Two new quilting shops have opened in Fresno and they couldn’t be more different.
Second Chance Fabrics focuses on fabric from years past and lets quilters trade in fabric they’ve stashed away for decades.
Kiki’s Quilt Shack carries the latest fabrics released each season with a focus on the modern quilter and sells and services sewing machines.
Quilting fabric is like fashion, with new releases every few months of new looks.
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And quilters are a special brand of people. To understand these stores, you’ve got to understand them.
Quilters do accumulate large stashes of fabric throughout their lifetime and they feel guilty about it.
Shamara Elkins, Second Chance Fabrics
Second Chance Fabrics
Second Chance Fabrics owner Shamara Elkins compares quilters to collectors. They pick up fabric that catches their eye. Because styles change, quilters need to grab fabric when they can. And because they often don’t know what type of quilt or project it will go toward, they have to buy a lot of it.
“You have stashes that have grown over the last 20, 30, 50 years,” Elkins says.
This can lead to stashes of fabric bigger than a quilters could possibly use in a lifetime and stockpiles that sometimes get hidden from husbands. Some may call that hoarding, but I think “dedicated to their craft” is a better description.
Hoarding is when you have an entire three-bedroom, two-bath house stuffed to the gills with fabric. Elkins once got a call from an accountant in southern California whose client had this much fabric. No one lived in the house – they couldn’t with the kitchen, bathrooms garage and storage sheds crammed with fabric.
At Second Chance Fabrics, customers are encouraged to trade in their fabric. They can either get cash or store credit to take fabric home. Quilters can also buy fabric directly from the store, with prices ranging from $2.99 a yard to $6.99 a yard.
The store – which used to house Java Girls Espresso, a coffee house with scantily clad “bikini baristas” of both genders serving coffee – is packed with fabric of all types, sorted by color. Older fabric is sometimes sought out by quilters with unfinished projects who have trouble finding colors to match, say, the dusty blues that were popular in the 1980s.
“If you try to match something from that era, you really can’t because they don’t make that color any more,” Elkins says.
Some of the fabric is unique, featuring images of rainbow zebras, women golfing in skirts, Barbie and flannel with tighty-whities and boxer shorts on them.
Elkins is not a quilter herself, but the daughter of a very prolific quilter whose quilts line the store’s walls as decoration.
The store also sells bolts of new fabric and accessories and holds classes on fabric-related projects.
Details: (559) 365-0132.
Kiki’s Quilt Shack
On the other end of the spectrum is Kiki’s Quilt Shack, which opened last week at the northeast corner of Bullard and West avenues.
After those stores closed, customer Ketty Massengale was driving to Visalia for her sewing-related needs (though it’s worth noting that are other quilting-related stores in town, including Quilter’s Paradise in Old Town Clovis and Sierra Fiber Arts in Fresno).
“My husband decided he would buy me this store for a fun, great place, a creative outlet,” Massengale says.
Of the course the colors are amazing.
Ketty Massengale, Kiki’s Quilt Shack, about batik fabric
Just how excited do quilters get when a store reopens in their regular quilting store spot?
“I had people running up to me and thanking me and hugging me and [saying things] like you’ve brought material back on this side of town,” Massengale says.
Kiki’s has a large selection of fabric, including new prints and patterns released three or four times a year.
“It’s this season’s stuff,” says general manager Kori Madron. “It’s the latest and the greatest new fabric lines.”
Kiki’s also has a large selection of batik fabrics that have been hand dyed to create different patterns. The section of the store labeled “Batik Alley” has a bright rainbow of brightly colored fabrics.
“I am a lover of batiks just because they’re so versatile,” owner Massengale says. “The way they do the dyes, the colors ... it does amazing things when you put it together in a quilt. It makes it look very painterly.”
Massengale has a background in textiles, having grown up with her family’s carpet pad business and a rag business that involved buying 50 million pounds of fabric a year. Selling fabric at Kiki’s is a much more fun side of the textile business, she says.
The store also sells and services sewing machines, including Husqvarna Viking, Baby Lock and Pfaff. Kiki’s also sells embroidery machines, machines that cut fabric and parts and accessories for them.
A workspace allows the store to hold classes in the store.
In case you’re wondering, Kiki is the name that Massengale wants to be called when she becomes a grandmother.
“Instead of Granny’s Quilt Shack, I want it to be Kiki’s Quilt Shack,” she says.
The store is at 1732 W. Bullard Ave. Details: (559) 412-8233.