AQ Magazine: Articles
Wish You Were Here . . . Quilting in Seattle
“Wish you were here.”
How many times while traveling have you jotted that simple yet meaningful sentiment on a postcard to a friend or loved one?
The members of the Association of Pacific Northwest Quilters, based in Seattle, so appreciate their region of the country as a haven for quilters that their thoughts often include wishes for quilters from around the world to join them for the natural beauty and abundant resources of the Seattle region.
So sincere is this group’s hospitality that an exhibit of picture postcards in fabric created by 46 APNQ members has traveled the continent for the past two years, highlighting the talents of these American and Canadian quilters. The exhibit, which has appeared in more than two dozen cities, is an extended invitation of sorts for quilters from around the world to attend the biennial Pacific Northwest Quiltfest, August 11–13, 2006, in Seattle.
The auction of these picture postcards at a gala dinner will benefit APNQ and be a highlight of the three-day festival at the Seattle Center. An 8,200 square foot marketplace, a series of lectures from quilting experts, and exhibits of more than 350 quilts by some of the most talented fiber artists in the world make Seattle a destination this August.
However, you don’t have to wait for a quilt show to visit this jewel of the Pacific Northwest, nicknamed the Emerald City. Seattle is a great place for quilters to explore anytime of year, particularly before or after enjoying one the 175 cruises that depart from the Port of Seattle each year.
At 605 feet, the Seattle Space Needle towers the Seattle Center grounds.
Photo: Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Space Needle, Seattle’s most popular tourist attraction, was built for the 1962 World’s Fair as a symbol of the fair’s space-age focus. A recent $20 million renovation ensures that it will remain a unique experience for those visiting Seattle for years to come.
The Space Needle is on the campus of Seattle Center, the site of the World’s Fair. The quick 40-second ride to the top of the observation deck is a must for any first-time visit to Seattle and a highlight no matter how many times you’ve visited. If you plan to eat in Sky City, the rotating restaurant located at 500 feet, you should make reservations at least 24 hours in advance.
The Space Needle has been a lot of fun for the owners of Undercover Quilts, located just a few blocks away in the Pike Place Market. You’ll probably see their “Stitchless in Seattle” T-shirts, created by local quilt artist Mary Downes, for sale in the shop.
TO SEE THE “DANCING GREBES” by Janet E. Johnson
Postcard photos: Mark Frey
“We consider ourselves the rock ‘n roll quilt shop of Seattle,” said owner Linda Hitchcock. “We’re a little bohemian and we enjoy people with a good sense of humor.”
Linda opened Undercover Quilts in 1990 as a retail outlet for antique and new quilts. Slowly, she began adding fabric and today carries about 2,000 bolts tucked away beneath the more than 100 quilts on display in the store.
Undercover Quilts also has a limited supply of Seattle-themed fabric created specifically for the Western Washington Quilt Shop Hop. Featuring the Space Needle, Puget Sound, Mount Rainier and coffee cups, the fabric was designed by Ben Yenter of In The Beginning Fabrics.
Wonderful quilt shops abound in the greater Seattle area.
Photo: Diana Lambdin Meyer.
For the last 28 years, quilters visiting Seattle have enjoyed a trip to the original In The Beginning Fabrics retail store, located on the north side of Seattle. However, Sharon and Jason Yenter closed their retail operation earlier this year to focus on designing fabric.
Many of the places you’ll want to visit in Seattle are within walking distance of the Seattle Center, and you’ll have plenty of company on your journey. The city has received awards for the fitness of its residents and for the resources available to those who choose to navigate the city on foot and bicycle. One of the places you will want to walk to is the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, particularly if you are visiting Seattle prior to a cruise to Alaska.
Located in the Pioneer Square Historic District, this museum interprets the Klondike Gold Rush that began when a steamer filled with gold arrived from Alaska, signaling the start of a prosperous time in American history. The new visitor’s center exhibits include a small display of quilts from that time period.
A legendary Seattle business since the time of the Gold Rush is Pacific Fabric and Crafts. In the early years of the 20th century, the company was revolutionary in its efforts to recycle everything from scrap metal to fabrics. Eventually, the fabric end dominated and the result is seven stores around metropolitan Seattle that carry absolutely everything a quilter or sewer could need for any project.
The closest Pacific Fabrics to Seattle Center is the company’s original location at Fourth Avenue in the “south of the dome” or SODO business district. This is now considered the outlet store of the family-owned chain, and you’ll never know exactly what you’ll find here. That’s half the fun, according to manager Dianne Gilbert.
The “spoiled child of the chain,” according to the lively employees who work there, is the Northgate location, about two blocks east of Interstate 5 at exit 173. You’ll need to rent a car or call a taxi to get to Northgate, but it’s worth the extra effort for the seemingly endless selection of quality quilting favorites. Check out more than a dozen different coffee-themed fabrics, a must-buy souvenir of your visit to the Seattle, home of Starbucks and unofficially the coffee-shop capital of the world.
Two quilt groups meet weekly at the Northgate Pacific Fabrics location, one on Monday evenings and the other on Saturday mornings. If your visit coincides, the groups would love to have you stop by.
While you are on the north side of the city, consider crossing Lake Washington on the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge to the city of Bellevue. Your destination is the Bellevue Arts Museum in downtown Bellevue.
During the Pacific Northwest Quiltfest, the Bellevue Art Museum will host a special fiber art exhibit titled “On Mapping: New Perspectives With a Common Thread.” The show features the work of Linda Gass, Barbara Lee Smith, Toot Reid and Matthew Gerring, and runs June 8 through September 3, 2006.
TREE SPIRIT HOUSE – FOR ANNE by Dawn DeLong
Postcard photos: Mark Frey
Bellevue is also home to an independently-owned shop, Quiltworks Northwest. Owned the last two years by Stacie Baumeister, this shop carries about 5,000 bolts of fabric, including contemporary batiks, Japanese and African fabrics. They are also a full-line Bernina dealership.
WELCOME TO NEDONNA BEACH by Charleen Hakala
Postcard photos: Mark Frey
Quiltworks Northwest is one of the few stores in the state of Washington to carry Thimblelady™ Thimbles and teach the “pain-free” hand quilting courses designed by Liuxin Newman, the Australian designer of these unique thimbles.
At least six more quilt and fabric shops serve the creative talents of quilters in metropolitan Seattle, and deserve your time and effort to explore them, as well as other sites in the city. The many long winter days of drizzly rain, and the abundant natural beauty created by that moisture, provide inspiration for many creative spirits, from writers to artists to quilters. A visit here should leave you equally inspired, at least enough to jot on a postcard to a friend or loved one “wish you were here” and turn those thoughts into fabric art when you return home.
About the Author
Diana Lambdin Meyer is an award-winning member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Society of American Travel Writers. She is also a passionate quilter. Visit Diana at www.dianalambdinmeyer.com.
Association of Pacific Northwest Quilters
Seattle’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
The Space Needle
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Bellevue Art Museum
Seattle-area Quilt Shops:
14450 Woodinville-Redmond Road
Woodinville, WA 98072
Heirloom Quilts & Fabrics
18833-B Front Street
Poulsbo, WA 98370
Pacific Fabrics and Crafts
2230 4th Avenue S.
Seattle, WA 98134
Pieces Quilt Shop
364 Renton Center Way, #59
Renton, WA 98055
145 106th Avenue N.E.
Bellevue, WA 98004
1411 1st Avenue, #106
Seattle, WA 98101