Quilt Market: My Experience (Part II)

So now that you know what I saw, and how much it cost (was that weird or helpful??) I thought I would share how I found the whole experience.

Quilt Market is pretty amazing. The people are friendlier and more welcoming than at any other conference/trade show I've ever been to. There is SO MUCH inspiration and creativity.

I went to attempt to get a fabric design contract. I got a lot of great feedback and learned so much about the industry, including the fact that the median age of quilter is 58 years old, and most people trying to break into fabric design are showing a more modern aesthetic. I was called edgy (if my students heard this they would not believe it). I did not walk away from Market with a design contract. I had a couple of art directors tell me they really liked my stuff and I should keep pushing, but I'm not too sure..

...here's my thinking. I have a (more than) full-time job that I like (most of the time), that pays well and gives me some flexibility in time (although if our new governor has his way this might change). I think the Etsy shop has run its course with me (for many reasons, if you want to know, ask). I want to be involved in this industry, and I thought fabric design would be a good fit. Maybe not.

This epiphany, and the great feedback I got on my designs was enough to make the trip worth it. Add in the AMAZING people I met, and, this trip was over the top AWESOME! It wasn't all kitty cats puking rainbows, though. In my first attempt to talk to an art director, I asked if I could make an appointment to talk about fabric design. One AD turned to another and said, "It's YOUR turn." Nice. Being told the design market is saturated with modern designers and the demand didn't warrant the supply -- that was rough. I mean, I can work harder at being a better designer, but I can't change the market. Or can I? In six years, I'll be 40 and buying modern fabric. In 16 years, I'll be 50 and buying modern fabric. Perhaps we can be forward thinking and start thinking about the market in 20 years?

My last scheduled meeting, I sat down with two art directors and said, "I scheduled this meeting to talk about being a fabric designer, but now I am not sure I WANT to be a fabric designer." They looked at my stuff and told me they liked it and I should keep pushing. We'll see.

I mentioned running in to Anna, Katy, and Brioni. I didn't get to spend enough time with these ladies!

Kathy is fabulous, and if you don't shop with her you are missing out. Did you know she has an 800 number you can call and her staff will help match fabrics and answer questions?? So helpful and she has such a great philosophy about business!

Bari J, Lizzy House, Julie, Linda, Kim, Tula, Kate and Jane were all fantastic to talk to, offered great insights and were just as open and delightful as you would hope.

I made some new friends, like Lauren, Stephanie, Heather, Melanie and Trish.

I started this blog to form connections with people who like to do the things I like to do -- I didn't have anyone in my own "live action" community to relate to in this way. I'm so happy I have lots of friends now to draw inspiration from -- virtually. The funny thing is, I traveled over 1,000 miles to meet a super talented pattern designer who lives just 30 miles away from me! WHAT?!


It was great meeting a "local" who gets why I love to sew! Yay! Go Market! And to thank you for being my friends, virtual or otherwise, I have a few giveaways. Yes, I suppose I am paying you to be my friend. Sad, but true.

Multiple prizes, one comment is one entry, one entry per person please. Just say something nice, make me smile, make me laugh, whatever. Comments before Sunday at 5:00 EST for your chance to win! GIVEAWAY CLOSED

First name drawn gets first choice, etc. Here's your choices:

1. Serendipity Studio pattern: The Priscilla Tunic

2. Sweet Ruby Designs pattern: Cooper's Cars

3. Seven fat quarter set of Little Menagerie by Melanie Hurlston of Melly and Me for Windham Fabrics

4. Sudoku Quilt kit featuring Lovely by Sandy Gervais for Moda (this is a pack of 81 charm squares with a sudoku puzzle -- when you solve the puzzle it gives you the layout for a quilt. Or you could just sew something with the 81 charms. Like I would. If I weren't giving it to you.)


(I'm thinking of ending my posts this way. It has a nice ring to it.)

PS Sorry to do a giveaway on a post with only one photo. LAME. But I am packing up projects for my quilt retreat weekend and my camera is already packed. Wait, Quilt Market and THEN quilt retreat? YES. DON'T JUDGE ME.


