Tutorial: How to Pin Baste a Quilt

00_Intro Photo
Detail Image of a Pin Basted Quilt Sandwich

The most basic definition of a quilt is three layers held together in some form. I once explained that to someone and they immediately asked me if that meant that an Oreo cookie was a quilt. I replied yes, but only if you stick a toothpick through it!

Today we’re going to learn tips and tricks to help you baste the three layers of a quilt together so that you can add the toothpick…I mean thread…to turn it into a quilt.There are multiple ways to baste a quilt, but my favorite uses safety pins. Basting allows you to temporarily hold all the layers together as you quilt, ensuring that you don’t get wrinkles or puckers on the back of your quilt. In keeping with the theme of quilts and food, we call the three basted layers of a quilt before it has been quilted a "quilt sandwich." 


Supplies You Will Need:

  • A completed quilt top. This can be pieced, appliquéd, or just one large piece of cloth (called a wholecloth quilt)
  • Batting of your choice. There are lots of good battings out there. I tend to use Warm and White or Warm and Natural Batting. Warm and White is bleached and therefore good for quilts that have lots of white or light colored fabrics in the top, while Warm and Natural is unbleached and therefore has a more cream color that is best for quilts that are made from darker shades of fabric. Be sure that your batting is larger than your quilt top by at least 4 inches on each side (so 8 inches wider and 8 inches longer)
  • Fabric for the back of the quilt. Be sure that your backing fabric is also larger than your quilt top by at least 4 inches on each side (so 8 inches wider and 8 inches longer)
  • A roll of wide masking tape or blue painters tape
  • A bag of sharp safety pins. Sharp is really important here because the sharper the pin the easier it will be to get it through all three layers!


Step 1: Stretch the Backing

02a_Back Fabric
Backing Fabric for a Quilt Stretched and Taped on a Carpeted Floor

You are going to want to find a place where you can lay your entire quilt out flat. How much space you need is going to depend on the size of your quilt top. I usually baste my quilts on the carpeted floor of my living room but you can also use a table if you have one large enough for your quilt. Large plastic top folding tables also work well for this and if you have a large quilt you can push two tables together.

A word of caution if you are basting on anything other than carpet, you will want to be very careful that you do not scratch the surface under your quilt as you put in the pins. This is why I do this on my carpeted floor instead of on my wooden dining room table.

Once you have selected where you want to do the pin basting spread out your backing fabric face down (so with the pretty side touching the floor of the table). Now you will use strips of the masking tape or painters tape to stretch the backing and hold it in place. Stretching all the layers of the quilt in this way is really key to ensuring that you don’t have wrinkles or puckers on the back of the quilt when you are quilting later.

02b_Back Fabric Top & Bottom
1. Taping the Top and Bottom Centers of the Backing Fabric

Tape down the top side of the fabric in the very center. Then move to the bottom of the fabric and tape down the center of that side as well, making sure to pull it tight as you do so.

02c_Back Fabric Left & Right
2. Taping the Left and Right Centers of the Backing Fabric

Next tape the center of the left side of the fabric again pulling the fabric tight. Then move to the right side of the fabric and tape down the center of that side.

02d_Back Fabric Corners 1
3. Taping the Top Left and Bottom Right Corners of the Backing Fabric

Your quilt back should now be tight in the center but loose on the corners. Now you are going to tape the corners down. Start in the upper left corner and tape that down. Then move to the lower right and tape that down, again pulling the fabric tight. I taped on the longer side of the fabric here but you can also run a piece of tape diagonal over the corner to help get even tension.

02d_Back Fabric Corners 2
4. Taping the Top Right and Bottom Left Corners of the Backing Fabric

Next tape the upper right and then the lower left. Moving across the diagonal like this helps to ensure an even distribution of tension on the backing fabric and again keeps it smooth for the next steps.

02e_Back Fabric Fill
5. Taping the Remaining Space on the Sides of the Backing Fabric

Finally work around the outside of the backing fabric putting tape down in any untapped areas to finish stretching the areas near the corners.

Note that the quilt in these demonstration photos is a relatively small lap quilt. For a larger quilt, like a twin size or a king size you will need a lot more tape and will want to continue to tape outward from the center as you work around the outside.


Step 2: Stretch the Batting

03_Batting over Backing
Layering the Batting Over the Backing

Next you will place your batting down over the stretched backing fabric.

