Featured Shop: Must Love Fabric

 

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Shop owners Phyllis and Gary Lively stand in the back left, along with staff members Barbara, Betty, Dede, Cyria, Randalyn, and Lisa.

Talking with Phyllis Lively is fun. For one thing, Must Love Fabric, the Grapevine, Texas, shop she co-owns with her husband Gary has a sense of humor—just check the sign over the door to the restroom.

 

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The sign above the door is a joke with Moda rep Jane Stewart. When the shop opened she called and said she wanted to “peek,” but an employee thought she said she wanted to “pee.” Everyone who stops by gets a laugh from this sign!

Then there’s Phyllis’s enthusiasm for quilting in general. And finally for someone like me, who resides north of the Mason-Dixon line, the southern charm sprinkled throughout Phyllis’s conversation is delightful.

Take the description of how she learned to quilt. Phyllis acquired her love of fabric and design from her grandmother, who belonged to a quilting bee in her “bitty, small town” in east Texas. Phyllis would sit next to her grandmother as she and her and friends stitched and talked around the quilting frame that filled the living room. And then there was her homemaking teacher, Dawn Chapman—described as the “lovely, lovely lady” who took Phyllis under her wing, teaching her to read patterns and use the sewing machine. And finally there’s the way Phyllis describes her customers reactions to a request for suggestions. “We tell ‘em, ‘Give us your ideas,’ and boy, howdy, they do!”

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Family items and a quilt stitched of Gingiber’s Thicket hang from the wall over the pattern room.

That enthusiasm and sense of fun permeates Must Love Fabric, which grew out of a shop Phyllis opened in her home in after being laid off from her job in “corporate America.” In 2012, the in-home congestion and chaos became too much and Gary encouraged Phyllis to find a place to rent. She did—a “bitty, tiny red house” in Grapevine, Texas. “It was in dire need of repair, but it had a lot of character and gave us our start,” she says. Three years later, the shop moved to its current location, a 5,500 square-foot-space on the corner of Highways 114 and 26. This larger space provides room for more fabric, and for classrooms that customers can reserve for retreats. Phyllis even brought in a set of upscale lockers that she rents to customers who use the space frequently. “Ladies who don’t want to lug their sewing machines will rent a locker and then all they have to bring in are their projects,” says Phyllis.

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Must Love Fabrics sells all types of rulers, and is happy to place special orders for customers.

Must Love Fabrics features an area for novelty fabrics, a spot for children’s fabrics, and a good selection of batiks. “Ours is a real bright shop,” says Phyllis, who opened her Moda account in 2009 and stops by the warehouse weekly to pick up fabric, patterns, and notions for the shop—fabrics by Bonnie and Camille and Kate Spain are just some of the shop favorites. Must Love Fabric has a room filled wall-to-wall with patterns and carries an array of notions. (Phyllis appreciates that Moda is responsive to requests for new items, like the one she made to her Moda rep Jane Stewart about carrying Cosmo floss, another shop favorite.)

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A quilt made with Debbie Maddy’s Shibori line rests on a turquoise sewing machine. The shops blender wall is to the right.

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Holding a Kate Spain “Latitude” quilt sample in front of the shop’s batiks.

The “bright” feeling comes not just from the fabric and the samples that line the walls. Meeting customer’s needs is top priority for Phyllis, Gary, and their seven employees. “We want people to be happy when they come in, and happy when they leave,” says Phyllis, whose previous career was in human relations. The shop is open seven days a week (“for all those football widows”), offers classes that appeal to quilters, garment makers, and everyone in between, and holds lots of special activities. This weekend the shop is hosting an in-store quilting cruise, where the “passengers” will get a passport and lots of goodies, make a mystery quilt, and have an opportunity to enjoy a sit-down meal with the “captain.” “It’s the only cruise you can go on where you won’t get a sunburn or seasick,” says Phyllis.

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Sewing for Project Linus is a monthly event in the shop. Around ten women sew for two days a month, and the shop has surpassed their goal of 200 quilts this year.

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A panoramic view of Must Love Fabric.

Phyllis enjoys many things about Must Love Fabric, but chief among them is encouraging quilters. The shop’s Facebook page and Instagram account include lots of photos of quilters and their projects, some of which are shared during Saturday Sewcials. “Everyone cheers and claps during Show and Tell, and we have a lot of fun,” she says. “I’m all about making sure my employees are happy and my customers are having a good time.”

