Lessons Learned from Quilt Market

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.

photo 32Beautiful quilts.  Clockwise from upper left: Pure Elements, Birch Fabrics, The Nest Quilt by Carrie of SUCH Designs, and Waterfall with Lotta Jandsdotter’s Glimma Line

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.
photo 26
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.
photo 21The 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! 

photo 34
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.
photo 27
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.
photo 29
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!
photo 28
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!
photo 30
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.
photo 31
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!
photo 25
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!
photo 20
Quilt sewn by Becca Jubie from my Sunburst Picnic Blanket tutorial using Clementine by Dear Stella.
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 . . . 😉

32 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from Quilt Market

  1. oh cherie, thanks for sharing all of this! so great to read about your experiences and see all the photos. i’m so glad you had such a grounding, fulfilling, positive experience. it’s always nice to be reminded of why we do what we do!

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  3. oh, you win! this is the post i wanted to write, but i just had so much to say it was hard to get all philosophical too. very well-written. thanks so much for buying that plane ticket and being so awesome, i loved having you be a part of the whole experience!! 😀

    (the restaurant was Russell Street BBQ)

    • Haha – win!? I loved your post too! It was really hard to write – I worked on it for at least 2 days. Thanks so much for having me! It was such a blast!

  4. I so enjoyed reading every word you wrote. I will probably never be able to go to Quilt Market but I was able to experience it through your post. You have such an inspiring blog and I am very happy for you that you were able to go. It is funny to hear you go on about Heather Ross or other designers. I think if I were to meet you in person, I would think it would be like you meeting them. Does that make sense? You have such a great blog and make such beautiful items.

  5. HOLY CRAP this is such a good post. I love how you summed up so many good and true things here. It was SO GREAT hanging out with you again!!! Hope we meet up again soon girl!!!


    • RAE! It was sooo much fun hanging out with you too. I’m so glad that I had the chance to meet up with you TWICE in the last few months! Now I’m sad thinking that I won’t be able to see you again for a long time. But keep on doing your thang, girl – you rock!!

  6. love your take on market. I went 3 years ago (I think) and was like a deer in headlights. I just wanted to meet a few blogging friends and the fact that it was so close to my home. Anyway. I agree with what you said. I’m very much one of those people who is easily intimidated by people that are ‘bigger’ than me. Even in college my swim coach whom I had know since I was 12 was so intimidating to me! And I love the being true to yourself part. I really want to feel that my blog is an accurate projection of me, but I think it can be hard. It’s easy to get sucked into everything (even though it’s fun!). And the whole part about advertising and doing blog series stuff is quite interesting to me. I love talking about that kind of stuff, there are just so many opinions on it. 🙂 And don’t get me started on how cool Leah Duncan is, I was so excited to hear about her line with Art Gallery.

    • Oh Anna – I feel like your blog is so authentic and I really look up to you for that! Of course, I don’t know how you feel about it – but I really appreciate your honest voice amongst some of the distractions you can find out there. And I’m so glad to meet another Leah Duncan fan! Can’t wait to see what you do with some of her new fabric 🙂

  7. Wow! This sounds like it was an amazing trip…and I love your little takeaways. I could look at everyone’s pictures forever. I love looking for the small little details in each of the booths.

  8. So glad I got to read this Cherie! And it makes me extra sad that I ended up missing out on hanging with you, because you are awesome. The blogging thing has been really hard for me lately because I’m much more interested in sewing things right now than sharing them. Seems like I don’t even blog half the things I make anymore. But this is a good reminder that there is value in sharing those things too. It’s a hard balance for me, I always feel like I’m either too caught up in the “events” or just ready to quit altogether. Anyway, I’m rambling now. If only we could have rambled in person late at night 😦 You couldn’t just fly up there again in a couple weeks could you?! Oh and that’s SO fun that you randomly spotted your picnic quilt there!!

    • Oh my goodness, we missed you too!! Blogging IS hard – so hard! Especially when sewing is just so much more fun! 🙂 But yes, there is value in sharing things – as long as you’re not forcing yourself to do it or hating it – I love to see what you’re doing and I love hearing your voice and personality come through on your blog – it’s how I “got to know you” in the first place! So yeah – at your own pace, of course, but don’t give up cuz I’d miss you too much and the blog world would be less exciting without you!

  9. I loved reading this….every word. Of course I wish I could have gone!!!! What a mind blowing experience. 🙂 …and thanks for the reminder. I need/needed/always need that. 🙂

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  11. Just catching up on my blog reading….which I clearly should have done before! I didn’t know you were also at Market. I probably walked right past you, and sorry I didn’t get to meet you!
    Isn’t the food in Portland Ah-mazing!?!?! I go there at least twice a year just to eat and wander and look around!
    Oh well, maybe I’ll meet you next time!

    • Oh, too bad! I probably won’t be able to attend anymore fun events for awhile with a new baby on it’s way, but next time we should definitely try to meet. Did you have fun? I love Portland!!

  12. Really super wrapup! What you say about getting out and meeting people is so true! I think everyone, in every position always feels the same way…Will they like me? This was such a good article that I’m totally stalking you down the next Quilt Market you attend!

    • Umm . . . stalking ME down!? Yes please! I’d love to meet you, Sarah! I had to make sure it was really you who left this comment. I loooove your Indian Summer line. So were you there at QM? Well, if there is any question in your mind about it, let me just say yes, WE LIKE YOU 🙂 Keep up the amazing work and I really do hope we get a chance to meet sometime 🙂

  13. Cherie – love this and can’t tell you how great it was to meet you and Kristin as well as have some serendipitous time with you. When I think of foam and amusing bouches, I will think if you ladies:). And wicked awesome shoulder seams! xo, Keli p.s. I think you are a wonderful example of the authenticity we discussed.

  14. Thank you for writing your blog. I’m so inspired by what you write, not only the patterns and projects you post but also by how you write about your life. It is easy to feel isolated and your blog helps me to feel connected and inspired. Thanks!

  15. Starting a new store and loved reading your blog… Thanks. Besides the great inspiration and seeing the new trends, which are great, what other advantages do you see in attending quilt market? Do you save anything in ordering there? I would think it could be overwhelming to try to choose on the spot and may not be worth it to me unless I knew it was saving money to do it then. I attended Houston show last year and they cut costs if you purchased a long arm then, so wondered if it was the same. Thanks.

    • Hi Linda. Honestly, I can’t answer your questions at all because I didn’t go as a fabric retailer, I just went as a fabric enthusiast and blogger. So I didn’t buy any fabrics, just admired the new lines and met amazing people. Sorry! You’d have more luck talking to someone who has a shop as well. Good luck!

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