Did you know that batting has a right and a wrong side? You want to be sure that you have the batting facing the right way.

Batting is made using a needle punch method, where a machine punches the needles down through the batting fabric to help felt it together. You want your machine needle to go through the batting in the same way that the needles did when it was made as it will encounter less resistance that way and also be less likely to punch pieces of the batting through the backing of your quilt (known as bearding). You can tell which side is the bottom by feeling the batting. It will be smoother across the top and will have more bumps along the bottom, created when the needles pushed down through the batting. Put the bumpy side of the batting face down (or against the backing) so that the smooth side will be against your quilt top.

If your batting is the same size as your backing line it up with the tops and side of the backing fabric. If it is larger than your backing I recommend lining it up along one of the sides so that you will know where the edges of your backing are when you put the top down. The batting was larger than the backing for this quilt so I left the top part of the backing sticking out. This made it easy for me to clearly see where the backing stopped so that I could center my quilt top over it in the next step.

04_Batting Taped
Batting Stretched and Taped Down Over the Backing Fabric

Now you will stretch the batting the same way that you did the backing. Tape down the middle of the top and bottom and then the middle of the left and right sides. Then tape down the four corners, moving diagonally across the quilt to ensure an even stretch (this is like tightening the lug nuts on your tires or the screws on a drum head, you move diagonally to ensure an even tension).

Finally tape down the remaining areas on the sides of the batting.


Step 3: Stretch the Quilt Top

05_Top Laid Out
Quilt Top Laid Out Over the Batting and Backing Fabric

Now for the top of the Oreo…err…quilt sandwich! Place your top face up so that the wrong side of the top is against your batting. You want to offset the top from the edges of the backing and batting, ensuring that you have a good amount of both backing and batting extending past each side of the quilt top. As you quilt your backing and batting will pull in a little bit so if you start with the edges even you are likely to not have enough backing or batting on one or more of the edges of your quilt. I recommend trying to have at least 4 inches of extra backing and batting on each side of your quilt top. You’ll cut all of this off later when you are done quilting and are squaring up the edges of the quilt so it really doesn't hurt to have plenty of extra batting and backing along the sides.

06_Taped Top
Quilt Top Stretched and Taped Over the Batting and Backing Fabric

Once you have your quilt top centered with enough extra backing and batting on each side you are going to stretch it in the same way that you did with the backing and the batting. Tape the middle of each side, working top to bottom and left to right. Tape all four corners, again moving diagonally across the quilt. And finally tape the remaining edges down. Your tape is going to be on the batting at this point which is why you want something that is strong but easy to remove, like masking tape or blue painters tape.


Step 4: Pin Basting

10_Pin Basted Top
Pin Basted Quilt Sandwich

Now that you have all three layers stretched out and secured it is time to do the basting! You can baste by sewing through with a needle and thread but I like to baste with safety pins.

09_Pin through all three layers
Safety Pin Going Through All Three Layers of the Quilt Sandwich

You will want to ensure that you get the pins down through all three layers then come back up through all three layers and close the safety pin.

This is where pinning on the carpet comes in handy because it is easy to push down and ensure that you have gone through all three layers and into the carpet before you push the pin back to the top. It takes some practice to not accidentally pin your quilt to your carpet but if you discover that you have done this don’t fret! You’ll simply reopen the pin, take it halfway out until you are out of the carpet and then repin it.

07_Pinning Directions 1
Pinning Outward from the Center towards Top, Bottom, and Sides

Start pinning in the very center of your quilt and work your way out, smoothing the three layers as you go. Pinning from the center pushes any wrinkles out to the edges of the quilt, helping you to get a flat and wrinkle free quilt sandwich. I usually start in the middle and pin out in the four cardinal directions: toward the top, towards the bottom, towards the left, and towards the right.

08_Pinning Directions 2
Pinning Outward from the Center Toward the Four Corners

Next pin out from the center on the diagonal heading to each of the four corners. Finally fill in the remaining wedge shaped areas with pins, again working out from the center. I usually try to place one pin every 4 square inches or so. That seems to be the sweet spot for me that holds all the layers together but that also ensures I have room to fit my needle and presser foot between the pins when I start quilting.


