Saturday was a rare Saturday of no classes for Mr. Main Street so we went on an outing to Bucks County, PA, to have lunch at one of our favorite places, the Black Bass Hotel. We had a lovely lunch (tomato bisque and clementine salad for me, cassoulet for him), seated at a table overlooking the Delaware River. We watched big chunks of ice float downstream and a few cross country skiers came by on the canal path. No outdoor activity for us though; we'll go back when the weather is warmer.
My LQS, Pennington Quilts Works, is only a short detour off the route home. Mr. Main Street said he could tolerate a stop if I "made it snappy." Has any quilter ever "made it snappy" in a quilt shop?! OK, I didn't linger and only bought three fat quarters. Not sure what I'll do with them yet. I love the store but it is a 40 minute drive from home so I don't run over on a whim. I do go if I have a project in mind and usually stop by if I am in the area for another reason.
This trip got me thinking about how I augment my brick and mortar store shopping with online shopping. I like to visit quilt shops I come across while traveling. You see a different design aesthetic in different shops, patterns made up in different kinds of fabrics, exposure to new tools and techniques, etc. But sometimes, especially when I know exactly what I want, it is easiest to tap the keys and get online. Here are my favorite online quilt shops.
Fat Quarter Shop - This is my go-to site for quilting fabric and patterns. They have a wide selection of both fabric and patterns and the customer service is stellar. They also feature a lot of kits and block of the month offers, but I have not participated in any yet. The inventory turns over quickly here so if you see somethink you like, you better buy it because if could be gone in a short time.
EQuilter - EQuilter was the first online shop I discovered. They've been in business basically since ecommerce started and began by stocking the kind of fabrics that many local shops did not carry, like Asian prints. They now stock a very broad selection of quilting fabric. If you sign up for their newsletter, you get an email on Saturday night or Sunday morning with what's new and links to their weekly sale fabrics.
Old Country Store Fabrics - This is the online outlet of a bricks and mortar store in Intercourse, PA - Amish country. They stock a more limited selection than the two above; they stock fewer lines and often don't take the full line. For example, for a Moda line they may have all the precuts but only 25 or so of the 40 prints that make up a particular line. But they usually price their fabric below $9 a yard so is worth checking out.
Quiltshops.com - I've mentioned this site before but it is worth repeating as they have saved me many a time. This site is a search engine for a large group of independent quilt shops. When you type a term into the search box, it searches the inventory of all the quilt shops that particpate and gives you a set of thumbnails that link to the original store site. It works best when you have a good idea what you are looking for. I've used it when I have needed more fabric from a specific collection. And when I began my Fig Tree Harvest project, I used this site to locate Fig Tree fabric for quilt backs. When you make a purchase, you are buying from the local store. I've bought fabric this way from a number of different stores and always been very satisfied.
Just thinking about these places has put me in the mood to browse for fabric!