~Michelle~ said...

ok, my comment was getting wordy... I'll have my own blog post up this weekend...

this is somewhat random, but I keep wondering why I always seem drawn to Sandy Gervais fabrics...they're like nothing else I buy, and yet I find myself buying at least a couple charm packs every other collection, lol! The designs are pretty fun, not overly cutesy...I dunno...

julia said...

thanks for sharing your market experiences! I hope you'll soon know where your journey will lead you...
At the moment I desperately search my mind for something funny or remarkably so that you'd remember my comment when drawing the winners...but there'S nothing. Zero. Nada. I only can think how badly I want the 'Little Menagerie' fabrics (I'm worse than a child waiting for Christmas) ;o).
Anyway...thanks for so generously sharing.
Greetings from Germany,

Brenda said...

good luck on your fabric design pursuit. the average age of quilters might be 58, but there's lots of us that are younger and welcome interesting fabrics. you go, girl! good for you for asking for meetings and doing your research.

Anna Joy said...

Thank you for writing down your Market experience. I had no idea it was that cheap!
I too want to be a textile designer. I am studying graphic design right now with hopes in breaking into the fabric industry. Your experience at the market was very insightful. I know *nobody* who actually works in the textile industry so any bit of info I can get is always helpful.
Anyways, I'm stitching your Hoop Up! piece right now... :)

Mama Bear said...

Your picture and comment underneath make me think you're somewhat the "Julia Child" of Quilt Market. LOL

Looks like you had a good time and got some good feedback.

Enjoy your retreat!

AnneMarie said...

It sounds as though your Market trip was a great learning experience...It's a good thing to learn about yourself and what you really want.

Glad to hear you have friends to enjoy!

Melinda said...

I work at Tiny Stitches which is where Moda discovered the Sudoku project when Mark Dunn came to visit during our kid's camp where they were making the Sudoku quilt. We are excited about the project.

trish said...

Beth, first of all - it was so great to meet you and I can't wait for us to get together for lunch and debrief! I have so much to unload - my head is spinning!!

Second - enough with the giant talk already! You are so NOT! TOO funny!!

Third - it's a journey, friend. It's not an easy one and people find their path many different ways. For as bad as I have wanted this and dreamed of - I just kept in mind that if it's right, it's right and let fate / let God take the lead. Have faith. Be patient. Dream big.

Fourth - it may be "cheap" to attend market but girlfriend, let me tell ya what...I gotta sell a whole lot of patterns to break even! :>) LOL! But so worth it! SO FREAKIN' WORTH IT!!

We'll talk soon...it's not like you have a "real" job or anything so maybe we can meet for lunch or something soon. I know how those university jobs work!

Mimi said...

Wishing you the best and hoping yo won't experience the worst... gotta love free advice eh??? Anyhoo, the No. 3 looks interesting... thanks!

SarahB said...

I think I clicked over to your blog earlier today from Lizzy House's blog, and then re-found you again through Trish's! I really do appreciate reading the honest posts about Market. I think I would also like to design fabric but I just haven't managed to get my act together and I haven't worked up the nerve yet. The "modern fabric" dilemma is disturbing. I can't help but wonder if they didn't make more available, if they wouldn't sell more - "print it and they will come." Also, there are more smaller companies sprouting up that do feature more modern designs and that seems like something the bigger companies would notice. Something to ponder going forward.

ytsmom said...

Keep your chin up and keep working for what you want. What you think you want could morph into something really fantastic for you. You took the first step, now keep going. Lots of us are living vicariously through you!

Anonymous said...

Your posts about quilt market have been a great insight. It is good to hear about your experiences, both good and not so good. It is a tough market out there. I say keep designing fabric if that's what you like to do, maybe get some printed somewhere like spoonflower and see if it sells, that will give you a real idea of the market. If that's not your thing, think about other ways to work in the industry :-) Best of luck.

Andy said...

Thank you so much for writing about your experience at market - for those of us who still just dream of going! I've been to E3 as well, and I'm having a hard time imagining the quilt/fabric version :-)

Vickie E said...

