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Reports on shows, trends, and more

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Quilt Market: Houston, October 2008

Comforting, in these troubled times.

by Ellie Joos, Ellie Joos & Associates (November 3, 2008)

Prior to attending the Quilt Market, one of my favorite trade shows for its beauty and creativity, I spoke with several associates in the industry and all were expressing their concern for business and the attendance at the show. A long-time attendee to the Market (since the beginning at the Shamrock Hilton!) also told me that in her experience, the attendance at the Market always seemed lighter during an election year.

With these thoughts in mind, I went to the show with concern and also with optimism. In troubling times however, comfort has been found in crafts, such as the rise in scrapbooking after 9/11, and what could be more comforting than making cherished quilts for family and friends?

Knitting and crocheting have also provided a sense of comfort and pride. Now, sewing is also seeing a resurgence with enrollments in fashion and design schools on the rise. At Quilt Market, Interweave launched their timely magazine, Stitch, which appeals to beginning and returning sewers and provides a fresh perspective on sewing.

In a sign of the times, what first caught my eye when I entered the show floor was a large "Financing Available" sign at a long-arm quilting machine booth.

Hats off to the staff for once again mounting a beautiful show with breathtaking and inspiring museum-quality exhibits. One exhibit, "Patchwork Politics," featured antique and new quilts devoted to elections, politicians, and campaign platforms. I never have enough time to truly appreciate these exhibits. (And thank you to Bob and Rhihanna for the welcoming atmosphere in the press room.)

Marie Osmond, a very gracious and charming woman, was in attendance, to launch Janome's new Marie Osmond sewing machine. Jay McCarroll, season-one winner on Project Runway, was promoting his new whimsical, fun, fabric lines with FreeSpirit (www.jaymccarroll.com).

Westminster launched a fabulous new Lifestyle Products line of finished products, including laminated fabric trays, umbrellas, shower curtains, note book and project binders, and eyeglasses and cases featuring the fabrics of some of the company's 30 licensed designers. This line was met with great approval by the quilt stores that want to add gift lines to their product mix. Jane Sassaman, another FreeSpirit designer, had an "Idea" booth and showed the many wonderful ways to use Mod Podge with fabric. (www.westminsterfabrics.com and www.freespiritfabric.com)

Environmentally friendly products were readily available with a number of companies using bamboo, soy, organic cotton and recycled soda bottles. FiberCo introduced its Soft Soy Blend made of 50% Soy/50% Organic Cotton and it feels like cashmere. (www.fiberco.com)

The Kunin Group is now making all of its felt products using recycled soda bottles. (www.kuningroup.com)

Quilters Dream Batting also featured their Dream Green™ batting made from recycled bottles and will soon have one of bamboo, silk and botanic Tencel. (www.quiltersdreambatting.com)

Unique children's patterns are also finding a niche at Quilt Market. Oliver & S, new last year, has expanded its adorable line of patterns for infants, toddlers, and children. (www.oliverands.com)

Bananafana also featured a whimsical line of patterns for children and also bags and accessories for adults. (www.bananafanadesigns-byjess.blogspot.com)

In overall trends, this was a very traditional looking show, with tea dye colors, browns, and pinks as the major color themes. Very pretty, soft pastels were also visible in lovely floral combinations. Fairy motifs were evident, and Michael Miller once again created an award-winning booth to display its new collection Flower Fairies, by Cicely Mary Barker in a delightful woodland setting. Cicely's first book, Flower Fairies of the Spring, was published in 1923. This collection includes large panels with coordinating all over designs. With an entirely different mood in mind, the company launched AndaLucia, by Patty Young, a line of bold, dramatic flowers and coordinated in red, pink, apple green and brown. (www.michaelmillerfabrics.com)

Fairies were also creating magic in the lovely new line, Fairy Tip-Toes, by Tina Givens. (www.tinagivens.com)

Other Fabric Lines.

