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On June 29 Sandy and I went to the remaining stores to complete our passport at Helios Stitches N Stuff and we turned in our passports to Kevin Carpenter, Editor of All Iowa Shop Hop. We told him what a good experience it had been – the people we met, the products, the quilts, the materials, the towns we learned about from houses to shops to lunches to the end making us better friends and quilters. It encourages us to sew more and better. It’s a constant challenging process making a quilt a work of art. We realized we were lucky to have participated in the All Iowa Shop Hop and am grateful for all who worked to give us this opportunity. Whether we win and or lose, we feel we have won a quilting awareness and desire to sew better. Illinois could learn from All Iowa Shop Hop – it was a wonderful fun learning experience. So much sew a big thank you from Sandy Jean and me. Of course we still are curious about Jean’s date with coffee shop owner that they only know. We’ve had fun and now must quilt.
Just wanted you to know about our terrific first time All Iowa Shop Hop experience Thank you and we know we’ll participate next year. After all, we are now more experienced quilters but always will have a lot to learn and this has been a good sewing experience. Thank you very much.
Elaine Deal Rooker
At the next store our quilting awareness increased as we were shown fabrics at The Fabric Stasher in Tipton Iowa. At West Branch, Iowa we saw the Herbert Hoover museum and cute shops nearby as we got our passports stamped and were given a quilt square direction card from Cotton Creek Mill.
In DeWitt Iowa we went to Heartland Cottons learning about batting. At the Home Ee Workshop they were not only quilting, there were girls working on yarn. At the Shields Sewing Center Brother sewing machines followed their embroidery patterns to make beautiful pictures of many threads. Each store visit we were greeted with the store representative welcoming us with answers to our questions, patterns, quilt ideas, quilts hanging we admired, and materials of many colors and patterns. We realized we were learning and wanted to know more. We learned not only about quilting but about Iowa’s people and its history. We learned quilters wanted to help us and we thought more favorably of them as they answered our questions thoroughly and patiently.
On June 27 Jean, Sandy and I did it again to obtain stamps to complete our passport. At Quilters Paradise in Mt Pleasant we shared with the owner her zest for civil war and red white and blue as Savanna IL has a notable civil war museum. We went to shops where the owner had written quilting books and made patterns. They were busy but stopped to listen to us and encourage us even more. We asked them for their autograph. After all they were quilter celebrities. They laughed as they signed but inside were proud and glad we were fans.
The next three guest posts will be from Elaine Deal Rooker and an excited group of shop hoppers.
I (Elaine), and my friends, from Illinois did the All Iowa Shop Hop for the first time and enjoyed it tremendously. Our activities were as follows:
On June 19 Jean, Sandy and I started our All Iowa Shop Hop. We started from Savanna IL at 8:30 am and went to LeClaire, Iowa for The Expressions in Threads quilt store. We were too early before the store opened and found a coffee shop. The man, who owned the coffee shop greeted us to a booth and made us fresh coffee in white mugs. He was a very good host interested in what we were doing. He eyed Jean and she eyed him. He showed us quilting books and framed quilt pictures on the walls. Soon we were intrigued with what he was telling us about quilts and showing us framed quilt pictures hanging on the shop walls. We left him as the LeClaire store opened at 10 am. Our All Iowa Shop Hop began but the man and coffee lingered as to how lucky we had been to stop at his shop. Even Jean liked him. Was a future date to come for Jean? We laughed but only time and fate will tell.
At the Leclaire Iowa shop we purchased the Iowa square, learned about fat squares and quilting.
We got our first stamp in our passport and our first quilt direction card. Lunch was at the Machine shed restaurant and sharing what we had seen and bought. We felt like we were in a sewing Halloween asking for a stamp and quilt card at each store. But we also bought products, fat quarters etc and gained a lot of sewing knowledge.
Having just wrapped up the prize drawings for the statewide shop hop, we always learn so much about the impact of the Iowa statewide event. The goal of SEW IOWA (AKA: All Iowa Shop Hop) is to help people to experience all the rich sewing inspiration being offered by the many independent businesses in Iowa.
Perhaps the best part of the whole event is the journey. The beautiful lush landscapes of Iowa are soul-nourishing as travelers journey across the hills and plains. The tour provide great times to embrace the many paths that make this mixture of 99 counties and all the little villages and towns so inspiring. It is little wonder that so many creatives find a bit of home in Iowa.
Wrapping up the 8th year of the statewide event (held every June 1-30), we collect passports of visitors to the event. The passports are a collectors’ item that we have found some people don’t want to give up. Many times, we know there are groups of people who hang onto their passports and forego being eligible for the prize drawings. This likely underlines the greatest prize of all for SEW IOWA: People simply relish the tour and meeting up at the creative sights throughout the state to collect fabrics and explore the Iowa Creative Landscape.
With the Sew Iowa Journey, we mapped out a prize-awarding platform that makes many people eligible to win a prize. Visit as few as 5 shops and be entered into our main drawing. We also hold drawings that focus just on people that complete the regions in the state. Finally, a prize was given to every participant that finished the WHOLE state, visiting all of the participating shops and getting their passport turned in to us in a timely manner (as specified on the passport).
We gave out a massive 566 prizes!
People completing regions in the state received additional entries. Yes, that means we had some friends winning MULTIPLE prizes. The more regions completed, the more chances to win!
We had close to 400 visitors from outside of the state of Iowa, visiting us from 22 states from California to Florida and Oregon to Indiana!
Of the participants that finished regions, 44% of the region completions happened in the 3 least-populate regions of the state! There were many miles of landscape between the stores in these three regions, encouraging people to travel far and wide. The reason for visitors to be motivated to complete these regions certainly had to do with the pleasure of visiting along the highways of the Iowa’s landscape and enjoying the good hospitality in the communities.
The morale of this tale is that whether you visited a handful of shops or scoped out every spot in the state, you are a WINNER even if you didn’t capture a prize! Keeping creativity alive and stirring is about supporting independents that do a terrific job of providing guests a reason to reach inside themselves and stir the fires of inspiration and stitch it out.
As we prepare for 2020 for the event, you are in for a completely DIFFERENT palette of fabrics and themes. Take the time to send us a note about your adventure in 2019. Reach out to shop owners you know not (presently) participating that they can be part of the adventure in 2020. Every corner of Iowa deserves to be celebrated. Small towns and cities benefit greatly by the many visitors from throughout the regions and crossing the state’s borders to invest in Iowa’s tourism offerings.
We are grateful for the many participants as Sew Iowa has grown over the 8 years and look forward to more getting on board in 2020.