2009 Quilt Market, Pittsburgh: Part I (A First-Timer’s Confessions)

By the night before we left for Quilt Market in Pittsburgh, I was wondering why I was even going.  I had plenty of work to do at home, it was sorta becoming a pain to make arrangements to be gone for four days, and I was exhausted.  But with tickets bought and my mother already in the car to drive over from another state so she could fly up with me (hey! free child care! except, I bought her ticket and paid for her room, so not so free! but hey! child care!), it was a little late to back out.

And WOW, am I glad I didn’t!  This was my first ever Quilt Market experience, and it did NOT disappoint.
I knew to some degree–thank you, Internets!–what I ought to expect, but I wasn’t sure what the emotions would be like, or what my own experience would be.  I knew I would have a good deal of anonymity, which I like; I’ve always been the girl who likes to do a lap before committing to a location, and being anonymous is a huge help in that department.  It was such a treat to be able to leave baby with my mother and hit the convention floor all by my lonesome, with nary a care and the freedom to allow my feet to roam where they chose.
Let’s just start by saying Quilt Market is HUGE–and I’m assured by a number of other attendees that this year was a “small” year and I should just go ahead and start preparing myself NOW for what Houston will hold come October.
I should also admit at this point that I took NOWHERE near enough photos of the amazing, amazing work of quilting artists that hung on display.  Like this one, part of a series of quilts in the style of the Old Masters:
Picasso, anyone?
And this one, part of a series of International Quilts–this Japanese artist was inspired by sun and nature:
There are also a number of clothing competitions, like the fashion entries I passed on the way in.  Here, the blue ribbon winner (for obvious reasons):
The New York skyline, in chiffon and silk:
Hand-beaded bodice, and a kicky little jacket to top it all off:
Amazing, amazing.  But I was a woman with a mission, and even the overwhelming array of inspiring work would not deter me from my goals.  I had four things in mind: my appointment with Moda; seeking out new manufacturers I hadn’t carried before (but only the very bestest of those) and specifically locating boy prints galore; new women’s sewing patterns; and spending some time figuring out where Whipstitch fits into the Bigger Picture of the fabric world.  Here’s how it went:
Goal #1: Moda appointment. Check. They build little villages everywhere they go, and this year were united with a theme so mighty that no one was immune. Moda, it turns out, really “duz” do it all.I had to wiggle my way through the crowds to my appointment with my lovely rep, Becca. She brought me presents! And a contest! I totally love her!She also showed me this:
The Rouenneries collection from The French General, full of piles of linen and cotton blends, all woven in a way that mimics the 18th-century fabrics they’re designed to recreate. Her book, Home Sewn, is due in the shop soon, and is yumtastic. This fabric will FOR SURE knock your socks off.

I also picked up the delicious Authentic collection from Sweetwater, based solely on my obsession with dictionary and text prints.And a stand-out favorite: Happy Campers. Crazy cute, inspired by 50s camping and motor touring. My mom ’bout flipped, and so did I.Do you see the Vieww Finder? Do you SEE it?? (Stay tuned, bee tee dubs, for a giveaway: I totally pushed at least four quilters out of the way and snatched a fat quarter bundle of this collection from a hidden corner of table at Sample Spree so’s I could bring it back home and share the love. Will be doling it out in weeks to come!)

Many thanks to Moda, too, for the lovely evening dinner cruise down the Three Rivers. My mom and baby O and I all dug the romantic candlelight and the food and ambience. We were totally planning a boat tour, and then Moda comes along and drops one in our laps! Hooray for Quilt Market!
OK, on to goal #2: new suppliers. I stopped by the Benartex booth and picked up bolts of this fantastic space fabric (this particular shot is a portion of the loot I hauled back from Sample Spree, but it’ll totally have to be another post). I’m secretly grooming our 8-month-old son for NASA, but the regretful truth is that most space-themed fabrics make the same mistake: they think space needs to be gussied up or cute-sified in some way, and ignore the stark beauty of space itself. This collection totally gets it right, and includes a panel with photographic images of the Hubble, the surface of the moon, and nebulae galore. Awesome.
Along those same lines, I popped into the Westminster booth and visited with my adorable rep, Tom.He introduced me to the Be A Man collection, which I completely love for all the same reasons I love the space fabric: it’s masculine but not cutesy, it’s boy-themed without being obnoxious, and there is no sissy in it anywhere. Any fabric that periodically instructs, “You’ll work hard and you’ll like it” is OK in my book.Since goal #2 was to find some great fabric lines from suppliers with whom I haven’t been working so far, I was delighted to find this deliciousness:Little Golden Books fabric! Starring the Poky Little Puppy! It’s like my childhood–but on fabric. Can’t wait to get this in the shop, in time for back-to school.

