Monthly Archives: May 2013

Bye-Bye Portland

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Spring Quilt Market (the quilt industry’s semi-annual trade show)  is over and early tomorrow morning I’m traveling cross-country from Oregon to Long Island, via Dallas Fort Worth. My last Quilt Market was interrupted by Hurricane Sandy.  I’m hoping I make it safely through Tornado Ally tomorrow!

Back to Quilt Market … once again I was overwhelmed by the talent and dedication of the (mostly) women in our business. This Market I had the opportunity to assist with Schoolhouse, which is an all-day series of 30 minute presentation about vendor products. I also helped a friend with her booth so that she could sign books and do some photography. Can I just be honest? This convention stuff is VERY hard work.

First of all there’s the stress of coming up with new products (gadgets, patterns or fabric) to launch. Then there’s the stress of making sure the products are manufactured and show up in time to sell. Plus there’s planning out the booth and getting promotional materials together.

These ladies arrive on Wednesday to set up their booths, which is a very physically strenuous job. On Thursday, many take a break or two to give  Schoolhouse presentations. Friday, Saturday and Sunday is booth duty, which is also not easy. I only stood for an hour or so … my back was already sore. Plus some of the vendors give “Make and Takes” — which are instructional classes throughout the day that teach shop owners how to use their products. Then there are early morning and evening lectures that many vendors attend. And of course there’s booth tear-down on Sunday night. Clearly the vendors have far more stamina than I do!

I didn’t see any amazing new trends. There was more garment sewing patterns, especially for 20-ish women and little girls. There also seemed to be more craft-oriented projects such as making stuffed animals. Wool was again very popular. The Amy Butler-style fabric was very evident, and there seems to be a definite movement to attract the younger sewist.  Handbags and tote bags are very popular. There were also lots of beautiful new patterns.

I’m guessing there were around 500 booths. It is overwhelming to see so many items available. I can’t imagine how shop owners navigate their way through and decide what to purchase.

As always, I met many cool people. One of my favorite parts is sitting in the lobby with a coffee, and chatting with the buyers, vendors and authors who come out for a break.

As someone who has been gluten-free for a dozen years (due to celiac disease), I have to say that Portland was a pleasure. All of the restaurants I went to had gluten-free bread, and the servers were extremely knowledgeable. The room service department at my hotel phoned me to offer me gluten-free choices, and to assure me that they would wear gloves and make sure my food was safe to eat. This made up for the rainy weather and made me seriously consider moving to Portland!

The Traveling Begins

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I’ve had a busy couple of weeks. Last week I took a three day business course than ran from 8:30 AM until 9:00 PM. Friday night I had a guild meeting. Less than 12 hours later I was on the train to New York City for another guild meeting. And I’m frantically getting ready for my 3:15 AM cab pickup on Wednesday that begins two weeks of traveling.

My first stop is Portland, Oregon for Quilt Market. This is the semi-annual trade show where quilt shop owners can choose their new fabric, patterns and gadgets. I’d paid for this back in November when I still had a longarm business. My plan is to help several of my friends who are giving lectures and manning booths. I’ll also be sharing my new business, Blog-Buddy.com, with overwhelmed quilt business owners who need assistance writing social media.

I’m home 5 days later, for a quick stop to do laundry and pick up the kids. We are then heading up to Canada for a week to visit family. I will also be giving a trunk show and lecture called “I’ll Never Make That Mistake Again” at the quilt guild in Beaverton, ON.

In the meantime, I’m hoping for safe travels and that my husband remembers to feed the dogs! I’ll be back in touch in early June.

Don’t Judge Me!

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I always have mixed feelings about entering a quilt show. If it’s a juried show, I’m honored to have my quilt selected. But I also know that my quilts are not contenders for ribbons.

I entered two quilts in a recent show and was surprised by the judge’s comments. They seemed inconsistent and harsh. I will share one of the quilts judging sheets.

This is a photo of “Elemental.” I know, it photographs terribly. Within each square it says air, fire, water and earth. The quilting to the right of each element is reflective of air, fire, etc.

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Here are the judges’ comments on the quilt:

Positive attributes:

  • Good use of color
  • Quilting design complements the piecing
  • Binding is well-executed.

Areas for Improvement:

  • Weak Visual Impact
  • Lack of balance detracts from the design
  • Ineffective use of contrast/value
  • Fabric choices detract from the design.
  • Binding is poorly executed.

Additional Comments;

We liked the direction you headed in with this quilt. Felt the quilting on the border took away from the overall design and made it too busy. Love the “elemental” quilting in the middle.

I read the comments and wasn’t exactly sure how to feel. I didn’t feel the judges really understood the quilt, which was in a category that was supposed to have a lot of open spaces for quilting. I was also confused that the binding was both well-executed and needed improvement. And there seemed to be a contradiction as to whether or not they liked the design and color. I did not feel like I’d done a very good job with this quilt.

And I felt like I was done entering in shows.

Last week, I mentioned my experience to a good friend who also entered the same show and got equally baffling comments. She told me that the show had not used certified judges. Yes, there really are certified judges and they go through rigorous training. You can learn more about AQS Certified Judges here.

I try to learn from all of my quilt show experiences. This time I learned the importance of only entering shows that use certified judges.