On Tuesday July 20, I set off from home for the airport to pick up TFQ before heading south for a quilt adventure along the coast. We were headed to Long Beach for the big quilt festival there put on by Quilts Inc.
We were both excited. Fresh off the blogs from Spring Quilt Market, I was ready to see new things, especially some of the new fabrics coming out in the summer and different patterns and tools. With Quilts Inc being the organizer of Quilt Market, I was sure there would be a lot of new products! I was also ready for some inspiration and new quilt shops.
Our first stop was Hart’s Fabrics in Santa Cruz. I have been there at least twice since the beginning of the year and not much had changed since then. Still I was able to see through the normal things that get my attention such as dots, aqua and cherry red for fabrics that hadn’t seen before.
One theme throughout the trip was how I need to spend some time buying work clothes and how much I dislike shopping. I saw some great purple fabric at Hart’s (above – top right-ish/middle) that would make a great skirt. Anna Maria Horner’s Multi-tasker tote pattern was so well written that I thought, perhaps, her Study Hall skirt pattern would be as well and I could make that out of the purple fabric. This is such a huge leap for me. Keep your fingers crossed on that! I also bought some fabric to make gifts, but you’ll have to wait for the gift posts for more details.
I really wanted to see the Bella Bag pattern from Fig Tree Quilts. I saw a glimpse of it in the most recent Quilt Sampler magazine. I wanted to see the bag made up so I could touch it and look at the pockets. I never saw any Fig Tree quilts patterns at the show and only a few of their patterns at one of the quilt shops. I guess it was a good thing I bought the Heather Bailey bag pattern in order to hedge my bets.
Next stop: Back Porch Quilts. I have written a lot about that shop as I visit at least once a year. I recently visited during my trip to the Monterey Quilt Show. The shop, as I am sure I have said is light and airy. They always have new fabric.
I decided that I was being an idiot about the price of the Little Wallet by Valori Wells. Both Terri and Maureen have recommended it highly and I respect their work, so I decided to get it. I think it will make great gifts.
The blue fireworks fabric will be a bag. I will use the fuschias together in…something. The coffee fabric may end up as pillowcases and the red is one of those embossed fabrics that have a great hand. The store was in a bit of disarray and didn’t look like they had as much fabric as usual. They also did not have the Little Wallet pattern. We had dinner at a Thai place and spent the night in Monterey surfing the Internet and watching TV.
The kitchen appliance fabrics will be napkins.
The next day as a long drive to Santa Barbara through the Central Coast. We stopped in Paso Robles at Birch Fabrics. That was a great experience and I will write about it later in the week, because the service, space and friendliness deserves it’s own post. I bought great fabrics there (above).
I have started not to sleep well in hotels and kept waking up with a backache during this trip. I was very glad to get back to my Pilates class this past week.
We stayed overnight in Santa Barbara. We ate at a great restaurant called Bay Roadhouse (or something). The food was good and the waiter was cute and helpful. S.B. started our hotel problems. The hotel in Santa Barbara did not have a room for us and had to ‘upgrade’ us. Sadly the upgrade did not include two beds and the room was really loud. Even with earplugs, I woke up several times during the night. The hotel in Long Beach overbooked (for the second year in a row) and also didn’t have the a room with two beds. In my opinion, overbooking a certain kind of room one year is bad, but doing it a second year exhibits corporate greed, pure and simple.
The show was in a large space. The quilts were really well displayed. We could see them really well, but the lighting made it hard to photograph some of them.
The second quilt (turquoise with red, above) was a very powerful quilt by Judy Coates Perez. We stood and looked at it for a long time. I found an image of it and an article about it on her blog, so go and look at it. People were not allowed to take pictures of quilts in that exhibit. They had books available and I would have gladly bought one, but the photography in the books wasn’t that good. I got around the ban, because the above photo is an overview photo.
There was a wonderful exhibit of antique quilts. Quilts Inc. apparently has a wonderful collection of antique quilts. I was really glad they shared them with us. We really enjoyed the variety. One thing we noticed is that the variations (imperfections?) in the quilts made them more interesting. In that way they were very different from quilts of today that try to be perfect.
