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MEG COX S E-NEWS FOR SUMMER, 2010 I love summer and always look forward to my family s time at the beach, where my favorite activities are eating, walking, reading and quilting. I confess that while I took that Pulitzer-winning novel about the dying clockmaker on my vacation last month, the books I actually read were much breezier. They included a novel called A Single Thread, by Marie Bostwick, a quilter and new author to me. It was a perfect summer read and I look forward to more in the series. Here is one of the lines that shows Bostwick knows how a quilter thinks: Buying broccoli or a blouse is just a transaction, but buying fabric for a quilt involves much more than just an exchange of money for goods: it is a commitment of time, an act of love, the opening paragraph of a story. MY INDUSTRY RANT In case you missed it, the new report on America s quilting habits came out this spring. The Quilting in America survey for 2010 was released four years after the last one and the industry spin is all about how the quilt market grew to $3.6 billion from $3.3 billion. According to the study, presented by Quilters Newsletter in cooperation with International Quilt Market & Festival, the average quilter is spending about 27% more than she spent in 2006. That s terrific news. But there hasn t been much buzz about a much less positive statistic. If this survey is correct, the population of quilters in this country plungedabout 23% in the past four years, to 21.3 million from 27.7 million. How on Earth did we manage to lose more than 6 million quilters? I can imagine that some crafters think it s an expensive hobby and that others get captivated by quilting for awhile and then move on to knitting or weaving or playing with new iPhone apps. But I ve always assumed that s a natural cycle, and other new quilters would replace the dropouts. Isn t somebody, somewhere worried about this trend, and spending time figuring out how to reverse it?
Here s what worries me. A great deal of the quilting business is already geared toward what the survey folks call dedicated quilters, those who can afford $12,000 sewing machines, the quilters who buy an average of 93.6 yards of fabric annually. These gung-ho quilters don t blink at spending $8 for a spool of thread and $10 for a yard of fabric. I m fine with treating these folks like royalty and providing them with ever more gadgets for their high-tech tools. They ve earned some special consideration for helping to build the quilt industry into the sophisticated marketing-machine that it is. But what about all the casual crafters and not-yet quilters who need a nudge? What about all the fallen-away quilters who have left the tribe? Who will speak to these people, show them what they re missing, lure them into our cozy community? Why can t the quilting industry get together and do something like the knitting crowd did to grow the audience, widen the tent? For knitters, events like the annual Knit in Public Day keep growing across the country, attracting new crafters and media attention. The latest issue of Publishers Weekly had a feature on the craft market, and you wouldn t know quilting existed: it s all about knitting, making softies, and hip DIY-ers with blogs. I love all the campaigns and schemes to attract hip 20-somethings and 30-somethings to quilting. I think they outreach efforts are working, and should be continued, even stepped up. But most of the people I run into who are ripe prospects, ready to explore quilting after years of thinking about it, tend to be in their 50s or 60s, or older. Who will tempt and then teach this crowd? I think our future quilters include a whole lot of folks, mostly women, who are aging baby boomers just about to retire. Can t someone help them become part of this market? All you companies out there who make sewing machines, fabric, notions, and booksI m begging you now --please keep making things for the newer quilters and the less-wealthy quilters! And find a way to multiply their numbers. Because these will be the dedicated quilters in surveys to come. IS THIS THE FUTURE OF QUILTING MAGAZINES?
There has been an explosion in quilt magazines in recent years, including the growth in luscious imported publications like Quilt Mania from France (my personal favorite). But the latest wrinkle in quilting magazines can t be found at a newsstand or quilt shop near you. Suddenly, there is a wave of online quilt magazines. Cruise maven Jim West of Sew Many Places started his quarterly online publication Quiltposium last September. The latest issue, out in June, boasted 230 pages (which to my taste is too much to offer onscreen). But West reports that more than 207,000 people have registered to view his publication, which is quite impressive. Quiltposium includes projects and travel articles, mostly by quilt teachers and authors doing workshops on future Sew Many Places tours. Despite the commercial aspect of promoting all the cruises, this publication is fun, filled with photos and side tangents like a centerfold interview with a famous quilter. And it s certainly worth the money, because Quiltposium is free. (www.quiltposium.com) Unlike Quiltposium,newquilt e-zines Fat Quarterly and Quilting Arts in Stitches charge their readers, costing as much per issue as the classier paper magazines. I recently had an opportunity to review both of these new publications and want to share my impressions.I m sure there will be more online mags soon. One I know about is The Quilt Pattern Magazine, a monthly ezine that will cost $11.99 a year and debut early in 2011. The editor is Maria Hrabovsky of Maria Michaels Designs and you can learn more at www.quiltpatternmagazine.com. I ve now seen two issues of the Fat Quarterly. Issue 2 came out this week, following the debut issue in April. Each issue costs $8, which gets you 78 pages in the premiere issue and 90 in the second. A full year s subscription is $28. The publication is produced by 5 quiltmakers who met online, including 4 females and one guy. There was a sixth partner who dropped out after the first issue. Each issue carries at least 6 patterns, with many issues offering 8 to 10 projects. The look of Fat Quarterly is the clean, so-called modern look, with updated traditional patterns, not horribly difficult, often framedwith lots of white fabric to show off the bright colors and bold prints. In addition to the projects, there arereviews, Q&A segments with popular fabric designers and authors like Valori Wells and Jane Brockett, and giveaways of fabric and books.
