Super Tote Pattern Mod: Convertible Backpack Tote

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

When it comes to handbags, I'm like an old lady with her orthopedic shoes. Comfort reigns supreme. I have an irrational fear of going on a day trip and being saddled with a bag that has the properties of a futon: starts out comfy and slowly turns into a painful nightmare.

Crossbody handbags are my go-to style because I like being able to keep my hands free, but they're only comfortable up to a certain weight or time duration. For heavier loads and longer outings, I usually carry a backpack style bag. So, why not both?

With the wheels now turning in my head, I started making sketches for a convertible crossbody/backpack design. As I sat down to work out the measurements and pattern pieces, I stopped. It looked kinda familiar. Kinda like...Noodlehead's Super Tote!

I realized that the body of the tote would be a perfect starting point. So I scraped my sketch in favor of a few simple modifications.

First change was the interfacings/stabilizers. Instead of Noodlehead's combination of Pellon SF101 and Craft Fuse 808 (or canvas), I used the Craft Fuse 808 with Annie's Soft & Stable. I learned about this material from Sew Sweetness and Tula Pink at Quilt Market and ordered it on Amazon. For the front pocket, I skipped the S&S, but did fully line the interior.

Instead of quilting cotton, I used Echino cotton/linen blend canvas for the bag exterior, which gives some additional structure. I pieced the front pocket using a combination of cotton/linen canvas scraps and regular quilting cotton. I can't resist scrappy bags!

And now for the big changes! I left off the tote bag handles in favor of a detachable, adjustable strap. Using my Fossil bag as a model, I added an O-ring to the bottom of the bag which allows the bag to convert to a backpack. To give it a more backpack-like appearance, I also added a flap with a snap closure.

For the strap, I just reused the strap from my old Fossil bag (mainly because Ho-Ann's doesn't carry the right size hardware). If you don't have a long adjustable, detachable strap, making one is actually very easy.

These changes give the bag such a dramatically different look with surprising little hassle.

You will need all of the materials outlined in the Super Tote Pattern

-Fabric for handles
-One of the interfacing options (use 808 for a stiffer bag or SF101 for a more flexible one)

  • Additional .5 yard of chosen interfacing
  • 1 Yard - Annie's Soft and Stable. (I had LOTS leftover, but I think 
  • 2 - 12.5" wide x 10.5" tall pieces of fabric for flap exterior and interior
  • 1 - Heavy duty snap (I used size 24 Dritz snaps)
  • 1/3 Yard - 1" wide cotton webbing for short handle
  • 1 - 12" x 3.5" piece of fabric for short handle
  • 2 - 1.25" wide D-rings
  • 1 - Large O-ring that your swivel claps can pass through
  • 1 - 5" x 10" piece of linen, home dec, or canvas fabric for D/O ring loops
If you are making your own adjustable, detachable strap:
  • 2 Yards - 1.25" wide cotton webbing for long strap
  • 1 - 1.25" wide slide buckle (width should accommodate your webbing)
  • 2 - Swivel claps with 1.25" eyes
Cut all your pattern pieces out of your fabric. Cut duplicates of all the exterior pieces from your interfacing and S&S. I skipped the S&S on the exterior front pocket.

For the D-ring and O-ring loops, cut a 5" x 10" piece of fabric. Fold the piece in half vertically, then fold both edges in to meet the center. Press. Stitch a few rows of topstitching, then cut into two 3" tall pieces and one 4" piece.

Thread the loops through the rings, folding the loop in half, and stitch a narrow rectangle to keep them in place as illustrated below.

To make the flap, I cut two pieces of fabric measuring 12.5" wide x 10.5" tall. I used Echino for the exterior and more of the brown linen for the interior. I fused the 808 to both pieces and sandwiched a layer of S&S between them. I marked a corner radius with a water soluble pen by tracing around a roll of washi tape.

With RST, stitch around the sides and bottom of the flap with a .5" seam, and clip the corners with scissors. Flip the flap right side out and press that baby flat! Topstitch around the edges of the flap and baste the open end shut.

With right side up, align your D-ring pieces on the flap as pictured above and baste in place.

To make the handle, cover a 12" piece of 1" wide cotton webbing with fabric. I added four rows of topstitching for strength.

Mark the center of your exterior back piece on both the top and bottom edge. Mark 1.25" from the center on either side along the top edge. This is where you will position your handle. Baste the handle in place. Center the O-ring piece along the bottom edge and baste in place as well.

Lay your exterior back piece on your work surface, right side up. Place your flap on top, exterior side down. Center the flap and align the raw edges of the two pieces. Baste in place.

Assemble the shell of your bag according to Noodlehead's original instructions, taking care to tuck your O-ring loop inside as you stitch the gusset to the back.

Assemble your lining with the recessed zipper. The original pattern says to leave a 3-4" hole in the bottom of your lining to turn your bag. Due to the added bulk of the S&S and the flap, you'll want to make that gap a lot bigger. I left the majority of the bottom unsewn on one side.

