Where in the world: Piecing together friendships on a quilter’s road trip

by Sarah Welch

In October 2019, the Cherokee County Quilter’s Guild made a road trip. We had 32 ladies from Rusk, Frankston and Lufkin quilt guilds traveling on a nice big bus with a female driver who was also a quilter.

She had made similar trips, so she knew a lot of the places we were going. Our purpose was to visit as many quilt shops along the route as we could. I used a website that pinpoints every quilt and fabric store on the route you are traveling.

Day 1 – We started off from Rusk and picked up more passengers in Jacksonville. Then we were on our way! Each passenger received a small tote bag with goodies for the trip.

To break the monotony of a long drive, we played a word search game with quilting terms and gave prizes to the first two who finished the game.

Our first stop was in Benton, Ark., at Bedwarmer Quilt and Sew and the shopping was ON!

On this first stop, we realized it was going to take longer than we thought to check out, so we should allow longer for each stop.

We also stopped at Stitchin Post in Little Rock.

We spent the night in Little Rock at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Day 2 – We departed Little Rock after breakfast at the hotel and headed for Branson, MO.

On the way, we stopped at Grana’s Front Porch Fabrics and the Sewing Center, both in Conway, Ark. So much beautiful fabric that we all had to buy some, even though we may not have a project in mind for it! The store owners were very happy to see us!

We checked into the Hotel Grand Victorian in Branson for two nights.

This is a lovely hotel with a lounge area on the second floor that was perfect for our group to gather and share purchases. Two of our ladies had to go to Wal Mart to purchase luggage to pack all their fabric purchases in, and we were only halfway through the trip!

Day 3 – Shopping in Branson – first, Quilts and Quilts, probably the largest fabric and accessories shop on the planet. It was overwhelming to the point I didn’t buy anything. It was a feast for the eyes, though.

The Quilted Cow was our second stop in Branson. Beautiful fabrics, including Liberty fabrics from England, which have a distinctive look. Very expensive!

Ten of us went to the Texas Tenors show at the Andy Williams Theater that evening. They are fabulous singers and put on a great show.

If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend them.

After breakfast in the hotel, we departed Branson for Bartlesville, Okla. We stopped at two shops in Joplin, Miss. – Bittersweet Quilts and Fabric Merchant.

More wonderful fabric. Most of us left each shop with packages.

We checked into the Hilton Garden Inn in Bartlesville for two nights.

Day 4 – We visited two shops in Bartlesville – Quilters Hideaway and Sew Uptown. Again, more fabric left their shops!

We then drove a few miles to Pawhuska, Okla., to spend some time at Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman Mercantile. It’s a lovely store in an old building filled with her designer dishes and housewares.

On the second floor, there’s a café and lounge area, as well as a children’s play area. Large windows all around offer a view of the town.

After spending most of the afternoon there, we drove back to Bartlesville for the night, packed up all our purchases for the return home.

Day 5 – We left Bartlesville, heading south for Texas.

We were all exhausted from shopping and planning the projects we would make with the fabric we bought.

Quilters are some of the friendliest people in the world.

All the shops welcomed us and even brought in extra help to cut fabric and check us out.

Some even provided refreshments.

Everyone had a great time.

We’ll discuss another trip for the future. I do not specialize in bus trips, so this was a learning experience for me.

The main thing I learned is that we cannot visit more than three, four at the most, quilt shops in a day.