2009 Quilt Market, Pittsburgh: Part II (Mom Weighs In)

Guest posting today: my mom.  Quilt Market is a professional trade show, and as such, does not permit children on the floor of the convention center.  While part of me–the part that spends all day long working in the same room while my children are playing–thought that was a little harsh, another part thought it wise, and after spending two days on that floor alone, I’m deeply grateful for the focus it allowed me.  In order to make the trip with a nursing infant, though, I needed said infant to come along.  Enter: my mother, who when asked if she’d like to accompany us replied, “That’s like inviting an alcoholic to beerfest.”  Um, so, that’s a yes??

Below, Mom guest posts on her impressions of Quilt Market, her perspective as a veteran children’s clothing designer and fabric hound, and as…well…my mother.  I swear, I did not put her up to saying any of this stuff (but I did tear up a bit when I read it).  Thanks, Mom!

It’s been six years since I attended a major fabric show, so I felt like a time-traveler.  My custom children’s clothing business, Heidi Kidwear, was named after Deborah’s baby sister, and consumed my life for 13 years.  I used to attend the semi-annual Southeastern Fabric and Notions Show at the Georgia Convention Center in Atlanta and can remember vividly how terrified I was making those first buys.  I think I bought a SINGLE BOLT of fabric (wonderful corn-on-the-cob print from Alexander Henry) on my first visit and just prayed I’d be able to sell it all.  I’m amazed how composed Deborah is when purchasing a gazillion yards of fabric, but then she is more strategic in her business thinking than I EVER was.  Heck, I HAD a philosophy, just never thought of expressing it in those terms.  


After rambling through the show last weekend, whizzing past those booths I thought dowdy/tacky/unworthy, I was really impressed by 6 or so businesses that were truly modern, yet embodied a retro appeal–Oliver + S and Indygo Junction stand out as pattern companies whose style I admired.  As for the fabrics, Deborah and I looked at the collections she was considering, and I was most surprised by how little we disagreed: Happy Campers from Moda, the Rouennieres collection from the French General, Space: the New Frontier from Benartex, Red Letter Day from Lizzy House, the Riley collection by Anna Griffin, all fantastic. We loved the same colors, prints, textures and hated the same ones, too!  Even though my Heidi Kidwear designs were nostalgic and used fabrics which evoked my own childhood–lots of cowboys and 50’s references – the only real difference between Deborah and me is the Japanese graphic prints she loves so much
[Ed. note: she just hasn’t seen the right ones–fear not, Gentle Reader, I’ll correct this at fall Quilt Market in Houston!].


I left the convention hall in Pittsburgh full of images and feeling somewhat guilty because, while I had seen some ideas that were very appealing, I simply have not been putting any of that inspiration into practice these past years since I left design.  Thirteen years of a basement business, 24/7, being the janitor and CEO all rolled into one had taken a toll and sucked up that creative impulse.  Do I still design and sew?  Well, yes, but mostly for my home, virtually nothing for myself or even my four grandchildren.  Do I miss it?  I miss my clients, I miss the rush of having created a fresh design, but certainly DON’T miss the pressure of delivery deadlines!  This trip was a wonderful inspiration to begin pursuing crafty endeavors again, for myself this time, and that was an unexpected plus.


I’m unbelievably proud of Deborah’s savvy and entrepreneurial spirit, but unsurprised by her success.  When she was a theater major at Florida State her favorite class was wardrobe design and execution.  And she has some powerful women in her family who, “back in the day,” were doing exactly what she is working on now:  two great-grandmothers who were great designers/crafters, two grandmothers who are gifted in widely different media (one in needlework, the other in blown glass), and a mom who just went out there and DID IT.   Quilt Market seemed to be a conference of women who fit that description, and designers with real vision.  What an amazing collection of talent and excitement!


What was the best part of our going to Pittsburgh?  Well, there were really three:  spending a HUGE amount of time with Baby Oliver (our own personal Michelin Man); being able to offer enthusiastic support to Deborah; and the city itself – terrific downtown location, lots to do, and the beautiful Allegheny River right outside the door.  From an arm’s length view, an absolute top drawer weekend!

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  • chaletgirl
    May 21, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I love this post! Nice to see some lovely photos and hear how proud your mother is of you.

    (And nice to hear that I am not the only one that is a little bit tied down at the moment to a nursing baby…thank you, I somehow just needed to hear I am not alone).

  • Kelli
    May 23, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Oh Deborah, just when I was just getting to really enjoy your blog, I see your Mom says you went to Florida State. And here I am a diehard Gator!
    Well, I can overlook it if you keep up the hilarious writing and great fabrics and patterns! 🙂
    Thanks for the market review…I have no reason to go, but really enjoyed all the pics, it almost felt like I was there!

  • Deborah
    May 23, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Thanks, ladies! And Kelli–I was totally a legacy, so don’t hold it against me. 🙂

  • Chief Chick
    May 24, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    First of all-YOUR MOM…what a dish! And wonderful guest poster. Second and thirds-of-all to come, but for now I’m stupefied by you and your mother’s combined creative genius…big wows all around. Now, excuse me while I go practice my lacing cards.

  • dana
    May 24, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Okay, you and your mom are TOO adorable! Seriously! I see so much of you in her. And what cute commentary.
    And a picture of baby Oliver??! Love it!

  • Kelli
    May 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Okay, Deborah, I won’t hold it against you…I couldn’t. I’d miss your blog and your sales too much!
    And I am definitely planning on a stopover in Atlanta to come to your new shop next time we head north…although that may be awhile! Good luck with it!

  • michael moebes
    May 26, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Good post! Glad y’all had so much fun
    and that you got a Primanti Bros sandwich. Because that’s the important part.