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An Insider’s Look at International Quilt Market

If you are in the quilting world, chances are you’ve heard of the International Quilt Market.  It is held twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall.

Fall Quilt Market is always held in Houston (yay for me since I live here!), and the Spring Market rotates locations each year.

As of today, October 23rd, 2019, the Fall Quilt Market opens in a couple of days.  Since not everyone who is a quilter can go to Market, I thought I would share an insider’s perspective, a glance behind the curtain, if you will, into all things Quilt Market.


WHO CAN GO TO QUILT MARKET?

 


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Quilt Market is NOT open to the general public. There are a few groups of people who Quilt Market is made for.

1. Distribution companies and individuals.  These are the people who pay for and set up a booth in hopes that people will discover their product and/or have customers place orders.  This group ranges from some large and established companies to individuals.

2. Buyers. This group of people consists of quilt shop owners, online shops, or anyone who is purchasing large amounts of quilting supplies.  They are attending market to discover the next big thing in quilting, place orders, and learn.

3. Influencers.  This group is broader, and includes teachers, designers, sales and marketing representatives, book publishers, and longarm quilters.


HOW DO YOU GET IN? 

There are some credentials you have to provide to get in to quilt market.  Depending what group you fall in, the requirements are different.  From the official Quilt Market webpage, here are the requirements.

1. Distributors –

2. Buyers –

3. Influencers –  Two of the items from the list below:


WHAT IS IT LIKE AT QUILT MARKET?

Quilt Market is a LOT of fun and is totally exhausting.  It is also not what it was just a few years ago, which I will cover in the next section.

For a quilter, being at Market is like being a kid in a candy store.  Everywhere you look, you see fabrics, projects, patterns, notions, and PEOPLE.  It’s amazing to be in the same space with these designers and business owners I’ve admired from afar.  I may have had my fan-girl moments at times during Quilt Market.  I’m not proud of this. 😉

One draw-back for me is I feel like I need to be “on” the whole time.  I realize that’s just me.  But that leads to afore mentioned exhaustion.  You know when you meet a bunch of new people and you want to be your best self?  Now imagine that from sun-up to sun-down for 3 days in a row.  To say that I need a week of hibernation after market wouldn’t be too far off!  With that said, Market IS a rush.  It’s energizing, magical, and all the things.  To see so much talent and beauty all for quilters?  There are no words!

NOTE: I plan to update this with photos and hopefully a video of market after I visit this weekend.


HOW MARKET HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS

I have been going to Quilt Market since Fall 2015.  Keep that in mind when I talk about MY experience with Quilt Market.  I only have 4 years of PERSONAL experience at Quilt Market.

I do, however, hear a lot of people chat about Market who have been going for 20+ years.  So what I’m sharing comes both from my few years’ experience, plus what I have heard from others with a lot more experience.

“Quilt Market is not what it was,” I’ve heard people say.  That blew my mind!  As I said, to me it is still magical.  But even in the past couple of years I have noticed a change at Market, a shift in the feeling.  It feels smaller, less attended, and less . . . of a big deal, if I may say that.  I know some companies feel like Quilt Market may be a dying thing.  I personally hope NOT.  There is something to meeting people face to face, having human connections, and seeing a product in real life.

Quilt Market started changing when blogging boomed in the early 2000’s.  It used to be that people had no idea what new fabric lines and patterns were coming out until arriving at Quilt Market, or waiting for it to arrive at their Local Quilt Shop.  Market was a bigger deal then.

Quilt shops also had to decide at Market what to buy.  (This is still the case with some companies due to pre-orders and securing you get a certain line.)  But instead of shop owners choosing for themselves what to purchase by browsing fabric at Market, there is pressure to buy what influencers are using.  Thus we see the bloggers (I see the irony here . . . ) having a larger influence on what fabrics shop owners purchase.

There are also fabric and pattern reveals on social media before market.  Buzz about “I NEED that,” starts before Market even opens!  Influencers share what they love, and then their followers want that fabric, and that’s what shop owners are buying and selling more of.

Because of social media, blogs, and online quilt shops, it is no longer the Local Quilt Shops controlling what products we know about and have access to.  We can see a fabric online or on social media, click a few buttons, and the fabric arrives at our door the next day.  Gone are the days of only having access to fabrics by walking in a quilt shop, browsing their selection, and working with what they have.  I’m not saying I LIKE this change, but it is happening.

These changes in technology and how people shop absolutely are affecting Quilt Market.  Some companies feel like Market isn’t necessary any more.  People can do all the same things (see fabric/patterns/notions and place bulk orders) online.  Time will tell if Quilt Market will continue, get smaller and smaller, or eventually be a thing of the past.


WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT QUILT MARKET?

I would love to hear your thoughts and questions about Quilt Market.  Have you ever been?  Are there more things you want to know about it?  Do you think Quilt Market will stick around or become a thing of the past?  Leave your comments below.

 

 

2 thoughts on “An Insider’s Look at International Quilt Market”

  1. As a new (Feb 2018 was my opening) shop owner, I am hoping to be able to go in spring of 2020 as it is within driving distance for me. The change/shift does make me a little sad. I wish there were more surprises these days. Anticipation is a such a fun feeling!

  2. I would live to go to Quilt Market. I would find it interesting. The process of marketing of patterns, fabric, and other quilting related products to the buyers to bring it to the public interests me.

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