Discover Vintage America - AUGUST 2017

Quilters are on the go for Row By Row

What is more quintessentially American than quilting and summertime road trips? Combine the two and you've created the perfect excuse for visiting quilt shops in your neighborhood and across the United States and beyond.

These "Row" examples that say something about the parts of the country from which they are made. This one: the truck, tree and barn is from, Quilter's Cottage, Kearney, NE. (photos by Sandra Starley)

Check out The Row By Row Experience® and turn your boring summer road trip into an exciting scavenger hunt. One of the biggest quilting phenomena in recent history, Row By Row is a revamp of the quilter's "shop hop" where people in an area or state go from shop to shop and pick up free patterns, make purchases, and even win prizes. In the Row By Row one travels to at least eight different shops for quilt patterns (unique designs from each shop), completes a quilt using those eight patterns, and then shares it at a participating shop. If you are the first to bring in a completed

Row quilt to a shop, you win 25 fat quarters (more than six yards of fabric)! If you used the shop's pattern in your quilt, you'll win a special bonus prize. For general information visit:

"When Nature Calls," Sew What Quilt Shop, Marion, KS

Started in 2011 as a way for a local quilt shop (Calico Gals in Syracuse) to boost sales, it has rapidly expanded from that first group of 20 New York state stores to more than 3,000 shops in the United States, Canada, and even Europe. In addition to participating Row shops, there are many businesses that have collaborated with Row to create companion products. Among these are Timeless Treasures with special 2017 Row fabric and coordinates, Pin Peddlers with custom charms for shops, and Zebra Patterns with custom "license plates". And quilting businesses aren't the only ones to benefit from all the traveling Row by Rowers as hotels, restaurants, gift shops, etc. are seeing increased revenues especially in small towns.

This year's theme is "Row By Row On the Go"! Visit the Row website for the state-by-state shop lists and photos of the rows to get a flavor of the regional differences in our great country. It is fun to see how each shop/area interprets this wide open theme. Two different Kansas quilt shop patterns feature outhouses (quilters on the go- grin)! Iowa shops feature tractors and chickens, corn and bean blocks and more outhouses. In Nebraska, you'll find hot air balloons, cars, trains, tractors (driven by raccoons) and, you guessed it, another outhouse.

Some of the Missouri shops showcase the iconic St. Louis Arch and others picture barns, trains, and airplanes. You can also see the rows on each state's Facebook page. When you are traveling, stop in as many shops as you can find for the patterns and other related items. Kits are often available for sale at the shops making it easy to recreate the rows once you get home.

A new feature for 2017 is the Row By Row Junior for kids ages 6 to 14, which allows your young passengers to participate in the challenge too. What a great way to encourage children to sew with special patterns and prizes just for them. This will change the common whine of "are we there yet" to a joyful "when will we get there".

So grab your car keys and start collecting. The free Row patterns are available through Sept. 5, 2017. You have until Oct. 31 to submit your completed quilt. During the collection period, you can only get the patterns by visiting each shop in person (no mail or email patterns). If you can't travel, don't despair, on Nov. 1 everyone can participate by contacting stores for patterns.


Tractor: "Growing Our Stash," Calico House, Lincoln, NE


Sandra Starley is nationally certified quilt appraiser, quilt historian, and avid antique quilt collector. She travels throughout the U.S. presenting talks on antique quilt history, fabric dating classes and trunk shows as well as quilting classes. Learn more at Send your comments and quilt questions to

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