2 weekends ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend Quilt Market up in Portland. I honestly didn’t know what to expect at all, but it turned out to be an extraordinary weekend filled with amazing fabric, quilts, clothes, food, conversation and phenomenal designers, seamstresses, quilters, artists, shop owners, and fabric enthusiasts of all kind. I feel so so blessed to have had the experiences that I did and I wanted to share a little bit about what I saw and learned.
Quilt Market itself is this huge trade show where fabric designers and distributors showcase current and soon-to-be-released fabric lines to fabric retailers. These retailers can put in wholesale orders for their shops. Quilt Market is not open to the public, but I got in with Rae under her company, Made By Rae, since she is a fabric and pattern designer and nice enough to get me in!! Seriously, this girl is a riot. Super talented and super sweet too.
I spent the whole weekend with Kristin from skirt as top and she was the most awesome host! Over the last year and a half she’s become such a good friend to me, even though we rarely get to see each other. So spending the whole weekend together was such a treat for me! Also her family is ridiculously cute and fun. She not only picked me up from and took me back to the airport, gave me a place to sleep, fed me, and drove me around the whole weekend, but she also took me to some fab fabric stores, amazing restaurants and of course, experienced Quilt Market with me. I definitely wouldn’t have been so comfortable in the company of all these huge designers, retailers, bloggers, etc. if I didn’t have a friend by my side and it is so nice to have someone to debrief with at the end of each day.
The fabulous Kristin and I in front of the Cloud9 Fabrics booth. So many fun and organic fabrics from Cloud 9, including Rae‘s first fabric line, Fanfare!
FOOD! Oh I had some good food. Clockwise from the upper left: Pine State Biscuits, Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery, Pulled Pork Sandwich but I can’t remember where it’s from (help me out Kristin!), Voodoo Doughnut!!
Kristin was also the one who introduced me to the incredible Liesl of Oliver + S. We’d “worked” together in the past helping Liesl introduce her new spring O+S patterns, and emailed briefly, but I was finally able to meet her in person and spend some time with her. And SHE IS AMAAAAAZING. So sweet, down-to-earth, hilarious and incredibly humble. I loved getting to hear some of her unique perspectives.
Did I mention she’s hilarious? I hope she doesn’t kill me for posting this pic! And on the left, Liesl, Gail of Probably Actually, me and Kristin in the wonderfully decorated Oliver + S booth!
I’m not blogging about this whole experience just to brag about how awesome it was and rub in your face how much you missed, because I know that going to Quilt Market is really not a possibility for most people. But there are a couple of really valuable things that I learned that I think that anyone can benefit from. And I thought I’d share some of those things with you . . .
1. Go meet people. You may not have access to famous fabric or pattern designers, but meeting up with other people who sew, quilt, craft, create and blog is soooo fun and inspiring. So many of us have these passions and sure, we chat with other people online all the time, but being able to meet up with and really get into it with people in real life is totally different. It’s so refreshing to be able to connect with people who share your interests and passions. And really rejuvenating as well – I bet you’ll walk away feeling inspired and excited to create and share.
I got to meet Robin of Nested in Stitches and Gail of Probably Actually – both super awesome gals. I also hit up 3 fabric stores in Portland: Bolt, Modern Domestic and Cool Cottons. I bought fabric at all three places that you’ll see in upcoming projects. The pic above is from Cool Cottons – they had every. single. color. of shot cotton!!
2. Don’t be afraid of people who are “bigger” than you. Getting to meet people like Heather Ross, Liesl Gibson and Melody Miller is, for sure, intimidating. But when you talk to them you realize that they are just people too (truly talented and awesome people, but still, just people :)). And not just that, but they are artists, putting themselves out on the line when they release new fabric lines and patterns, hoping that people will like what they do! And it turns out that so many of them love seeing what people like us, make with their art! So now I feel so much more inclined to not only support and give credit to these artists (by identifying the fabric that I use, whenever I can), but also to share with them the stuff I make so they can see how much I, and others, love their stuff. And really, the people that I’ve met have all been so sweet and seem to welcome feedback and conversation, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them if you have something you want to share with them or a question to ask! Of course, they are really busy people, but I bet you’ll hear back from most of them!
One of my favorite booths was Rashida Coleman-Hale‘s. I love her fabric and how amazing is that yukata? The current Tsuru line is awesome, but I can’t WAIT for Koi. Sooooo beautiful! I had so much fun talking with Rashida about her time in Japan. She is seriously sweet!
3. Be true to yourself and don’t lose sight of why you are creating. My last night in Portland, Kristin and I were invited to this phenomenal dinner at a new restaurant called Ración with a group of great fabric shop owners. We ended up sitting with and being part of a truly amazing conversation with Liesl & Todd of Oliver + S, Keli of Drygoods Design (online and in Seattle) and Margaret of Form and Fabric (online and in Austin). These are some seriously smart and passionate people and I just felt so lucky to have been able to witness and participate in such an honest and exciting conversation!
My other favorite booth/artist was Leah Duncan. This girl is a super talented artist and so adorable too! I first learned about Leah back when I sewed this Jump Rope dress in some of her fabric and she saw it on Pinterest and emailed me to ask if she could post a picture of it on her blog. I poked around her website and blog and LOVED her work. She does amazing work and I love the colors and really organic vibe of her illustrations. Her upcoming fabric line with Art Gallery is called Tule. Can’t wait to get my hands on some!
Anyways, one of my main takeaways from that night was to try remain authentic (this word came up so many times that night). This can mean so many things, but for me I realized that sometimes we, as bloggers, can get caught up in creating things for series, or making something we think the readers will like, or if we take sponsors – what our sponsors will like, or how to increase our readership or how much to charge for sidebar ads, or whatever – and we lose sight of why we are sewing, creating, blogging in the first place. I feel like the most awesome creations come from our hearts when we are not thinking about blogging it, but just making whatever we want or whatever we dream up. It’s good to remember that every day and also connect with, encourage and support others who are doing the same.
Briar Rose by Heather Ross for Windham Fabrics (quilt design by Rae Hoekstra!) and Nordika by Jeni Baker for Art Gallery.
I just wanted to mention also that the restaurant we went to that night, Ración, was incredible. They are new in Portland (2 months, I believe) and are just getting settled, so I feel like I should help spread the word – if you are ever in Portland and looking for a really nice place to go to – check this place out. The food was TO DIE FOR. The people were really fun and friendly. And they really took care of us and I’d love for them to be successful (and I’m quite certain they will be!), but yeah – a shout out to them!
One of the biggest surprises and highlights of Quilt Market for me was visiting the Dear Stella booth and seeing my Sunburst Picnic Blanket there! They had sewn up the picnic blanket in their Clementine line of fabric, but I had no idea that the blanket would be there at Quilt Market! It was so exciting to see something that I helped create on display!! It was such an amazing feeling!
Phew! What a weekend! Honestly, looking back at it, it feels pretty unreal. Even throughout the weekend, Kristin and I would just look at each other and be like, “did that just happen!?” But I’m so glad it all did. A huge thanks to all of the wonderful people that made my first Quilt Market experience so unforgettable.
And of course, a very special thank you to my best friend and the best life partner in the world, Hideko, who held down the fort and let me fly to Portland to have so much fun. AND she’s doing it again this weekend as I fly out of town for another amazing weekend of fun, friends and fabric. But more on that tomorrow . . . 😉