Now it's time to assemble the finished bag. Stick the finished shell inside your lining as described in the original pattern. Make sure your flap is tucked down within the lining as well before stitching around the top of the bag. Once you've finished that, turn the bag right side out. Tuck the lining into the shell and press well. Topstitch around the top of the bag, continuing just below the seam that connects the flap to the body.

Position your snap as desired and install the male piece to to the flap and the female piece to the front exterior pocket. I used the kind that you install with a hammer and setting tool. Tip: do the hammer whacking on the floor (put down a piece of cardboard to protect your floor first). It'll make the process much easier and quieter.

If you are making your own detachable strap, follow this tutorial. You'll want the maximum length to be longer than a typical strap because you need it to form two backpack straps. My finished strap measures 54" long (not including the hardware) when fully extended. Remember to cut your strap longer than the desired finished length to account for the folded portions.

And that's that! It sounds like a lot of information, but it's really just adding a few loops and a flap.

Studio Ghibli Swap Info & Sign Ups

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

You guys gave a really positive response to my feelers for a Studio Ghibli Swap, so it's happening! 

Sign ups open on Jan. 5th at 10am central time. I will post a link to the online sign up questionnaire the day before, but it will not accept responses until Jan. 5 @ 10am.

If you are new to swaps, I suggest reading Karri's spot-on blog post about how to be a good swapper. 

#StudioGhibliSwap Details

  • This swap is limited to 60 swappers to ensure it runs smoothly.
  • This swap is open to international swappers! Please note that due to the limited number of participants, you may be asked to ship internationally. 
  • You must have a PUBLIC Instagram account for this swap. If your account is normally private, you can either make it public for the duration of the swap (until you and your partner have received your packages), or make a public swap account. Private accounts will be dropped from the swap.
  • You can choice to make and receive sewn/quilted, embroidered, or knitted/crocheted items.

#StudioGhibliSwap Rules

  1. All projects must relate to a Studio Ghibli feature film. For a full list of Studio Ghibli films, check out this list (although Nausica√§ of the Valley of the Wind is not technical a SG film, we'll allow it for this swap).
  2. This is a secret swap! Don't tell your partner you are making for them. 
  3. This is not a direct swap. You won't be receiving from the person you are making for.
  4. You must have a public Instagram account for the duration of the swap.
  5. You will be required to post photos with the #StudioGhibliSwap hashtag by three different deadlines (see timeline below) reporting your progress. Failure to meet deadlines may result in being dropped from the swap.
  6. Use quality materials for your project.  
  7. Don't be stingy with your crafty skills. Don't make a plain tennis ball-sized amigurumi and expect to get a fancy mini quilt in return. Dedicate a good amount of time to make a quality project for your partner.
  8. Take your partner's questionnaire responses seriously and make them something you think they would truly enjoy, not just what you like personally.
  9. Posting inspiration collages and other related info is encouraged! The more your partner knows, the better chance you have of getting something you like.
  10. Be on time! Shipping deadlines are set in stone, so you should plan accordingly. Don't wait until the last minute because crap does happen! If something comes up, let your swap mama know ASAP.
  11. Be ready to provide a tracking number for your package. All packages should be trackable.
  12. Post a photo of the package your receive and be sure to thank your partner.

#StudioGhibliSwap Timeline

Jan. 5 - Sign ups open at 10am central time

Jan 9 - Sign up close at 3pm central time

Jan 12 - Partner information will be sent

Jan 26 - #StudioGhibliSwap post deadline #1. You should posted a photo showing your progress. At minimum, materials and design should be selected. As an example, you could post a photo showing what fabric you will be using and a sketch of your pattern.

Feb 23 - #StudioGhibliSwap post deadline #2. You should have posted a photo showing your progress.You should have started your project and be making headway.

March 16 - #StudioGhibliSwap post deadline #3. Your main project should be complete (or be getting the final touches)! You should have posted a photo of your project. If you are ready to ship, you can start shipping now.

March 18 - International swapper shipping deadline.

March 25 - Domestic swapper shipping deadline.

My (Modified) Acorn Trail Cargo Duffle

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I've really been thrown off my blogging game. I was in a crazy project crunch in the week leading up to Quilt Market, then I got swept up in all the fun. Next week was Quilt Festival, then I had to finish our Ren Fest costumes before I could move on to my list of handmade Xmas presents. Excuse my while I collapse on the floor in a dramatic fashion.

Let's backtrack to the "crazy project crunch" I mentioned, and alluded to in my earlier MRW post.

The Monday before Quilt Market, I decided it would be a brilliant idea to make myself a Noodlehead Cargo Duffle to carry for the weekend. In hindsight, it was a dumb idea because 1) I only carried it to Fabric 2.0 & Sample Spree on Friday and 2) I think I lost a little bit of sanity trying to make a Cargo Duffle in two evenings.

Being the nutcase I am, I decided I would also make a few modifications to the pattern.

1) I pieced the exterior panels (using my Acorn Trail bundle by Teagan White) instead of using a single fabric.

