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Report: 2010 Fall Quilt Market

Technology, Charities, and beautiful products.

by Ellie Joos (November 15, 2010)

Usually I attend Quilt Market and report on the trends in colors, fabrics, and patterns -- and the overall mood of the vendors and attendees. At this market, I was glad to hear that pre-show registration was up 6% from last year and there were 53 new exhibitors (more about some of them later).

What really captured my attention is the growing use of social media platforms and Internet technology in the quilting industry as an important component for growing a business, connecting and building relationships with retail accounts and consumers, and branding companies and products. As companies look to expand their business and reach more customers, they are learning that consumers want a two-way dialogue and the opportunity to give feedback and suggestions. Of course, most companies have websites and do provide a variety of services, including product information and free patterns, and some are taking it to the next step with online communities. (Retailers – if you know of vendors who have free downloadable patterns and online communities, share that information with your customers by posting it on your website or Facebook page, especially if you carry the fabrics in your store.)

At the forefront of social media marketing is AccuQuilt, with “cutting edge” (excuse the pun) strategy. Lee Nakamoto, Orchestrator, Consumer Intelligence for AccuQuilt (I learned that most of the company’s employees have catchy titles for their particular jobs, sounds like a fun place to work!) shared the creative ideas that AccuQuilt has developed since earlier this year, using Youtube, Facebook, and quilting blogs. AccuQuilt’s goal is to become the “Apple” brand of the quilt market. Be sure to check out their Sew & Tell Community. www.accuquilt.com

Fairfield Processing’s booth reflected the look of their new online web community www.FairfieldWorld.com. This website connects crafters and quilters with one another and incorporates 3D technology in an animated world of crafts and provides ideas, inspiration, and educational tools that are a click away.    

Websites for Quilters™, a website development company, recently launched www.FindMyFabric.com, a site that helps consumers find fabric and quilting supplies from over 100 online quilt stores. This will soon be available as a cell phone app. The company’s www.Quilterblogs.com site provides a convenient place for visitors to follow the 1300+ blogs that the staff follows regularly.  

The IPad is becoming another tool for conducting business. My first sense of this was on the shuttle bus to the hotel in Houston. My fellow passengers included City Quilter in New York owner Dale Riehl, complete with his IPad that shows the new space his store is expanding into in January. (It’s always good news to hear about stores expanding.)  IPads were also in use in several booths as presentation tools with buyers. When it comes to apps, Robert Kaufman introduced its Free iPhone app for eight indispensable quilting calculators. (To get it, search “Robert Kaufman” to find the Quilting Calculator.)

Appealing to a younger audience has been a trend for a number of years at Quilt Market with companies presenting bright, boldly-designed fabrics and “hipper” patterns for quilts, apparel, and home décor accessories (Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Heather Bailey). In fact, at this market, sewing for projects other than quilts and totes/handbags is on the rise, as well as new base cloths, such as Innocent Crush Velveteen and Voiles from Anna Maria Horner, and strong, romantic, bold prints, (I especially liked the large blooming rose), perfect for apparel. Visit www.annamariahorner.com for a free pattern download and be sure to pass the information on to your customers.)

Sewn, one of the 53 new exhibitors and a division of Lorraine Torrence Designs, is run by two young women, friends from college, with a pattern line of six simple, stylish  patterns for apparel, with a fresh approach for a younger sewing audience. www.sewnsquareone.com 

La Todera, another new exhibitor, launched a pattern line for fabric accessories, beautiful fabric orchids and other flowers. www.latodera.com

Eazy Peazy Quilts, also new, fills a void for patterns for wheelchair and walker-bound customers, including the Sassy Smock, Wheelchair Backpack, and Walker Saddlebag www.eazypeazyquilts.com

“Wild World”, by new artist Jenean Morrison for FreeSpirit, presented very modern looking prints, florals, geometrics, and abstracts, in a softer color range, in their award-winning booth. www.jeneanmorrison.net

