I have heard a lot of about a concept called “Row By Row” over the last few years, but had never before pursued a collection of the rows. In case you are unfamiliar with the Row By Row experience, let me give you a short tutorial. Many quilts shops throughout the US, Canada, and Europe participate in the Row By Row experience by creating their own unique quilt block that measures 9 ½” x 36 ½”. Quilters are encouraged to collect a minimum of 8 rows and create a quilt. The first person to finish their quilt, including the piecing, quilting, binding, and label, can take their quilt to one of the stores from which they received a row pattern to receive a prize -- usually about 25 fat quarters (a piece of fabric measuring 18” x 24”). In the quilter’s world, that would be considered a very nice prize!! This year’s theme is “Home Sweet Home”.
One morning in June, Tom and I decided to take a trek through southeast Nebraska to promote my long-arm quilting business. When we went to one of the quilting shops in Nebraska City, Sew Enchanting, the owner asked if I was familiar with Row By Row. I told her that I was but that I had never done it before. She then offered her shop’s pattern -- all patterns are free of charge --and explained that it was a paper-pieced replica of Arbor Lodge. How cool is that??? Well, I was hooked!! And I then decided to make it my mission this summer to collect eight rows and create a quilt. After all, if I can find yet another excuse to go into a quilt shop, I’ll take it in a heartbeat! I collected my second row when my mom and I travelled to Fremont to Country Traditions a few weeks later. Their row features the state of Nebraska and the words, “Where My Quilts Begin.” We also purchased a kit of the fabrics as it included a die-cut of the words.
As I began to think about collecting the other six rows, I realized that we would be traveling to several states this summer. What fun it would be to collect a few from each state!! So the next week when we travelled to Kansas City to attend a Royals baseball game, I planned to get to at least one quilt shop. In addition to seeing the Truman Presidential Library, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the American Jazz Museum, we also went to three quilt shops to collect their Row By Row patterns!! I chose those three shops by their proximity to our location in KC and also by checking out their website and clicking on Missouri. I loved the row from The Quilter’s Station in Lee’s Summit -- I also loved their store -- so many yummy fabrics. Their row features the American Flag, stars, and a house, all in dark, rich colors. The next row, from Show-Me Quilting in Raytown, was the exact opposite with lots of bright colors and appliques houses and trees. I purchased a kit from this shop to complete this row as it used a lot of different fabrics and I wanted to be sure that I could replicate it. The third row, collected from Quilting is My Therapy in Liberty, is a sign that you can customize to your own family. It includes a pattern for the letters EST. and numbers 0-9. Ours would say “EST. 1984”. This shop is owned by Angela Walters who is one of my quilting idols. I have learned so much from her machine quilting videos and books and I love to use her designs in my quilts. I was even fortunate enough to attend one of her classes two years ago when she was in Lincoln for the Midwest Machine Quilters meeting.
So…...five rows collected, three to go!! Our next trip was to Minnesota for our daughter’s wedding in August. I was hopeful that I could collect a row while we were there, however, as you can imagine we were a little busy with other events. So no quilt row from Minnesota.
The next weekend found us taking our youngest daughter back to college in Dubuque, Iowa and I was certain that we could find time to go to at least one quilt shop. After all, the shop was just down the street from our hotel -- how convenient!! The Cotton Cabin Quilt Shop is generally a destination when we are in Dubuque and I was particularly interested in their row. It features a steamboat and the 4th Street Elevator, both iconic representations of the area. We also had planned to stop at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids on our way home, so I researched the shops in and around that area to see what their rows looked like. We collected a row in Marion at Connie’s Quilt Shop which depicts three houses with quilt blocks in the windows. The clerk at the store called it “The Quilter’s Retirement Home”!! We also stopped at Inspired to Sew in Cedar Rapids. This is an interesting row as it gives you the option to use three different backgrounds for the houses, which can either be pieced or appliqued. The options are meant to create a Neighborhood of Homes in City Blocks, in a Rural Small Town, and Along the Countryside. I think mine will be the Rural Small Town.
It was REALLY hard to narrow it down to only eight rows, but I’m excited to get started on this quilt. Stay tuned for a future blog detailing my experience in completing this cool quilt!