Shop Hop brings quilters together for specials, camaraderie, fabric

Fabric lines the store of Patchwork House as Mandy Laseter of Amarillo shops during the 2005 Top of Texas Shop Hop Friday in Clovis. The shop hop involves shoppers traveling to 11 fabric shops in New Mexico and West Texas. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

Call it shop hopping — hitting 11 fabric shops in four days spanning a 540-mile radius. But for area quilters, it’s more of an addiction, a can’t-say-no-to spree of fabric specials, prizes and camaraderie with fellow quilters to support their hobbies.

For the third year in a row, The Patchwork House of Clovis is participated in the Top of Texas Shop Hop, a four-day event that wraps up today, bringing in a couple of hundred customers from around Texas and even Oklahoma to the small fabric and quilting shop at 519 N. Main St.

The nearest other participating shop is Malouf’s Fabrics in Friona. The Clovis store is the only participant in New Mexico.

On Saturday morning, Judy Matthews, owner of The Patchwork House, was welcoming customers from Amarillo to the annual event. Matthews offered them refreshments, told the avid quilters about her fabric specials, asked them to fill out questionnaires and offered to stamp their cards.

All of the participants are given passports at the first fabric store they visit on the Shop Hop tour and then have them stamped at each location. Participants who have stamps from each of the 11 shops are eligible for a drawing with a grand prize of $550 in gift certificates.

Gail Johnson of Amarillo said Saturday she has already come close to spending that amount visiting each shop, but money didn’t seem to be an issue.

“It’s like an addiction, the more fabric you have, the better,” Johnson said. However, she noted later that she always plans ahead. On this particular Saturday, she and her friend, Gerry Pachulski, were specifically looking for fabric to make Easter bunny patterns.

“It’s good to have a game plan,” Pachulski said. “It’s not good to run in a store and start buying everything you see.”

But buy they did. Johnson had an arm full of fabrics before leaving the store, and according to Matthews, that’s one of the purposes of the Shop Hop, although there are other benefits besides increased sales.

“The Shop Hop increases foot traffic in the shop, but we also get to meet lots of people and we have just as much fun as our customers,” said Matthews, whose store recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. “The unique thing about quilting is that although all of the industry carries the same types of fabrics, we each have our own individuals designs. Customers get to see something unique in each shop.”

Matthews said that contrary to stereotypes, quilting is not a dying art. In fact, she said it’s a multimillion-dollar industry which attracts young and old, male and female.

“Quilts tell stories, family stories. They are artistic expressions,” said Matthews, noting that she made her first quilt at 30 for her brother.

Ronnie Wilder, 16, of Clovis, is testament to the fact that quilting is not just for gray-haired women. He quilts once in awhile, when he is not working at The Restaurant at Fox Run.

“I quilt with my mom. It’s a good skill to have in life, it calms you down, and when you’re pulling the needle through, it steadies your hand,” Wilder said.

According to Matthews, a lot of people become interested in quilting “because grandma did it” and she added that quilting is something people can pass on to their children.

Her shop offers quilting classes on a six-month-cycle and she said they have had more than 100 participants.

“Quilting is probably cheaper than scuba diving or golf,” Matthew said. “We may get frustrated, but in the end, we have a quilt.”

Pachulski and Johnson said they left home at 8 a.m. on Friday to participate in the Shop Hop and got home at 10 o’clock that night, hitting all of the shops in the Texas area.

“We have a lot of fun. We eat in each town we go to and spend money,” Johnson said. “I save money to do this once a year and have spent somewhere between $300 to $400 already. We also get to visit all of these towns that we don’t normally get to.”