Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Visit to Missouri Star Quilt Company!

Oh man, I can't believe that I haven't done a blog post since last summer!!  I love blogging, but I ran into snags with uploading photos from my camera to my computer, then I found I was using my phone to take photos more than my camera, and then found cell phone photos to be more cumbersome to upload, blah, blah, blah.  And then I discovered that most quilters are hanging out over on Instagram!  I have fallen in love with the ease of posting photos from my phone to Instagram on a regular basis.  But, nothing replaces the back story that can be told on a blog, and l love being able to include all the appropriate links, etc. on a blog post.  I also like to have an outlet to journal my thoughts, etc. And, I really like being able to document my work and days on this blog; it pretty much functions as a digital scrapbook for me.  So, here I am again, and hopefully once I get some of these techy snags resolved I can make blogging more of a priority!

(PS - I haven't figured out how to include a "follow me on Instagram" button on my blog, so in the meantime, look me up on Instagram under @missandreaquilts!  I post regularly over there!)

OK, so back to the subject of this post!
I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to visit Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, Missouri last week!  I know a number of you are interested in making that trek as well, so I thought I would do a blog post to document our trip as well as provide you with all the info you'll need.

Missouri Star was on my bucket list of fun things to see or do, but to be honest, not terribly high on the list.  I'm not sure why....  Maybe because I've been a pre-cut snob for the longest time.  (I'm finally slowly, but surely getting over that prejudice.  I could explain my issues, but I'll save that for another time!)  Missouri Star uses primarily pre-cuts in their tutorials and patterns so that you can quickly make a lovely quilt.

photo credit: MSQC
Or maybe it was because it always annoyed me that Jenny Doan made quilting sound way easier than it really is (at least for me!) - ha!

I think I was envisioning a hokey company that cut corners and did sloppy work??

But, I was totally blown away from the moment we walked into that first shop....  Our mouths were both hanging wide open and we were so dumbfounded.  I don't even know if I can put into words how it impacted me!  Part of it was that every shop is so perfectly curated and staged.

 Each of the 14 shops had their own distinct style; there was just so much eye candy to look at!  MSQC obviously has one heck of a design team.

Maybe another piece of it was the fact that Missouri Star tends to target newer quilters, and there was just such an upbeat vibe happening among the shoppers and the staff; there just didn't seem to be any snobby, know-it-all quilters around.

I don't know, I still can't put my finger on it!

It was so fun to see so many of the quilts up close and personal that are featured in the MSQC tutorials and patterns.  I was impressed with the longarm quilting designs that were selected for each of the quilts.  Now that I've gotten over my snobbiness, I'm eager to stitch up a few of their patterns!

I love the fact that MSQC has breathed new life into a depressed town.  Actually, it reminds me so much of what Longaberger did for Dresden back in the day.

And, the buildings are so cool....

There was simply so much detail to take in....

My friend JoAnn was the perfect traveling companion for this trip.  :)

We did great together!  We both think about quilting 24-7, love to explore, and believe in healthy eating but also know when to break the rules and live life (that would explain our nightly Dairy Queen ritual!).  I still am a bit in awe of how this trip fell together.

 Basically we discovered that we both wanted to visit Missouri Star sometime, we decided that we should go sooner vs. later (yes, I am in that stage of life!),

 ...and before we knew it, we had nailed down a date and purchased plane tickets.  It did indeed feel like this was a trip that was meant to be, for both of us.

Our days were packed full, but Hamilton shuts down at 5:00, so that allowed us to relax a bit in the evening, which is always nice.

I feel like we didn't get to take in as much Hamilton food as I would have wished, but we did make several stops at the Hamilton Baking Company and Cafe - so YUMMY!!!!  I had one of the best chocolate cookies I have eaten in my entire life, and it was gluten free!  We even made one last stop on our way out of our way, heading to the airport; I'm so glad we did - my Brisket Breakfast Burrito was soooo good!

Hank & Tanks BBQ (located in an old gas station!) came highly recommended, but they weren't open the days we were there.  Also, I really wanted to check out the Blue Sage restaurant, but it didn't fit in the schedule.  It's run by the same chef that is in charge of the bakery, so it has to be fabulous.  Hopefully next time we can check out those establishments.

photo credit: Crossroads Quilting
As far as other quilt shops in the area, Crossroads Quilting was within walking distance of our hotel in an old strip mall.  It was such a nice shop - don't let the outside mislead you!

 Angela Walters' quilt shop and studio is located in Liberty, MO, just outside Kansas City, so we decided to check it out since it wasn't far at all from where we were staying.  It's such a cool shop!


I was hoping Angela would be there, but she was at home tending to her husband who was recovering from major surgery.  Instead, we got to see her via one of her videos that was playing.  :)

We also checked out The Fabric Chic, a lovely, brand new modern quilt shop located on the other side of Kansas City.

I am really happy with my purchases!!  (The fact that I can't bear to put them away is probably evidence of that!)  I was determined not to go overboard, and I think I succeeded.  I packed light and only took one small suitcase, and was still able to get everything home with me.

MSQC has lots of fun souvenirs - who can resist one of their chicken tape measures!!
Or, their collectible charms....

