Return to Happy Quilt and my New Sewing Machine!

April 11, 2015 When we first learned we’d be in Seoul for a month, I didn’t think, “Oh, great! Kimchee!” or “BBQ!” or “K Pop!” I thought, “Oh great, HAPPY QUILT!”  
 

Happy girl, departing home station Byeongjeom

I had first been to Happy Quilt two years ago, based on information I learned from a blog by Johnnie and Angela (more info at end of post). From our apartment in Dongtan, Hwaseong, it’s a straight shot on the line 1 subway to the Jije Station, about a half hour away! John has been listening to me talk about Happy Quilt for two years now, so he willingly said he’d accompany me and promised to stay as long as I wanted. What a guy!
 

Arrive Jije Station 27 minutes later.

When we exited JIje, it was clear that the station had changed. Exit 2, the one I took last time to walk a dirt path past rice fields to get to the shop, was closed. There’s a huge addition going on the station. So fellow quilters, take exit 1.  

Here’s the Jije Station today – addition going on, exit 2 closed.

 

Here’s the old station in March 2013. Exit 2 led to a dirt path.

 The Happy Quilt store is about a half mile walk from exit 1. Walk left when you get out of the station, and then take another left through part of the town. Then take the pedestrian path which runs along the bridge over the tracks. 

Take the 1/2 mile pedestrian path on the bridge.

DANGER! Wanton spending of won about to occur!

  

Happy Quilt in the distance.

The selection is huge, and  the prices are crazy. Fabric is $7.50 for a 2-yard pack, and fat squares are about $1.10 each. (Compare to $10 or $12 a yard in the US.) The selection is great – fabrics from everywhere, including Vera Bradley (those are $4.00 per yard). I met two English speaking expats there – quilters helping quilters.

  
   

Kids were having a blast playing hide and seek.

  

My purchases.

 There was a guy who speaks English there, but I couldn’t get him to show me the other two buildings with the upholstery fabric. I’m going back and will try again.

Fabric purchased at Happy Quilt – under $100 US dollars.

 

I decided that I needed a sewing machine to survive my stay in Seoul and to fully enjoy these new fabrics, so people at the company helped me purchase a Brother machine from The Sewing Factory in Suwon. It’s a nice machine – mechanical, not computerized. Simple, yet with a number of stitch options. Should be great for my “traveling machine” in the future, and to conduct sewing workshops for the grandkids. I was worried about purchasing a machine with 220v since we have 110v at home in the US, but one of the expat women I met at Happy Quilt said she’s had no trouble using a converter. Only problem I do have is the manual is in Korean:) I think the helpful staff at our local Sewing Basket shop will be able to help me out since they are a Brother dealer now.

   

Baby quilt in progress.

  

  

I returned to Happy Quilt on April 20 and bought these Vera Bradley prints, $4/yd.

  

These beautiful Japanese fabrics are from The Sewing Factory in Suwon, not Happy Quilt. They are Yasunobu Shimizudani (Jubilee)

 So my dear quilting friends, plan a trip to Seoul. Come for the fabric, and then fall in love with the food, the sights, and mostly, the wonderful Korean people.

See my earlier post, “Seoul: the Motherload of Quilting Fabrics,” March 8, 2013. Also, below is an excellent post about Happy Quilt – the one which originally led me to the Jije station and through the fields to the store. But be aware that Jije station has temporarily closed exit 2, so you’ll have to take exit 1 out of the station and walk on the bridge to get there. Shows how fast change is taking place in Korea! Everything else is still pretty much as Angela describes in this detailed and exciting blog post! Quilters everywhere thank you, Angela.
http://johnnieandangela.blogspot.kr/2011/08/new-happy-quilt.html?m=1

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13 thoughts on “Return to Happy Quilt and my New Sewing Machine!

  1. Martha— you are quit inventive. Fabric is wonderful—you should do an oriental themed throw in a quilt pattern for your living room to use in the winter months in front of your fireplace

  2. Pingback: Dongdaemun Fabric Market: How to find Quilt Fabric & Happy Quilt in Seoul | goschott

  3. I am going to be in Seoul while my husband is at a symposium at COEX in November. I have to visit this store! Do they take charge cards? Is it easy to get cash using US ATM cards. Now I have read your post I am seriously going to bring one of those bags with wheels on it. I tested my physical limit carrying 20 used kimonos on the bus in Kyoto when I went to a shrine sale. I would love any advice about finding Korean, Australian and Japanese print fabric . Thanks for your Posts!

