Fabric for Traveling Quilters

The beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks
The beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks

The beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks

This past summer my husband, daughters and I spent a week with extended family in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It was the first proper vacation-for-vacation’s-sake we’d taken in a few years, and it was perfectly lovely.

As I wrote in a previous blog post, I had entertained the notion of trying to bring some hand quilting project along to “make good use of my time,” but to no one’s surprise that did not happen.

fabric-for-traveling-quilters-OBX-panelAfter we got home I ordered the panel from their online shop. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with it, but I couldn’t resist having a fabric souvenir from such a great vacation, especially one so specific to where we had just been.

Once I received the panel I was curious about how and where it was made. It seemed like it had been digitally printed, not screen printed, but the fabric quality and colors were good. So I contacted Shoreline and asked for more details about the panel.

I got a reply from Marsha Sachs, who said she designed the panel with graphic designer
Brooke Scarborough, who also designed their website. Between Marsha’s concept and Brooke’s artwork, they came up with a design that they print through Spoonflower and sell directly to customers. Apparently, I am not the only quilter who loves fabric souvenirs.

“It’s been a great seller for us because we have many customers who have vacation homes here and want a local accent piece, or vacation here and want to take back a memory of their vacation,” Marsha said. “It’s an interactive panel in the sense that you can fuse the strip on the side with fusible interfacing and cut out the five lighthouse motifs and other beach-related motifs and add them to the panel as you wish.”

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Marsha also helped answer my question about how I might use the panel in my own project. “People also love to add their own touches such as writing in their own home or rental home where they visited,” she said. For extra enticement, she said, “We also have a large variety of beach-themed buttons that can be added to the panel for additional embellishments.”

I think it’s a genius move, particularly for a shop located in a tourist destination with rapid turnover during the peak season. And although fabric made via on-demand digital printing is more expensive than fabric from major manufacturers, the uniqueness of the product makes it special enough to warrant the cost for me as a customer. Again, it would seem many quilters agree with me, as Shoreline is constantly replenishing their supply of these custom panels.

All of this got me thinking about (and researching) fabric that is made to be sold in specific regions or locations. The internet makes it easy for us to source fabric from any part of the world and order it from the comfort of our homes, but I think there’s still something to be said for the in-person experience of bringing a memento back from your travels, something that you couldn’t get in your own local quilt shop.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing some of these “geographic fabrics” I’ve found as well as insight from a major fabric manufacturer that’s known to work directly with shops to produce bespoke designs. Rumor has it there is also a giveaway associated with tomorrow’s blog post, so be sure to check back!

In the meantime, if you’ve ever bought regional fabric while traveling, or if you’re a shop that produces your own fabrics similar to Shoreline Handwerks, tell us about it in the Comments section!

Happy Trails to You,
Mary Kate

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