2) I added a layer of Pellon Craft Fuse 808 to the side panels so it would be less floppy. I forgot to add it the gusset pieces though because after 8 hours of work and several hours of frantic sewing, my brain is running a bit like Forrest Gump on his cross-country trek.

3) I made my duffle a 10" wide instead of 6" the pattern calls for. While this makes it great for an overnight bag or Mary Poppins bag to stuff all my projects into for guild show & ended up being a bad move for the purpose of Market. It was just too big and impractical to carry around all day.

4) I added a detachable, adjustable strap for ultimate pack mule usage. It was a simple process. I just had to add a small fabric loops with O-rings to the gusset seams.

5) Instead of binding the interior seams, I added a lining following this tutorial. I opted to hand stitch my lining into my duffle because I'm not the best at wrangling 3D objects through my machine. It makes me feel like a farm hand and I'm just not cut out for that life.

Overall, I love this bag. It wasn't a good fit for Market, but it's earned it's place as my trusty Mary Poppins bag!

Enchanted Rose Mini Quilt & Pattern

Monday, December 15, 2014

Being the Disney fangirl that I am, I naturally freaked out when I saw the Disney Quilt Swap on Instagram. Only after I got my partner assignment did I start freaking out for a real reason: I had no idea what to make!

When the idea of the Enchanted Rose from Beauty and the Beast hit me, I was super excited. Then reality set in when I realized I had no idea how to go about constructing it.  I treat FPP as a last resort, because I just don't enjoy it much. I figured the best approach would probably be hand-applique.

I added details to the rose with some careful hand embroidery. It really ties the whole thing together.

I quilted my mini with a small-scale FMQ meandering stipple on the background. For the applique, I hand-quilted .25" inside the shape of the bell jar with Perle Cotton no. 8.

I love the way it turned out so much that I was actually stressing about letting it go. I guess the universe overheard because my partner ended up dropping out of the swap. Precious gets to stay with Felice!

I made a pattern to share with you guys since I'm not sharing this mini! It's available for purchase in my Craftsy shop for $4. Happy stitching!

Project Recap Catch-Up!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ack! It's been a while since my last post. As soon as I was finished with all the Quilt Market posts, it was time to buckle down and work on some time-sensitive projects.

I apologize for the use of my IG photos. Despite getting an awesome new lens for my birthday (thanks, parental unit!) I haven't had much luck getting out to take photos. The end of daylight savings time means it's dark outside by the time I get home from work, and rain seems to be in the forecast every single weekend.

When I get the chance to take nice photos, I'll make individual posts for projects I want to talk about more and share tutorials for. Here's what I've been up to!

Playing with Anna Maria Horner's Honor Roll collection.

While I used to be indifferent to Anna Maria Horner's fabric, her new collection, Honor Roll, captured me at Quilt Market. I purchased 3 yards of the Overachiever print to make myself a lovely Washi Dress to wear on Thanksgiving. 

I also caved and bought a fat eighth bundle of the entire collection since I couldn't decide on which colorway I like best. I used some of it to make a single ribbon using AMH's free Award Ceremony quilt pattern. I'm going to make it into a mini quilt for my wall to celebrate my first year of quilting. I think I'd be an honor roll student. :)

Game of Thrones costumes for Texas Renaissance Festival.

I promised my husband we would go to TRF in costume this year, and not just any costumes: handmade Game of Thrones costumes! We each went as our favorite characters: Oberyn Martell and Arya Stark. They're not knock-your-socks of quality because I couldn't convince myself to pour too much time into costumes that we'll probably only wear once. But, they got the job done and earned us plenty of complements!

Xmas Gifts Galore!

I made the ambitious decision to make all handmade Xmas gifts for my family this year which consisted of: two large quilts, one small quilt, a super tote, a scarf, and a small accessory pouch. Amazingly, I finished all of them before December. I can't wait to post full photos of everything!

An experimental Super Tote turned convertible backpack!

After finishing my mother's Super Tote, I got the idea to modify the pattern to make a bag that better suits my needs. With the addition of a flap and a few simple pieces of hardware, I was able to make myself a scrappy convertible backpack. This was my first opportunity to cut into the Echino bundle I bought at Market and I'm hooked on Echino bags now! (Pssssst, stay tuned, I'll be making a tutorial for this one.) 

Merchandise, baby!

I did some fun illustrations to be used for some cool merchandise. I'll be swapping my burrito quilt buttons at Quilt Con in February. I also applied my passion for hand lettering to make these awesome "I Got 99 Problems but a Stitch Ain't One" t-shirts. If you want to get your hands one one, pre-orders are currently open for a light aqua crew neck version in my store.

I ran away to Patchwork City.

I got a signed copy of Elizabeth Hartman's new book, Patchwork City, at Quilt Market and I'm addicted to this book. I'm using the new Cotton + Steel bundles I bought at sample spree to work through all 75 blocks in the book. I'll be doing a book review in the near future, but if you want to TL;DR version: it's glorious. Buy it.

I'm turning into a bag lady.

