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Reports on shows, trends, and more

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Report: The 2005 Spring Quilt Market

Reports from one of the industry's top trend- and design-watchers, and a personal view from a traditional "craft" company.

by Ellie Joos, Ellie Joos and Associates (May 23, 2005)

Quilt Market returned to Kansas City for another well attended show, and most exhibitors reported brisk business. A number of first-time exhibitors were also pleased with the show. Although the "fashion" trend is still towards the brighter, sherbet-like colors, this show also presented a warm, earthy look in browns, reds, tans, and creamy whites.

The popularity of knitting was also felt at this show with several companies introducing fabric strips for knitting, patterns available teaching the technique, and even kits available for the quilt store that wants to get in on the knitting and crocheting trend. Especially nice were the kits from Hourglass Creations, Inc., a division of Timeless Treasures. They featured 14 kits for purses, totes, hats, and more using bias-cut batik fabrics. Bright Ideas Design Co. had a great pattern for a wrap poncho using batik fabrics mixed in with yarns. Pie in the Sky Quilts also had some nice patterns for stockings, scarves, and other items.

A number of fabrics caught my eye including the beautiful blue, yellow, orange Provence print fabrics from France from French Connections. This company also imports gorgeous baskets from Ghana and Morocco and brightly colored floor mats from Africa. FreeSpirit’s new Finlandia collection was extremely eye-catching with bold retro prints and bright colors, perfect for the customer who is young, hip, and decorating with bold colors. Springs launched their new Star Wars and Batman licensed fabric lines in true Hollywood fashion with a "screening" room showing trailers from the new movies, complete with fresh popcorn. Libas LTD., a first-time exhibitor, reported a good show with their line of Silk Dupioni fat quarters and 18"x18" squares in beautiful colors.

Other sightings.

National Nonwoven celebrated its 100th anniversary with the Centennial Collection of felt colors and birthday cake for everyone who visited the booth. New for the company is the Shaded Wisps Needle Felt to match its WoolFelt colors and its WoolWisps 100% Wool Needle Felt that can be dyed by the consumer. This product (which I had seen in Germany in January) is just beginning to gain popularity is this country and adds a nice dimensional effect to projects. Kindred Spirits also has needle felt in hand-dyed wool in lovely colors and offers them in multi color packages of pastels, brights, and primitive colors. The Colonial Needle Co. completes the picture with the individual felting needles as well as felting needle tools that can hold up to 12 needles for larger projects, wool roving, and kits. Colonial also introduced Chipped Quilts identity system and registry for quilts with their microchip that is embedded into a quilt and registered to protect quilts from theft.

Quiltsmart introduced Little Lone Star, perfect for beginners, and Apple Core pattern which produces great results in no time, magically creating apple cores with no curved piecing.

Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover is great for removing tough stains using Grandma’s formula.

Atlas Glove, another first timer, launched three new gloves for quilters, crafters, and artists that are perfect for gripping and guiding fabrics, or their Dyeing glove which is resistant to chemicals and punctures.

Rabbit Run and T.Rae & Co. are companies run by two sisters, one a potter and one a quilter. Their booth featured their coordinating quilt patterns and hand painted dishware. Very nice!

EZ Quilt once again had some "cool" new tools, including their Rollup Ruller in 12" and 36" lengths, colored template shapes with easy-to-read markings, Charmers (templates with matched pewter charms) and their line of sewing notions for Dummies.

June Tailor has taken fabric sheets to another level with You’ve Been Framed, iron-on photo fabric frames for framing photos, then ironing onto fabric projects.

Heritage Batting has two new battings, one is 95% polyester and 5 % cashmere and the other is 95% polyester and 5% silk.

Fairfield has also expanded its batting line with a 60% cotton and 40% polyester batting for machine quilters.

Quilt Market is always a delight and I, like so many, come away from it feeling totally inspired by the beauty presented there not only in the special exhibits, but in the booths of the exhibitors. I may not return home and begin a new quilt, but I feel that my world has been enriched by the creativity and talent of so many others.

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, click on the titles in the right-hand column. To contact Ellie, call 908-459-9269 or email eleapple@hotmail.com.

Another view of Quilt Market.

(Note: The following is from a vendor of traditional arts and crafts who seems to be in a category that currently is not hot. But they have a new product line, unrelated to their traditional line, that they brought to Quilt Market; here's their perspective.)

Our booth was busy almost non-stop. What a change from CHA! It was probably our best Quilt Market ever. The other exhibitors I spoke to almost all had a great show also.

Our new product line was a hit. The quilt shops had no trouble understanding the concept. There are also a lot of "heads up" quilt shops that are capitalizing on the memory trend and scrapbooking. They are taking the products available to print photos on fabric (several manufacturers make this) and making Memory Quilts. They are attracting a whole new customer base by emphasizing the memory aspect, yet by putting it on fabric they are also interesting non-quilters in a "quilting" activity. They hope that once inside a quilt shop, with a good class experience behind them, the non-quilters can be converted.

In fact I had quilt shops who latched on to the "no sew" aspect of my line (which I was not pushing) and see that as a way of attracting crafters who were not sewers but liked the look and feel of fabric projects.

I see quilt shops as evolving into "fabric arts shops" (keep the word "crafts" out of the name!) in a few more years because traditional craft stores just aren’t addressing this market and the many products available for it.

I predict quilting will no longer be seen by crafts as some sort of old lady activity. (They were the ones that not that long ago thought that only little old ladies knit).

It’s still going to take us time to fully respond to the changes in our traditional business, but by staying flexible and having this new product line, the future is looking very promising.

Here’s an ironic twist. We’re beginning to see an increase in the (formerly dead) traditional business. Maybe the tide is turning? I do know that we get several emails a week on our retail site saying that they are buying on line from us because they can’t find the products they want in stores anymore. Yes, our web retail sales of our traditional products are up.

All in all, life is good right about now. Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, and I know where my market is! – Name Withheld

(Note: Again, to comment on any of the issues above, email your thoughts to CLN at mike@clnonline.com.)



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