Quilt Market Wrap-Up

I went to Quilt Market in Kansas City over the weekend and thought I’d share a few photos. Here were some of the highlights for me:

Melody Miller‘s booth was a hit (pictured above and below). She had all kinds of cool retro things in her booth, along with an awesome upholstered couch, vintage phones, record player and two ladies painted on fabric on the sides of her booth. I felt it captured her style perfectly and her new collection featuring vinyl records will sell like crazy, I’m sure. And her new book Ruby Star Wrapping, co-authored with Allison Tannery, is now available for pre-order. You should get it before her screaming legions of fans buy them all to build their fan clubhouse.

And of course all the Free Spirit designer booths were lovely, but my favorites were from Denyse Schmidt (above) and Tula Pink (below).

Everything in the Cloud 9 Fabrics booth was amazing (pictured above). I’m particularly excited about the next Ed Emberley collection (yes, more!). And there was even more organic goodness at Birch Fabrics (below), who have some really nice new collections coming out soon. Monaluna also has some great things on the horizon.

Echino. Love every bit of it.

And this is my favorite Heather Ross collection so far. Put a mouse in clothes and you’ve got me. These little drawings are so incredibly sweet.

Carrie of Such Designs had some adorable new patterns, including this quilt. I think you’ll be seeing a lot more from Carrie!

And Carolyn Friedlander‘s work (pictured above), was new to me and so impressive. She sells these interesting quilt patterns, but it’s the intricate detail in her top quilting that I found most amazing. Must take incredible patience.

And I was unfamiliar with Kelly Lee-Creel, who has a new fabric collection with Andover. The collection includes panels for making soft toys, like the ones above. Her booth was really cute and filled with oglers.

Green Bee Patterns is a pattern company new to market. Run by a mother-daughter team from Nashville, they sell quilt and clothing patterns. Their skill for fabric choice and mixing is what made their booth really stand out.

Here’s my favorite fabric of the market — these bunnies from Yuwa. Yuwa really had the most interesting things I saw at market, simply because they were different. So refreshing to see something unique.

Oh, and Liberty. Liberty Art Fabrics on quilting weight cotton. How can you not love that? More images here. There were many other nice things to see that I don’t have time to mention here, but I took some photos for Kim at True Up, so you’ll get more sneak peeks of fabric collections soon to be released.

And now for some opinion. For those of you who read blogs but have never been to quilt market, you may picture aisles of brightly colored modern fabric. Not the case. There are rows and rows of brown fabrics in country and traditional styles. So, everyone has their own style and as I tell my children all the time: taste is subjective. But the quilting world hasn’t changed as much as you might think.

A few trends that I saw this time around were: lots of cut and sew panels, cheater prints, and still more trendy chevrons. I didn’t really see much in the way of color trends, other than gray becoming more of a staple, some pastel trends, and bright colors on white moving from modern to mainstream. I think we’ll see a return to navy, yellow and red coming soon. Please?

Now, I’ll tell you what I would like to see more of at Quilt Market.

More collection mixing. I think it’s helpful for the consumer to get ideas about how to mix fabrics and to realize that you don’t have to get stuck within one collection.

Fewer collections. I think the manufacturers are not helping the fabric shops with this 6-month collection cycle which forces the stores to buy all new fabrics every six months. And personally, as a consumer, I’m getting tired of the cycle. Maybe designers could each have a set of basics that changes colors with each collection, but the basic patterns give the collections some continuity? And don’t you just love a basic that comes in twenty colors? I do. I realize that some companies do this and I’m hoping to see more companies challenge the traditional sales model.

Fewer trends. I’d love to see more fabric companies get back to the basics with ginghams and dots. When I’m investing in a quilt that I want to pass along to my children, I hate to think it might look dated in just a few years. I don’t think we should confuse modern with trendy.

More organic from the big companies. So, there’s no market for it? Then there’s a need for consumer education.

But to leave on a positive note, there were so many talented designers at Quilt Market! And it’s an incredibly supportive community.

28 comments to Quilt Market Wrap-Up

  • I totally agree with your entire post. I’m over, over, over chevrons, and am so looking forward to some navy, yellow and red. It would be nice for the quilt manufacturers to try and be a little more long-lasting and just change up the “collection” model to be an “addition” model–wherein a designer adds to/coordinates with what they’ve already done to freshen up rather than scrap the previous and start with something entirely new. Probably doesn’t make sense for their marketing/financial outlook, but would be helpful and refreshing for consumers and those tired of trend jumping all the time.

  • Suzanne

    Bring it on! Thanks for the armchair tour of Market.