Another Market purchase was Sew Sweetness' Edelweiss Backpack pattern. I used three different Echino prints for the exterior and solid teal for the straps and lining. It was a fairly easy project to stitch up but took forever to cut! I'm using it as my current purse and I adore it!

What have you been working on lately?

Modern Quilting Modern Woman

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blogger and Sewvivor contestant TwoLittleAussieBirds is doing something really cool right now that I'm very excited about. It's a series called Modern Quilting, Modern Women:
This series on Modern Quilting, Modern Women celebrates what makes us who we are. How our craft defines us and gives us a creative outlet which pays respect to our mothers and their mothers before them. I see many different women coming together as a tribe of quilters. Woven together by their craft. Modern quilters are as diverse as modern women.
I'm normally not big on the whole meme/quiz blog post shtick, but these four simple questions are so 
insightful. They really got me thinking about things that I never considered before, which is surprising because I'm a very introspective person. With that said, here's my story!

My Wing It Quilt for Patty's Quilt Market booth

1. Tell us about how you started quilting and how you found modern quilting.

I've been sewing in some capacity since I was a kid, but I first started getting really into it when I was in college. After I graduated and moved back to Houston, I hadn't touched my machine in months. 

I got a job as an in-house graphic designer and one of my co-workers just happened to be Patty Sloniger, a licensed designer for Michael Miller Fabrics. The more we talked, the more I learned about the world of designer fabric. Up until then, I didn't even know this industry existed. My knowledge of fabric was limited to what I could buy at Jo-Ann's and a few Japanese prints I purchased on Etsy.

I was captivated by all the amazing designs and wanted to buy everything! I wasn't sure what I would do with all the fabric though. All I really had sewed was zippy pouches and fleece hats. I knew Patty made quilts, so I started asking her about it, slowly easing myself into the idea.

I asked my brother to buy me a rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat for Christmas in 2013. I spent the following days eagerly cutting squares. Then, I made my first quilt during a two-day holiday: January 1st & 2nd, 2014 using Amy Smart's tutorial series. It just took off after that and I haven't stopped.

2. What does it mean to you to be a modern quilter and a modern woman?

I think we modern quilters are a product of our era. We're living in a world where information can be shared and discovered via the internet both easily and rapidly. We're more global. As a result, we're more open and accepting of new and different ideas. 

My wall of minis

I think with traditional quilters, there are so many "rules" because that is what those quilters were taught. They learned one way and that was the right way. They couldn't Google "how to make a half-square triangle" and see all the different methods people use. 

Quilting isn't just being handed down through families anymore either. I would guess most older traditional quilters were taught by a family member. Now, we're looking to new sources of learning because so many of us come from non-quilting families. We're looking up tutorials online that were written by complete strangers from who knows where. 

The more concise answer would be that we are not learning from one direct source anymore. It's coming from hundreds, if not thousands of sources. Furthermore, we're not just learning one way to do something. I have probably read at least 20 different HST tutorials and I use lots of them to suit my mood. 

I was never taught the "rules" so I don't even see them. I do the research and cherry-pick the information I like, or just make it up. 

I think that is also indicative of what it means to be a modern woman. We're not interested in the straight, paved path for our life journey. We're kinda bush-whacking our way through the jungle any way we please. We do what works for us and ignore what doesn't.

3. Which quilt that you have made represents you and why?

That's an easy choice. It's not so much one quilt, but my series of Scatterbrain Quilts that represents me best.

Scatterbrain Quilt No. 4

I have ADHD. When I was diagnosed, I finally understood so many aspects of myself that I had wrestled with for years. I've always been artistic but I was constantly jumping from one pursuit the next (like photography, painting, writing, etc). That made me feel like a jack of all trades, master of none. It made me feel like I wasn't good enough at any one thing to be successful, and that gave way to feelings of hopelessness. 

When I started quilting, I was deeply afraid that it would be the same old story. But it wasn't. There are so many different things to do within the realm of quilting that I never get bored. However, I do find that I can't do one-block quilts or anything super repetitive.

I started making Scatterbrain Quilts because I was tired of trying to stick to one idea when I have hundreds of them swirling in my head like cows in a twister. I never before had an outlet where I was free to just unleash my internal chaos in a constructive way.

Scatterbrain Quilts are the perfect representation of what it's like for me living with ADHD. It can be chaotic, but it can also be beautiful.

4. How do you connect with other modern quilters?

Joining the Houston Modern Quilt Guild was of the best things I could have done to connect with other like-minded quilters. I'm a complete internet dork, but even I, Ms. Hermit Crab herself, understand the value of getting together with "my people" in person. There is just no substitute. 

With that being said, I'm hooked on Instagram. I've "met" people on IG that I then got to meet at Quilt Market, which was a blast. I probably would have missed out if I hadn't been a virtual friend/follower first. 

I read lots of blogs (thank God for Bloglovin' to keep them all organized) and listen to the Modern Sewciety podcast religiously. Stephanie has exposed me to so many amazing people in this industry that I would have never known about otherwise. 

