Quiltcon Diary 2018
Posted on March 09 2018
How do I even begin to describe my experience last month at Quiltcon? I can't put it off any longer hoping for the perfect time or mood or words to sum it all up, so let's just dive in.
We found out that we were selected as a vendor at the show last September. That gave me approximately six months to plan/stress/make myself sick with preparations. I had so many ideas of what I wanted our booth to look like, and it all would have been great except that we were limited to our small 10 x 10 space.
I shared a lit bit of behind the scenes work progress over the months, but honestly, signing up for this booth was a million times more involved than I should have expected. For months, I worked on everything from designing new blocks, creating marketing postcards, figuring out logistics on our new mini barn blocks, creating graphics for web and social media, organizing Instagram promotions, designing our booth, painting, wardrobe planning, housing, transportation, childcare, photography, oh, and I designed, pieced and quilted an original quilt to hang in the booth as well. And don't get me started on insurance, labor and the logistics on getting all of our product and booth materials to the convention center. (I get tired just typing all of it out.)
All of that being said, I didn't do any of it alone. Pictured above are my husband and aunt. These two went above and beyond the call of duty to make our Quiltcon a reality. My husband, who by the way, works full time and is an awesome father/son/friend built our display walls and table himself. We were lucky to be able to borrow my father-in-law's van to transport everything, so my husband drove 7 hours from Sacramento to Pasadena, set everything up, then flew home to his real job and to take care of our kids. He then flew back on Sunday to take everything down and drive the van home. I'm not sure he'd say he'd do it again, but I'm sure thankful for his many talents and willingness to go along with all of my crazy ideas. (He has a few of his own too, so don't feel bad.)
To my left is my Aunt Linda. If you came by our booth any of the four days, you probably saw her. She graciously gave up five entire days (plus so many hours leading up to the show) to help me. A fellow quilter and blog reader/Instagram follower, Linda loves all things Quiltcon (lucky for me). Not only does she love quilting and fabric and sewlebrities, she's also the aunt who started up the Outdoor Nativity Store (with my uncle) where the whole idea for our Modern Barn Blocks stemmed from.
Back to our booth, here is what we started with. A simple 10 x 10 space with light gray curtains, a table, and cement floors.
And here is our "simple" set up for Day 1. The shiplap walls were built by my husband. He also created the table as a sort of "skirt" that fit over the top of my existing Ikea sewing table. The script black "modern barn blocks" letters were created by a local laser cutting shop that I found on Etsy (CaLaserArtwork). When I met Marco to pick up our sign, he was kind enough to take me and my daughter back into his shop to show us the equipment he used. I was so impressed that I went back to him again and he created the unique metal logo sign you see on the front of our table. The chairs are a Liberty/Anthropologie collaboration and they were very popular throughout the show. The blocks we put up on day 1 were Front Porch, Sun Room and Garden View. I loved being able to do small groupings to show people how they can be hung together if you have a larger area. Many people also asked about hanging our blocks, and what we did here (just like I do at home) was simply used two large Command Strips.
Do I look cool, calm and totally prepared for the show to open? Maybe I was just smiling a bit of relief that everything was in the building and there wasn't much else I could do.
Pasadena could not have been much prettier. It was such a lovely place to walk outside the Convention Center each day.
If nothing else, I'm glad that I got to attend Quiltcon for this special moment...and to answer your question, yes, I really am that short and also yes, Suzy (Suzy Quilts) is really like 8 feet tall ;)
One thing that I've always loved is receiving stickers from my favorite quilting brands. I always thought it would be funny to have a bed as a logo with the "put a quilt on it" name, so I used the stickers as a trial run. I wasn't sure if anyone else would see the humor in it, but it was surprisingly well received and the first sticker we ran out of every day. (Do you guys love stickers too? We gave them all away at the show. Should I order more to include with orders?)
Have you all been following Karen Lee (@quiltaposy) lately? It was a treat for me to walk around the exhibition hall at Quiltcon with Karen and to see things from her perspective. It's no wonder that she has been able to design so many unique quilts herself that have now been seen in multiple Quiltcon exhibits, magazines, and books. Please visit her new pattern shop Quiltaposy and check out her brand new patterns for sale now.