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24 comments on “Featured Shop: Must Love Fabric

  1. Susan Belyea says:

    Wow, can she move to Virginia? What a darling shop! Susan

  2. nanreflections says:

    Wow…wish you had a branch in Temple, TX!!!! Thank you for your commitment to quilters and fabric lovers!!!

  3. Diane says:

    Wow…I wish I lived closer. What pattern is that beautiful Heart quilt made with Kate Spain fabrics.
    Diane

  4. Kayte Roberts says:

    Yay! Love this store and all of the ladies there! They are very welcoming and friendly, and always ready to lend a hand on your project, no matter how big or small. I <3 Must Love Fabric!!

  5. Shelor says:

    Wish I lived closer. Looks like a fantastic shop!

  6. Flo Burton says:

    The first time I visited the shop was for the Row by Row Experience in June 2016. Everyone is so friendly, helpful and the staff make you feel like a long lost friend. The selection of fabric, patterns and notions is great! I wish that I lived closer to it because it is one place that I would frequently visit!

  7. susanmp14 says:

    Great write up…..but no where did I see the address and exact location of the store. Did I miss it?

    • Linzee McCray says:

      I’d mentioned it was in Grapevine, Texas, but added the location in an additional place and included web links to the shop—you definitely need to be able to find it!

  8. Robin says:

    I first found this shop when they were in the house in Grapevine and was on the way to a drop off a quilt for quilting. I loved the little house and all their different collections and the friendly service.
    I absolutely love the new shop and hope to make more frequent visits in the coming months! Must Love Fabric!!

  9. I like the featured shop idea – is this going to be a series or just a sometimes thing. Keep them coming! It lets me travel when my actual body can’t do that! Thanks a million. Diane M

  10. I visited this shop in the tiny house when they first opened. My husband saw the sign on his way to work and insisted we stop by. I love their new location, it’s so large and bright. My husband actually shops there more than I do! When he gets the inclination to buy me flowers or a special gift, he stops or calls the shop and has them put together a special “bouquet” for me! They always put together fabric bundles for him that I love!

    • Phyllis says:

      Teresa, we think your husband is pretty special in our book! We love helping him put his thoughtful gifts to you together and we like knowing you are going to be thrilled.

  11. Evelyn says:

    I had the pleasure of visiting this shop on Tuesday! I just happened to be in the neighborhood all across the metroplex, googled quilt shops, and found this little gem. Everything in this article is TRUE. Phyllis IS a cute little Texan and very knowledgeable about her stuff. She even let me touch the quilts you see in these pictures. Sorry I’m going to miss out on the cruise this weekend.
    I look forward to shopping here again! Thank you ladies!

  12. Connie Jones says:

    One of the best quilt stores ever! I live in Florida and every chance I get to travel back to Texas I have to stop in. lots of different ideas and fabrics. You walk in the door and you just have to stand there for a second to take it all in. Love Phyllis and all her staff….

  13. Debra White says:

    Amazing. That is how I describe Phyllis, Gary and the entire staff. And, to know them is to love them. I met Phyllis before she opened her first brick and mortar store. I knew she had something special to give and offer her customers. You can not visit the store without truly having a fun time and probably walking out with much more fabric than you intended to purchase. You will be inspired and, yes, amazed.

  14. Marianne says:

    Must Love Fabric is the Cheers of quilt shops! Everyone knows your name!! Definitely a destination quilt shop!!!!

    • Judy says:

      Marianne, you are definitely right about that. It is like Cheers! While we are fortunate to have a number of lovely shops in the area, MLF is my favorite — for their staff and great selection and willingness to order something if they don’t carry it.

  15. sherry Alsup says:

    Love this store and staff! Love the bathroom door- LOL

  16. Christine Atwell says:

    I am fortunate enough to live 20 minutes away from Must Love Fabric and it is one of my favorite stores! The staff and selection are great!

  17. Jo Bobb says:

    My favorite quilt shop!

  18. Elaine BArton says:

    They have great classes there. Phyllis is good at encouraging you to stretch your abilities and try something new. Always a fun place to be.

  19. Julia says:

    This is my “Happy Place”. Being there is so relaxing and at the same time creatively energizing!

  20. Catherine Taylor says:

    Many thanks to Phyllis and her staff, they absolutely ROCK! It is such a pleasant place to shop.

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