Patty, Kim Kight, Tammy, and myself at the Cotton + Steel booth at Market
Well, that's that! If these questions got you thinking, be sure to check out the link up over at TwoLittleAussieBirds!

Gift Ideas for Scatterbrained Sewists

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

First of all, what makes someone a Scatterbrained Sewist? A passion for making! I want to MAKE ALL THE THINGS, all the time. I have more ideas (many of them half-baked) than time. Even with a project wish list a mile long, I'm always looking for more ideas. Since I try to crank projects out in rapid fire, finding shortcut techniques and tools is key, but having fun is always #1 on my list!

Here are nine gift ideas that are sure to help your Scatterbrained Sewist get inspired and create!

1. Clover Wonder Clips (Available in 10 pack or 50 pack). These guys are great for a variety of tasks when pinning isn't ideal, like binding a quilt or bag making when lots of layers are involved. I had been using mini clothespins, but they fall apart too easily and are bulkier then I'd like, so I'm hoping for some of these. Wonder clips would make the perfect stocking stuffer.

2. MicroFine Glue Tips. My friend Julia pointed these out to me at Quilt Festival, and I am so grateful that she did. Glue basting is the easiest way I've encountered to get accurate, precise seams...which I'm not naturally good at. I highly suggest them to anyone who hates pinning or wants to get some lovely seams.

3. Cotton + Steel Basics Bundles. I've already purchased the green/yellow, red/purple and blue fat quarter bundles to round out of my rainbow of blenders. There is also a bundle with white, gray, and black prints. You can also get the entire rainbow in a jelly roll! Part of being a Scatterbrained Sewist means it's hard to get excited about non-focal/hero prints, which isn't good for building a well-rounded stash. Seriously, blenders make the best fabric gifts for Scatterbrained people like me because we get easily distracted by all the shiny focal prints.

4. Wonky Tee from Patchwork Threads. Wonky and Scatterbrained-ness go together like PB&J, so this tee would make a fun addition to your closet.

5. Modern quilt magazine subscriptions. Quilt Now subscriptions are available to us Americans through Pink Castle Fabrics as either a 6 issue or 13 issue plan. Love Patchwork and Quilting is available as a print subscription through their website, but if you live outside of the UK, you'll be about an issue behind due to delivery times. It's also available as a digital subscription the Apple Newstand for $5.99 per issue, which is released at the same time as it is in the UK, so no waiting! Any cover-mounted goodies that can be digitized (like patterns or mini booklets) will be included in the digital issue too.

6. Soak Wash, Flatter, and Handmaid. Part of being Scatterbrained means that when I hand wash things, I usually walk away and forget about them. With Soak Wash, a gentle, no-rinse detergent that's not a problem. Flatter is great for getting extra smoothing power when ironing, without the added stiffness of starch. It comes in handy for me because I have a bad habit of leaving fabric lying around in a wrinkled wad. Bonus, it comes in a variety of amazing scents! Handmaid is a hand cream, which I can never get enough of, especially after lots of hand sewing.

7. Craftsy Classes. Normally I'm too impatient for video courses, but I can't deny how helpful it is to get a clear visual when learning new techniques. Craftsy's video courses are easy to reference time and time again with multi-lesson classes that let you take notes and ask the instructor (and fellow students) for help.

8. Patchwork City by Elizabeth HartmanI get bored easily when sewing, which is why I never make the same thing twice. Sampler quilts are another easy remedy to quilt-block boredom, and Elizabeth's new book is super duper exciting. The book contains 75 blocks in three different sizes, and only one is a square! Her freezer-paper template approach is perfect for people who have a phobia of FPP (and glue basting works wonders here). There are five quilt patterns as well, but these blocks have so much potential beyond those patterns. I've already started working through the book, page by page.

9. Shape by Shape by Angela Walters. I got an autographed copy of this book at Quilt Market, and it's already saved my butt on a quilt where I felt stumped. Custom quilting isn't something that comes naturally to everyone, so having a visual guide to get you started on tackling a project is a big relief. I can't wait to put this to work on some QAYG projects.

Quilt Market: How to Survive Sample Spree

Sunday, November 9, 2014

This post is a little overdue, but it's here at last. I had a great time at Sample Spree at Quilt Market last month and I wanted to share some tips for anyone who is considering taking on the madness.

Prior to attending, I was under the impression that Sample Spree was like Walmart on Black Friday x100. I know I'm not the only one who that that either. While I was there I overhead a security guard say to his coworker, "Man...they sure picked one hell of an event for my first day of work."

I stopped, backtracked to them, and asked if it was seriously his first night on the job. His reply slayed me: "Yeah, the other guys just told me 'When they open the doors, grab a piece of wall and hold on for dear life. The crowd is mostly harmless but you still don't want to get between them and their fabric.'" So yeah. Even the security team has clocked our fabric obsession.

In all honesty though, it was not that bad. Sample Spree vets I talked to said this year was noticeably calmer than in previous years. This is probably a result of the stricter credential requirements to get into Quilt Market. Regardless, Sample Spree is totally doable with a little bit of preparation.

