My big fat Quilt Market post

It’s been a few weeks since I got back from Fall Quilt Market in Houston, and I thought I’d round up a few of the things I enjoyed this time around. Sadly, I did miss a bunch of great stuff since I only had my phone (this was the first year I left my camera at home), so please don’t be offended if I didn’t include your stuff, awesome designers who I missed!!! I always enjoy seeing the booths and the new fabrics at Quilt Market, at least in the handful of booths that are modern, and it’s always fun to catch up with other designers and fabric shop owners. My new line Small World was also debuting on strike-offs at the Cloud9 booth, so of course I was also shamelessly showing those off. They have their own post right here if you want to see them. Also, please note that I’m not going to link to all the lines/designers in this post, because otherwise I’d never get this post published. You understand.

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Ok, so what did I love? Carolyn Friedlander’s stuff was amazeballs as usual:

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The Kokka booth is always a little overwhelming but I loved the dress on the right:

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Ellen Luckett Baker’s Charms line for Kokka is really great. Metallics and voile and canvas!! Love the persimmon and sheep prints the mostest.

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Cotton+Steel had a fantastic follow-up to their debut lines earlier this year, including my absolute fave, the double gauzes. Which had their own booth, complete with some Made By Rae samples (can you spot them??). The samples I made for Stylo ended up in the booth so that was very fun.

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Dying over this octopus lawn designed by Sarah Watts for Cotton+Steel:

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One of my favorite Melody Miller prints is back (so are the viewmasters!!):

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I wish I had gotten better photos of Alison Glass’ Handprinted collection; I’m dying over the plus prints. Her entire booth was gorgeous.

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Some great organic knits from Monaluna:

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Birch also had some fantastic new organic knits, including another line of Charley Harper (yay!!), but I didn’t get any good photos.

Katy Jones has a new line, Priory Square, with Art Gallery and was autographing books like a boss. Also: fun quilt!

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April Rhode’s new line, Wanderer, is fantastic. I loved the faux camper look she had over in the Art Gallery booth.

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Also from AGF, Leah Duncan’s new line Morning Walk is so great. She makes some of my very favorite designs.

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I really need to make one of these yarn fabric thingys:

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I can’t stop thinking about this new baby layette sewing pattern set from Green Bee Patterns:

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Fun GeoPop canvas prints from Emmie K for Robert Kaufman, one print was even made up in my square floor pillow tutorial!

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I also loved a bunch of lines at Cloud9; I know this is going to sound biased, but they’ve really gotten some amazing designers this year. One is Elizabeth Olwen, and I wish I had managed to get a good photo of her stuff because it is really great. Another fave is Jessica Jones; her line Time Warp is coming out soon on barkcloth, which is perhaps my new favorite substrate:

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This Butterick coat in Time Warp (sewn by my friend Karen LePage woot!) is crazy cool:

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and Biology from Sarah Watson.

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And of course it’s always a thrill to see my own lines still going strong over in the Cloud 9 booth. Yay!!

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OK, now for my thoughts on Quilt Market in general: The first time I attended Quilt Market in Kansas City in the spring of hmmm can’t remember now (2012?), I found it to be immensely fun and exciting; I find that the more I attend, the less this is true. I’m pretty sure the big reason this time was having a baby attached to me at all times — there are no strollers allowed on the QM floor, which is another rant for another time — so I wore him the whole time and got pretty tired, much as I love my little guy. It’s also getting harder for me to justify the cost of flying out and staying in a hotel for a few days. Showing up to see all of the samples we’ve sewn at the studio for various booths is fun; but that alone definitely does not justify the trip.

In the beginning, I attended because I needed a printer for my print patterns, to bring my fabric design portfolio to various manufacturers, and because as a blogger I felt that I had the ability to draw more attention to modern fabric designers with my blog, and I wanted to support those designers as much as I could. The trip had the added benefit of allowing me to meet shop owners who I could connect with.

As time passes, though, the benefit of attending decreases as it becomes less likely that I will make new connections, if that makes sense. I know that may sound blunt, but I want to mention these things because I’m becoming more convinced of how important it is for creatives who are in business to talk about the costs of things, and not just do things for free or for fun, or just because they “love it.” While I do love being a creative business-person, I want to encourage those who are thinking of trying to make a living through design to be realistic about the numbers. Recent blog posts by Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps (“An Inside Look at What Fabric Designers Earn“) and Kristin Link of Sew Mama Sew (“Let’s Talk about this: Do what you love and the money will follow“) about the creative industry are REALLY good reads if you find these topics interesting.

