Since landing a major show by the American Quilters Society, Des Moines has put itself on the quilting map, and the CVB’s list of suggested itineraries for groups includes one focused on quilting.
“The American Quilters Society expo every October has really brought in a lot of motorcoach tours,” said Katie Stien, sales manager for the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The ones who have never been here before want to come back at other times of the year to experience quilting in Des Moines.”
The tour begins in Historic Valley Junction with visits to several stores that have quilting materials such as Artistic Bead, Creative Corner, Heirlooms by Design, Sister’s by Especially Lace, the Quilt Block and Isabel Bloom.
After lunch in Valley Junction, groups head to Creekside Quilting in suburban Clive, which has more than 5,000 bolts of quilting fabric and several patterns, books and gadgets.
“They will do demonstrations for groups and teach new techniques,” said Stien.
At the Historic Jordan House, an Italianate Gothic Victorian mansion, groups learn about its role in the Underground Railroad and view its many artifacts, which include several antique quilts.
Groups visiting during the quilt show find an unexpected treat waiting at the next stop, the Des Moines Botanical and Environmental Center. “During the expo, they build gardens in patterns of quilts,” said Stien.
The second day features a trip to nearby Winterset and Madison County. On the way, groups stop at Howell’s Dried Florals and Greenhouse, which has been growing cut flowers since 1985 on a sixth-generation family farm.
“We started small in our basement. We are now up to five acres,” said co-owner Cindy Howell.
In its 1910 barn, which is now a gift shop, there are an array of natural dried flowers, dried floral arrangements and custom designs on the lower level, and groups can see flowers drying in the 25-foot-tall loft.
The History With a Roof Tour of Madison County takes in the county’s famous covered bridges, quilt designs on the sides of barns, John Wayne’s birthplace, and the Fons and Porter quilt store.
Fons and Porter, whose headquarters is in Winterset, is a leading supplier of fabric, patterns and kits and is publisher of Love of Quilting magazine.
The final day includes a stop at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines, which has a variety of historic quilts on display throughout the year. During the quilt show, it brings out some of the 1,500 items in the Mary Barton Quilt Collection.
Barton, an Iowa native, became one of the world’s foremost experts on quilts and donated many of her items to the museum.
“Something new they are doing is they will take people on a vault tour,” said Stien. “They take them down to where they store all the artifacts. They have a lot of quilts down there.”
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