Step 5: Remove the Tape

Once you have all of your pins in place you can remove the tape that is holding the three layers taught. Pull gently as the tape is going to remove some of the fibers in your batting and along the edges of your top and backing. Pulling gently helps to keep the fraying to a minimum.

As I mentioned above, when you go to pick up your quilt sandwich you might find that it is connected to your carpet in a few places. Again, just undo the single pin that is causing you trouble, pull it halfway out until it releases your carpet and then repin it back through the three layers.


Step 6: Having Fun Quilting!

Quilting the Pin Basted Quilt Sandwich

Now you are ready to quilt! As with the stretching and pinning, you’ll want to quilt from the center outwards to help push any potentially remaining wrinkles to the edge of the fabric. As you quilt you can remove the safety pins. As I quilt my design  I will get as close to the safety pins as I feel comfortable doing without running the risk of them going under the presser foot and getting near my needle. When a pin ends up in the way of my design I remove it and put it back in the pin bag for the next quilt. By the time you reach the edges of your quilt all of your pins will be removed and you’ll have a quilt with a nice smooth back!

I hope that you found some helpful tips here, whether you are working on your first quilt or your two-hundredth quilt!

If you are interested in learning some fun free motion quilting patterns to use on your new quilt sandwich check out my classes. I’d love to come to your group to give a lecture or teach a class!


Photo Credit: All photos by author.

Finish-A-Long 2019 Quarter 2 Round Up

Have you heard of the Finish-A-Long? It's a fun, free, and no pressure challenge started by Rhonda of Rhonda's Ramblings and hosted by a number of different bloggers around the world that encourages you to make a list of Works in Progress (WIPs) or Unfinished Objects (UFOs) that you want to finish in each quarter of the year. I've been participating for a couple of years now and really enjoy the community, seeing all the different types of projects that people are working on around the globe, and getting that little bit of extra motivation to finish something on my to do list.

The projects that I work on for the Finish-A-Long are always personal projects such as gifts or items for myself, never commissioned pieces. I always make a long list of items as well in the hopes that I can finish just a few of the items and then make some progress on the others. During this second quarter of the year I had a list of ten projects to work on and I finished three of them and made progress on another two. Here's a look at what I finished, what I made progress on, and what I'll be focusing on for the next three months. I hope you'll be inspired to make your own list and play along!


My Second Quarter Finishes

07_JOH front

First up is the t-shirt quilt that I made as a birthday gift for my brother-in-law. You can read more about this piece here. My sister and I had been hoping to get this project put together for a few years now so it feels good to have it finished so that my brother-in-law can now enjoy it!

02_Heart Quilt

My second finished project was a birthday gift for a good friend. This quilt was made out of the extra fabric from her grandmother's t-shirts that we had previously used for three other quilts! I'll be doing a more detailed blog post about all of the quilts we were able to make out of one set of approximately 20 t-shirts as soon as we finish the final one. T-shirts contain a lot of fabric and I'm committed to keeping as much of it out of the landfill as possible when I make custom pieces! This small heart design uses 4.5 inch squares and came together quickly!


My third finished project is just for me! As makers we so rarely finish the projects that are for ourselves so this one feels extra special. It's a knit blanket that I started when I was visiting Cornwall last summer. I made it using materials and the pattern from the Cozy Knit Pillows Class and Cozy Ecru Blanket Add-On Kit from The Crafter's Box. The Crafter's Box is a genius subscription idea by Morgan Spenla that sends you the materials and tools you need along with access to video instructions to create a new craft every month. You can join for one month at a time and cancel without any penalty if the next month isn't a craft you want to explore. This particular box got me back into knitting, a craft I learned from my grandmother as a small child. It also showed me how to purl and how to do a cable stitch, two critical knitting skills that I had not learned as a kid. The pillows you see in this picture are all made using The Crafter's Box items and lessons as well. Check them out to see if they have a lesson for something you want to learn! You can sign up for many past classes and get the materials need to make them through their new marketplace feature on their website.


My Second Quarter Progress and Projects for the Next Three Months

While I only finished three of my projects on my list of ten items I still made great progress on a few other pieces. I also had some pieces that I didn't touch at all. I don't find this discouraging and I'm looking forward to making a few of those untouched pieces priorities for these next three months. The reason why I always create a big list is so that I don't feel like I have to work on just one or two pieces but can jump back and forth on projects as they fit my mood. So here are the projects I'll be working on (or not) in the next three months:


1.  Polygon Play Quilt

04_Polygon Play

I am working on appliqueing down the polygons on my Polygon Play Quilt that I started in a class with Jennifer Sampou at Craft Napa this past January. I only got one side of one polygon sewn down in the past three months but I'm looking forward to doing some more slow stitching on this one in this next quarter of the year.


