My Reluctant Assistant and I finally headed out on Region 3 of the Northern Illinois Quilt Shop Hop.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Region 3 spans the greatest distance. It starts in Clare and heads out to Galena, back through Rockford. We totaled over 250 miles on our car yesterday. Ambitiously and unrealistically, we attempted to do the whole region in one day. Alas, some of the stores toward the end close at 4 pm , and we just couldn’t physically get there in time. So we will be making another trip out to the Rockford area very soon.
We both have to admit that even though we spent a lot of time on the road, this trip was very enjoyable. The scenery is lovely as we headed farther west, and we stopped in some towns that I did not really even know existed. I find it somewhat depressing that many small towns just aren’t what they used to be, and many had empty storefronts that were clearly affected by the recent economic downturn, along with many other factors, I suppose. But that will have to wait for another blog post, as the quilt shops all seemed to be thriving and very well-stocked.
My advice: Take your time through these little towns and really experience them. Like us, you don’t have to complete it all in one day, and you’ll get to experience a piece of Americana.
When you find yourself in the middle of cornfields and think you are hopelessly lost, then you are almost there.
The store is on a farm, in what looks like a barn. Very charming. The bulk of the product is upstairs, but be sure to look around everywhere. They did not yet have a basket created for the shop hop.
What I bought: Charm pack of Halloween fabric
Reluctant Assistant comment: “Very cozy. They had 2 dogs in the shop!”
Located in a wood frame house setting, this is a very inviting place on the outskirts of Rockford. Small rooms inside the building can keep you hunting for hours, but we did not take that long!
What I bought: Several fatquarters and a “purple thang.” But for the life of me, I cannot find the “purple thang.” I’m sure it got shuffled around in the course of the day, and for all I know it is still stuffed in my car somewhere. For now , it is in the Bermuda triangle that was the Region 3 trip.
Reluctant Assistant comment: “So much fabric in this place , it’s almost claustrophobic!”
A vibrant little quilt shop in this small town. I got excited about their basket for the shop hop. This is the one I really want to win, so far. Their basket is 3 blocks from one of Edyta Sitar’s Laundry Basket Quilts patterns. The basket includes the patterns and the laceys (laser cut appliques) for the 3 blocks.
What I bought: Cut fabric and a charm pack of batiks
Reluctant Assistant’s comment:
” A normal quilt shop.”
This quilt shop is partnered with an antique and gift shop called “Sew Many Antiques”. The two owners are sisters, and they have written a number of books. The owner promised to ship me a signed copy of her latest book, which she is also hoping to add to her shop hop basket ( a new shipment of books was due to come in soon.) Also, ask her for directions to Galena. Her route is very direct, and takes you right to 20 and into the heart of Galena. Your GPS will likely take you on a very long ride.
What I bought: A couple of quilt charms for a charm bracelet, some hand lotion (they have their own label) and a copy of the owner’s book.
Reluctant Assistant’s comment: “I liked the bank vault in the back room!”
This is a very tidy store that I have visited once before when they were in a different location. They moved to the main street in Galena and are right in the heart of things now. The store itself has a lot of Bernina accessories, with a large classroom in the back.
What I bought: Some fabric, and a small Bernina measurement guage that I had never seen before.
Reluctant Assistant comment: (Actually, he was totally distracted as I had promised we’d stop at the candy shop in town.)
Galena, of course, should be a day trip in and of itself. The day we were there, it was over 90 degrees, so while it was not raining, it was certainly sweltering. We stopped first at Chocolat where I got my self a bit of chocolate. If you go, try the strawberry rhubarb dark chocolate truffle. Almost worth the 2 hour drive by itself.
Next stop for us was the Candy Kitchen in Galena, an old-fashioned candy shop, complete with kids in front of us paying with nothing but nickels and pennies. My son wandered through here for awhile. Being from the suburbs, I don’t know if he’s ever really seen a penny candy shop like I knew growing up. I think it was a real treat for him.
The next stop was Orangeville. My GPS did not recognize the address of this quilt shop, so I called there and the gal working could not give me directions. So I had my GPS get me to the general area of Orangeville and told her I’d call back then.
The route from Galena takes you onto Meeker, and then onto a road called Stagecoach Trail. And it is almost exactly the way it sounds. It’s a two lane highway that swerves and curves its way through very picturesque farm country and is a real delight. The day we drove through, we had clouds moving in and out of the sunlight casting artful shadows over the hilly terrain.
Once you are in Orangeville, be on the lookout. It’s probably best to call for directions. You literally pull into a side street that turns into a gravel road that leads to the driveway of the quilt shop. The shop is in the basement. Oh, and don’t mind the sign on the street that says Dead End.
This quilt shop is in the lower level of what looks to be a home. They have a wide selection of fabric and even some that I have never seen before. They also have a very large selection of patterns and books.
What I bought: I found more of the fall fabric that I have been collecting.
Reluctant Assistant comment: “If you’re looking for fabric, it’s worth the ride, but wow, it’s in the middle of nowhere!”