New exhibitor, Kate Spain, featured her contemporary and bold florals in lively colors for Moda, in a booth that also displayed a number of her other products for Target® and Crate and Barrel. www.katespain.com and www.katespaindesigns.blogspot  

Paradiso Designs™ by Cheryl Kuczek launched her pattern line of great looking patterns for apparel and accessories, several of which show how to recycle and reuse fabrics and other apparel. My favorite is her Funky Patchwork Sweater Coat -- very cool!   www.paradisodesigns.com

New exhibitor Jennifer Jangles began her career as a ceramics artist, making beads, buttons, and jewelry, and now has a colorful fabric line, In the Beginning.  www.jangles.net

Organic fabric companies are on the rise, with Cloud9 Fabrics, new last year and now expanding its booth space with their new line, Nature Walk. The premier Price Sensitive collection reflects their retro-inspired color palette and whimsical designs. In its first year, this company received great media attention in the sewing and quilting magazines, as well as Martha Stewart Living. www.cloud9fabrics.com

New to this market, Daisy Janie owner Jan DiCintio displayed her 100% organic cotton fabrics in eye-catching, graphic designs in her “Best New Exhibitor” award-winning booth. www.daisyjanie.com 

More new products and ideas.

Go! Baby – new Fabric Cutter from AccuQuilt®, a fast, precise, affordable fabric cuter that cuts fabrics as much as 90% faster than scissors or rotary cutters.  www.accuquilt.com

Creative Comfort™ Aromatherapy products from Prym Consumer. Prym has taken its Creative Comfort line of pillows, socks, wraps, and more to the next level by adding comforting and healing scents such as cinnamon, cloves, and eucalyptus. www.dritz.com

Clover always has several terrific new tools at each show, and this show was no exception. The Flower Frill Templates in four sizes make beautiful dimensional flowers that can be used to embellish clothing and accessories. The Stack ‘N Stitch Thread Tower with Nancy Zieman® is a handy organizer for use with 30 spools of thread. (When machine sewing, simply change to the new thread directly from the organizer.) www.clover-usa.com

Embellishing with Buttons – JHB  introduced  Chic Vintage, a line of stackable reproduction Vintage Buttons in great colors and shapes; Northern Lights are elegant buttons with sparkle and shine; and Lisa Pavelka Adornments is a fabulous line of jewelry-making products for bezels and earrings used with Lisa’s Signature Series Magic-Glos and UV Curing Lights to create gorgeous finished pieces in no time.  www.buttons.com  www.lisapavelka.com

Wonderful charities.

As anyone who has attended Quilt Market over the years knows, this industry is made up of many individuals and companies that believe in giving back. Since 2003, the Quilts of Valor Foundation has made over 32,000 quilts for wounded American service members.  This program has now been expanded with a new program that helps quilt shop owners introduce quilting to people of all ages.  “Under Our Wings” pairs a “coach” quilter with a “rookie” quilter and uses especially designed American Valor Fabrics by nine participating companies: Andover Fabrics, Clothworks, Marcus Fabrics, Moda Fabrics, P&B Textiles, Quilting Treasures, Red Rooster Fabrics, Timeless Treasures and Windham Fabrics. www.QOVF.org/QUILTSHOPSONLY/WINGS

Quilts for Kids is another inspiring effort in which participating volunteer quilters transform fabrics into patchwork quilts that comfort children in need. Animal Party Too is a fabric collection of brightly colored, happy animal motifs from RobertKaufman that benefits this nonprofit corporation.  www.robertkaufman.com

The Quilts of Gee’s Bend™ Quilt Kits from Windham is a line of four quilt kits inspired by the work of four Gee’s Bend quilters. A portion of the sales of these kits and the Gee’s Bend Solids goes to the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective.  www.quiltsofgeesbend.com

The 2010 Houston Quilt Market was another beautiful show with so much to see and so little time. As always, congratulations to the Quilts Inc staff for a job well done.

(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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