A quilt is more than just a warm blanket to snuggle with or a colorful accent for the guest bedroom. For many of us, a quilt has fond memories woven within the threads. Maybe your quilt has been passed down from generation to generation until it finally landed in your closet. Or maybe you spent every Sunday afternoon of your formative years helping Mom piece together a family heirloom.
Regardless of where your quilt originated, it’s undoubtedly unique. And no one understands that better than the folks at Plymouth’s own Blue Bamboo quilting shop. Owner Liz Vikla grew up amidst her mom Linda’s patchwork and sewing needles. After developing a love for Asian fabrics and designs from three years spent in Singapore, Linda opened Blue Bamboo in 2003. Vikla got involved after graduating from college, designing quilting kits for sale at the store.
Then the unthinkable: In March 2010 Linda was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away on August 6. Yet her mom’s legacy lives on in Blue Bamboo, which Vikla has since taken over.
Today the 2,500-square foot quilt shop offers a wide array of colorful fabrics, custom and pre-made quilting kits, and other sewing accessories. Vikla offers an online store with fabric and quilting kit selections that are updated weekly.
If you’re not an avid quilter, you might not know that Minnesota has a large quilting population, with more than 80 stores along with numerous quilting guilds—many of which meet in the western suburbs. Of those quilting stores, Blue Bamboo offers the most modern fabrics and kits, and boasts the largest selection of Bali batiks, in the state.
There’s a lot to love about quilting, in addition to the beautiful fabrics. “I like the creative process,” Vikla says. “It allows you to have fun with your work.” Even if you’re new to the quilting scene, she says there’s nothing to worry about. “I think anyone can do it,” she says. Just stop in Blue Bamboo, and Vikla or her part-time staff members will help you select a beginning pattern and everything you need to create your first quilt.
Creating a finished quilted item doesn’t have to take months or years, either. A quick and easy project could take just a few hours, and for the serious quilter, a really complicated piece could take 100–200 hours to complete.
What’s hot in quilting this year? Hand-painted Bali batiks from Indonesia have been steadily gaining popularity in recent years as fabric trends have changed to a more contemporary look. “They are the hottest sellers at our store,” Liz says. But color trends remain wide, tending toward brighter hues and a new neutral color palette that has popped up recently.
New in 2011, Blue Bamboo is offering classes for the aspiring quilter. Starting in May, certified instructor and pattern designer Judy Niemeyer will teach a seven-week Glacier Star class, in which students learn about paper piecing and end up with a stunning exclusive quilt, made from a pattern only sold through authorized instructors and shops. Quilters will learn a different quilting technique each week and finish blocks at home before the next week’s class. There’s a $10 registration fee, along with a $30 fee per class.
And if you really want to get a taste of all the great quilting stores that Minnesota has to offer, don’t miss the 14th annual Shop Hop event at the end of the month. Visit all 11 participating quilt shops (including Blue Bamboo) between April 28 and 30, and receive a free nine-inch quilt block pattern at each shop.
IF YOU GO
Twin Cities Shop Hop
9 a.m.–9 p.m. Thursday–Friday
9 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday
Visit the Shop Hop Facebook page for details.
12865 Industrial Park Blvd.