This week is about how the quilting industry works a little.
Reps for the major fabric companies and notions companies visit regularly. Some reps have only one line (Moda, QT fabrics) and some have several. I have one rep for Timeless Treasures, Dear Stella, Clothworks, Marcus, and P & B. I usually order from them for at least 6 months ahead of time. Many companies do limited runs of their fabric lines. Once the fabric is sold out, I can't get it any more. Fabric lines can have up to 24 different fabrics to choose from. Sometimes it is a set of designs/patterns in different colorways. I can rarely buy a whole line. So I pick a few that go together, in colors I think you will like. I order notions and patterns every 1-2 weeks, depending on what is missing from the shop. New items are ordered as I learn about them from emails and rep visits.
The other way I learn about what is happening in the industry is through Quilt Market. Quilt Market is the trade show held twice a year for quilting shops and other retailers in the quilt industry. This also includes shops that sell machines, hand sewing supply shops, and small sewing shops. Big box stores do not attend these markets. The fall market is held in Houston, TX; usually around Halloween. Houston loves Halloween. Everyone and every place get into the spirit of Halloween in Houston. Spring market moves around the country. They are held in Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Portland, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh (maybe more places).
The vendors at market are the fabric companies, sewing machine companies, notions providers, pattern designers, some shops that sell antique quilts, sewing/quilting themed jewelry, and other quilt themed booths.The vendor’s area is huge, and vendors come from all over the world. Besides the vendor’s hall, there are classes on new products and fabric lines, take and teach, and other lectures.
The day before the vendor's hall opens, is a Schoolhouse. It’s an all-day event from fabric companies, fabric designers, pattern designers, product designers to show their wares. Shop owners attend the “classes” of their choice. I have seen Tula Pink, Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mably, Liza Lucy, Alison Glass, Studio E Fabrics, Sew Kind of Wonderful patterns and rulers, and many more in the Schoolhouse sessions.
The vendor’s hall usually opens the next day. Fabric reps are available for you to order fabric. Many of my reps make appointments ahead of time. You can also just wander the isles and look, buy, skip booths, and chat with designers about their lines or new products. I bring orders I want to make with specific companies, especially those from Australia or Europe. I can bring home some of the products or wait for them to be mailed. Some companies have show specials, so it’s worth ordering there. I usually find the Kai Scissors and Fat Quarter Gypsy booths. I walk by the sewing machine vendors (and drool), wool vendors, and jewelry booths (I may visit the jewelry booths later).
My strategy is to walk the floor quickly the first day and mark where I want to return too. I stop at a few places to buy things that I know may be gone before I can return. I will wander through all the fabric vendor’s spots and say hi to my reps. The hall is open for three days. The classes, teach and takes, and social hours are held before and after the vendor hall hours. Dinner is usually with friends I have made over the past 6 years. It makes for an inspiring and exhausting four days plus travel.
So why am I writing about this? Last week I attended Market virtually. Most of my fabric reps have visited me already, showing me the market fabric releases. So, I spent my time learning about new products, new patterns, social media, and classes for you. I attended some sessions by authors with new books, that are in the shop (Design, Make, and Quilt Modern) or on their way shortly (books, patterns, classes, and more). I also spent time learning how to improve my use of our point-of-sale system/website. It wasn't as long a day as being there, but all day watching videos gets to your brain too. :)
Keep an eye out for new patterns, classes, kits with free patterns, and more arriving soon. Plus check out the new fabric that came in last week. We got LARGE orders of Kona Solids and batting. We also got several novelties - soccer, music. Patriotic fabrics came too. Not too soon to think about summer, 4th of July, Quilts of Valor, and graduations. We got fairies, some ombre blenders, and some new 30s prints. Come see for yourself!
Happy spring everyone.
Phyllis and the QA staff