Getting the most from the quilt show season.

Shelly Loveland
Getting the most from the quilt show season.

Work it!

Dude, these are not “all day shopping at a quilt show shoes!” If you didn't spot it at first glance, read on.You need this article more than you know!

Training starts now, girls! It’s almost quilt-show season, and time to formulate your game plan and put your personal Quiltapalooza 2008 in motion.

Compile your custom quilt show calendar.

Quick, before all your weekends fill up, consult a show schedule. Always wanted to go to one of the big nationals? Make this your year. Pick your favorites, and then commit. Jot them in your day planner, key them into your BlackBerry, or tattoo them on your forearm, whatever it takes. You can even oh-so-innocently plan a family vacation in Paducah— and spring the quilt-show itinerary on your hapless spouse and kids later. Where to find a schedule of shows? The Internet has listings galore. Try and for starters. Then let your shapely lips practice saying, “No, unfortunately, I won’t be able to play in the company softball game/host the family reunion/take care of your ferrets this year. I have other plans.” 44 Quilter’s Home January/February 2008

Use the Web to get the 411

When it comes to quilt show research, the Internet is your BFF. Driving directions, workshop descriptions, speaker bios, exhibit details—depending on the size of the show, you’ll find all this and more on the show’s Web site. Check out the list of participating vendors and visit their Web sites to get a sneak peek of exactly how you’re going to max out your MasterCard. Gina Halladay of, Cranberry Quiltworks, and Threaded Pear Studio in Yorba Linda, CA, recommends following a quilting blog a few weeks or months ahead of time to get ideas and inspiration. Says Gina: “Blogs can allow you to preview trends, colors, fabrics, and designs.” So be prepared. After all, that’s the Girl Scout motto, and any group responsible for the existence of Thin Mints has got to be onto something.

Plot your strategy

Major props if you can get your hands on an advance copy of the show booklet, either online or by requesting one via snail mail. This gem will not only give you the demonstration and lecture schedule, but also background details on quilts and collections that will be on display. “Reviewing the show booklet in advance will allow you to highlight your personal ‘mustsees,’” says four-time Dutchess Heritage Quilt Show co-chair Karen Abramson. “There is nothing more disappointing than to leave a show and realize later that a piece or collection you wanted to see or a speaker you wanted to hear was present, but you missed them.”

Take an inventory

Make a list of the things you need (or “need”). Yardages, patterns, color swatches, a fat quarter count—dig them all out. “Every show we have people who are frustrated because they left their projects at home and can’t remember the colors,” says Bob Silverman, co-owner of Woodstock Quilt Supply in Woodstock, NY. “It’s a great idea to take a swatch of the fabrics from your stash that you’ll want to work with, punch a hole through them, and put them on a key chain. It’s a handy reference to have when you’re shopping,” he says. Just don’t forget to bring it with you.

Bring someone who doesn’t quilt (see picture)

It’s always fun to go to a show with another fabric fanatic, but consider inviting a newbie. “Seeing quilts through the eyes of someone new to the craft gives you a new appreciation of it,” says Karen Abramson. “They often see things you haven’t noticed.” It’s also a great way to introduce a friend or child to the quilting world.

Plan for incompatibility

No matter who you attend with, you need to plan for the possibility that you may have incompatible show styles—and we’re not talking Target chic vs. Michael Kors designer wear. One of you may want to examine every stitch in every quilt and hit all the booths, and the other may be a raging efficiency queen who only wants to see specific quilts and vendors she’s highlighted in pink in the show booklet. Hey, it’s all good! But if you’re the speed demon, it might be wise to pack a book, your iPod, and plenty of snacks to keep the serotonin flowing while your friend meanders.

Plan to hook up with your online buddies

(Well, we don’t mean literally hook up—this isn’t that kind of magazine!) These days, some of your best quilting amigos may be people you’ve never met. If you follow a blog or are a member of an online quilting community, meeting up at a quilt show can be a great way to deepen the digital bonds. QuiltersBuzz blogger Gina Halladay has seen it happen many times, and has herself connected at shows with quilters from as far away as Australia. “You become fast friends because of this crazy relationship we have on the blog,” she says. “There’s this camaraderie amongst the whole blogging network. The interactivity is powerful.” Margaritas after the show, anyone?

Navigate vendor booths like a pro

How many times have you seen a fabric you loved, but decided you’d go back for it later because you might find something even better—and ended up doing laps around the venue trying to remember where it was? (Don’t worry; you don’t have to answer that.) Next show, pack a pen and jot it down. And because you’re getting organized, take this tip from veteran quilt show vendor Bob Silverman: “Keep your purchases from each vendor separate,” he says. “It’s impossible to remember when you get home where everything came from. This way, if you need more of something you’ll know who to contact. And keep track of the booths you love so you can visit the store at a later date.” You know you will.

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