my quilt market story

i’m gonna start at the beginning. and yeeees i should probably split this into two posts but it’s been quite a while since market already, so i just want to get it out there NOW ya know?

about a year ago, Rae let me know that Quilt Market was going to be in Portland in the spring of 2013. i got super excited – and i didn’t even really know what it was! i just knew people on instagram went and all met each other and you go to see fabric. basically this is all i knew until i was actually AT quilt market. it’s actually “just a trade show,” but none like i’d ever been to before – the purpose of the show is for shop owners to preview new fabric lines and place orders to stock in their stores, but almost all of the fabric designers actually go to it, and lots of meetings are being held, and it’s a very social weekend, too.

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valori wells wish floral voile // monaluna summertime colors and elephant print! // heather ross strawberry knits

then, one day in March, i got an email from Liesl Gibson asking me if i could help set up the Oliver + S / Straight Stitch Society booth, and if they could ship things for the booth to me ahead of time, etc etc. now I’ve said before that i learned to sew from my mom when i was little, but Liesl through her Oliver + S patterns as an adult, and that her comment on my first sewing project really made me realize that the whole posting-photos-on-the-internet thing was fun. meeting her was going to be a huge thing for me. HUGE. like couldn’t believe it was really happening. and look, she’s real!

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in person, Liesl could not be nicer, or more creative, or more insightful. when i met her, she came right up to me and gave me a huge hug. it made me so happy that the gal behind one of my favorite companies is just as wonderful in person. and then Heather Ross, designer of some of my very favorite fabrics, came up to Liesl and gave HER a huge hug, and my brain exploded…just like these flowers here.

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Liesl’s husband/business partner Todd (seen below opening one of millions of paper flowers) is a perfect balance to her, also very passionate but in a more business-y way. i felt like i sort of got into market with the ideal duo – well-respected and liked, and the people to learn from and meet people through.

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the whole weekend actually kind of blew my mind. i know we’re in this geeky little subculture, sewing bloggers – and the reason blogging is so great is there are really not that many of us that live near each other but we all inspire each other and some people get to be friends even though we’ve never met. an event like quilt market brings us together in real life, and it’s awesome.

there’s also a certain “celebrity” that some of our community has (Denyse Schmidt, Amy Butler, Heather Ross, Liesl herself) and seeing all of those gals in one place was a bit surreal.

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i also got to meet many blog friends (or just gals i was a fan of), and pretty much everyone I met was just like their “online persona,” which made it fun. for instance, i didn’t get a photo of Jeni Baker but i was so thrilled to meet her and i thought she was just the cutest. i’m way excited about her new line, Nordika.

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Look at that border print on the tote bag!

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meeting people was so much more important to me than seeing the fabric, as pretty as the fabric was. i became obsessed with people’s height, since you don’t get a good sense of height on blogs!

there were quite a few people i actually didn’t feel like i knew very well from their blogs (fabric designers don’t tend to be very regular bloggers, it seems, and some blogs were just new to me) so it was neat to meet those gals in person. i’d only recently discovered April Rhodes, currently taking blogland by storm with her staple dress and she was a delight (and shorter than me)!

and here’s a photo of taller-than-me Rae and Rashida Coleman-Hale (Rashida’s booth promoting Tsuru and Koi was one of my favorites – i could’ve lived there).

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isn’t it so pretty?

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Rae was promoting her line of flannels for Cloud 9 – it’s called Fanfare and it’s ADORABLE – go see it here. she had a bunch of strike-offs in her purse and as an experiment we gave them to Em and asked her what her favorite was. she stopped dead in her tracks at the pink elephants and was ready for me to make something from it right then and there (except the sample was “too small!”). hehe.

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gratuitous photo of “buff stuff” Rae, who was a total kick to hang out with and a force of nature in that amazing Tsuru Washi dress – she got SO MUCH ATTENTION! i want to hang out more with Rae, she’s fun.

some more pretty booths, just because…

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Tule by Leah Duncan – so serene and gorgeous – love the colors.

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Charley Harper for Birch Fabrics!

Friday morning, my pal Cherie from You & Mie (who i had met a couple times before) flew in to stay with me for the weekend, and I’m so glad she did, because we could experience the whole thing together. after i picked her up from the airport and dropped O off with my sister, Cherie and I went to Market and met up with Rae (spotting Melody Miller and her cute pink hair on the way in), then met up with fellow local Gail and perused the market.

where was our first stop? Oliver + S, duh!