2. First Pair of Knit Socks


I made lots of progress on this project between March and June and I suspect these will be the first project I finish in this third quarter. After picking up knitting again from The Crafter's Box, I asked a friend to show me how to make socks. She set me up with an easy first pattern and got me started. Since then I have watched some helpful YouTube videos to figure out some of the trickier steps, like turning the heel. The first sock is done and the second sock has turned the heel and is well on its way to finished. I'm looking forward to wearing these this winter and to making lots more socks in the future now that I know they aren't nearly as hard to make as they look!


3. and 4.  Doll Quilt #1 and Doll Quilt #2

05_Doll Quilts

These are two items that haven't been worked on recently. They are doll quilts intended for two special girls and made from 1.5 inches scraps leftover from their parents' wedding quilt. It's high time that these get finished up and out the door to their respective recipients. I have the backing fabric picked and scraps of batting that fit them perfectly. Now I just need to sit down and get them pin basted and quilted. I'll be prioritizing getting these done this quarter.


5. Wedding Cross Stitch

Cross Stitch

This one is a new project on the list and is a wedding present for some friends who will be getting married this fall. The pattern is a lovely modern design from Satsuma Street on Etsy. I've only just started it but it feels like it will be a quick one to come together, especially since it doesn't have a lot of back stitching!


6. Strippy Quilt of my Own Design

Strippy Birds

I'm excited to say that I am working on creating a few different quilt patterns based off of my historical research with quilts. This fabric is going to be a feature in a strippy quilt and I'm excited to dive into the design process! 


7. Up, Up, and Away Quilt

Up-Up-Away Blocks

I've been working on this one for quite some time now and it's a nice project to pop in and out of. This pattern comes from the book Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison. It consists of tiny blocks that are helping me use up the lots and lots of triangle scraps that I had left over from making high school graduation quilts for my sister and I. I'm probably going to be doing a different layout than the one suggested in the book but the block pattern is a great way save lots of small fabric scraps from the trash! I don't expect that I'll finish this one this quarter but I'm hoping to maybe get all of the blocks sewn up, ironed, and trimmed.


8. Punch Needle Art Project

Punch Needle Kit

This is another kit from The Crafter's Box that looks like a lot of fun! I haven't ever tried punch needle art so this one will be a new experiment for me. I find that trying new things helps to keep the creativity flowing and this one looks like a great weekend project for when I want a new challenge.


9. Hand Embroidered Utility Pouch

Embroidery Kit

Another The Crafter's Box kit that is small and portable and therefore a good travel project! While I cross stitch all the time I haven't really experiemented with other forms of embroidery. Right now my Mom is working on finished a crewel sampler that she started in the 1970s and this seems like the perfect project for me to learn some of those stitches alongside her!


Phew! I know that seems like a lot to be working on in just three months, but again I always list a lot so that when I have some free time to craft for myself I can just look at this list and pick whatever sounds fun. I certainly don't expect to finish it all but I hope to finish two or three and make progress on a few others. 

I hope that you'll join me in participating in the Finish-A-Long this quarter! Information on how to sign up can be found at Marci Girl Designs (one of the US based hosts). You have until Thursday July 18, 2019 to get in on this round and if you miss it then I hope that you'll join the fun in the future!


Photo Credit: All photos by author.

What Information Should You Include on a Quilt Label?

Label Basics
Basic Information Needed on a Quilt Label

Making any piece of art can be a long process. I know I have some quilts from 15 years ago that still need to be finished and I’m sure you have UFOs (UnFinished Objects) and WIPs (Works In Progress) too! It’s so satisfying to finish the that last step and feel the excitement of a completed project. But it is important to remember that a project isn’t really done until you label it!

Why are labels important? It’s your one chance to tell the story of your quilt (or any piece of art that you make) the way you want it to be remembered. Remember that quilts are often passed down through generations and without a written label to refer to, the story of your quilt will be subject to a game of generational telephone.