And last of all, we were able to take in some Kansas City food and sites. The midwest isn't nearly as congested as the East coast and midwest drivers are much more courteous, so we didn't have any trouble navigating KC traffic

 BBQ is truly a sacred institution out there!

I feel like I owe an apology to the goofy guy at the Hertz counter in Kansas City.  He recommended that we check out Q39 on 39th St. in the city, known for its BBQ and burnt ends.  What in the world are burnt ends?! I had never even heard of them and assumed he didn't know what he was talking about!  We didn't know where else to go, and we had some time to kill, so we decided to check it out.  I'm so glad we did; that restaurant was simply amazing....

If you are a history buff, you will certainly want to take in the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

We didn't have time to do the museum, but it was really cool to walk around the monument and grounds...

... which gives you a great view of the city.

If you are planning a trip, below are some of the nitty-gritty traveling details that will be helpful to know, thanks to my friend Nancy who has done the trip several times; we basically followed her recommendations and didn't need to do much research on our own.

- We flew on Southwest out of BWI, nonstop into Kansas City.
(Southwest allows two checked bags for free, so that allows you to do plenty of shopping and bring your purchases along home with you instead of having to ship them!)
- Since long term parking at BWI is only $8 per day, we chose that option.
- Hertz car rental at the airport via AAA was super cheap at only $24.21 per day.
- We stayed at the Super 8 in Cameron; it's nothing fancy, but it was clean and reasonable at only $73.40 per night with a AAA discount.  (Nancy said, "don't stay at the Motel 6!")  Cameron is about an hour from the airport, and about 20 minutes from Hamilton.
- We flew out on a Sunday and flew back on Wednesday.  If you want to so some other sight seeing or visit additional quilt shops, you might want to stay an extra day.  Be sure to check ahead to see what is open on the days you will be out there.  Angela's shop is closed on Mondays and some of the restaurants were too.

Don't be alarmed by the Tornado Shelter sign next to the ladies restroom - ha ha!

Be sure to check out the event and retreat schedules.  We couldn't get into the retreat center, but I did get to see this much through the window.  It looked great and I've heard good reports about their retreats.

Bottom line, if Missouri Star is on your list of places to visit, don't delay - you'll love it!  
Let me know if you have any questions - I'd be happy to share any other info with you that might be helpful as you plan your trip.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Learn Family Scrap Exchange Quilt

It's been so enjoyable to reflect on this quilting venture from my past....

 Here's the backstory:
Twenty-two years ago, my Aunt Joan invited me, my mother, my two sisters, and her two daughters to join her in making a scrappy nine-patch star quilt.  

The pattern was featured in the May and June 1995 issues of Quilters Newsletter Magazine.  (The magazine is no longer in print - talk about feeling old!)  

It was a great concept - each participant was to cut out and stitch enough blocks for their own quilt, then swap them with the group, resulting in a super scrappy quilt top.  

So, at our annual family reunion in 1995, Aunt Joan got us organized, gave us instructions, and sent us home to get to work.

The following summer, we swapped blocks at my grandmother's kitchen table.

Each of us also made signature blocks to swap.

Using a light box, we traced patterns and signed our names.  

My mother Ila Learn Hoke
Then, we headed home again to assemble our quilt tops.

A year later in 1997, we showed off our completed quilt tops to each other. 
Finally in 1998 at my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary, we displayed all seven quilts on the clothesline at their farm in Indiana County, PA.

Left to right: my sister Alison, me, my sister Renee, and my mother

My Aunt Joan (my mother's sister) and my mother

Quilters Newsletter Magazine, 2001

A few years later, my aunt submitted our picture to Quilters Newsletter Magazine, and our "Cousins Quilts" were featured in the Letters to the Editor section - how fun!

But the story gets better!
Imagine my surprise when I read Sherri McConnell's recent blog post on A Quilting Life - she posted pictures of a quilt top of her grandmother's that she had just discovered, and that she was planning to host a quilt along, inviting her readers to stitch the very same quilt along with her.  I was sure it had to be our quilt!  I pulled out my quilt and studied it - indeed, it certainly appeared to be identical!  How fun that her grandmother had stitched the same quilt as we did, and quite likely during the same time period.

It will be fun to see what current fabrics will look like in this pattern!

OK, here's my confession:  I have to be honest and admit that I never really cared for this quilt.  I wasn't totally in love with the fabrics.  And initially, because I had only minimally hand quilted it, it just didn't have a whole lot of personality.  I had stippled my sister Renee's quilt and wished I had done the same to mine.  Then, I got to thinking, maybe I could go back and stipple mine, and I did!  After I was finished, I threw it in the washer and dryer, and was so pleased with the texture and interest it added to the "ugly duckling" quilt.

In 2014 I had my cousin John tack it up on the barn at our family reunion so I could take some pictures of it.  After seeing it from a distance, I fell in love with it!

On ladders: my cousins Jerry and John Learn, and on the ground: my brother-in-law Paul and his son Eric

It was also included in the quilt display two years ago at our family reunion when I had the crazy idea to hang my entire quilt collection on the barn.  :)

Sherri, I hope your readers have as much fun stitching this quilt as we did!
Maybe I'll just have to make a modern version of it as well!