Happy Halloween! I am back from Fall Quilt Market in Houston, have had my day of rest and recovery, and am ready to start the show over here. I had a whole crew helping me this time, so I was really able to slow down, enjoy my conversations, and really take things in. I think you’ll enjoy the fresh perspectives from market veterans and newbies alike. Some will be chiming in here soon with their own introductory posts, but let me start by introducing you to everyone:
Sam of Hunter’s Design Studio
Jessica of Plum Patchwork
Amy Lobsiger of Mrs. Schmenkman Quilts
the legendary Sarah Fielke
Heather of Girl Charlee
Ellen Rushman, Madeline Roburg, and Michelle Rosenboom of The Printed Bolt
Tina of Boston Sewer
Keli of Drygoods Design
My eternal thanks to all these wonderful women!
The most pervasive, overarching theme (other than everyone worrying about travel issues related to Superstorm Sandy) was that Times Are Tough. Competition is stiff on the retail side, shops are struggling to stand out and find the right scale and business model to sustain or grow their businesses. I felt that from the wholesale side too, with companies scaling back on the number and size of collections, and emphasizing crowd-pleasing, long-shelf-life basics over more subject-to-taste prints.
That said, the small (and strongly modern) organic companies are holding strong or growing, which is very exciting and I’d venture to say is signaling a major sea change.
The Modern Quilt Guild and the modern quilt movement, I think, has had its tipping point! Bill Kerr (of Modern Quilt Studio)’s schoolhouse was standing room only, whereas a couple years ago it was just a couple dozen of us faithful. The MQG has its own special exhibition that 50,000 Quilt Festival attendees will be seeing over the next several days. I was surprised that the quilts in the exhibit were almost devoid of showy prints — they used mostly solids and quieter basics. And there we tie back in to point #1 about manufacturers emphasizing these types of fabrics.
Colors? Navy as “the new black,” lots of orange, mustard, and neons and brights. Color combos (at least those that spoke to me): navy and pink; rust and coral; red with light blue and gray; mustard with tan.
A lot of you will be swooning over this — there are more fashion and home decorating fabrics than ever, and manufacturers are printing their choosing basecloth qualities and scaling/coloring prints to be fashion-friendly.
All right then, let’s start the show!