Because I already have solid relationships with Robert Kaufman  Alexander HenryMichael Miller and Seven Islands, I wanted to save my meetings with them until I’d really checked out some of the other, smaller fabric manufacturers. When I did get down their way, though, it was like running the gauntlet:A gauntlet that ended here, in Japanese fabric land:What a way to end a walk! This is also where I found some truly gorgeous creations from Heather Ross‘ Far Far Away collection. There’s just a teensy little bit of this left in the Whipstitch shop, so if you’re feeling inspired, get it while you can!  I’m pretty sure I rode the down escalator while she was on the up escalator, and that made me feel some kind of affinity for her AND her fabrics.  She was in this booth later that day for a book signing, but I was already headed to the airport by then–bad planning!I visited Pink Fig shortly after escaping Moda-land, and stole some shots. Am all out of her CuppyCake dress at the moment–good thing I’ve got more on the way!Way over on the other side of the market was the ModKid booth, whose patterns I think would be swimming in Bari J’s fabrics.These sew up so cute, and like all the best patterns, take on such a different personality depending on the combination of fabrics you select. I’ve sold out once already and have just restocked a bunch of these in the shop.Speaking of Bari J… I enjoyed stopping by and seeing the delicious new collection from the always lovely lady (I totally follow her on Twitter, so naturally I feel as though we’re old friends). My rookie mistake at QM this time around? I didn’t have the good sense to hit these booths when the designers were IN them! What was I thinking?? Would’ve loved to have seen her in person–maybe Houston, yeah?

Having said that, though, I AM totally BFFs with Amy Butler now. It’s true. I mean, we didn’t really talk, exactly, but she was super nice and totally said I looked “fabulous”–direct quote there. I was wearing a snazzy A-line skirt out of Joel Dewberry’s Aviary sparrows in dark green, but still–this is AMY BUTLER we’re talking about. I got a photo of her in her gorgeous booth, but the light was off:So I took another:And then we had one of us together:
You see it? What, no? Yeah. That’s what happens when you buy a camera that’s too fancy for you, and then hand it to a stranger to take a photo. You get bupkus. (Sigh.) It’s all true, though. We hugged, y’all.Same thing over at the Oliver + S booth: totally BFFs now. Liesl–always chic, impossibly cool, so, so nice–and her delightful sidekick Todd have more or less SWORN to me they’re coming to my house for barbecue next time they’re in Atlanta. I mean, technically, I just told them where my favorite places were and Todd wrote to say he’d for sure check them out, but they were really enthusiastic, and I think that means they’re coming over, right? Don’t you think?The Oliver + S booth was flawless, their patterns are so well-written and well-designed, and these two were such a joy to meet in person. I’m all set to stitch up a whole bunch of these for our littlest ones this summer. If only she’d bust out some in teen sizes for our eldest… I’ll have to talk to her about that when she comes over. I suppose that’s the update on task #3: women’s patterns. There are so many companies who I WISH would make them. I adore Indygo Junction (whose booth I didn’t get a shot of), and was also impressed by Canadian company Favorite Things.They had some super cute women’s blouse designs, and a coat I really wanted for my own self:
Goal #4 was to reflect on my philosophy, and if you take a gander at the shop, you’ll see a little hint of that. Rather than dividing selections by designer or supplier, I’ve reorganized the fabrics over at Whipstitch Etsy based on content and weight. I want y’all to be able to find so much beyond (the admittedly fabulous) designer quilt-weight cottons we all love so much. There’s a whole world of linen (look for it in the Rouenierres collection) and shot cottons (from Kaffe Fassett and Robert Kaufman), twills and canvas (like the new Moda fabrics I’m listing this week), and fabulous silks and wools (like the DellaQ fabrics I’m itching to get my hands on). All these and more are on their way to the shop, and I think adding them helps reflect my ideals as a shop owner: I want you to find inspiration and delicious surprises that delight you and draw you on to dream new, big things. I hope that’s what you’ll see there!
In summary:
  • Spent wayyyy more than I should’ve, but since I had placed myself on a pittance of a budget, blowing it wasn’t as damaging as it might’ve been.  And who can argue with some of this stuff, for reals??
  • Met folks I never would’ve met otherwise, and might’ve scored a new BBQ BFF out of the deal (see you soon, Todd!)
  • Feel totally more connected to the delightful underbelly of the fabric world, and proud of it
  • Had a solid opportunity to review the Whipstitch philosophy and generate some really extraordinary new ideas for the shop.  Just you wait til you see ’em!
Already looking forward to Houston in October.  In the meantime, y’all stay tuned: next post, my mother (a veteran children’s clothing designer and fabric shopper in her own right) sounds off on the arms-length Quilt Market experience.  Just try finding THAT anywhere else.

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  • tickledpaisley
    May 21, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Thanks for your post – love seeing all the photos of the booths. I haven’t attempted to sew clothes yet – but Mod Kids looks sooooooooo tempting!! I’m in north Atlanta, so maybe I’ll hop into Whipstitch for a class or two!

  • ~Michelle~
    May 21, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Fun pictures – thanks for sharing!

  • dana
    May 21, 2009 at 8:29 am

    What a cool getaway!
    Sounds totally fun.

  • The Best Part About Quilt Market is the People | Whipstitch
    May 16, 2011 at 4:52 pm

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