1. Dump any other stuff you have in your car or room first. The less stuff you have to carry, the better. That means limit the contents of your purse to your wallet, phone, vendor list & map, and maybe a bottle of water.

Bring a roomy, durable tote or shopping bag that is easy to toss stuff in and lug around. Wheeled bags are not allowed, so you’re limited to what you can carry. Some vendors may have plastic or paper bags, it isn’t a sure thing.

2. Bring cash in several denominations. My awesome guildie, Tammy, advised me that “cash is king” and she wasn’t lying. Vendors take cards, but that means you may have to wait for a device to free up before they can swipe your card, plus the added waiting time of processing/signing.

I brought $300 in cash (A $100 bill, $100 in $20s, $50 in $10s, and $25 each in $5s and $1s). Being able to have exact cash on hand ready to pay meant that I was able to complete some purchases ahead of people who were waiting to pay with a card. For example, at the Cotton + Steel booth, I got my bundles and paid in less than 5 minutes, while some people waited more than 15 to pay with plastic.

An added bonus is that it was easy to stay within my spending limit. No more cash, no more shopping. I actually didn’t even spend all I brought.

3. Know the terrain! A list of vendors and map of the tables is posted in advance on the Quilts Inc. website. Print out a copy, highlight the booths you want to hit, and map them out. Make a rough plan of the order you want to hit each table so you don’t waste time.

4. Skip the afternoon camp out. People start lining up for sample spree hours in advance. Unless you have your heart set on a single booth that you are quite certain will sell out of your desired products within the first few minutes, there is not much to be gained from camping out. I got in line about 5-10 minutes before the start time. Once the doors open, the line move very quickly. I had no trouble getting what I wanted.

5. Don’t rely on the divide-and-conquer approach with a friend. Booths may limit popular items to one per person, so if you guys are trying to buy the same bundles, you may be out of luck. I didn't actually see this enforced, but I did hear people saying it. One solution to this may be to buy a larger bundle (like a half-yard bundle instead of 2 FQ bundles) and cut the pieces in half later. 

6. Don’t be discouraged by a crowded table. The Cotton + Steel booth was completely surrounded, three people deep when I approached, assuming all the bundles had been claimed. In reality, there were loads of bundles left! The crowds of people were just waiting to pay with their credit cards. Ask someone to hand you what you want, then try to pay. Be sure to shout that you have cash!

7. Grab first, then worry about paying. This isn’t like a cafeteria where you ask for a bundle, then proceed to checkout. You grab what you want, then see if you can get a someone to take your money once you have your goodies in your hands. There isn’t a neat little line for checkout either, so don’t worry about “cutting” the line to pay. It's like going a bar. Pay when you find an opening, and if someone tells you that they were there first, defer to them if you’re not a jerk. However, cash does seem to trump plastic. 

8. Stick around till the end. There were a few products I wanted, but were not at the top of my list. After the crowds cleared a little, I was able to grab those items with less trouble. Some vendors may even get generous with extras towards the end if they’re trying to clear out their table. You might even get to talk to someone special! I had a nice one-on-one chat with Melody Miller, which was not as easy at Market.

Quilt Market Do's and Don'ts: Lessons Learned

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I tend to be an anxious planner when it comes to big events. I try to learn as much as I can about the situation in order to prepare for maximum awesomeness. That's a very technical goal, obviously. I worry a lot about stupid, preventable crap that may go wrong, so I've found that over-planning is the way to go.

Quilt Market was naturally like my Mt. Everest in terms of planning-for-awesomeness. I grilled every Quilt Market veteran I knew beforehand about every little detail. I even asked one person if they remembered the temperature of the convention center so I knew if I should waste space in my purse on a sweater. That's just nutty, but it felt like a very important question at the time!

Over-planning yielded some good results, but you can't plan for everything. I wanted to share the the positive fruits of my anxiety-fueled madness along with things I learned along the way. That way, you can over-plan using my over-planning experience!

1. DO: Make comfort your number one goal. A lot of my research mentioned wearing comfortable shoes, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. You want to be as comfortable as possible, period.

That means choosing a bag you can carry all day without setting your shoulder on fire. It also means not wearing the super-cute handmade dress if it chafes even the slightest bit. Any tiny annoyance will be magnified x10 over the course of the day.

2. DO: Wear handmade items if they are comfy. I wore handmade outfits all three days I attended market, and they were great conversation starters. A few people even stopped me and asked for photos. If you want to meet new people, network, and get your name out there, this is an easy way to start.

3. DO: Bring lots of business cards. They're like Pokemon cards and you gotta catch 'em all! Trade with everyone you can. If you actively use Instagram, PUT YOUR INSTAGRAM NAME ON THE CARD!! I was surprise more people didn't do this, and so many of them commented that they wish they had.

4. DON'T: Use the free plastic badge holder. Sew up your own! It's another way to set yourself apart, plus you can stash more crap in it with extra pockets (I used mine for business cards and some cash). Patty made a great tutorial on how she made hers.

