Sewing the summer away
Vacations mean something different to every member of the family, or even the solo traveler. Maybe you like to pack the bikes on the car rack or ramble along in an RV, but whatever and wherever you go, your hobbies tend to follow. Avid readers enjoy small bookstores, antiquers search for treasure, and fisherman line up at the nearest bait and tackle shop. Quilters are no exception and at BJ’s Fabrics and Quilts in Cloverdale, Oregon, Barbara Lewis’ shop caters to the vacationing fabric buff.
Lewis and her sister opened BJ’s 17 years ago when their passion for all things needle and thread led them to an outlet in Portland. They wandered through the warehouse and selected their first bolts of fabric which they resold to other fabric lovers in the Cloverdale area. One bolt led to another, and ultimately to Lewis’ current stock of over 4,000 bolts of fabric.
“BJ’s is all about themed quilts, “explained Lewis. “We create our kits so that customers can produce a quilt without all of the guesswork. For example, we had a father and a daughter who wanted to sew a themed quilt for his very small, one room living space. He was able to pick out the colors he wanted and we substituted those for the colors inside the kit.”
One of the more popular quilt kits is Athena’s Puzzle—a complex explosion of batik fabric and Greek key-styled squares. In addition to fabrics and kits, BJ’s sells completed quilts by local artisans, patterns, sewing supplies and notions. Lewis said that her customers really like to be able to feel the fabric while browsing, so signs in the shop and on the front door proclaim “Feel free to fondle the fabric!”
“We also offer classes or workshops on almost any kind of sewing for people who are just passing through the area,” said Lewis. “We can help them through a project while they’re staying overnight at the coast. We do a lot of one-on-one classes because of the nature of travelers and people who stop in at the store when they’re on the road.”
Kathy Trent, a longtime BJ’s employee, teaches the classes and keeps the shop ready for visitors. She also prepares samples which are sent to mail-order customers upon request. Lewis says that if Trent finds out a customer is brand new to the quilting world, Trent will help that person find everything they need to begin their first project.
Lewis says that her store on Highway 101 is the perfect stopping point as vacationers make their way up the coast to explore the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Air Museum. The Latimer Quilt and Textile center is another Tillamook attraction that would appeal to BJ’s customers. The center is located in a restored school house and hosts a research library, textile exhibit, gift shop and vintage and hand dyed fabric. Its collections include quilts from the 19th century to the present.
Although open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Lewis says that if a customer finds out they need an item after-hours, she will open the store if they give her a call.
BJ’s Fabrics and Quilts is located at 38105 Highway 101 South in Cloverdale. They can be reached toll free at 877-690-5267 or by email at email@example.com. BJ’s online store offers an extensive array of kits, books, and notions, so be sure to see what’s available at www.bjsfabricsquilts.com.