    • I’m so glad you found my post on fabric shopping in Seoul! First of all, I think you’d be better using Korean won when you shop – I’m not sure if Happy Quilts takes credit cards. The good news is you won’t need a lot of won – prices are fabulous. Yes, you can use US ATM cards at the ATM machines in Seoul, and there are many ATM machines in the city – but just be aware that there may be a charge ($5 and more) for each transaction. Some credit cards don’t charge a fee (you could find out before you go). Yes, a bag with wheels would be great! As far as Australian print fabric in Seoul, the only place I found it was at the Happy Quilt warehouse – and you have to dig for it. The people there are helpful, but they don’t always know where the stray pieces are. The Japanese fabric I bought in Seoul was at a small sewing machine place, and it was very expensive (but SO beautiful!) Good luck with your travels and fabric shopping!

      • They take dollars? That would be good also! I find that I run out of local currency pretty quickly when I go shopping

  4. Thanks Martha for the tips! Do you know how I can connect with like minded ( code for quilting addict) people when I am in Seoul? It would be fun to have a buddy on the trip to Happy Quilt. I am a scientist and a Korean grad student will be home when I am in Seoul and he has offered to go with me- but he is not the buddy I was looking for. I know he will be kicking the old ladies out of their seats so I can sit on the subway : ) I am really psyched!

    • Hi Candy,

      Wow, that’s a tough one. I was thinking the same thing: it would be fun to meet up with fellow quilters in Seoul. It’s so easy to do in the states because of all the quilt shops and quilt groups. I even went to a meeting of the expats organization in Seoul with the hope of finding fellow quilters – and surely that would have panned out if we’d been there longer than a month. The closest I came was meeting someone who was also shopping at Happy Quilts, an expat who was married to a military spouse. I think your best bet is being lucky enough to meet someone at the Happy Quilts warehouse. There is also a lovely quilt museum in Seoul near the Seoul Tower, and the people in there might be a resource. The trouble is few people speak enough English to be able to handle a call for a quilting buddy! Good luck! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  5. There are a large number of military wives that sew and visit the shop often. We lived there in 2013 and 2014. We made weekly trips and became close friends with the shop owners. We are planning a visit back next year and 50% of my trip will be fabric shopping. When we lived there the back two warehouses were basically overstock. It is where the trucks are unloaded and they cut the 2 yards. It is where they keep Christmas and other seasonal fabrics until the season comes around. I never saw upholstery fabric there except in the front building and very little. There is a MASSIVE market in Seoul that has some amazing fabrics and has a larger selection of upholstery fabrics. You will need several days though to get around the market and find what you need.

  6. Has anyone been to Happy Quilt recently? I have read lots of reviews and woul love to go there, but there is nothing I can see that has been written since 2015. Just wanted to make sure it still existed before I made the trip to the large store out of town. Any information greatly appreciated

  7. Hi,
    I do not know if Happy Quilt still exists but I will tell you about my adventure in 2015. It is quite a hike from Seoul, at least 90 minutes each way on the train with a couple of changes. An Ikea wheeled cart just fit in my suitcase but I had to leave it in Seoul because once you pop the wheels on, it doesn’t fit anymore. I was able to navigate Ok with the mifi I rented, but bring the spare battery. Happy quilt is seemingly in the middle of nowhere and not at all what I expected. It is a warehouse down a dirt driveway with very few parking spaces. I met mostly women from the nearby military base. The best prices are $3/yard for the precut packaged 2 yard pieces. If you want something from the bolt, that is $4/yd. I was hoping to get the really high end Kaffe Fassett type fabrics but that is not what they have. They do have some very nice stuff printed on high thread count fabric, but you have to look. Most of it is novelty fabric for kids and holidays and the type of stuff you see at Joann’s in their designer line. I did find a good amount of Australian prints, so those were a bargain. Everything is very neat because of the prepackaging. It is cash only. They have a booth at the shopping area in Dongdaemun which I also visited. They only have bolts there. I did find Kaffe Fassett and batiks in Dongdaemun, being sold by a retired NYC investment manager for the same price as NYC. He said the highest end fabric, like you see in quilt stores, even if printed in Japan or Korea or Bali, is tightly controlled and sold only by US distributors, so he goes to Quilt market in the US and has all the fabric shipped back to him from the US!
    So if you are into kids prints, Happy Quilt is the place for you. I was happy to have the adventure of riding the subway by myself ( with some snoozing since I landed the day before) but I don’t know that I would do it again, even though I spent $120 there! I would rather have spent the time exploring the lace market in Dongdaemun. I would suggest that anyone who sews special occasion clothes stop there. They have literally, thousands of lace styles. The booths are just places to pick up swatches and then you order the lace and have it delivered to the booth. This is stuff you do not see in the US even in the fabric district of NYC. Maybe they have in LA?

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