So what needs to be on a label? As a quilt historian I’m always hoping for that detailed label that really tells you a lot about the quilt, but here are the bare minimum elements to help future generations and historians connect your art to you!

1) Maker name

We want to know who you are! I encourage you to include your full name so that you can be easily identified in the future. J.E. Frisch could be a lot of people, but Janice E. Frisch is much more identifiable.


2) Where maker lived

This is important for helping future generations to track down the right public records to identify you. It’s much easier to find a person when you know the exact town where they were living than if you just have a state or a province.


3) Date quilt was completed

Include month and year at the least and day if you remember. Also be sure to label this date clearly. Often old quilts contain dates but we don’t know if that was the date the quilt was made or another important date in the maker or recipient’s life.


4) Who quilt was made for/why it was made/what inspired the quilt

This can be a simple sentence and if you made it for yourself note that too. If you made it for someone else include their full name and where they lived just like you did for the maker.


5) Who quilted the quilt (if not the maker)

Today lots of people enjoy making quilt tops but not doing the quilting and vice-a-versa. It’s nice to acknowledge the work of other individuals who helped you to make the quilt so include that person’s name (or names if you made something with a group) and where they lived as well.


This doesn’t have to be complicated and a few words or lines will suffice to cover all of this information.

If you have old quilts that you purchased or inherited it is never too late to label them as well. Just include as much information as you know about them and note down that you were the one to record that information and that date (at least month and year) that you recorded it.

I’d love to see your labeling methods and to help you inspire your friends to label their art as well. I started a hashtag on instragram which is #ItsNotDoneUntilYouSignIt and I encourage everyone to use it for any signature method on your art!


If you aren’t certain where or how to start here is a basic template for you to follow:


Made for [Name of recipient] of [town and state, town and province, town and country, etc. where they are currently living] by [Your name as maker] of [town and state where you are currently living]. 

Made [as a birthday gift, just because, out of the recipient's high school t-shirts, etc. Basically this is the why it was made].

Started: [Date you started the quilt]

Quilted: [Date quilting was finished] by [name of quilter if it wasn't you]

Finished: [Date quilt was finally done, label included!]

Gifted: [Date you gave the quilt to the person receiving it]


Are you interested in learning more about the importance of labeling your art? I offer a lecture on the topic as well as a class and would love to come speak to and teach members of your organization. While the lecture focuses on what I’ve learned about labeling from studying historical quilts, the information on documenting your work is applicable to any arts group.


Photo Credit: All photos by author.

Quilt Round Up #1: June 2019

It’s been an exciting few months here at Tangible Culture with the first orders for custom quilts coming in and a lecture on the development of the block-style quilt for the Bloomington Quilters Guild! I thought it would be fun to share a few highlights from the custom quilts that I have made in the past few months.

If you are interested in having me make one for you remember all those details can be found here.


Festival T-Shirt Quilt

01_Festival Quilt
Custom quilt made from festival t-shirts

First up is this fun t-shirt quilt. It is extra special because it was the first custom quilt order that I received after I officially started my business! It’s made from t-shirts from festivals run by two generations of the same family. The customer’s parents helped run a local beer festival every year and the owner has been saving the shirts and hats from each festival. She was thrilled to be able to clean out an entire storage bin and get a fun quilt from the shirts. This particular individual also helps to run a local quilt show and so she added a few of her t-shirts from the quilt show to the mix. Now she has a quilt that tells the story of the involvement of two generations in local festivals and events!

This quilt has an all over meandering quilting design, which comes with the base price for each quilt I make.

02_meandering detail
Close up of an all over meandering quilting pattern

In addition to the meandering pattern, I will also select a few fun patterns from the shirts themselves and trace around them. This makes the quilt just as fun from the back as it is from the front!

03b_Festival Back
Back of the festival t-shirt quilt, showing the quilting

Here is a detail of one of the quilting motifs as seen from the back:

04_Festival back detail
Sun motif traced from t-shirt design as seen on the back of the quilt


I-Spy Baby Quilt

05_i-spy full
Custom I-spy Quilt

For the second quilt, the customer reached out to me and mentioned that while they didn’t have any clothing that they wanted made into quilts they were wondering if I would be willing to make an I-spy quilt. I-spy quilts are really popular quilts for kids. They are made with all different fabrics and make a fun game for kids to find specific items in the quilt. It’s kind of like a cloth Where’s Waldo book!

