Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Houston Quilt Market 2008

Well, we made it back from Houston last night. We had a good time- I gave a 30 minute speech during a program they call "Schoolhouse". During schoolhouse they have about 20 rooms with rotating speakers, from 10am to 6pm there are 15 sessions- some 30 min. some 15 min.-with new presentations in each room for each session (occasionally a speaker will get 2 sessions, but not often) so basically you're in competition with the speakers in the other rooms during your session to try and have as many listeners as possible (the more that listen the more that will go back and teach your stuff in their hometown!) Sometimes you are also competing against your time slot- I was in session 14 almost the end of the program when a lot of people are tired and leaving early, and the lunch time sessions are even rougher because there is no break when everyone stops, you just have to miss a session if you want to eat lunch. I was quite excited that around 60 people showed up to hear about our book, last year when I did this we had about 40 people (and I even had a better time slot then) so it's nice to know there's still a lot of interest.
I also taught a take & teach class. The take & teach program is a 1.5 hour class that is meant to offer people a hands on experience of new techniques/books/tools so they can go back to their local stores and teach it themselves and hopefully bring a sample home with them to help them remember the process or even to use as their sample for the class. An hour and a half is not a lot of time to make anything so you almost always have to miniaturize your project, and at quilt market almost everyone has traveled quite a ways to attend and there is no way to provide a supply list to them in advance so as a teacher you have to provide everything: You have to arrange things in advance with a sewing machine company if your students need machines in class, you have to provide all fabric, thread and batting, I don't even like to assume that students are bringing their own rotary cutters or rulers because I've been to so many where people forgot them. So we scrounged up every rotary cutter, cutting mat and ruler we had, my mom provided all the fabric and batting and did all the work of pre-cutting them, the generous people at Sulky provided beautiful thread for the decorative stitching and Bernina not only provided sewing machines and accessories they also had two wonderful helpers in the classroom with us to answer any questions about the machines. (below is a pic of our fantastic educators from Bernina)

The students made a small wall hanging out of 4 squares that were 8"x10" each and we were quite impressed at how quickly the students worked and how much they accomplished in such a short time. It was a full class (registration is limited to 25 in these classes) I even heard from someone that they had tried to sign up for our class when they sent in their registration and were turned away because it was already full. We were kind of shocked by that- I was planning on trying to create more interest in the class during my schoolhouse lecture to get some last minute sign ups but that turned out to be unnecessary so we just left it out. But the best part about the full class is that it really supports us in asking to come back and do it again next year! (below is a picture of our hard working students)

Our last engagement while we were down there was a 1hr. demo at the Krause booth. They gave away about 12 books and we explained the highlights of the book to anyone who was walking by and would stop long enough to listen. (below is a pic of our demo- it's kinda like "Where's Waldo?"- can you see my head in the middle?)

We also finally made it to Krause's author's breakfast (an event they hold every Quilt Market but we haven't been able to attend before) and even got to sit at the same table as Nancy Zieman (of Nancy's Notions). We met Joanie Zeier Poole who does phenomenal heirloom quilting and Maggie Ball who has a new book out on how to make a bargello quilt with blocks!

Maybe I should back this up a little bit and explain what quilt market is for those who don't already know. Quilt Market is a trade show for people in the quilting industry. They hold it twice a year: the fall show is always in Houston TX and the spring show alternates between other cities (Portland OR earlier this year, Pittsburgh next year) This show is not open to the general public, you either need to be registered with one of the vendors or as a buyer. To register as a buyer you have to send in your credentials (they require a business license, a business card, and an invoice that you've spent at least $300 with a quilting distributor if I remember right) sooo- how do you attend if you don't work for a vendor and you're not a quilt shop owner? Well, if you teach at a quilt shop you could attend with the people that work there or if no one is going ask the shop owner if they would send in their credentials and let them know you would pay all fees, or I believe you can get in for 1 year if you say you are planning on opening a quilt shop in the near future (there may be more info you need to provide for that one, but I'm not sure).
What happens at quilt market?
Day #1: there is usually a tour of the quilt shops in the area (I have never attended this event)

Day #2: the schedule for the schoolhouse is released around 9:30am and schoolhouse goes from 10am-6pm (getting the schedule as soon as it comes out is a good strategy when you are there with several people so that you can make sure that someone is in all the most interesting lectures each session and you can all learn different things and report beack to the others at the end of the day- what they should look into and what they shouldn't waste their time on) there is usually a lecture or two offered from 6-8pm but signing up for that is a rookie mistake because this is the night for sample spree which starts at 8pm but the line starts forming at 6pm. Sample spree is a large ballroom with tables set up for select vendors to sell their products at wholesale prices with no minimum purchase and you take your purchase with you when you buy. Basically the room is filled mostly with fabric companies selling packs of fat quarters, but there are a few tables for patterns and books and threads. Why would you want to buy here instead of in your quilt shop? A lot of the fat quarter packs are of fabrics that haven't even arrived in the shops yet, so you could take some home with you and have a sample already made up when the fabric arrives in the store. Or if you're a fabric hoarder (like myself) it's a great way to bulk up your stash for half the price. Whatever your plans are this is THE place to be at market- the biggest crowd at the whole show. People usually start straggling out after 9pm and if you didn't happen to register early enough to get into sample spree (because this sells out in advance every year) you can wait and pay at the door- once people start coming out they start letting other people in.

Days #3,4 &5: Take & Teach classes are offered from 8-9:30am (if you have a free morning you can check the board next to registration to see what classes still have room available and sign up then) 9am-6pm Market floor is open. The floor usually has 20-30 aisles that go across the convention center and is filled with every quilting distributor, fabric company, thread company, batting company and quilting book publisher along with newcomers every year-new pattern makers, new tools, self published books- this is where you find great products that you might not have heard of otherwise. You can place orders here but most everything will be shipped to you, and most places have a minimum order they require. On one of the evenings Bernina does a fashion show, but I don't hink it's the same each year, and on another night Moda throws an invitation only dinner so if you can snag an invite to that make sure to attend.

By the end of all of that you're completely exhausted and ready to go home (even if it is only 10 degrees outside!)


Laura said...

So I take it you might be going back next year? :) Sounds like you had a successful schoolhouse and Take & Teach. I knew you would do well!

tessahjake said...

I need to keep my ears open about this next year - Houston is right up the road from me here in palmer :)