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after we were done at Market for the day, Gail had to take off – but Rae and Cherie and I went to Bolt and Pine State Biscuits (they both ate it all, don’t worry about them).

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they came over to my house afterwards, and i sort of proved what a small town Portland is by having them randomly meet a good portion of my family throughout the day (even ran into my inlaws while out for drinks after a party at Modern Domestic). on Saturday, we joined up with Robin for a little more fabric shopping at Cool Cottons and lunch – check out this four-girl selfie!

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i have never been so surrounded by handmade clothes, or looked up and down (in a good way) as often, as at Quilt Market. Rae said that when she wore her original washi dress to market it sort of launched the dress/pattern, and i totally believe it.

case in point – i wore washi two on sunday and got a whole bunch of compliments – i think the dress was recognized more than i was – and when Cherie and i went over to the dear stella booth (the fabric is dear stella) they got so excited!  i almost didn’t wear it because the fabric is faded from so many washings, but i’m glad i did.

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it was also cool to see Cherie’s sunburst picnic blanket rolled up (see it by my left elbow?)…of course i made her pose with it! she didn’t actually sew this one, but still…she designed it, so that’s very cool.

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this nest quilt by Carrie Bloomston of Such Designs was incredible…

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and there was real grass in heather bailey’s booth! loved that.

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on Sunday, after helping break down the Oliver + S booth, Cherie and I got to tag along to an amazing gourmet dinner at Racion with Liesl & Todd. We had amazing conversations with Kelli from drygoods (a shop I must visit the next time I’m in Seattle), and Margaret from Form and Fabric.

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i ate things i had only known about from watching Top Chef, and it was wonderful!

sometimes i felt like i didn’t really belong at Market. i’m not a shop owner, i don’t sell patterns or fabrics, i don’t feel “influential.” this isn’t my real job, it’s a hobby for me – but the people that were there are all making a real go of it as a business, and i think that’s so great.  i mean, i just make stuff that makes me happy and i blog about it, but now i feel even more responsibility to remain true to myself, honest with my readers, and open in crediting inspiration and fabric and all that. it’s so important to support each other in this, to lift each other up!

it was cool to be included in conversations about authenticity, creativity, business, fabric design, pattern making, originality, book deals, fabric lines, collaborations, future plans…it was motivating and exciting and made me want to do even more to be involved. not sure how…but somehow.

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pure elements by art gallery

and there ya have it. my small novel on Quilt Market. i’ve had so many thoughts and feelings it’s been hard to get them down. thank you so much to Liesl for letting me help out and for being such a cool gal! what a neat experience that was.

P.S. check out Cherie’s post for more of the “how it made me feel” stuff – she really hit the nail on the head with it, and said a lot of things i meant to say here…

P.P.S. OH! and i have another washi dress to show you – i made it just for Market! it’s my favorite yet and somehow i don’t have any even teaser photos of me wearing it! i’ll try to get that posted soon. 🙂

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33 thoughts on “my quilt market story

  1. Carol says:

    Oh my! What a wonderful post. Going through it will give me hours of intertainment. Thanks for sharing the excitement with us.

  2. sherriwolters says:

    thanks so much for bringing us to Quilt Market with you I can feel your exceitment you are right that there are few of us out there scatteredd around- I would love to been there with you thanks again

  3. Kelly says:

    What an amazing experience, thanks so much for sharing! I am excited to see where you go with all of this, I think there are so many different opportunities out there- it is so inspirational to see what Rae has been able to do, and others. I LOVE Portland, I think the people there are some of the nicest I have ever met 🙂 Last time we were there I went to Bolt, so awesome-but I didn’t know about Cool Cottons, I’ll have to check it out next time!

    • Kelly says:

      Oh, and I have been meaning to tell you- I think your film petit series is the funniest thing ever. When I saw you did Lebowski… I DIED. Most awesome thing I have ever seen in a sewing blog, for real 🙂

      • kristin says:

        Aw thanks Kelly!! We’ve got another film petit in the works, life has just been a bit busy lately! And I totally agree, it’s neat to see how gals approach turning their passion into legitimate business that can help their families. The trick is HOW. Let me know the next time you’re here, I’d love to meet up and go to Cool Cottons together – it’s pretty incredible.