06_i-spy detail
Detail of I-Spy quilt

For this quilt the customer selected a set of pre-washed and pre-cut 4.5 inch squares from MyriadFabrics on Etsy. The pre-cut blocks were sent to me and then I created the layout, pieced the top, and quilted the quilt. Again this one has an all over meandering quilting design. It’s backed with a cozy flannel which doubles as the binding around the edge of the quilt. Here is a picture of it all wrapped up and ready to ship to its new home:

07_i-spy wrapped
I-Spy quilt all wrapped up and ready to go to its new home

I hope this one brings its new owners lots of fun play time!


Fraternity Fundraising Bike Trip T-Shirt Quilt

JOH front
Journey of Hope Fundraising Bike Trip T-shirt Quilt

The third quilt wasn’t a commission, but is a gift for my brother-in-law. When my brother-in-law was in college he participated regularly in the Journey of Hope, a charity cross-country bicycle ride put on each year by his fraternity. As anyone who participates in any sports or fundraising events knows, you end up with a lot of t-shirts! For his birthday this year my sister pulled all of the shirts and snuck them to me and I made this t-shirt quilt for him.

As with any t-shirt quilt order, after I cut out the shirts and create a layout I send a photo of the layout to the person ordering the quilt to make sure that they like the design and placement of the blocks. Here’s what an initial layout looks like before the blocks are sewn together:

08_JOH Layout
Quilt layout sent to customer for approval

A special detail in this quilt is the backing fabric, this design by Art Gallery Fabrics depicts bikes arranged in a kaleidoscope in the colors of my brother-in-law’s fraternity. I was only able to find 4 yards of this fabric, which turned out not to be enough for the full back. So I created a fabric road to run through the back and help make the backing fabric long enough.

JOH Full back
Back of bike trip t-shirt quilt


JOH Back fabric detail
Detail of backing fabric for bike trip quilt

This quilt is quilted by block, meaning I used a different design in each square or rectangle of t-shirt. This style of quilting is an upgrade that you can add to your custom quilt order if you would like. Simply indicate you are interested in quilting by block in the inquiry form and I’ll make sure to include that as a line item in the custom quote I create for you.

11_JOH Interlocking design
Interlocking quilting pattern on a Journey of Hope t-shirt
JOH Michigan block
T-shirt design with horizontal lines quilted in it to compliment horizontal lines in the outline of Michigan printed on shirt
JOH Hammer front
T-shirt with a meandering quilt pattern and an outline around the hammer motif
JOH Hammer front
Outlined hammer motif as seen on back of quilt

I had lots of fun working on these and other projects over the past couple of months. If you would like to have me make a quilt like these (or if you have another idea for a custom quilt you want to run past me) please check out my Custom Quilts page and either fill out the Inquiry Form or reach out with an email. I’d love to make something for you!


Photo Credit: All photos by author.

Textile Lover's Travel Guide: Penzance Textile Shops

01_Penzance Welcome sign
Welcome sign outside of Penzance Train Station

We’re in full blown summer-type weather here in southern Indiana and it has me dreaming of beach vacations and slowing down for a bit. A vacation isn’t in the cards right now as this new start-up business means a slow initial cash flow. In the meantime though, I can dream about one of my favorite vacations ever, when I visited Penzance, Cornwall, in the United Kingdom last summer and hopefully inspire some of you to travel there as well!

You might have heard of Penzance courtesy of the Sullivan and Gilbert opera, “The Pirates of Penzance.” I know that was all I knew about it when a friend at work suggested that I use the extra time on my trip to see The 1718 Coverlet to visit Penzance. Boy was I glad I took her advice! Beautiful beaches, a magic island, and art galore! It’s a folklorist and textile lover’s dream! I’ll be writing a few different posts on my Penzance trip last year in the hopes to inspire you to check out this gem on the southern coast of Western Cornwall!

Today I want to start by highlighting all of the great stores to check out if you are a textile lover like me. This small town seems to have something for every textile maker and lover and you can spend a day just enjoying these spots!

First let’s talk textile supply shops, because you will want to go to these places to get some goodies to work on while you relax (and because visiting these shops was basically the first thing I did when I arrived).

