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Quilting by the Sea named one of top 10 quilt shops

"Local quilt shop owner Mary Darby poses with magazine photographer Perry Struse and art director Maureen Miller of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine.Local quilt shop owner Mary Darby received national recognition recently when her shop, Quilting by the Sea in Langley, was chosen one of the Ten Great North American Quilt Shops for 2001 by American Patchwork & Quilting magazine.This is truly an honor, Darby said. The selection process is driven by nominations received from the magazine's readers, so larger urban area shops have an obvious advantage, she said.Each year since 1995 the magazIne has featured their selections in a special edition named Quilt Sampler, which will be on sale this year in late May. Darby's shop will be profiled in a seven-page article with numerous photos of the store as well a background material about the Langley area and local attractions.The photographs were taken on a recent weekend by Perry Struse, whose photo art has appeared in many well-known magazines. He and Maureen Miller, the magazine's art director, shot photos of the staff and of local quilters working and relaxing in the classroom space above the store.Following that was an outside shot of the shop, a photo of Darby and her husband John, and a closeup of one of the display areas.Struse kept everyone excited and interested through a long day of shooting with an endless stream of anecdotes and jokes, Darby said.Freelance writer Allison Engel wrote the article for the magazine, interviewing Darby at the International Quilt Market convention she attends in Houston every November. The glowing testimonials the Des Moines, Iowa-based magazine received were from all over the United States and Canada, said Heidi Kaisand, editor.At first we thought, this can't be real, she must have had her mother writes these, Kaisand said. One customer from Seattle wrote: Even though I live in Seattle and am close to two large and well-known quilt shops, Quilting by the Sea represents to me the best shop I have ever been to. Months can go by between visits because Langley is quite far from home. I know the staff doesn't remember me, but I have been treated exactly the same good way, each time I visit.Another nomination came from the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters Association, whose members return to the shop regularly.Spending time here has been a wonderful opportunity to nurture our creative spirits, they wrote. We especially enjoyed sewing with a view of Puget Sound...being in a serene environment with my sisters; the peace, tranquility, love, friendship shared and the memories we created forever.Each of the 10 shops winning the distinction is asked to create a quilt design which the magazine readers can then make. Darby and her employees, Sally Orr, Carla Schork and Louise Morgan, assembled Quilters' Blend, a colorful, whimsical design. Everyone loves the bright colors in our store, so the quilt had to be vibrant, Darby said. And everyone thinks of the Seattle area as latte land, so the quilt has coffee cups in the fabric. We wanted the quilt to be fun and lighthearted, so we added buttons ad prairie points.As the deadline for submitting the finished quilt drew near, the women worked all day to complete it, and then Sally Orr pulled an all-nighter to finish it, Darby said.American Quilting * Patchwork magazine will announce which of the 10 stores will be featured on the magazine cover at the May 2001 Spring Quilt Market held in Atlantic City, N.J. this year. Along with Darby, her sister Jo McCarty and staff member Louis Morgan will attend the event and take part in a reception honoring the 10 featured stores.I have been attending the spring and fall Quilt Market for years, Darby said. I get to see all the new products and place advance orders before they are even generally available. I attend seminars on creative ways to design and finish quilts. I also get time to meet with other quilt shop owners and share ideas.Quilting by the Sea has more than 1,500 bolts of fabric, 850 quilting book titles and a variety of notions and quilting supplies. The store stocks a complete line of Janome New Home sewing machines, and a full-color quarterly newsletter lists all its classes, ranging from beginner to advanced.On the second Monday of every month, the Debbie Mumm Friendship Club meets at the shop, hosted by Carla Schork. And at least every quarter, quilters make and donate quilts for children from other parts of the world who come to the United States for life-saving surgery as part of the Healing the Children program.The shop is located in Langley Village and is open daily from 10-5 and on Sundays from noon-5 p.m. "

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