I own a gorgeous handmade quilt that was made for me by one side of my husband's family. Some of the squares included were left behind in his great-grandmother's sewing basket and four generations worked on it, including his 10-year-old godson.
Despite this precious gift, I somehow managed to maintain an image in my head that quilting was something done by groups of older women gathered around a large frame draped with patchworks of fabric. I couldn't be more wrong.
As of 2014, quilting became a multi-billion-dollar industry with some 16 million active quilters just in the United States. Its popularity spans the generations, with a recent surge in interest among millennials. For the past decade, it's even had its own day – National Quilting Day – on the third Saturday in March. And the perfect way to celebrate would be to take a trip on the American Genius Highway Quilt Trail. Encompassing some 15 quilt shops in 13 cities within 36 miles of Highway 36 in northern Missouri, the trail includes "The Disneyland of Quilting," Missouri Star Quilt in Hamilton.
In addition to a dozen stores filled to the rafters with fabrics, patterns, books, notions and quilting gadgets, Missouri Star also boasts an amazing retreat center with weekly themed retreats that include lodging, food and lots of laughs.
"I'd say it's 25 percent shopping, 25 percent sewing and 50 percent having fun with your friends," is how Sue Corkran from Olathe, Kansas, described her quilt retreat experience.
In fact, retreats are so popular with quilters that other retreat centers are popping up around Missouri. Rooster Creek Company Quilt Shop in Holts Summit now has a center that accommodates around 24 people for classes, retreats and quilting events. Sew Sweet Quilt Shop in Brunswick offers their own quilt retreat center complete with sleeping rooms and a full kitchen, in addition to a store full of fabric. KC Maker Studio and Retreats in Kansas City is a full service bed & breakfast offering getaways for up to eight guests to spend a weekend quilting or creating.
If you're not yet ready for a 24/7 quilting experience, you can test the waters with classes at a variety of locations. Both KC Maker Studio and Rooster Creek Quilting also offer classes. Here are just a few other locations around the state that are ready to teach you the finer points of quilting:
So what makes quilting so appealing that it should become such a big business, with so many people spending hours creating these fabric works of art? When asked that exact question, another quilt retreat attendee, Debbie Steffan from Fulton, put it this way: "The thought that someone special to me will be wrapped in love each time they use it."
Create a little love out of thread and fabric – head to a Missouri shop and learn to quilt.