  • Rae

    Oh woman you have hit this SPOT ON. Now I don’t even need to write a post. AWESOME!!!

  • Ellen, thank you so much for saying this! Working in a local shop, I’ve seen that it’s so hard to keep up with the amount of collections that come out every year. And you really want to carry a good variety of modern collections for people, but mostly they just want the chevrons 🙂 We do have your collection though, which is so original and people love it!

  • Ellen,
    Great wrap up. We have some of the same favorites! Sad about the organic….i do believe it will still happen.

  • Here is what I love about this post- we got your real opinion. My guess is that most of the showroom is filled with very traditional stuff and the new stuff is mostly tired trends. So much of the tweets and posts about Market are all rosy and celebratory. I admire that you’re willing to tell us some of your real reactions here!

  • I never get to go to these, so it is so nice to have a peek inside 🙂
    thanks for sharing !

  • dana

    I agree with you on most points. I can’t think of the last time I bought a “collection” and I like to mix some collection fabrics with standards that should be offered in many colors.
    But, having said that, I have to tell you that I was pretty excited to hear that there is more Ed Emberley coming. And Liberty in quilting weight!
    Thanks for all the photos!

  • trisha

    ellen, i enjoyed reading this. it makes me want to take quilting back up, yes, i’ve done that, too! and, i loved all the other items made from the fabrics. makes me want to get out my sewing machine. actually, i may want to borrow yours in a couple of weeks 🙂

  • You know one more thing I would like to see is a fabric line featuring brown children. I have two anglo girls and one Ethiopian daughter and I have found so many cute prints featuring anglo girls but not a single brown character. I emailed Birch fabrics about this but never heard back. with all the whimsical prints out there, you think they’d have a little more diversity.

  • I agree about too many collections – it’s very fatiguing. And by the time I’m ready to buy something it’s sold out and not available for reorder.

    In defense of chevrons and owls and all the other “trends” some people tire of, remember many in the sewing industry are sewing goods to sell. And consumers still love chevrons (and owls). I suppose that is why there are so many collections, so we can all find something to spend our money on 🙂

  • This is a fascinating glimpse inside Quilt Market, thanks for sharing. Glad to hear grey is here to stay… for a while. Love your wishes for the fabric industry. I wish all collections came with an organic option, i would definitely splurge when working on heirloom projects, baby gifts, etc.

  • thelongthread

    Rachel, you have a valid point. I looked at a lot of collections at market and I do seem to remember one that had some diversity represented. Can’t remember the fabric or the company right now. But that is ONE and I saw about a dozen fabrics that had representations of children. I will not single out any artists or companies because my guess is that there’s no malicious intention, but I hope to see more diversity soon!

    And Melanie, you’re right of course. They sell what people buy! And keep selling it until we stop buying it. And I don’t mean to pick on the poor chevron. I’m afraid it will get its feelings hurt. Enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame, chevrons everywhere! Of course the emblem of a chevron has been around for centuries and owls aren’t extinct! Poor birds get knocked too much, don’t they?

    UPDATE: The collection that I was referring to above is Odds and Ends by Julie Comstock and it does feature a diverse group of children: http://www.moda-japan.com/wp-content/uploads/fcc_odds_ends

  • Celine

    Love your ideas at the end ‘specially the organic fabric thing! You are right from my blog roll you’d think traditional fabrics have gone extinct when in reality that is the major chunk of the market. I noticed that at intl quilt fest a couple years ago. I like a lot of the modern collections coming out but I think you have a really great point about wanting something or choices that are more timeless, less gimmicky and can be passed down as heirlooms. I loved some of Modas older lines, more floral but beautiful. Thanks for the wrap up of market:)

  • Sara

    Love your blog, thank you for the update and all the interesting comments in response. I have a foot in each camp; fashion trend and tradition. So much care is made in constructing a quilt, a labour of love to be cherished by your children. The commercial cycle is a force, however representing the fashion trends through print and colour records the mood of today for the future even if the prints used are retro, they will still possess the aesthetic of the day, because they are designed and manufactured today. Quilts are always going to represent tradition as it reminds us of our mothers and the sense of home.

  • Thanks for sharing this — particularly your final thoughts.

    I think you’re on point in so many ways. The 6-month cycle is quite vicious and does little justice to each collection that gets released. Once it’s been out for a couple of months, it’s seen as old news as people move on to the new “new” — only to repeat the cycle. It’s a shame, because these collections are the culmination of lots of hard work and time, time, time. (To me, the 6-month cycle is representative of a greater issue of the disposable society, but that’s a whole different topic.)

