1000 Quilters. 400 Miles. 10 Counties. 9 Quilt Shops. 2 Days. That is the brief summation of the 8th Annual Michigan Stash Dash in which quilters traverse southeast Michigan in what I can best describe as a road rally and a treasure hunt rolled into one.Â Â
Prior to each year'sÂ Stash Dash, each shop is given the same Moda fabric collection and the sameÂ quilt block patterns. The shop owners then use their imagination in how to use the fabrics and how to assemble the blocks into their own Stash Dash quilt, which is then displayed in the shop. If a quilter likes a particular shopâ€™s quilt design, they can buy any additional patterns or finishing kits when they visit that shop and makeÂ their very own stash dash quilt. I was amazed at how different each of the quilts looked even though they used the same fabrics and patterns (they can be seen at www.michiganstashdash.com).
To participate in the Stash Dash, quilters buy passports andÂ have them stampedÂ at each quilt shop. Quilters who getÂ their passport completely stamped areÂ entered in the grand prize drawing. Each participating shop has refreshments, demonstrations, free patterns, and hourly drawings for door prizes, which makes it a lot of fun. This year the theme was â€œOld Fashioned Charmâ€ and each store also gave out a unique quilt block charm when you got your passport stamped. An added bonus was that all the proceeds from the sale of the passports and finishing kits are donated to a local charity.Â Â
My friend Judy and I got a later start than we planned on Thursday, but the good thing was that we managed to miss the morning rush hour traffic en route to our first stop at Lake Street Mercantile in South Lyon. This shop is housed in a century-old bank building and it carries a lot of vintage reproduction fabrics and patterns. It took us almost an hour to reach our second shop, Quilt N Friends in Sterling Heights. Their staff is very friendly and assured us that weâ€™d be sorry we werenâ€™t buying the additional finishing kits. I liked last yearâ€™s quilt better and I have so many projects backlogged that I canâ€™t buy more kits or patterns until I get a few things done first.Â Â Â
Our third stop was at Aunt Nanâ€™s Fabrics in Oxford. This shop has only been open a few years and this was itâ€™s first time to participate in the Stash Dash. I thought the store was delightful and I loved all the bright, cheery fabrics they carried. I think this was the first shop where I started to buy some fabrics. Last year I bought some cute wall hanging patterns but I never got around to buying fabric and actually making them. So this yearâ€™s Stash Dash mission was to buy fabric for two of the kits and then actually get them finished before next yearâ€™s Stash Dash. I found I spent less time at each shop this year because I was focused on their fat quarters and didnâ€™t let myself get distracted by looking at more patterns and books and getting tempted by them. We took a breather after this shop and found a delightful restaurant just a block away.Â Â
We got back on the road after lunch and within the hour we were at Sew Together in Richmond. They demonstrate new tools and gadgets each year and I always find myself buying some because Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll need them! Last year we got a bit lost in the back roads on the way to this shop, due to a street sign that had been turned around in an accident. This year we were glad to find it with no problem, but then they told us road construction was between us and the next shop, so they gave us an alternate route. Our fifth and final stop for the evening was Sew Elegant in Port Huron. This shop has every possible fabric imaginable and it is all grouped by color family, but I found it to be overwhelming and I just wandered about without a clue as to where I should start. We left this shop at about 6 p.m. and drove to the Thomas Edison Inn, where we had reservations for the night. The Inn is right on the St. Clair River and we found a nice restaurant a few miles away where we got to eat and watch the boat traffic. I wrote a separate article (www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977037271)Â about the delightful evening we had watching the freighters go down the river.Â Â
We got a really late start the next morning because it was a gorgeous morning and we were enjoying sitting on our balcony watching the freighters and boats on the water. We finally got on the road though and drove two hours back to East Lansing where one of my favorite shops, Country Stitches, is located. This is perhaps the largest shop on the tour and it is very spacious. They have several different doors from the parking lot and I had to chuckle because one lady thought they had already changed the display by the door while she was shopping because it looked different and she didnâ€™t realize she had come in a different door. Due to the long morning drive and late start it was after lunch time when we finished with this store, but we needed to make up some time and it was such a nice day that we went to Maggie Mooâ€™s and had ice cream for lunch while sitting on a park bench.
After leaving East Lansing we knew that each successive shop would bring us closer to home. Our second stop for the day was the Country Stitches store in Jackson, which is a smaller sister to the East Lansing store. Â Our third stop for the day was Quilting Season in Saline. They moved into a larger store front since last year and I found the shop to be just delightful. It was one of my favorite shops on the trip, so Iâ€™m glad itâ€™s relatively close to home. It was fast approaching dinner time and the ice cream lunch was no longer holding us, so we stopped at another delightful restaurant en route to our final stop, which was Bits â€˜n Pieces in Wayne. This is my â€œhomeâ€ quilt shop so we didnâ€™t spend a lot of time there. It was after 6 p.m. and we were drained and still need to drive another twenty or so minutes to get back home. Â
We had a great time and I am still amazed at the variety of fabrics, kits, and books carried at each shop. I would think that after two shops they would all start to look the same, but each one definitely had itâ€™s own personality and flair. Iâ€™m glad that Iâ€™ve gone on the Stash Dash because itâ€™s acquainted with some shops that I probably would have never visited otherwise. Now I have to start sewing and quilting because Judy says that we canâ€™t go on the trip next year unless we clear out our project backlog.Â
Here are the additions I made to my "stash" during this year's trip. Hopefully I'll get the projects made during the year and I'll be able to post what I turn these fat quarters in to.