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What's new in various product categories; monthly update.

Printer Version

Quilt Market, Pt. I

Changing colors, more wool -- lots of trends.

by Ellie Joos (June,  2004)

I have seen many convention centers in my career, and I must say I was impressed with the Pittsburgh convention center. Glass-paneled ceilings allowed natural light to flood the show floor, providing great lighting for those of us walking the show – although I did hear from several exhibitors that sunglasses were needed at certain times of the day. Glass enclosed walkways above the floor gave a great overview of the exhibits. The show floor seemed busy and most of the exhibitors I spoke with reported having a very good show. Show management reported good on-site registration numbers as well.

Color, Color, Color. Pretty sherbet, sorbet colors were everywhere in lovely florals and coordinating patterns, Sasparilla by Kimberly Hodges for FreeSpirit in gorgeous "Lily Pulitzer" colors ... Ginger Bliss by Amy Butler was a lovely line of luch exotic prints in bold colors. Amy’s booth display was also very creative with an Asian flair ... Lovely garden themes from P & B featuring the Morning Glory group by Alex Anderson ... South Seas Imports has a very pretty, and romantic collection of florals from Robyn Pandolph which was displayed quite elegantly in a fabric tent complete with chandelier.

Wool. This category is growing with new exhibitors including Woolrich and York Woolens with their wool solids, plaids and textures ... There were great new patterns from Sue Spargo Folk Art Quilts which incorporate wool and other textures with beads and embellishments.

The 50’s. That decade inspired color and motifs, even wonderful "bark" cloth textured prints from Michael Miller ... Moda Home introduced a charming line of hankie-inspired prints in its Sliced Bread Vintage Kitchen Collection ... Vintage cowboy themes including Roy Rogers were also apparent.

Tools. What’s a quilter without her collection of great new tools? There were rotary cutters and mats from Clover, which emphasized safety, were designed to fit a woman’s hand, and easily converted for right or left hand ... Brooklyn Revolver II mat from Come Quilt with Me, now with an ironing surface on the reverse side.

There was the Cutter Cubby for storing rotary cutters and Basting Bright Pins in bright colors from EZ Quilting/Wrights – and Dissolve Away Foundation Paper.

Chenille Short Cuts in a number of colors and the Fluffing brush, also Quilted Memories, kits for making custom memory quilts from June Tailor

Fairfield’s Knit Care line follows the success of their Quilt Care, consisting of great needle cases, and liquid wash. (Speaking of knitting, several exhibitors had fabrics cut into strips for knitting.)

Ready Bias introduced Swag-maker templates in two sizes which make it a snap to do accurate swags.

Long-arm machine enthusiasts will love Fabri Fast, to attach fabric to the long-arm frame with this patent pending system from The Grace Company ... QCI introduced a water-soluble aerosol spray, Marking Magic, which easily marks the design on the quilt and then washes out ... Colonial Needle offered a product no sewer should be without, NeedleGrip-It, self-adhesive dots for help with hand sewing. (I also loved the company's UltraThimble.).

Design Technology. Blumenthal Lansing previewed its new Crafters Image program of CDs featuring their licensed designers and PhotoFabric in four fabric types for home computer printing ... New software programs and fabrics from Electric Quilt.

I always look forward to the Quilt Show for its creativity and energy. This show was no exception with lovely exhibits and beautiful booth displays.

Note: Ellie is president of Ellie Joos & Associates, a marketing, pr, and product development firm. To read Ellie's reports on other industry-related shows, including the recent N.Y. Stationery Show, click Scene & Heard in the left-hand column. To contact Ellie call 908-459-9269 or email eleapple@hotmail.com.

Quilt Market Report, Pt. II

The overlapping of quilting and needlework.

by Wheat Carr (June, 2004)

Color. Clean, rich colors, from 1960's Acid Trips to clear/un-gray/un-brown shades. Pastel to Jewel. They were just about evenly split with "Folk" or "Primitive" – and this is largely due, I think, to increased/growing interest in fulled wools, well represented by many designers. For hand dyes; both Kipp's Kits & Weeks Dye Works seemed to have it more together. Folk/Primitive themes continue to be well represented in cotton as well.