Anyway, I want to outline some of the reasons I go because I think in the past I’ve made it sound like I go just to go — that’s not exactly true; it’s always been a business decision in one way or another. It’s not always the *best* business decision for me, but sometimes you learn that kind of thing the hard way.

18 thoughts on “My big fat Quilt Market post

  1. I want to thank you for taking the time to talk about the business side of blogging/sewing/designing/everything-else and sharing those links (the fabric design one was especially enlightening!). Without this knowledge, I find we tend to think that it’s so easy to make gobs of money doing creative work when it actually isn’t. It isn’t all kittens and rainbows all the time! Some people don’t like to hear about the money aspect but I have tremendous respect for those who are opening up about it.

  2. Thanks for such a great and honest recap!
    Do you know what is the pattern for that dress in the Kokka booth?

  3. Thank you for acknowledging the real cost. And yes, the thought of a convention center exhibit hall with a baby in a carrier is exhausting.

  4. Cotton and steels swatch wall with the collars is awesome. I had a creative business before having children and always feel like I am harshing everyone’s mellow about when I share my experiences. It’s good to see it on the blog!

    • heh “harshing everyone’s mellow” that’s so true. On the one hand, I am all about being excited about what I do; I love sewing and design! I also think that it’s good to be critical about why you do the things you do when you have a business.

  5. Thanks for sharing such an interesting perspective. I guess I just thought you went to show us all these gorgeous pictures of yummy things. I suppose we can forgive you if you don’t go to every single one.

  6. Wow, what a visual feast!
    Thanks for the thoughts on the true side of business-creative. As a musician, I encounter quite a lot of people who don’t understand that I really do need to be paid as a professional, even though I like what I’m doing.

  7. Rae – just wanted to tell you I’ve really been enjoying your post-baby posts lately – thanks for sharing your thoughts/feelings in a non-emotional take-it-or-leave-it way. Very refreshing!

    PS – any plans for another Ann Arbor sewing weekend?

  8. I feel like I hardly, hardly got to see you this go-round! So much tougher with a baby in tow. But I agree: the more often I go, the less I feel compelled to be there, at least for all of Market. I love renewing the connections I’ve made, so I still see value even if I’m not meeting new folks, and I find it super energizing to spend time with so many amazing folks who I love. But I don’t go for the whole four or five days or whatever it is, like I did the first time I attended–which is why I didn’t see you much! It is always a business decision (I very nearly didn’t go this time), and not always the wisest way to invest money, but I can’t say it isn’t insanely inspiring!

  9. oh man. Strollers on the show floor – don’t even get me started! I brought my daughter who was 10 weeks old and exclusively BF at the time to our trade show in 2012. As a vendor, I couldn’t focus on her all the time, so my mom was nice enough to come to help keep her occupied. They wouldn’t let my mom push her around in a stroller in the show, but someone was allowed to have their “therapy dog” in a cart on the floor all weekend. We didn’t come prepared with other carriers, so I constantly had to run in and out of the convention hall to nurse her because my mom couldn’t come in with her. I was so pissed!

  10. You and all the other bloggers are the pioneers in this movement of expression through sewing. You totally inspire me. I think that it is creative move away from RTW. Maybe the pay scale will change, but creativity by itself is rarely rewarded. I’ve noticed though, RTW is usually cheaper than it was–so I think that all our efforts are paying off.

    As a person who sells children’s clothing for charity at a Farmers Market I have learned to accept that there is a ceiling as to how much I earn because I am only one person!! Cotton & Steel’s collaboration may be the future business model.

  11. Here I was thinking that I was the only one disillusioned about Market…I think it is less “magical” every time I go. I don’t mean this in a complaining sort of way, I just felt disappointed that I wasn’t as crazy about it as when I first started going. I felt let down in some odd way.

  12. I love these posts because I can’t go and I love pretty pictures! It also reminds me of how there are seasons of creativity (personally) where I am looking looking looking for ideas, for inspiration, for expanding my horizons. And then there is time to sit and create and looking at other people’s creations becomes exhuasting. I’m glad you’re practical. It is refreshing and real and it helps bridge the gap between being me as a creative person and being me fitting in with the rest of my life that includes finances and time contraints (and carrying babies around.)

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