5. DO: Bring a printed exhibitor list and map. If you're trying to hit up giveaways, demos, or generally want to know your way around, it's worth it to print out the list of booths and a map. I brought mine on Saturday, but forgot it on Sunday. It's loss was felt.

6. DON'T: Expect to get free books without some planning. Publishers will give away a limited number of books (including a book signing) at a set time and place. With C&T, you show up 10-15 minutes early to get a ticket and place in line for the book. At Lucky Spool, you can show up 30 minutes early, grab a ticket, and return at the scheduled time without having to worry about getting a spot in a line.

Sometimes there are a really limited number of books (I recall overhearing there were only 15 copies of one book), so you have to know where to be and when. I wouldn't have gotten a single free book if it wasn't for Stephanie and her amazing scheduling skills.

7. DON'T: Try to take all your booth photos on Saturday. Saturday is the busiest day of market and the first day exhibits are open, making it hard to get good photos of the booths without random people walking in the way. Next time, I'll probably walk through all the booths I like, make notes of what I want to come back and photograph, and do so later on Saturday or on Sunday when there are fewer people around.

8. DON'T: Be afraid to talk to those quilt celebrities. I initially had jitters about speaking to the "stars" of the industry, but after attending Fabric 2.0, it was easy to see how down to earth everyone is. By day two, I was able to chat up Amy Butler, Tula Pink, Carolyn Friedlander, Alison Glass, and the whole AGF crew without any nervousness. They're just people, so talk to them like you would anyone else...and maybe ask to take a selfie with them.

9. DON'T: Drop cuss words in front of the conservative crowd. I did it on accident. It went over like a lead balloon.

10. DO: Ask before taking a large catalog or handout. Getting larger items like these printed are pricier than a simple brochure, and exhibitors may have limited amounts. If you're not placing an order, don't grab the giant 20 page catalog without asking a representative if you may do so. Some will say no, they only give them to retailers. In that case, thank them for letting  you look at there booth, and let them get back to business.

11. DO: Eat at the food court. It's seriously the most convenient option. The food is good, served quickly, and there are lots of options. It's not as cheap as going to a fast food place (expect to pay around $10 for a meal), but it will save you the time and hassle of leaving the show to get food.

12. DO: Periodically drop off purchases and goodies in your car or hotel room. Your shoulder will thank you. After snagging six free books on Sunday, my tote bag was really digging into my shoulder and slowing me down. Next time, I'll probably take a pit stop when it starts getting heavy.

13. DO: Consider a rolling bag. I always thought the rolling backpacks were the ultimate sign of dorkiness, and I am a self-proclaimed dork saying this. However, if there was ever a time to sign away your street cred and getting a rolling bag, Market is one of them. Lugging heavy shoulder bags and backpacks around gets exhausting, so I'm considering getting myself a dorky rolling bag.

14. DO: Add your new friends on Instagram as you meet them. Not everyone puts their IG name on their card, so ask them what their handle is, and add them before you part. That way, you can be sure to find them, and you'll be able to quickly tag them in a photos.

Are there any things you are glad you did or didn't do at quilt market? Would you do anything differently?

Fall 2014 Quilt Market: My Favorites!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rather than giving you guys a long-winded description of every stinkin' thing I saw a Quilt Market, I decided it would be better to break everything down into a few more thoughtful lists. Plus, I like pretending I'm a judge on some stupid Quilt Market panel that votes people off the island. Just kidding! If anything, it's like voting people onto the island because it was so hard to keep these lists to five choices each. None of them are in any particular order, because that would just be impossible.

= Favorite Booths =

1. Amy Butler - Violette. This was the first booth I saw upon entering the convention center, and it certainly made a powerful impression. I’m a huge lover of Art Nouveau, especially anything by Alphonse Mucha, so seeing his work as part of Amy’s dreamlike booth made me freeze in place. It was so much beauty to take in, and Amy really captured the spirit of his work in her collection. I also have to mention that Amy herself looked incredible in her long, flowing dress. I never realized how tall she is either! Amy herself was very kind and easy to talk to. It was a great start to my first market experience.

2. Alexander Henry may not have any designers that are known by name, but their booth made me fangirl over them anyway. Three teepees and an adorable stitched fire took helped them win a first place booth!

3. Carolyn Friedlander - Doe. Carolyn's fabrics are known for being very understated, clean, and modern, and she translated that into a booth that I want to live in. I'm a sucker for anything mid-century (I actually have the same wooden sewing box on her coffee table), so her setup showed me that prints don't have to be super bold to make a statement when used properly. 

4. Alison Glass - Handcrafted. I'll admit, that until now, I never really understood the fuss over Alison Glass. I do own a few of her fabrics, but I use them as blenders only as an afterthought. Seeing her entire to collection together changed the way I feel about her simple designs. She has such a rich sense of color, and her fabric has a jewel-like quality. I love the way she brought all the elements of her creativity together in her booth, from her fabric, to appliqu√©, her patterns, etc. 