A new vendor, StudioE Fabrics®, offered 11 distinctive, fresh, and appealing fabric lines, and patterns, kits, and pre-cuts for the independent quilt store. (www.studioefabrics.com)

Art Gallery® also presented an eclectic line of fabrics with a modern and contemporary flair in great colors and motifs. Free patterns are also available on their website. (www.artgalleryfabrics.com)

Anna Maria Horner, presented her line of fabrics and new stylish sewing patterns available through Westminster in an eye-catching, award-winning booth. I especially liked her new oilcloths and her beautiful book, Seams to Me. (www.annamariahorner.com)

Moda, known for its "jelly roll," has expanded its bake-shop inspired line and introduced Turnovers™, 80-6" half square triangles, and Sweet Rolls™ – 40-1 ˝"x45" strips for easy piecing. (www.modafabrics.com)

Print motifs with a vintage look and vintage-looking products were also visible. First time exhibitor Glorie was having a good show with its Victorian reproduction postcards and handmade ornaments fashioned after antique chocolate and candy molds. (www.gloriestudio.com)

Other Patterns & Products.

Fay Nicoll recognized a void in patterns for Judaica Art Quilts and presented her eponymous line of patterns. (www.faynicolldesigns.com)

Clover introduced Puff and Dimensional Quilting tools and clips and from Nancy Zieman, the 5-in-1 Sliding Gauge. (www.clover.usa.com)

Colonial Needle introduced John James Pebbles, sewing needles packaged in colorful plastic "pebble" storage cases – this is a great stocking stuffer item! (www.colonialneedle.com)

Wrights, part of the new Simplicity Creative Group, always has several great new tools at Quilt Market. Here they presented the new Letter Setter tool for placing straight and curved lettered designs in minutes, and the new punch-needle set. (Watch for PunchNeedle: The Complete Guide by Marinda Stewart coming shortly from KP Books) (www.wrights.com)

June Tailor, another company with innovative, useful tools, was having a good show with a number of new products including the ˝ Square Triangles, Ink Jet Printable Fusible and Pre-Printed Freezer Paper. (www.junetailor.com)

Lisa Maki, owner of Crooked Nickel Quilt Designs, a first-time Houston exhibitor with patterns, kits, and DVDs, was demonstrating her fast, easy technique for making dramatic quilts using 5" squares (nickels) on point with grid-printed fusible from Pellon. (www.crookednickel.com)

Kaleidoscope Collection launched its latest Kaleidoscope Kreator 3 software for making stunning, one-of-a-kind quilts with the look and magic of kaleidoscopes using digital photos. This technique also works for creating paper designs for scrapbooks, card making, and ornaments. (www.kaleidoscopecollections.com)

Several companies displayed knitting products. From Wrights, the Disney I Taught Myself to Knit kits, featuring two kits, one using Mickey and the other using Princess tools with easy-to-follow instructions. Gita Maria had gorgeous kits for knitted shawls and included her hand-crafted enameled shawl closure. (www.gitamaria.com) A Beaded Road had lovely, one-of-a-kind, hand-crocheted and beaded shawls. (www.abeadedroad.com)

Of all the products other than fabric, one that I was most intrigued by was Parfait Soleil – the most amazing kits for dessert parfaits made entirely from felt. This line is from SunFelt, a 35-year-old Japanese company shown by Seven Islands, Inc. Their display of these stunning "parfaits" was very tempting and although their sign said, "Please do not touch," it was impossible to resist. (www.sevenislandsfabric.com)

It may have been a quieter Market for some vendors, and for others it was a good Market, but for all attendees, it was a very good place to be during these troubling times, surrounded by good friends and great beauty. We may not all agree on who should be the next president, but I think that all present at Market can agree that we are fortunate to be part of an industry that is uplifting and inspiring. I know for me, it did my soul good to be there.

Note: Ellie is president of Ellie Joos & Associates, a marketing, pr, and product development firm. To read 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.



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