What a fun day we had in Pittsburgh!
Despite the fact that Bolt & Spool is not a quilt shop, and neither Debbie nor I have ever made a quilt, our day at the spring International Quilt Market proved to be a really valuable experience.
There are many fashionistas who would absolutely balk at using “quilting” fabric for clothing, but truly fabric is fabric. If the print is becoming, the drape is suitable and the quality is good, then it’s perfectly acceptable. To be sure, most of the quilting fabric does not work for our purposes – its too stiff, the print is off grain, and/or it’s just gaudy. Tea-died civil war florals and Hello Kitty prints don’t necessarily scream spring benefit season or summer garden wedding!
That said, I’m so glad that Debbie and I used our Sunday to schlep the 2 hours to the show. We met several of our suppliers and were finally able to put faces to names that we e-mail and talk to on the phone. We chatted with a few of the fabric designers, learned about new products, touched and felt samples, and pre-ordered fabric that will be shipped throughout the coming months! We were able to visit with new vendors, snag a few catalogs and may even have been inspired to try quilting (?), um, maybe.
Since our time was limited, we headed first to visit our old friends at Renaissance Ribbons. As expected, Shiela Rolfer, our rep from their San Francisco HQ, was on hand to show us their newest ribbons from French General. These were so beautiful we ordered several colorways! (See their Facebook page for pics – until ours arrive!)
We had to then hurry over to our appointment with Art Gallery Fabrics, where we met with Alex Bravo. They are a smaller (relative to Moda and Westminster), family-run business out of Hollywood, Florida, that produces lovely, high-quality fabric.
What we like about them? First off, the company was started in 2004 by Alex’s mother Pat: we love women entrepreneurs! The quality is unbeatable: the designs are actually printed on the grain making them a dream for pattern layout. The fabric is super soft and drapey. The company just came out with knits and voiles, so there is a nice variety. The colors and designs were yummy. The designers who were there (Jeni Baker and Bonnie Christine) were delightful. And lastly, the Bravo family is originally from Argentina…which is just cool!
Loving what we ordered at Art Gallery, we headed next to check out our Kokka, Echino, and Nani Iro textile supplier from Japan. What crazy fun prints they have!! We nabbed some fabulous cotton striped knits that are a divine weight and will be perfect for so many projects. We also bought several designs of cotton/linen canvas in dots and polar bear prints and…I don’t remember what else! These will be awesome for tote bags and verging on home dec. The down side is that they take 8 weeks from Japan to arrive. So we will be patient, right?
It just so happened that new scissors for the shop have been on our “to order” list for a bit, so it was perfect that we stumbled upon the Kai booth. Ever willing to try something new, we sampled these fabulous sewing “instruments” also from Japan. We will also be buying a big box of Band-Aids when they arrive. We ordered dressmaker shears, pinking shears and a nice mid-size pair. Can’t wait for you to try them!
With our little guide book in hand, we finally found the aisle with birch organics and ordered a few great basics as well as pre-ordered new prints that will be rolling out over the next six months. I don’t know why I didn’t get some good photos while we were there!
Anyway, there were a few other vendors we stopped to chat with: purveyors of interfacings, trim, irons, sewing needles, books, etc. But by 4pm, Debbie and I were rather hungry and thirsty! She knew of a place just up the road called The Church Brew Works. (A known fact: when she’s not creating clothes, Debbie is creating beer and food!) So, Miss Beer Aficionado took me to this fabulous restaurant housed in an old Catholic church where we ordered great beer and food and celebrated all we saw and the wonderful goodies we curated for you!