Friday, December 30, 2016

More About the Quilt Bizz

Dorothy Parker

Reply to your comments on yesterday's post about my retiring. I'm glad you'll miss me but I'll still be writing and posting.

First of all that was NOT my 2017 Challenge to go on a fabric diet. That's why I put the picture of Ignatz throwing the brick at Krazy Kat. Fabric dieters are Ignatz the mouse. Fabric manufacturers are Krazy Kat.


When I read things like that I say, "No wonder my fabric sales are down." A fabric diet seems to me to be a very silly idea. If no one buys fabric no one will manufacture fabric.

Our 2017 challenge should be BUY FABRIC! You shouldn't need reasons besides
Love Fabric.
Love to Shop.

Other ideas are more complex.

Louise's comments seem to define a lot of the problems:
"I suspect some of this might have to do with demographics. Older women (me included) have been buying fabric so long we are saturated. I know lots of people who are ready to "destash". (Not me...I hoard!) We also own quilt books on every subject already.
Younger women don't mind doing everything online. There are so many tutorials they probably don't need classes, although I like classes for the sociability component."

My favorite Baby Boomer analogy:
As that generation moves through life they dictate trends like a mousey bulge through a boa constrictor.

I'm not of the Baby Boomer generation. I'm older. But I've always hung on to the tail of their trends.
That influential generation is now retirement age. They have plenty of stuff and not enough places to store it.

If you want to sell stuff to Baby Boomers vibrating chairs might be a good idea.

The most important difference, in my opinion, is a generation gap between young stitchers (under 45 say) and older stitchers like me and you.

  • Each prefers different quilt styles.

  • Each prefers different fabrics & color schemes.
  • Each shops in different formats.
  • Each obtains information in different formats.

  • Each uses their free time in different ways (and has differing amounts of free time)
If we go back to my sad litany of yesterday you will see that each milestone indicating a downhill slide in the quilting business can be balanced with an innovation for the younger generations.

Book Publishers Closing <---> Patterns available by Instant Download. Instagram,Facebook, etc. provide pictures.

Magazines Discontinuing Publications <---> Digital Magazines with tons of color and tons of pages. Tutorials, blogs and posted pictures provide inspiration & skills.

Fewer visitors to Quilt Market & other industry conventions <---> Easy for retailers to keep aware of current trends online

Less reproduction fabric available <---> lots of brights/solids/minimalist/pink & blue on white prints being sold.

Fewer brick & mortar quilt shops <---> more online shops and other ways to purchase fabric.

Fewer visitors to shows---generations use their free time differently.

Each generation has its own preferences. There is no sense complaining about it. Trends do not go backwards. My New Year's Resolution is to get hipper. (As we used to say.)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Happy New Year!

2016 was a tough year all around. 

Not particularly great in the quilt business.

Sit down. 
Here's a selective recap of the year.


The Kansas City Star closed its book division including the PickleDish department, which published some fabulous quilt books (including mine).

Spring 2016 Quilt Market attendance numbers down 13% from 2015.

American Quilters Society in Paducah closed their book division. They'd published some classic books, including mine.

Quilters Newsletter magazine folded after 47 years. I'd written for them from 1976 to 2016.

New York's City Quilter closed its brick and mortar shop after 20 years, joining many other real world shops in explaining, "Business has really not been good."http://craftindustryalliance.org/city-quilter-close-20-years/

Attendance numbers posted for Fall Quilt Market in Houston (2,557) continued dropping, down from 2015 (2,634) and 2014 (2,933).

The last big quilt show I went to had more dealers in vibrating chairs than
fabric shops selling reproduction prints.

December Instagram Idea

"Last shopping spree until January 2018. Join me for my 2017 challenge---
no buying fabric during 2017."

What is an author/fabric designer to do?

Retire! (with just a few tears.)
I'm not working on any quilt books, magazine articles or fabric lines.

Spending more time playing with the dog,
and painting, drawing and breaking old dishes for mosaics.
I think I'll go to Spain to paint for a couple of weeks.

I'm looking forward to 2017.
I'm still blogging and I think I'll go back in the pattern business

Digitally, of course.
2017 has got to be better.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mountain Mist's Princess Feather

Grace McCance Snyder, dated 1953
This Princess Feather variation was Grace Snyder's last quilt. She used a Mountain Mist design called Princess Feather. It's identifiable by the sashing pieced of squares and the circles appliqued onto the feathers.

The Mountain Mist pattern from inside a quilt batting wrapper.
Picture from the Quilt Index.

I don't have a date when Stearns & Foster published this but I'd guess the 1930s.

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum has one
obviously made from that pattern.

A similar quilt advertised as "A Bird's Head" in an online auction.

From the Briscoe Center, Anita Murphy collection

This quilt is from the Mountain Mist Historical Quilt collection.
It looks like an end-of-the-19th century quilt that they
copied for their 20th century design.

A glimpse of a similar vintage design.
No sashing.

Donna Johnson, Michigan 2002. Quilt Index
Donna used the Mountain Mist pattern and designed her own border.

The Mountain Mist design is NOT in my Encyclopedia of Applique.
On page 83 you could write it in as 15.35, Princess Feather

Right next to the very similar 15.4 
Ben Hur's Chariot Wheel

That pattern was designed by Carrie Hall. Here's a photo of her 25" block from the Spencer Museum of Art. It looks like Carrie modified the Mountain Mist design and gave it a dramatic new name.

From Hall and Kretsinger's book Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America (1935)

Hall left off the dot and added a piece (purple here).

You could probably make a block from the two photos above.

Read a little more about the name "Chariot Wheel" at this blog post.

Linda Pumphrey has a new book Mountain Mist Historical Quilts, updating 14 of the Mountain Mist designs, but I don't think the Princess Feather is one of them. 

Quilt for sale at Woodard & Greenstein's online shop.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Baltimore Blues: Monument

The paisley stripe from Baltimore Blues is named Monument.

Every mid-19th-century reproduction line needs a paisley print.

The print comes in three colorways:
River Green, Sassafras Brown and Harbor Blue

The Document Print
I had a little scrap of a madder red---just enough to capture
the repeat and the fancy background texture. It's a paisley cone set in a stripe.

The Reproduction

Baltimore is called the City of Monuments. Today you can see monuments to Cal Ripken, Frank Zappa, Edgar Allen Poe, Thurgood Marshall and George Washington.

From a quilt in the DAR Museum

Back about 1850 when the fabrics in this shade of blue were so popular for Baltimore Album quilts there were two major monuments:

The Washington Monument finished in 1815...

Baltimore Album quilt from Mary Koval's collection.

and the Battle Monument finished in 1825.

From a quilt sold online

Baltimore Album quilts contain several blocks depicting those two public sculptures.
See more about paisley cones in a stripe set at this post:

Ilyse Moore's using the greens in an alternating star and log cabin quilt.