I recently traveled to Ohio to visit my family. Since we’re still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our options for fun things to do outside of the home were quite limited. Thankfully, my brilliant mother came up with a brilliant idea — the Ottawa County Barn Quilt Trail! Some of you may be wondering just what exactly is a barn quilt? It’s a piece of wood that has been painted to look like a quilt block and then affixed to a barn (or any building, really). Check out the articles below to learn about the surprisingly short history of barn quilts. I actually had no idea that barn quilts only date back to 2001 until I started writing this blog post!
My parents live in Northwest Ohio, so the Ottawa County Barn Quilt Trail was the closest one for us. This trail is a collaboration between the Greater Port Clinton Area Arts Council and the Ottawa County 4-H Program. There are currently 22 quilts displayed on the trail with more coming this fall. They are scattered throughout the county, which means quite a bit of back and forth if you want to see them all. But it’s so worth it!
Not only are the barn quilts themselves so cool to see, but it was such a pleasure to drive through the beautiful countryside with glimpses of Lake Erie and the bizarrely juxtaposed sight of the Davis-Besse cooling tower and its enormous cloud of steam often spotted in the distance. We also managed to have a delicious socially-distanced lunch of lake perch at Jolly Rogers in Port Clinton. What a lovely day! Scroll through the pictures below and enjoy!
I grew up in Maumee, OH, a suburb of Toledo. My parents and brother and his family still live there, so I try to visit at least twice a year. My foray into quilting has given me a fun new way of re-exploring my hometown and the area by finding local quilt shops. My latest trip was the best one yet!
I discovered The Quilt Foundry fairly soon after I started quilting two and a half years ago. It’s located in downtown Maumee in the historic Buttergilt Building. The shop consists of two large rooms filled with bolts of fabrics as well as an additional spacious classroom and workshop area. I try to get to this shop every time I’m visiting the family, and I’m never disappointed. My only regret about this shop is that I wasn’t quilting when I actually lived in Maumee, so I wasn’t able to take advantage of all of its myriad offerings. Although maybe it’s for the best because I don’t know if my bank account could have survived a quilting addiction at such a young age!
My mom helped me with researching more quilt shops in the area and found the Quilters Travel Companion, a website with maps and links to various quilt shops and quilt shows all across the United States and Canada. That’s how we discovered The Door Mouse just outside of Bettsville, OH. This is an area of Ohio I’ve never really explored, so it was fun driving through the country. We even spotted a couple of barn quilts, though I sadly did not take any pictures of them. (Must be better about these things!) The Door Mouse is a huge store in a renovated barn out in the middle of nowhere. They have pretty much any style of quilting cotton you could want as well as a huge selection of flannels.
My niece is a little bit obsessed with Ann Arbor, MI, which is just about an hour’s drive north of Toledo. So we decided to take a day trip over the state border, and of course I had to visit at least one of the local quilt shops while we were there. Now, I’m going to admit that looking at the photos of the exterior of the Ann Arbor Sewing Center, I thought it was going to be kind of a lackluster shop without a lot of personality. Boy, was I happily wrong!! This shop has a HUGE selection of fabrics in all styles. They also sell a large variety of Bernina, Husqvarna Viking, and Pfaff sewing machines. I had a truly lovely conversation with one of the staff and Doni Houghtaling, one of the owners of the store. I truly felt welcomed, and if I lived in Ann Arbor I would definitely be taking advantage of their full range of classes and clubs they offer every day of the week.
We visited the final quilt shop of my trip on our way down to see family in Cincinnati. We took a quick detour to Loveland, OH, and stopped by The Quilter’s Studio of Loveland. This is yet another enormous quilt shop, boasting nearly 5,000 bolts of fabric. And, man, if you love batiks, this shop is an absolute MUST. In addition to the hundreds of batiks, they have a great selection of contemporary quilting cottons. They also have four longarm machines that were being rented out by four customers when we visited the shop, all of whom were more than happy to show off their gorgeous quilts to my parents and me.
My quilt shop road trip did not disappoint in the least. I am always amazed at just how friendly and helpful every single person I’ve ever met in a quilt shop is. I mean, seriously! It must not be possible to work in a quilt shop without being the friendliest person on the planet! The quilting community is a true community in the best sense of the word, and I feel so fortunate every day to be part of it.
I’d love to hear about your favorite quilt shops — where are they located? What do you love about them? Any fun stories you want to share? Please leave a comment and show some quilt shop love!!