We enjoyed so many beautiful quilts hanging on the walls every spring and fall at the Pickwick Tea Room. What a lovely gift from Top Shelf Quilt shop! For several years they shared their customer’s and their own shop sample quilts to decorate and warm up our walls. But Top Shelf Quilts is so much more than just the finished quilts that adorn their walls.
Founded in 2002 Top Shelf Quilts changed ownership three times. Ron and Michael, the current proprietors bought the quilt shop in September of 2015 and have seen steady growth in the business due in part to Ron’s amazing ability to design quilting patterns for their clients on the longarm quilting machine currently in the back corner of the shop. Because of this stabilizing growth in business, they are planning a move to Mokena to double their space.
Currently located at 10 Elwood Street in the Grainery strip mall, Top Shelf sells a wide variety of fabrics, notions and patterns for quilting. Quilters come from miles away to find the perfect combination of fabric patterns and colors for their projects or that elusive last piece to finish a quilt. Customers love the wall of color, fabrics arranged in a rainbow of color, which makes it so much easier to find that special color, pattern or print of fabric. In addition, Top Self carries many specialty print fabrics and seasonal patterns. All their fabrics are washable and similar in weight to make pairing patterns and colors much easier.
Don’t know how to quilt? They have classes, many classes, many different ability levels of classes from the very basic to advanced. The classes include basic piecing for beginners, different types of techniques for intermediate and advance quilters, and loads of other classes that may appeal to the quilter in all of us. The classes could be a Block of the Month style where you learn a new pattern each month till the quilt is finished over the course of several months or it could be a class that is finished in one session. In their new space they plan to have two classrooms for a larger variety of classes. Check their website HERE for class times and descriptions.
Once your piecing is finished, you need to actually quilt the project. Now, you could go out and find or build a quilting frame, then get together 15 of your closest friends(that sew) and have a good old fashion quilting bee…or you could contact Ron and ask about longarm machine quilting. Ron is a master at creating unique and beautiful quilting designs on their longarm computer controlled quilting machine. These longarm machines adapt to all size quilt projects from the very smallest pillow size to king size and do an amazing job of specialty quilting, outline quilting, filling in backgrounds with repeating patterns and general all-over quilting. They currently have two machines, one at home and one in the shop that are quilting almost continuously to keep up with the demand. They hope to move both machines into their new space to streamline their processes and provide a faster turn-around on quilting projects.
Another service offered at Top Shelf Quilts is sewing machine repair and scissor sharpening. On the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, John Supan is on hand to collect machines for repair and cleaning. In addition, John sharpens all types of scissors; regular, knife edge and pinking. This sharpening service is invaluable when working with fabrics as sharp sheers are a must for cutting all those intricate pieces for your next quilt.
My sewing machine is vintage like me, a 1940’s antique Singer. If I were considering a new machine, I would be talking with the folks at Top Shelf Quilts. They recently began carrying a wide variety of Bernina sewing machines, the Rolls Royce of sewing machines. These Swiss made machines are the cream of the crop when it comes to sewing machines with all the bells and whistles. They have everything from basic sewing machines to the computer controllable embroidery machines to enhance your quilting projects, sew clothes, or embroider an apron for the holidays. Top Shelf carries the full range of Bernina machines. For more information about any of the machines’ capabilities, check the Bernina website HERE or stop into Top Shelf and experience the amazing quality of Swiss craftsmanship in person.
For a really great weekend spent quilting, Ron, Micheal and their staff encourage quilters to come together twice a year for a “Quilt Retreat” where quilters of all abilities can experience a sort of quilt camp. You bring your projects, your machine and your questions. When you check into the retreat, you can work without stopping, completely immersing yourself in your quilt projects. The folks that go to Quilt Retreat often end up quilting in their jammies. There is no pressure to do anything except quilt. There are all levels of quilters on retreat and all are willing to give their opinions and expertise to their fellow quilters when they hit a snag. This weekend retreat is a great time for connecting with other quilters, picking up tips and hints, and sharing a love of quilting.
Top Shelf Quilts is not only about the business of quilting. They give back to the community throughout the year with several charitable projects. When we hung their quilts in the tearoom, we usually had one or two raffle quilts and they continue to make these beautiful works of artistry each year. The money made from the 2 quilts for raffle this year is going to support Juvenile Heart. Tickets will be on sale through November 1 so stop in soon and support this worthy cause. Who knows, you could end up with one of their two beautiful quilts. They also have sewing days to support Operation Care Package to make shower bags and Christmas stockings for the troops. Additionally, they work with Ryan’s Case for Smiles making pillowcases for children in the hospital. This generous spirit permeates everything they do at Top Shelf Quilts. Everyone with any level of ability is welcome join them on these sewing days. Check their website for details HERE.
Their attention to detail, the variety of classes on offer, the quilt retreat, the wide selection of fabrics and notions, the remarkably beautiful longarm quilting, and everything they do to encourage quilters to excel has produced a continual growth for Top Shelf Quilts. This amazing growth in their business led Ron and Micheal to begin looking for more space. Their classes are filling to capacity, their Saturday open Sew times are overflowing with quilters, their customers are looking for more fabrics, patterns and notions, they need more space for an additional longarm quilting machine, in short, they need more space. Recently Ron and Micheal announced their intention to move to a space twice as large as their current space. After the first of the year Top Shelf is moving to 19081 Old LaGrange Road, Mokena. You can follow their progress on their Facebook page HERE or on their website at www.TopShelfQuilts.com.
If you are looking for a new hobby, want to rekindle a former love of sewing, or are an accomplished seamstress, Top Shelf Quilts provides everything you need to delve into that next project. Stop in today and be amazed by the variety of quilts and quilted projects adorning their walls. Marvel at the variety of fabrics and colors available. Be amazed by Ron and his magical longarm quilting machine (it is truly mesmerizing!). Just remember, you do not have to be a sewing genius to appreciate the beauty and artistry of quilting. Top Shelf Quilts is truly the Top in their field.