The quilts were large, in many cases.
This was one of the most beautiful antique quilts I have ever seen. For a silk quilt, it was in the most amazing condition. It was called a Courthouse Steps quilt, which surprised me, because I always thought that a Courthouse Steps log cabin variation had three squares in the middle of the block. We saw a few other oddities in the documentation of the antique quilts.
See the stanchion? They were another problem with photographing the quilts.
We usually use the preview time to photograph the quilts since the preview night is usually much less crowded than other times during shows. We went through and photographed most of the quilts in about 1.5 hours. We were shocked! There were no quilts from individual quiltmakers, only special exhibits. The special exhibits were great, but I did miss the individual quilts.
The above photo shows all the stuff we bought at the show. We had lists and were prepared to purchase from vendors at the show. The amount of available merchandise was pathetic. PIQF has better vendors. I was really glad for the selection at Birch Fabrics, because I was very disappointed in the offerings at the show. It was really hard to spend money there. There was not enough fabric. Almost everything was in kits or fabric packs and the vendors refused to break up the packs/kits if we wanted a single piece of fabric. As you can see, I did not find the Bella Bag pattern. It seemed that the vendors brought all of the old stuff they wanted to get rid of, with a few exceptions. TFQ found a great selection of Aurifil at Jeff’s Custom Woodworking (great sewing, cutting and ironing tables and cabinets!). American Jane/Sandy Klopp was wonderful. Her patterns are intricate and engaging. We saw Lorraine Torrence, who had a large booth filled with her patterns, jackets and a variety of clothing suitable fabrics. We had a great conversation with her.
All in all, I was pretty disappointed in the Long Beach Show. I expected a lot more. Again, it seemed like a show of corporate greed. I wouldn’t go back and think that shows are starting to be a place where you pay to shop. I can easily shop online without a fee, so why should I go to a show if I am not going to take classes and don’t get to see a lot of quilts or new products?
If I were organizing a show I would vet the vendors carefully and make sure they brought their best merchandise. I realize that this would make vendors less likely to come, but poor quality merchandise also reflects badly on the organizer of the show so everyone has an interest in keeping show goers happy. I think that fabric manufacturers should be there to, at least, talk to customers, do make and takes or something.
We decided to visit some shops on the way back. First up was Cotton & Chocolate Quilt Company in Thousand Oaks. They were at the quilt show. I don’t remember much about their booth except they had the ubiquitous kits and fabric packs. Their shop had a lot of great fabric that was new and fun.
We also stopped at Quilter’s Studio. They had one of the best selections of dots I have ever seen. Their booth at the show was great. The people at the booth were enthusiastic and glad to see us. One of the husbands of the owner was manning the shop and it was fun to chat with him. My enthusiasm was waning a bit for fabric shopping at this point.
The next day we went to the Cotton Ball in Morro Bay and went back to Birch Fabrics in Paso Robles. I thought it would be nice to go to a beach town and was interested in seeing a celebrity shop. I thought the prices were high at the Cotton Ball (over $11/yard) and I didn’t buy much. I was glad to see Rob Appell’s wildlife patterns made up. They do not look photo realistic, which I appreciate.
I was glad to get back to Birch Fabrics. Birch was a much needed breath of fresh air. I needed to talk to some nice people and see some gorgeous fabric in a friendly space. We met Andrea, another of Cynthia’s staff and spent another pleasant hour chatting about fabric, looking at her new stuff and filling in the gaps on what we had purchased during our previous stop.
In Monterey, we went back to Back Porch and I was able to buy the Little Wallet pattern. They had some new fabrics, too.
All in all it was a great trip. After the first day of looking at fabric, I really wanted to sew. I came home and started working on projects. There wasn’t enough time for me to accomplish all I wanted to and tomorrow it is back to the grind. I want to find the right pattern for some of the fabrics I bought and get started on those projects.