorgeous Indonesian panels. Many Japanese books are available to accompany the beautiful fabrics in the store, and we seriously contemplated a kimono pattern.

Mindful of its customers’ needs, there is a separate, glassed-in children’s area with good books and toys. We were impressed by the excellent classroom space as well as the course offerings. We especially liked the “Friday Night Madness”, which provides six hours of sewing time plus pizza and soda for just $9!

Notions, gifts, and supplies are in abundance. I was thrilled to find the very clock buttons I had been searching for to complete my Millennium Santa, as well as some hard to find beard fiber.

We were disappointed to find the restaurant next door was closed that day, but we went to the nearby grocery store and created our own little picnic instead.

 

Eydie's Country Quilting

2822 W. 43rd St.
Minneapolis, MN 612-929-0645

Nestled in the Linden Hills shopping district, Eydie’s Country Quilting was a fitting last stop on our trip. A little waterfall welcomes you to this quaint bungalow as you walk by the lovely flowers in bloom. A quilt hangs from the front porch with its obligatory porch swing and overstuffed chair.

Inside are a superb homespun collection, fabulous primitive dolls, and gorgeous wools. Crocks hold beautiful rolls of Indigo, while other bolts rest in rows on the floor. There were lots and lots of Santa and doll patterns and lots of very unique merchandise. There is an emphasis on primitives and reproductions, along with locally produced patterns. The day we were there, one of the employees was painstakingly explaining to a previous non-quilter the basics of the process, and then assisted the customer further in determining appropriate yardage. We loved Eydie’s inside and out, and were enchanted by the Linden Hills area. Tons of cute shops and places to eat!

As you can tell by now, Minnesota is SERIOUS quilt country. Most shops offer annual retreats, as do many of the colleges. The annual Shop Hop features all ten metro stores in three days. I wonder if any of the stores feature training workouts to get quilters in shape? 

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