Sliced Circles Quilt by Karen Lee, Quiltaposy at Quiltcon 2018
Of course the fabric everyone has obsessed with over the past few years and especially lately comes courtesy of this talented designer, Vanessa Christenson. Her ombre pattern collection is absolutely stunning and she continues to come up with innovative uses for her signature ombre colors as well as the brand new ombre confetti collection. I've followed Vanessa for what seems like forever, and after a quick Google search, it looks like it goes back at least 7 years to her Houndstooth quilt pattern!
Ombre Confetti quilts on display in the Moda booth
Phew! Are you exhausted yet? Judging by my outfit, all of this excitement happened on the first day the show opened!
Day 2 was marked with many more opportunities to talk about our blocks and to meet new quilters and professionals in the industry. I was encouraged by all of the talented and driven men and women who were making things happen in the quilt and craft world. I was humbled by a few attendees who mentioned that they followed me on Instagram and/or remembered hearing me on Pat Sloan's podcast last October. As of the time I'm writing this post, it is International Women's Day, so it seems like the perfect day to applaud and say thank you to all of my fellow female business owners, artists and dreamers.
Another intelligent, kind, talented woman that I finally got to meet in person at Quiltcon was Katie Blakesley who you probably recognize as Swim Bike Quilt and also Pattern Drop. Katie was incredibly genuine and I felt like if we lived closer to each other we could have play dates with our kids and laugh over what crazy thing the little ones said next. I was also happy to meet her partner and brother in law Mike who had some fun video tools and great advice when it comes to marketing.
Um, excuse me while I stare in awe at this photo and this memory. Allow me to give you a little backstory. On day 1 at Quiltcon I was taking a break and wandering around the convention center when who else but Anna Maria Horner happened to be in our corner of the vendor area. My aunt, bless her, calls Anna Maria over to our booth and asks if she'll take a photo. A few moments later I receive a text message showing none other than my favorite designer casually sitting in my chair with a big grin on her face. I immediately respond, "I'm coming back!!!" and practically sprint across the convention floor. Sadly, I was too late. My moment had passed...or had it?
I maybe, kind of, sort of called out Anna Maria on my Instagram stories and shared the photo with a teary faced emoji. Fast forward to day 3 at Quiltcon and, just like she said she would, Anna Maria Horner returned to my booth (while I was there) and graciously listened to me nervously blabber on about our blocks and my designs. It was a moment I won't forget, seeing my fabric idol actually looking at something I had created and listening to me. One day I hope to visit her Craft South shop and take a class to learn more about her creative process and inspiration. Quiltcon 2019 in Nashville?!?
Sadly, this was not the last time I wish I had a re-do. How is it that some people always come across so cool and confident and don't say weird things when they get nervous? Can someone please enlighten me?
Here I am with the darlings of the quilting world, Melody Miller and Rashida Coleman-Hale who of course everyone knows as two of the founding designers behind Cotton and Steel. I walked myself right over to the Cotton and Steel booth and asked for a photo, then realized 1. there was no one with me to take the photo and 2. it was really awkward that I just asked for a photo without so much as a hello, introduction, compliment, normal conversational behavior.
Gah! That was such an embarrassing moment and I felt awful about it. It was eating away at me, but luckily for me, there was still one day left at Quiltcon. I put on my bravest hat on the final day and walked myself right back over to the C&S booth. I had thought through everything I wanted to say, everything I should have said the first time and I just spit it all out to whoever would listen. These women were so kind in indulging me as I rambled once again. They will probably remember me now not for my first awkward encountered, but now my crazy, emotional, overly honest confessions on day 4. I'll blame it on sheer exhaustion, but I have to admit, it's hard to meet your idols.
Throwing my name in to the ring alongside these designers and brands that I have used and admired for my 10+ year quilting career was intimidating. Part of me still can't believe it when I see "Put a Quilt on It" listed on the same page as the biggest names in the industry. When I see the photo of myself standing in that convention center hallway, I feel like I must be looking at someone else. A few months ago, exhibiting at Quiltcon seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. I'm incredibly proud that I was able to take that first step, to not let fear get in the way of taking that giant leap.
While I haven't even taken a look back yet at some of my favorite quilts on display, I'll take a break here from blogging. It's been a wild ride leading up to and throughout the entire Quiltcon week and yet there's still so much to digest. Thanks for following along with me on this journey and for your continued support. I truly appreciate all of your comments, emails, reviews and conversations at the show.