Friday, May 20, 2011

LQS Love: Bear's Quilt Shop in Garden Grove

I first entered Bear's Quilt Shop for a dyeing workshop put on by the Flying Geese Quilters Guild. The Guild doesn't usually hold workshops at Bear's so I was a little surprised. But then I saw the classroom. I can't imagine a classroom better designed for a dyeing class.

I dyed with Daren Pitts Redman in an almost brand new quilt shop with pristine white tables and floors, one sink, no washer, and no dryer. We all had dyed fabric at the end of the day, but the floor and tables had a little dye too. And we were all super anxious about getting dye anywhere. We also didn't properly rinse and dry our fabrics, so we didn't really get to see the final product until we were home . . . to be brutally honest, I air dried those pieces of fabric without rinsing them, folded them up, popped them into a ziploc bag, and they're still in that bag as I type . . . three years later. In fact, the reason I stopped by Bear's last week was to pick up some synthrapol to finally rinse those fabrics so I could use them to finish the project I started in the workshop I took at Bear's.

I also took a dyeing workshop at IQF Chicago, so that was in a hotel conference room . . . using the sinks in the ladies' room at the other end of the hall. Similarly, no one really got to see the fully rinse, fully dried results. And we were all having strokes out of fear that we'd ruin the carpet and get quilters banned from Chicago for life.
Now, if you cannot work in a space that isn't pretty, Bear's is not for you. Bear's whole space is practical. First, like a lot of LQSs in this area, they're in a office park/warehouse with low overhead. They've got the usual amenities like individual tables for each student and super comfy rolly chairs.

Second, unlike a lot of LQSs in office parks, they didn't cover the concrete floors. Not conventionally pretty, but totally functional. Whether mopping up dye drips or sweeping up thread clippings, this polished cement floor is easier to clean than any flooring I've ever seen in a quilt shop. That seems like it would only benefit the people who have to clean it, but I've taken some workshops in some otherwise posh shops, whose floors were totally gross. When I picked up my sewing machine's bag off the floor, a layer of dust bunnies had stuck to it. That's not going to happen at Bear's. Also, while I was in my dyeing class at Bear's I could focus on my project and not worry about whether I was dripping dye on the floor. Amazing what a little anxiety reduction can do for your creative process.

Third, Bear's invested in a stack of cutting mats so each student can use one at their station. This is handy because students don't have to bring mats, which tend to warp in hot cars, from home, nor do they have to wait in line for one shared cutting table. Bear's also has a counter-height cutting table for those so inclined.

Fourth, Bear's installed a serious pressing station. Instead of two irons on an ironing board for a whole class to share, Bear's has a counter covered with heat proof pressing mats with multiple irons. There are at least four outlets and each outlet is on its own fuse. This is important because I recall IQF Chicago blowing the fuses at every ironing station in the conference center.

Fifth, they have a full-sized washing machine and dryer in addition to two deep work sinks. None of this "go rinse and dry this at home . . . I'm sure it will turn out great!"
This is the place to go for dyeing and long-arm quilting. They've also got a lot of 108" fabric for quilt backs at INSANELY good prices. But this isn't a shop with hours and hours of browsing potential. Still, they fill their niche perfectly.

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