    But the upside of this 6-month cycle is that there is always a new collection coming out, so people who aren’t finding what they’re looking for just may finally find that collection that features a brown character, for example. And for people who sew for themselves and home can always find a way to spruce up their own wardrobes and personal spaces to reflect their own styles. This is great!

    When I look at my own personal fabric stash, basics rule. I never met a polka dot or gingham I didn’t like — and natural linen, too! I personally love mixing those basics in with bits and pieces of new collections as they come out.

    I love what Michael Miller does with many of their collections, grouping them in color stories. This way, each collection is completely build-able over time. You know you can mix a citron and gray print from 2 years ago with some of the citron and gray prints being released today. It’s a great way to give fabric a longer shelf life.

    And as far as organics go, I love them! Lots of people do. But this love isn’t mainstream. My own local ‘big box fabric shop’ stopped carrying them completely because they couldn’t even sell their inventory at clearance prices (60-75% off). Price is a major hurdle for the consumer and manufacturer both, and I think one that could be overcome if more manufacturers started producing organics. And, as you say, consumer education. Unbiased consumer education.

    Thanks for your post! Great food for thought!

  • You are so lovely and I am thrilled to be included in you thoughtful, thought-provoking wrap-up. Shared a lot of your likes and loves—but missed a few as was in the booth most of the time. And had a great time hanging with you. Wish we had more time! Will see you soon…

  • Ellen, I’m really glad I checked back to follow this thread. Great thoughts. Thanks for the link, too!

  • Well said! I like variety in my fabrics as much as the next quilter, but things have gotten out of hand. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on market!

  • margie

    Thanks for the recap. You did a great job and I agree with mixing of collections and fewer collections …. it’s hard to keep up.

  • Couldn’t agree more with your final points! As well as more certified organic cotton, I’d like to see more collections getting Fairtrade certification. Although organic standards include some social criteria, Fairtrade offers much more protection to producers in poorer countries. I’d also like us all to always ask WHERE a fabric comes from – I know one of the organic lines from a major manufacturer was produced in Sri Lanka, and personally I don’t think they should be trading with a genocidal government, but that information about the place of manufacture wasn’t readily available, I had to email them to find out.

    Yes yes yes to more navy blue – it’s impossible to find an organic plain navy! I’d love to see lots of woven stripes and checks too.

  • loved your post. thanks for your honesty – it’s refreshing!

  • I love what you have to say about collection mixing and continuity throughout fabric lines. I’d love it. I do feel that we have a bit of that though – for example nearly all of Anna Maria Horner’s fabrics coordinate reasonably well (similarly for many fabric companies as well) but I hate the idea that local shops are stuck in this cycle. I’d love to see some staples that get released in many colors (such as Lizzie House’s pearl bracelets). You’ve got some great ideas; thanks for sharing them!

  • When I visited the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show as it passed through SE Virginia, I also noticed the seemingly endless booths of browns and antiqued looking fabrics. I always think of tea-dyed when I see that shade. The M-A show isn’t a trade fair, but a vendor fair. Lots of country-type themes going on. Several of the booths have the more modern offerings, but I would love to hit QM some time! Glad to see Liberty is making a quilt weight. I love the feel of their normal line, but will enjoy the heft of the quilt weight for projects.

  • Hello! I have been enjoying your blog for some time, and I agree so much with your opinions on fabric collections – season to season. So I am delurking! Quilting is traditionally something that has brought together the values of reusing and thrift and combining it with creativity and artistry. After becoming a quilter these last few years, I have begun to have a sense that the art is being turned into another materialistic push. It’s hard enough for a sewist to keep their stash down to what they can use, or even what they realistically plan to use, and for the business to push out new collections as they do…it is overwhelming! It’s wonderful in ways, yes….but also, not. I also agree with Jess B’s comment about how so much work goes into the creation of each collection, so a sense of continuity from collection to collection would be wonderful. I appreciate your thoughts 🙂

  • Hi Ellen!
    I’m still so bummed I didn’t get to say hello at market! 🙂 Thank you so much for your kind words, and your inclusion of Green Bee Patterns in your market post!
    Look forward to meeting you in the fall!

  • Thanks for sharing so honestly about what you’d like to see at quilt market, especially speaking up for us consumers. It’s refreshing to hear! I had followed the long thread early on in my blog/sewing journey and am definitely back! Had already made use of some of your kids craft links last week.

  • Angelique

    I’ll second (or thirty) on the six month cycle. I bought a sampler pack of fat quarters a couple of years ago and it got lost in my stash. Finally got around to making some napkins out of them this year and love the fabric so much I wanted to make curtains for the kitchen. But now I can’t find it anywhere. So disappointing. I have to “live” with a fabric for a while to decide I love it.

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