Thursday, May 21, 2015

3 Things I Learned at Quilt Market

April Rhodes had everyone who visited her Art Gallery booth add a strand or two to the weaving on her wall. Could there be a lovelier way to display the heart of the quilting community?

My first Quilt Market made quite an impression on me.

Sadly, this is the only picture my fabulous roommate Becca and I took together last week. I couldn't have survived without this girl around to show me the ropes at my first Quilt Market.

First, let me say that when people tell you they're tired after getting home from Market, they aren't kidding. It's an unbelievably exhausting experience. Between walking everywhere, lugging around your stuff, the good but tiring stress that comes with being "on" for several days straight, and the experience of spending hours packed into the sardine cans that pass for today's airplanes -- well, it took me at least two days after I got home to feel like a human being again.

I can't wait to sew with these beauties...

But that's really all I have in the negative column. If you ever get the chance to go to Quilt Market, do it. The fabric and other goodies are pretty amazing, and Sample Spree is a riot -- in every sense of the word. I took advantage of my long arms to get through the mob surrounding the Cotton + Steel booth that night and was able to reach between two ladies to grab the canvas bundle I wanted...only to find that my hand wouldn't fit between them anymore with the fabric clutched in my fingers. Of course, they couldn't hear me saying, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" due to all the noise. I stood there for at least a full minute until they noticed me and quickly stepped apart so I could get my hand out. I wasn't letting go without that fabric!

No booth captured my heart quite as fully as Cotton + Steel. Oh, that vintage style...

It's surreal to see people passing by whom you know from your online blog reader. I saw faces that I instantly recognized, people whose work and lives were as familiar to me as my own even though we'd never actually met. Some of them noticed me before I saw them, and sometimes it was the other way around. Rather than putting faces to names, it was fun to put voices to faces as I got to speak to these people for the first time. And let me tell you, there are many, many kind people in the quilting industry.

A Lizzy House rainbow at the Andover booth...

I feel like Quilt Market gave me a new perspective in some ways. Here are three thoughts that came to mind during my trip...

Alison Glass is a bonafide color genius and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And I really want that stack of Childcraft Encyclopedias...

1. It's business. When quilting is your hobby and you find your way into this creative community -- either online or in person -- you kind of forget that the quilting industry is a business. What struck me more than anything on that first day of Schoolhouse presentations was how serious everyone looked, but as Becca reminded me, "It's their business." It was a fact that humbled me. I know what it's like to work for a small business, the joys and the hardships of it. Knowing that these people are willing to carry my book in their stores, to let me be a part of what they do to provide for themselves and their families...it's an honor. It makes me want to do the best work I possibly can, and it makes me want to support every local quilt shop I have access to. After all, if we don't, who will?

Pat Bravo is a talented artist but also such a gracious lady.

2. It's personal. The new fabric gets a lot of hype at Quilt Market -- and for good reason! -- but what I remember most is the people. When you spend time talking with designers, authors, and those who represent them, you see how deeply personal this business is. There are countless hours of dreaming, planning, writing, and sewing behind each collection, book, and booth. Yes, everyone is hoping to make a living from their work, but they're also wanting to touch lives and create beauty. It's a wonderful but terrifying experience to lay your heart out on fabric and paper for others to see and critique. So whatever I may think about a fabric collection or a sewing book, I can be kind in what I say -- or don't say -- because I know that someone invested a piece of themselves when they shared their work with me.

I've always felt that Anna Maria Horner has a gift for marrying traditional and modern fabric designs in a way that appeals to people in both camps. Her new Loominous collection can't be fully appreciated until you see it with your own eyes.

3. There's room for everyone. There are so many different kinds of people involved with the quilting community these days, and it reminds me of the dynamics you find in a big family. You have your quiet ones and your noisy ones, the ones who glow in the spotlight and those who are more comfortable behind-the-scenes. Last week, I met traditional quilters, modern quilters, and lots of people who fall somewhere in between. The beauty of it is that there's room for all of us! It's okay for us to not all like the same stuff, but it's also okay for us to bond over the things we have in common. This industry has grown to a point where it can support so many different styles of creativity, and that's such a wonderful thing because it gives us more freedom than I think we've ever had before.

It's not as if I didn't already know these things, of course, but when you see the people's faces and hear their words and feel their passion, you understand it in a way that you just can't quite grasp through a computer screen. And you can't help but bring that warm feeling home with you, tucked in a corner of your heart.

So Quilt Market...yeah...such a good idea.


14 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this insight into Quilt Market, Heidi. I really enjoyed it (to the point where I even got a little misty eyed, but don't tell anyone!). You made so many great points and touched on all the good things (even the negatives sound good!). Thanks again for sharing and for being a beacon for positivity! <3

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  2. More freedom for sure! I agree that there seems to be a place for all of us, so we should just all get along and enjoy creating! Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  3. Yes I was lucky enough to get to my first quilt show when I visited my brother on Victoria Island. I spent hours there looking at all the tables asking questions and sitting in on a couple odimenstrations. It was so much fun. I live in NB and seeing what others are working on on the other side of Canada was great. I hope to get another chance sometime.

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  4. Yes I was lucky enough to get to my first quilt show when I visited my brother on Victoria Island. I spent hours there looking at all the tables asking questions and sitting in on a couple odimenstrations. It was so much fun. I live in NB and seeing what others are working on on the other side of Canada was great. I hope to get another chance sometime.

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  5. Love your summary about market and your perspective on how people really do put themselves out there and we need to respect their creativity. Alison Glass shared her process with us at Sew South in 2014 and it was amazing how long it takes to design a line of fabric. She is a genius and agree that she is super sweet. Glad you came back with both your hands!

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  6. I found this post a little on the spooky side, Bryan House Quilts was the first quilting blog that I found and followed and yours is the most recent, and there you are side by side. Your take on the event reads true and clear, all of the quilt shows that I have been to in the UK have much the same vibes. The stall holders are seriously concentrating on their livelihoods and the atmosphere is electric. the public are there, desperate to see everything and people get tired and their awareness of others slips a bit. Mind you it is fun and I am looking forward to the Festival of Quilts in August.

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  7. I am just laughing out loud at the thought of you standing there with your hand fixed onto the Cotton and Steel Canvas bundle!!! What an experience! It sounds like Quilt Market is a bit more of the serious side of making a living out of the business wheras QuiltCon is more a time to learn new techniques etc?

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  8. This is a wonderful entry about Quilt Market. I did laugh at your poor stuck hand and loved your tenacity at the Cotton and Steel booth! Your gorgeous pictures were perfect accompaniments to your very articulate and heartfelt words. Thanks so much!
    Beth

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  9. loved reading your thoughts about Market. It has always sounded like a 100% "On" place: all your energy, so much to see, so many people to meet! Glad you enjoyed it, and that your hand made it home with you! ;-) Hugs, H

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  10. Quilt market IS exhausting, isn't it? No doubt about it! It was so lovely to meet you. I loved reading your thoughts on your first market!

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  11. I love this post! Especially the fact that you have been so successful and are working toward your dreams. I am so happy for you!

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  12. thanks for sharing your thoughts! you are positively glowing in all the photos. looks like you had an exhausting but joyful time. i think meeting all the people in person would be the best part. love this online community but having it be real time once in a while would be awesome.

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  13. thanks for sharing your thoughts! you are positively glowing in all the photos. looks like you had an exhausting but joyful time. i think meeting all the people in person would be the best part. love this online community but having it be real time once in a while would be awesome.

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  14. great insights into what quilt market is. thank you for sharing.

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