Every year in the fall, often while trick-or-treaters roam the city parks, downtown Houston, Texas, is overrun by a mob of quilters. Quilt Festival, which welcomes more than 50,000 people to Houston, features vendors, classes, events, and quilt exhibits. The quilting energy and creative buzz is heady stuff, enough to thrill any quilter, regardless of style or experience.
There is another, smaller event, however, the weekend before Festival, and the energy is equally as intense: Quilt Market. This is the industry show, where fabric companies, pattern and notions vendors, and machine manufacturers reveal their brand-new products to shop owners and a few lucky media people.
Lori Baker, Editor of Love of Quilting magazine, has attended every Quilt Market for the past 14 years. “I’m still as excited as I was the first time I went.”
Lori initially worked as an educator in the Pfaff classrooms, showing off all the amazing features on the new machines. She worked with teachers whose work she had long admired. “The biggest thing I remember,” she says, “was going home with the idea that I could do those things I’d seen in classrooms. When you see them up close, they seem much more doable.”
For Tricia Patterson, Group Editorial Director of The Quilting Company, it’s the energy of Quilt Market that struck her. Before her first show, she’d imagined the new fabrics, different quilting tools, exciting new machine features, and meeting new friends. Quilt Market was all that and more.
“I didn’t anticipate the thrill of walking around the vendor floor as everyone pulled supplies out of boxes before the doors opened,” Tricia confesses. “Nor did I think about the steady hum of the preparation as lifts moved around the aisles and work teams huddled together for coffee and muffins before ‘show time.’”
When those doors finally open, Tricia says, it reminded her of opening holiday presents with family. “All the gifts of quilting are spread out for you to absorb and enjoy.”
“The first time I went to Market, I didn’t quite know what to expect,” says Vivika DeNegre, Editorial Director of Quilting Arts magazine, “and I was blown away by the fabric manufacturer booths.”
Quilt Market awards a best booth award every year, and the competition is serious. “The time and effort put into creating a cohesive design and story, which translates into their promotions, is outstanding,” says Vivika. “I love when an overall theme generates excitement and buzz on the market floor. This happened with a ‘glamping’ theme one year, when Moda brought in a vintage camper decorated inside and out. Another memorable display was Day of the Dead, done as only Alexander Henry could muster.”
When a theme is done in a truly spectacular way, they can feed into larger industry trends. “So much of our industry leadership comes from the design teams and promotional sensibilities,” says Vivika. “I can’t imagine what they will imagine next.”
Vanessa Lyman, Content Director of PBS’ “Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting,” loves the creative potential of what she sees at Quilt Market. “Looking at some of these new products and fabric lines, my imagination runs wild and I start picturing so many different quilts. Yet I know that our quilt designers will dream up something even more wonderful,” she says.
“I also love that almost electric feeling you get when something special is presented at market,” Vanessa adds. “When there’s a fabric or tool that’s just so exciting, everyone’s talking about it. ‘Did you see such-and-such over at so-and-so’s booth? No? You have to get over there!’”
Those products and fabrics and features certainly have a way of energizing creativity. Lori says, “I wonder what I’ll see that will spark the creative fire in me this year?”
Join us on Facebook as we bring you Quilt Market Live to see what new products might just spark that creative fire!