  4. Trinh says:

    What a fun weekend!! How thrilling that you got to meet so many talented people! I’m sure we will see you attne next quilt market as one of the pparticipants:).

  5. carolyn says:

    Okay, I just need to know something. How did Portland not combust with that much sewing awesomeness in such a small area?? Seriously.
    It’s a trip to see you all in the same place.
    So glad to hear that you had such an amazing time!

  6. Melody says:

    Love the pics, I was in Portland that weekend and knew the Quilt Market was in town so I too went to Bolt and Modern Domestic, just to bond in spirit with all the sewing genius in that city that day! And- I too second what Kelly said about film petit – best idea ever! Great, great sewing and creative genius. Love from Blogland Melody

  7. Christine says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all of those details. I think my head would explode (in a good way) if I were there. I love all the pictures and you look adorable in your washi dress.

  8. Rae says:

    This is SO GREAT!! I think we shared all of the same fabric favorites. Wish I had had more time to hang out with you guys! And thank you so much for your amazing hospitality and for taking me around your town a bit (and carting my ass out for beer and ice cream…it made that evening 100% less lame, so I appreciate it. hee).

  9. Shannon C. says:

    I’ve always wondered what Quilt Market was about. I’m not a quilter so I thought it wasn’t for me. Now I get it. Thank you so much for sharing. Maybe one day Quilt Market will come to Atlanta.

  10. Rachel says:

    I really enjoyed reading this! It sounds like a fabulous time and what a great perspective! I also love the fabrics you highlighted and I can’t wait to check out those fabric lines more.
    I would have loved to been a fly on the wall during those conversations regarding authenticity. Personally, I don’t follow many sewing blogs because they so often feel like a small even cliquey group of people just promoting one another so often. It feels commercially to me. That’s been really disappointing to me as a reader and this has really changed (in the blog world) since I started blogging back in 2008. To me, it felt more authentic then.

    • kristin says:

      Omigosh it was very cool. Some of my favorite bloggers are those that find “out of the box” bloggers to highlight and have guest post, rather than using the same group over and over. Elsie Marley is a great example of that – she doesn’t care how big a blogger is – if the person makes cool stuff, she gives them love. I try to be that too…but it can be hard when you do make “friends” and like what they do…end up linking to the same people a lot.

  11. Cherie says:

    YOU WIN – cuz you’re awesome. I love your post too! And that we covered some different aspects of the experience instead of having copycat blog posts. I’m glad you’re feeling inspired and looking to be involved more (in an authentic way ;)), because I really think it’s going to happen for you. You’re already a star, but it’s just a matter of time before YOU’RE the one that hundreds of people are excited to meet at QM! 🙂

  12. Rachel says:

    Funny you should mention height… I’m super petite, so I’m sure I’d be the smallest one of all… which makes it more difficult by the way to find sewing patterns that would fit me because most of them don’t go down to size 2.
    If you added one more egg to that nest quilt, it would have been completely made for moi 😉
    I do have to agree with Rachel (stitched together) who commented above about authenticity and how disappointing it can be because at times it feels like High School again with a cliquey group of sewists promoting each other so much, it’s too commercial for me.

  13. Delia says:

    Great recap. What a life changing weekend, it sounds like. I love your take away message and hope I can do better at that as well. I just read Cheri’s post. So good. Oh man. I am jealous, but so happy you guys were able to go and have such an awesome and inspiring experience.

  14. lucinda says:

    What an amazing trip for you! Can I confess to a teeny bit of jealousy? To be able to meet all the sewing celebs . . .how fun?! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  15. Cirque Du bebe says:

    Ermygawwwwwd Kristin you lucky gal! This post was an overload of awesome. So I’ll just do a brain dump…. Love your washi. Rae has big guns. Must have been the most amazing experience meeting all these wonderful creative people in this community. So extremely happy for you and I’m totally gonna come crash one of these quilt markets. There’s no Kristin or Leisl or Rae at ours !

  16. danawillard says:

    very fun! All of it! I’m so glad you got to experience it! And really cool that you helped out with Liesl’s booth. yay!

  17. girllikethesea says:

    yarg! I’m so behind on my blog reading and got confused a bit by switching to bloglovin (curse you google for discontinuing the reader!). I loved reading this and just wistfully wish I could have been there with you!

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