Penzance is small and you can walk to all of these places in one trip. While it is flat down by the beach, the town is built on some hills so be prepared for a bit of an uphill climb to get to a few of these stores. It’s a good workout to then be able to enjoy all of the good food in the area though!

02_Quilt & Sew Exterior
Entrance to Sew & Quilt Shop

As a quilter my first stop was at Sew and Quilt (Trinity House, Quay Street)

This cute little shop is tucked away in a set of row houses off Quay Street. Their primary presence is online (so check out all the goodies there) but if when you are in Penzance you can also stop by to pick up all of your sewing needs!

A note on finding the store, it will look a bit like you are entering a private dwelling area if you are following your map, but the shop is down on the left almost at the end of the row houses so just keep going!

03_Quilt & Sew Find
The arrow marks the entrance to Sew & Quilt at the end of the row

They carry a variety of fabric lines and have a great selection of Liberty of London fabric. I had a hard time picking out which prints I wanted to purchase!

04_Quilt & Sew Fabric Wall
Fabrics and other merchandise at Sew & Quilt

They also sell their own range of Sew & Quilt paper pieces and supplies, which they make in West Cornwall. They have precut paper templates as well as acrylic templates. It’s a great place to pick up everything you need to do a little hand sewing on the beach or the train as you travel around the area. And if you can’t get there any time soon they do ship their goodies worldwide.

06_Cornish Stitch Designs
The entrance to Cornish Stitch Designs

If, like me, you also enjoy cross stitch, or if you love rug hooking, then your next stop should be Cornish Stitch Designs (2 Queen St)

This is a small family owned independent shop on Queen Street. It’s a bit tricky to get into because the front door opens directly onto the street, so look both ways before venturing in or out. It’s easiest to come at it from Chapel Street as it is right near the fork where Chapel Street breaks off of Queen Street (and Chapel Street has a sidewalk). It is so worth hunting this little place out though!

07_Cross Stitch Wall
Wall of Cross Stitch kits and patterns at Cornish Stitch Designs

When I visited last summer they had just moved to this new location and were in the process of setting up all of their rug making supplies and patterns, locally made jewelry and vintage pieces, as well as jewelry making supplies. They also carry a range of cross stitch patterns and kits that depict local places that were all designed by a local woman named Thelma Murrish. Thelma has passed away, but the shop owner told me that she used to have a work space down by the water front where people could watch her design her patterns. Apparently she would stitch up a design and then rip out anything she didn’t like until she had the colors exactly right. As Thelma was also my grandmother’s name I had to pick up a pattern and selected a kit depicting Penzance to remember my trip. In addition to the local Cornish places, the cross stitch patterns also depict medieval themed designs, animals, new baby, and wedding and anniversary. It’s a great place to get a truly unique textile souvenir!

08_Penzance Cross Stitch
A Cross Stitch kit of Penzance for me and a Cornish Knight kit for a friend
09_Harbour Wool
Entrace to Harbour Crystals and Wools

For the yarn lovers, the family run Harbour Crystals and Wools sells yarn, knitting needles and crochet hooks, as well as jewelry making supplies and a wide variety of other items. You’ll find this store at 25 Causeway Head, alongside a great range of bookstores and other small specialty stores!

If you are in Penzance this upcoming September 7th and 8th, 2019, you can also check out the Cornish Yarn Festival, which has free admission and is hosted by Harbour Crystals and Wools.

10_East of Here Outside
Entrance to East of Here

And if you like textiles but aren’t interested in making your own, check out East of Here (2-3 Chapel Street)

This store carries a variety of finished textiles imported from the Middle East and India. When I visited the store had just received a shipment of beautiful quilts made in India. The store also sells a wide range of woven rugs and textile stamps. They assured me that they could ship to the US if you don’t want to purchase a second suitcase to carry your textiles home with you. Even if you aren’t in the market to purchase a rug or quilt it is worth stopping in for the inspiration alone!

11_Indian Quilts
Detail of Indian quilts for sale at East of Here

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick tour of some of the great textile shops I visited while in Penzance last year. Stay tuned for future posts exploring fun things to do in the area as well as places to stay and places to eat! And let me know in the comments of any great textile shops you’ve visited while in Penzance or in West Cornwall so that I can make a list for my next trip!

Disclosure: No aspect of this post was sponsored. This was a vacation I planned and paid for on my own.

Photo credit: All photos by author.