Ah I think that your journal of quilt market is spot on. Can I say that? I'm not english. oh well.
I don't want to discourage anyone from quilt design, fabric design etc. but after 2 markets it is easy to see that there are MANY people trying to break in. Just look at the Moda Bakeshop. I was one of the first 5! Now there are 75. So I continue to find my niche. I like to give away my patterns /tutorials because well I like free patterns. Get what you give sort of mentality. Don't get me wrong, I have been given A LOT of flack for that. "why don't you sell your patterns? You're undercutting the rest of us trying to make a better life for our families." So yes, this industry is tough. At the same time, I am not a fan of giving up.
Okay I have rambled on here. Have fun at your retreat. Whether or not you just came back from market, you deserve a mommy break!

Michele said...

It was very interesting and insightful hearing of your market experiences.

FerJeniB said...

As your older sister, I have to say my thought when I saw the pic before I read the comment was "Beth looks like a giant!" Of course you've been taller than me since I was in jr. high and I have always been envious of your tall genes when I got the short ones! BUT if you weren't a giant, you would not have the FABULOUS personal style that you do and, if you were shorter, how weird would you look standing next to Charlie? I love the comment about Julia Child! If my number comes up, give my choice to them. :) Love you! J

Anonymous said...



Shannon said...

I agree with your point of looking forward with designs. I'm also a big fan of modern designs though. If pushing doesn't sound like a fun, grand adventure then it's likely not right for you but if it does then I say go for it. :) Good luck with whichever path you choose! Thanks for sharing all the photos and info!

janie said...

If you enjoy designing.....go for it! You got POSITIVE feedback by people in the know! How great is that!? AND we ALWAYS need more GREAT fabric!
Thanks for taking us along on your trip to Market. It was great! Oh and by the way, I'm from OHIO too ! (Cincinnati)
Enjoy your retreat !

Anonymous said...

I understand this more than you know. Keep doing whatever pleases you. If you enjoy designing fabric, then keep working at it. None of us has a crystal ball - not even those dudes at quilt market.

Rafael's Mum said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. It is really interesting to follow your journey! Don't get discouraged, there are always people who tell you to just go away, and some who will encourage you but to find out whether it will be for you or not, you have to walk the road yourself. Information is valuable, experience cannot be substituted! I would love to try the sudoku if I win, with the monkies second choice, but all your prizes are great! Thanks for sharing with us.

eileensideways said...

just when you think you have life's puzzles put together, someone hands you another....piece.

Beth said...

wow, Beth it is so nice to hear about your experience from the Market! I hope you do push forward with your dream of doing a fabric design, as most things you really truley care and love about take more work than it sometimes feels like it should :)
what a wonderful giveaway too, I absolutely love the Sweet Ruby designs quilt pattern! I am thinknig it would make a great new quilt for my little guy :)

Thimbleanna said...

Beth! I've LOVED your market reports -- such great insight. It was SOOO fun to meet you. Thanks for all the pictures -- it's been fun to actually see what other people see -- I'm always in such a hurry and don't get as many pictures. Thanks for the Cat in the Hat booth -- I'm obsessed with it -- I want to buy BOLTS of the fabric LOL!

susan said...

You could always scrunch down :o). Loved your posts about qm. Very insightful and I will definately not consider fabric design in my future. Thanks for doing a giveaway

Little Lady Patchwork said...

Vickie from Spun Sugar Quilts sent me over and I am glad that she did! Thanks for the market recap and the honesty about everything. So refreshing.


Angela said...

I love reading about your market experience. I really like hearing the reality of trying to make it in the quilting world. I'm astounded of all I am hearing about the lack of interest in new modern designers...seems to me that it's because of them that there are people interested in quilting in this generation! Whether or not you decide to pursue a career in fabric design, I'm super impressed with your initiative. And I LOVE that you follow the market with a quilting retreat! I think everyone should do that! I'm sure it's just what you need now.

Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you and excited that you were able to have such an amazing experience!

The WoodLand School said...

Thanks for the market low-down! I'm sure that if you just let all the new insight gel for a while you'll figure out which direction you want to go. Sounds like you got some good feedback (for the most part!) and a better idea of how the industry works -- that's a good thing. And new friends ... a very good thing!

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