Ten Things I Learned from Quilt Market (Fall 2018)

I’m back home  and recovered from Quilt Market – the semi-annual trade show for the quilting industry. It was my third time having a booth to showcase my new patterns and fabric and I thought it would be fun to share my list of top 10 things I learned this time:

1. Wear Cute Things Made from my Fabric (with fun Shoes!)

Aprons made from Abstract Garden by Christa WatsonCheck out The Easy Modern Apron on Craftsy to quickly make one of your own!

I had “sew” much fun making 4 fabric aprons to wear for each day of the show. I watched Betz White’s easy Modern Apron class on Craftsy for the pattern and instructions, and I have to say – for this girl who doesn’t sew “3-D” items, they came together very quickly!

Or course I had to pair them with my favorite Fluevog shoes which were as much of a hit as the fabric was! I had people stopping me on the show floor to take pics and I was happy to oblige as that’s part of the game in this industry – get as much social media sharing as possible so that the there’s more eyeballs on my fabric!

2. Pass Out Handouts and Promotional Giveaways

(Click the image to enlarge and select “full screen”)

In this YouTube Video (my first post!) I’ve captured a quick one minute silent tour of my booth so that you can see everything that was made from Abstract Garden. On the top shelf on the far left of the booth, I created a rack full of glossy double sided fliers that included images of each of the fabrics from the line. along with a quick listing of all of my products (patterns, books and thread). I handed these out to everyone who stopped by the booth so they had at-a-glance info on where and how to buy.

While supplies lasted, I also passed out sample fabric swatches of Abstract Garden as well as copies of my current pattern line to shop owners who seemed interested in carrying my fabric and patterns in their shops. These were a huge hit and also gave them something to take home while they wait for all of the goodies to arrive!

3. Get Extra Help

Although I pride myself on making all of my own quilts from start to finish, it was nice to have industry friends make accessories for me out of my fabric to fill out the booth. I have to give a quick shoutout to the following folks who made things for my booth in the video seen above. I’ve linked to each of their sites for more info about them and wonderful designs.

  • Colourwerx for the adorable Mod Cat Wallhanging  and super dupe cute Mod Dog pillows.  Aren’t they great??
  • Easy Peazy Quilts for TWO versions of her adorable Una-Corn activity case: one made from Fandangle and the other from Abstract Garden
  • Powered by Quilting – for the colorful jelly roll rug. You know you want to make one!!
  • May Chappell – for adodrable clutches that were a perfect hiding spot for my treats!
  • By Annie – for the perfect containers and accessories that added the perfect touch to the booth and kept me organized at the same time!
  • Quilt District for the awesome Mod Garden pillow!

4. Share My Fabric in Multiple Booths

A Star is Born by The Stitch TV Show featuring Abstract Garden

A Star is Born quilt pattern by The STitch TV Show is made from 10″ squares plus 1 coordinate.

Quilt Market is HUGE and it’s hard for everyone who attends to see all of the booths. That’s why it’s so valuable to get my name and products into as many different booths as possible. I was pleased as punch that Pam and Lynn from The Stitch TV Show were happy to feature Abstract Garden in their latest pattern release in their booth at Market. It’s called A Star is Born and is available for purchase on their website at Shop.TheStitchTVShow.com.

I also had quilts hanging in the Hobbs Batting booth (both at Quilt Market and Quilt Festival) and in the American Patchwork and Quilting booth. (“Out of the Box”  quilt made from Fandangle is patterned in the current issue is on the ladder in the upper right below.)

Out of the Box Quilt made from Fandangle
Click here to see a full shot of Out of the Box, made from Fandangle Fat Quarters + Background

5. Get Plenty of Rest – Before and After the Show!

This goes without saying, but being on your feet talking to folks for 4 days straight can be exhausting. Not to mention that early morning breakfast meetings or after hours networking dinners means I’m “on” from morning until night. Quilt market is probably the most important event I do for my business so it’s important to get my rest ahead of time as much as possible before the show. And that’s why you didn’t hear anything from me last week when I got home. It took several days to recover, unpack, and start making for plans for the next one in 6 months!

6. Don’t Over Schedule

Related to number 5, It’s tempting to want to do EVERYTHING but really, less is more when it comes to market. Although I wanted to say yes to all the things and events, I limited my time to booth prep, business networking, and allowing plenty of time to chat with shops about my fabric. I know that some folks stay on through quilt festival which was the following week, but at this point in time, that’s just too much for me. Maybe in a few years when all of the kiddos are out of the house and I can sleep for a solid week both before AND after the show, LOL!!