What I love about this fledgling publication is not just the projects, which are attractive and include a nice mix of quilts and other things like pillows and placemats, but the way the zine invites readers to participate. When there is a fabric giveaway, for example, those who enter are asked to explain how they would use the fabric. To get a book, the editors asked What types of books should we review here? Beyond that, there is a nice sense of difference in styles between the editors and readers are invited to participate in challenges and so forth. All this gives a nice community feel, a let s put out a magazine spontaneity. There were a few rough spots in the first issue, including a tendency to spotlight fabric designers and never give their actual names. But the quality took a big leap in the second issue, and I predict that Fat Quarterly will find a very devoted readership and continue to improve in inventive ways. Go to their blogto get a glimpse-www.blog.fatquarterly.com. As fun and cheerful as Fat Quarterly is, Quilting Arts new online magazine is in another league entirely, using all the latest tech tools in what I truly believe is a peek into the future of quilt magazines. It costs $14.99 to download and includes over 60 minutes of video along with all the interviews, galleries and projects. Interweave hasn t said yet whether there will be subsequent issues of what they are calling their eMag, but I would be shocked if they don t follow this up because it s just amazing. Like Quilting Arts, it delivers projects from noted art quilters with detailed how-tos, but there is so much more here. As a viewer, you can zoom in and study the entire surface of a quilt. You can view a gallery of other projects by that artist. It feels similar to the paper magazine but it s own thing. It seems compact, but very deep, like content is stacked in layers. If you want to know more about the artist, you click on their photo and get a bio among other things. It can be very difficult to pick up a technique demonstrated only in flat, static photos, but here you can click on a video that shows you exactly how to execute a technique or tool. It all feels immediate and personal, an experience you create yourself as you decide what to see next. The navigation tools are intuitive and effective. I learned so much about such topics as free motion quilting and machine satin stitch, and I just felt truly pulled into these women s studios. There is such a feeling
of muchness here: like 9 different mini videos from Leah Day demonstrating her free-motion quilting designs. That said, there are some downsides here. I wasn t able to view this publication myself until I replaced my 5-year-old iMac with one that boasts Apple s newest operating system. Being cutting-edge like this excludes a large potential audience for now. Then there s the whole issue of archivability. Many readers of Quilting Arts save and treasure their back issues, but these ezines become just another computer file on a screen. Will that deter some readers? I m not saying Interweave will drop the paper magazine anytime soon, nor should they. Publishing geeks say we are very close to merging text and visuals online seamlessly and instantly, and I believe that is what quilters will come to demand. Amazon.com just hit the milestone of selling more ebooks than hardcovers. I think Quilting Arts in Stitches gives us a first thrilling taste of how quilters will benefit from the coming e-publishing revolution. NEWS FLASH FROM THE ALLIANCE FOR AMERICAN QUILTS There is lots going on at the nonprofit Alliance for American Quilts and I cannot believe that my first year as president is almost over! I was voted president at our board meeting last August in Lincoln, Nebraska, and we re meeting again in a few weeks, this time in Grafton, Vermont. Three things I simply must share: ONE: the first interview I ever did for our oral history project, Quilters S.O.S.- Save Our Stories was with Ricky Tims dad, Richard, who also quilts. Unlike most quilters I know, he isn t a big talker, but I always love a chance to spotlight an unexpected, unlikely quilter. My interview was just recently posted at QSOS and you can also see it by going to the homepage, www.allianceforamericanquilts.org. His quilt is stunning, and it will be one of about a dozen QSOS quilts at Quilt Festival this fall in an exhibition called If These Quilts Could Talk. TWO: While at the homepage, click on the item about our Summer Membership Drive. Every person who joins by the end of August, for as little as $25, gets entered into a drawing to win some great prizes. These include Moda fabric, an AccuQuilt Go cutter, and a great big stash of Guttermann threads. We had more than 100 new members in June
alone. The prizes are awesome, but the best part is that you support a vital nonprofit whose projects include the world s greatest online archive of quilts, vintage and current. THREE: Another thing to do at the Alliance homepage is to check out the 117 quilts that were contributed for our New From Old contest. There are some beauties here, including the one by art quilter Jamie Fingal that won the grand prize, a Handi Quilter HQ Sixteen. All will be auctioned off on eBay in the fall. Stay tuned for an announcement of next year s contest theme! ONE QUILTER S BOLD IDEA FOR RAISING FUNDS I love watching what young quilter Luke Haynes gets up to next. He is ambitious, fearless, innovative and not shy about seeking attention. But his work earns it. Now he is using a hot new website for creative types called Kickstarter.com, which invites people to donate money to buy supplies for his big upcoming quilt show in New York next fall (just type his name into the search box). Donors at all levels get rewards from Luke, including personalized quilts. Go check out his website too, www.lukehaynes.com.
Well, I m taking off August and I ll be back in your in-box in September. I hope if you enjoyed this issue you will forward it to a friend or colleague. New subscribers can join the fun by sending a blank e-mail to Quilters-Join@megcox.com. Love,Meg Cox Leone
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