5. Art Gallery Fabrics encompasses many designers, but I'm going to cheat and count them as one because they have such an intentionally cohesive style. Maureen Cracknell especially had a great warm and rustic going with her Wild & Free collection. No wonder she won the best new exhibitor prize!

= Favorite Samples =

1. Elizabeth Olwen - Morning Song. All the dresses were gorgeous and let her fabric shine. The zippered "book" clutches were super clever. Lastly, her "Sonnet" quilt was so simply elegant that I might have to make it myself.

2. Maureen Cracknell - Wild & Free. Have you seen that dreamcatcher pillow?!

3. Anna Maria Horner - Honor Roll & Knits. AMH is usually a designer I don't get super excited about, but her fabrics make great apparel choices! I was drooling over all the great looks she had.

4. Cotton + Steel. No explanation needed.

5. Heather Bailey's adorable owls!

= Favorite Fabrics =

1. Cotton + Steel. All it. I bought the entire collection on quilting cotton, but I'm going to need some of the Rashida's rice print on canvas and a ton of that super soft double gauze. It was like fluffy cloud soft.

2. Elizabeth Olwen - Morning Song. It's that simple, earthy chic look again, so I'm in love! Consider it pre-ordered.

3. Seven Islands. Everything was just too stinking cute. So cute in fact, that I forgot to take any good photos.

4. Michael Miller Fabrics - Packmates. I lost my sh*t over these llamas. I bought a pattern from Sarah Lawson with plans to make a Packmates backpack. A dress may need to happen too.

5. Tula Pink - Elizabeth. The funny thing is, I love everything but the actual "Elizabeth" print. It just feels like a creepy decapitated head to me. But everything else was totes gorgeous. 

Fall 2014 Quilt Market: My Adventures

Monday, October 27, 2014

I have to admit, I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now. I had a super special awesome weekend attending my first Quilt Market! Yeah, yeah, I know hundreds of people go to Quilt Market every season, but forget about them. THIS IS MY MOMENT. 

Prior to Market, I was anxious about being seen a "quilt noob," having only been quilting since this past January. However, within hours of putting my badge around my neck, I was milking that fact. It's all I could do not to jump on the throne-like chair in Tula Pink's booth and shout "I've been quilting for less than a year, and now I'm here! ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED?!" Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. I did feel way more cool and confident than I do in my everyday life, probably because being surrounded by so many people with the same passion is just so damn exhilarating!

Since I have so many things to say about my first Quilt Market experience, I'm going to break things down into a few posts. This one is going to be about ME and my adventures: funny/cool crap I saw, did, and heard. Next, will be a recap of my personal Market favorites: the booths, the samples, and the fabric! I'll do a more detailed post about my Sample Spree experience along with advice for anyone considering (or fearing) the madness. Last, I'll do a post about what I'm glad I did/brought to Market, and what I would do differently next time. Now, onto the adventures!

On Friday, I drove to Market after work at 5pm, which royally sucked thanks to Houston traffic. On the bright side, I arrived shortly after 6pm in time for the Fabric 2.0 Meet & Greet. There, I proceeded to shout "OH MY GOD!" at point blank range in Katy Jones' face. Damn it. Keep it together, you spaz! 

After I got my sh*t together, I bumped into Stephanie of the Modern Sewciety, AKA my morning commute DJ. 

I probably spent the most time talking to the super fun mom and daughter pair Jill and Jamie of Sunflower Quilts. After I mentioned I didn't see any (personally) familiar people in the room, Jamie literally yanked Angela Walters out of her conversation circle to introduce us! 

After a couple hours of drinks and fun, I dashed to join the end of the line for Sample Spree, where I met Heather Peterson of Girl Charlee. She guided me into the heart of darkness and cash was spent! Don't worry, you'll be able to read about the Sample Spree Spoils soon.


On Saturday, Tammy and I carpooled because I'm phobic of downtown driving. So I had that going for me. We met the awesome ladies at Cotton + Steel including one of my mostest favoritest designers ever, Sarah Watts. We talked with Kim Kight for wayyyy too long, but she's just too easy to talk to. I also met a pretty spiffy gal who works with the Cotton + Steel gang: Abbey, Melody's assistant. She was the first person I've ever met who knew about the hilarious Hipster Thanksgiving video that I love to quote. It was exquis'. And she didn't judge me for stroking the double gauze a few strokes too many.

 Everyone in HMQG has been saying Jacey and I need to meet so we can unite our powers of snark and stupid faces. So we did.

I got two little baby succulents from Heather Givans of Crimson Tate who may have been the only person who had more excitement over Market than I did. Seriously, she could power a city with her energy. 

We played a silly Instagram game called #FindFelice. I hope this will be a Quilt Market tradition.

We went to a couple parties after Market, where I road the stagecoach to funky town... and would talk to anyone who stood still, like the Gina Pina crew...for like two hours. All in all, it was a super fun first Market experience! I can't wait to do it all again!