New Pieces Quilt Shop, Berkeley

My second-to-last ‘quilt stop’ around Berkeley for the day was a pleasant 20 minute walk from my previous destination, The Black Squirrel. Even in the rather warm Californian weather, the walk down 4th Street to New Pieces Quilt Shop is well worth it as there are a few shopping gems on the way, including a gorgeous Japanese paper specialist store and overly quirky stationary shop.

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By the time I arrived at New Pieces, I was starting to wonder if I was really on the right track as it is lost amidst some interesting workshops, including some metal sculptors and open-on-appointment only furniture places. To complicate things a little further, while their small sign might just catch your attention from the main road, the entrance is just around the corner through the parking lot.

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New Pieces Quilt Shop is a perfect little oasis from the Californian heat, with spacious, open shelves that deliver all the fantastic ‘colour saturated’ fabrics and ‘huge selection of batiks’ promised on their website, that I think was written just to tempt me to the store. Whereas Stonemountain & Daughters is a little bit like being caught in a fabric typhoon, New Pieces is the definition of perfect order. There are huge long shelves, beautifully arranged by fabric type and colour and I think you can probably meet your daily exercise requirements walking up and down the batiks section alone.

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This really is a quilting specialist shop, home to lots of classes, wonderful amount of expertise and plenty of beautiful inspiration on the walls. The Japanese fabrics section, alongside the batik collection, is a particular highlight, being one of the most expansive, reasonably priced ranges that I’ve seen. If you’re not someone who cares whether your fabric was designed in 2011 or 2018, which I think is most sensible people, their sale prices are dangerously attractive and I picked up a few gorgeous batiks that I can’t believe hadn’t been scooped up long before I got there.

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Another highlight that comes with this being a dedicated quilting store is the book collection. For a lot of bricks and mortar stores, it’s hard to carry more than a token selection of books, given that they are often cheaper online, but New Pieces has a superb selection for you to peruse and find some patterns to match all those beautiful fabrics that you just need to take home. Grids, mini-irons, papers and a great selection of waddings are also to be found here, alongside some interesting hand quilting threads, so a good one-stop-shop for any quilters lucky enough to live within easy walking distance, or able to take advantage of the ample parking too.

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If you enjoy patchworking but are intimidated by selecting your own colour schemes, there are some really nice mixed fabric packs for small projects and all the staff I met were incredibly lovely and helpful with answering and questions and giving recommendations. Everyone I met was a long time quilter and quilting addict, so had plenty of tried and tested expertise to share.

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The spaciousness and meticulous organisation of New Pieces make it a very serene places to be. I expect it was especially quiet when I went, with only one or two other customers stalking the aisles for their next purchase but it is very nice to have a store you feel you can move around in without sending several hundred bolts of fabric tumbling in all directions. The added bonus of this is I think it really helps some of their absolutely fantastic fabrics really stand out so you don’t feel so drowned in the absolutely ginormous amount of choice. I’m not sure I saw anything quite as weird as I did at Harts Fabrics in Santa Cruz but I think I might count my blessings on that one!

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New Pieces definitely lives up to its claim of plenty of colour-soaked fabrics for your perusal and it feels like every bolt has been chosen with a bit of love and quality in mind. Normally I’m a bit predictable in my quilting fabric tastes, batiks, some Japanese fabrics, maybe something with a bit of sparkle on it, but this is somewhere that had such a great range of so many nice fabrics that don’t typically appeal to me that I could have come away feeling much more open minded. Definitely worth a visit for that something special!

 

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