In the small, middle ground were the kinds of colors and patterns you or I might associate with the late 40's - early 50's (but not the 60's earth tones). Good examples of this would be the Feedsack by American Jane line shown by Windham Fabrics and Sullivan's USA Lilies & Lace by Bernie Mayer.

Pastels did not seem to as obvious, but they certainly existed, and of course, jewels – especially batiks – continue to be a staple. Speaking of batiks, Bali's new Flanetik is very interesting and I can see it being a winner for the wearables enthusiasts – not to mention quilts for cuddling with style.

There seemed to be more and more products and ideas aimed at the kids niche. Seems designers and suppliers are concerned about the aging market and are thinking about ways to get the kids involved, especially teens. Guess they are hoping to move them from knitting to quilting or other forms of stitching.

Knitting/Quilts. While I did not see any traditional yarn suppliers, Notions Marketing focused a fair amount of its display on a yarn program. Sullivan's USA showed the beginnings of its yarn and thread lines, as well as that very hot commodity – needles – which they seem to think they will be able to supply without problems. Most folks already know that Checkers, obviously a serious supplier to the quilting markets, has taken multiple booths for TNNA/INRG in June, and more than a few fabric companies mentioned intentions to walk the show.

Speaking of knitting, there were a number of knitting-related products on display in several distributor booths, including "In The Attic" knitting looms for knitting without needles. As I was observing traffic around the knitting display, more than a few quilt shop owners picked up the frames, smiled, and better yet, made notes.

Felting was nominally represented, but not the way it should be beyond the use of fulled wools or felts for surface design. Of course, you already knew that Wandering Wolf Design bet the ranch and made the decision to present quilting, felting, and fulled wool at TNNA/INRG, but at least we are not longer feeling quite so "bleeding edge."

Attendance. I don't know what numbers management is posting for attendance, but quite often the fabric company tables seemed were rather empty. Appointments to have a line presented or to discuss "your designer program" seemed to all to easy to come by.

Equally of concern to exhibitors might be the rather obvious number of "designers" and "we're with the owner of such and such shop" as opposed to serious buyers. Noticeable lack of crowds and often rather empty aisles.

Noticeably absent among the machine exhibitors was Babylock; Pfaff, Viking, Singer, and Brother all had at least two or more booths.

Although many exhibitors felt the show as "okay," very few were really excited about their numbers; but they were better able to network with distributors about their products.

Quilting/needlework. Digitized designs for machine-embroidery uses in quilts also seemed to be well represented. Speaking of machine embroidery, cross stitch and "RedWork" type designs were obvious.

Hawaiian applique also seemed to be well represented, and these booths often had at least a few buyers placing orders.

Not necessarily new to market, but getting lots of attention was Tsukineko; the products offer lots of surface-design opportunities for all skill levels. I know they will be taking a place in my design studio.

I ran into were several retailers who already have both knitting and quilting, and more than a few shopowners with either yarn or counted thread shops. I also had some opportunities to chat with folks from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; they all talked about the blurring of the lines.

For those yarn companies who think they have solved their supply problems, it might not be a bad idea to be looking at the quilt market. For "String" [yarn] shops trying to plan for the inevitable down cycle, consider ways to attract quilters – both for yarn & threads – and to get them knitting. It might just be a good plan.

Closing thoughts, if attending or exhibiting at the David Lawrence Convention Center, be sure to include a sun hat and sun screen; with the exception of two rows, you could work on your tan while working or walking.

Note: Wheat is the President of Wandering Wolf Designs, a publisher of independent designer patterns. She will be exhibiting at the TNNA/INRG show in Columbus June 12-14 and the NeedleArts Market Aug. 20-22 in Charlotte. You can email her at wheat@craftwolf.com. To read previous Category Reports, click on the headlines in the right-hand column.



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