7. Stay in my Booth!!

Christa with Blue Bar Quilts

Getting to meet shop onwers in person, such as the gals from Blue Bar Quilts was such a treat! I’m thrilled that they ordered both fabric lines being promoted at the show (Fandangle which is in shops now and Abstract Garden which starts shipping in December).
If you are in the Wisconsin area, be sure to stop by their store and give them some love!

Probably the best lesson I learned from last quilt market was to stay in my booth so that I didn’t miss anyone who wanted to come talk to me. At Spring Market I had scheduled several demos and meetings away from my booth that took me away for a few hours each day. It’s also fun to get out and walk the show floor. However several people contacted me after last spring market saying were sorry they had missed me. Missed opportunities meant missed sales so this time around I stayed put!

If anyone wanted to meet me or chat, I invited them over to my booth so we could conduct business there. Just being present if I didn’t talk to everyone gave the impression I was serious about my products, but also approachable if someone had a question. It made for long days, but the added bonus was that my booth was hopping with people to talk to the entire time!

8. Take Notes on Business Cards

Quilt market is a flurry of activity – chatting with shopwoners and seeing how we can work together for me to provide product support for them through samples, teaching events or other collaborations. I’ve found that the easiest way to follow up after the fact is to collect their business card and add a quick note on the back such as “email them about my trunk show schedule” or “send teaching contract when I return home”.

One word of advice for anyone who passes out their card – please don’t print on black because then it’s hard to see what I wrote, LOL!!

9. Get to Know the Sales Reps

Abstract Garden at Fall Quilt Market

Meet Cindy, one of the amazing Benartex sales reps who scored one of my aprons after the trade show was over. After all, I’m happy to support the reps because they support me!!

This one is HUGELY important! Although social media and the internet make it super easy for quilt shops and customers to easily find me and connect with me directly, quilting is still built on relationships. The relationship I have with my fabric company, and the relationships that the sales reps have with their customers can make or break the success of a fabric line. Benartex is so smart to recongize these relationships and they encourage us getting to know each other by giving the designers an opportunity to present our lines to the sale reps in our own words, the day before the show opens.

Then on the first night of the show at closing, they host a small private company dinner where we can get to know them a bit better on a personal scale. Now that I’ve been doing this for 3 quilt markets in a row, I feel like I’m building a great relationship with both the shops and the sales reps. In other words, they realize as a designer, I’m here to stay rather than being just a flash in the pan, or a one hit wonder.

10. Support my Fellow Benartex Designers

Bill Kerr of Modern Quilt Studio

Bill Kerr along with his wife Weeks Ringle make up the dynamic duo of Modern Quilt Studio

One of the highlights of attending quilt market with fellow Benartex/Kanvas/Contempo designers is getting to know them and their work on a more personal level. Jason and I sat at dinner with Bill Kerr while he shared fun stories of his worldwide travel and design inspirations.

We also got to celebrate Eleanor Burns‘ 40th anniversary of Quilt in a Day, see the beautiful quilts of Ann Lauer, Cherry Guidry, Amanda Murphy (among others), and congratulate pioneers such as Paula Nadelstern and Nancy Halvorsen on their decades-long success in the industry.

Although I didn’t get a chance to snap many photos of the other designers’ booth, Benartex created a virtual tour of all of their booths over on their blog – check out the links below:

Christa Watson and Cherry Guidry at Fall Quilt Market for Benartex Contempo

Cherry Guidry was my booth-mate at the show and though our styles are completely different, we are both passionate about our love for fabric and fun projects to make from them!

Where to Buy Abstract Garden + Patterns

Once the fabric has shipped (starting in December) I’ll update my Where to Buy page with a list of shops who carry my fabric!

9 thoughts on “Ten Things I Learned from Quilt Market (Fall 2018)

  1. Patti Baymiller says:

    Love your business approach to quilting!
    Abstract Garden is a great line and I wish you much success with it.
    Have to wonder how many people have visited or purchased from Fluevog after they saw your shoes in action at an on-your-feet-all-day event??? You’ve been a great ambassador for them…

  2. Nancy Myers says:

    Great tips. While I don’t attend market, I think taking notes on business cards is a great idea for any of us attending a show so we can remember what we saw or wanted from a specific shop.

  3. Hedy Hahn says:

    I really enjoyed reading about your experience at Quilt Market. If your feet hurt, please buy compression socks. My son started working at Amazon, losing 30 lbs in 3 months from all the walking, and has said compression socks saved his life. I’m so happy that you decided to change your direction several years ago and get into the quilt world big time. Your logo change gave you extra energy I think, it’s absolutely darling.

  4. Joey says:

    Don’t forget to soak your feet in the best Epson salt by Dr Teal. I enjoy the Revitalize & Refresh. Really helps when you have been on your feet all day. I remember getting on a plane home from Market with all sorts of goodies including 4 packages of Hobbs batting. That was before all the security checks that occur now a days.

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