Sew a Liberty & Chambray Throw with Alewives Fabrics in Nobleboro, Maine
How did you get started?
I guess you could say I was very, very lucky! I was hired to work at Alewives Fabrics by the shop's previous owner, a lady named Maia Hart. Maia's family had owned the shop since 1978 and she hired me in 1998 when I was just 19 years old. I was very lucky to have Maia as a teacher: it was a huge leap of faith for her to hire someone who didn't know how to sew. She invested a lot of time and energy teaching me all the traditional methods of quilting and I learned so much from her, not just about quilting but about the business of running a fabric store, too. In 2004, when Maia was ready to retire, my mother and I purchased the shop. We launched our webstore in 2009.
Where are you located?
We are located in Nobleboro, Maine right on the midcoast, about one hour north of Portland. Locals call this area "Damariscotta Mills" because it's at the intersection of Damariscotta Lake and the Damariscotta River. About a century ago there were lots of different mills and factories here, but today it is just a super small, totally adorable little village.
Which products do you specialise in?
Fabric!!! Some shops might carry the latest ruler or sewing machines, but we are all about having the best fabrics. We mostly carry contemporary, modern designs, but we also love timeless fabrics, like toile, ticking, stripes, paisleys and batik. We have lots of quilting weight cottons, but also voile, lawn, double gauze, vinyl laminate, jersey knit, linen/cotton blends, home decorator weight fabrics and toweling. We joke that we are equal opportunity textile junkies!
Do you have a particular favorite product that you sell?
We specialize in English Paper Piecing (a traditional method of hand sewing that uses small paper templates) and give impromptu demonstrations several times a day. Customers always walk away hooked: even the ones who say they hate to sew by hand! Lucy Boston blocks are definitely a favorite of ours, because they are for fabric lovers. The blocks are all fussy-cut and have a kaleidoscope effect: they almost look like a blooming flower. We sell lots of the notions for Lucy Boston, but also lots of fabrics that are good fussy-cutting candidates. Anna Maria Horner and Tula Pink are some of my favorite designers of "fussy cutting" fabrics... they always have such great motifs and amazing colors!
What's on the stereo?
Oooooh, good question! I'm a Maine girl, so of course I love Ray Lamontagne. We also like The Shins, Madeline Peyroux, Arcade Fire and good old Jack Johnson.
Where else should we visit in your area?
Whenever we have visitors, we always take them to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The lighthouse at Pemaquid Point (which you can see depicted on the Maine quarter) is another favorite. Acadia National Park is about 2.5 hours away from our shop and I've been vacationing there ever since I was little. Now we visit with our little boy at least once a year. Even if the weather is lousy, we always have a great time!
Do you host any workshops, classes or special events?
Yes! We try to bring some big-name designers into Maine at least once a year, and we do lots of classes taught by our shop's staff or a guest instructor throughout the year. We also hold Friday Night Sewing Lounges, Craft Swaps, Sew-Alongs and once a month, we always offer a free class that's appropriate for all skill levels. They usually fill up in just a few hours!
Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
Alewives Fabrics is on Instagram (@alewivesfabrics) and we post pictures daily. In our feed, you'll see lots of Lucy Boston blocks and stacks of fabrics and maybe a picture of my little boy, Bert! We love to hear from customers on social media or e-mail, but if you're ever in our area, please stop by the shop and say hi!
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