Fall Quilt Market 2012 Trend Report

Fall Quilt Market 2012 was held last weekend in Houston, Texas. This open-to-the-trade wholesale show takes place twice per year. Houston hosts the Fall show which is then followed by Quilt Festival. One day I’ll stay for the full run!

Market allows me to get away from the day-to-day operations of a retail business and get a bird’s eye view of where the market is going. I love seeing the direction vendors are headed – they absolutely have to be moving forward or their business stagnates. Talking with designers and industry shakers keeps me inspired and the ideas percolating.

(The solids orange peel quilt in the above photo will be released by Moda as part of a free pattern program – stay tuned and make sure you’re signed up for the Pink Chalk Fabrics newsletter).

‘Modern’ was EVERYwhere I turned. Not only the use of the term but represented in quilt designs and products. It’s not just a catch phrase anymore (albeit a tad bit overused one). The industry has embraced the concept of the modern quilter and the train is running full speed ahead.

An ongoing topic of discussion at the last several quilt markets is how local quilt shops that are more traditional in structure can meet the needs of the modern quilters in their area. I attended an excellent schoolhouse session by Bill Kerr of Modern Quilt Studio. He discussed modern quilting and told the story with his quilts. The sample above was made with a combination of civil war prints, Curious Nature by Parson Gray and Kona Cotton Pepper. It was great to see so many attendees nodding their head in understanding.

Solids continue to be showcased front and center.

I’ve been noodling over a block-of-the-month program for the past several years. I just couldn’t find the right pattern. Well, ask and you will receive. There was not one but three modern block-of-the-month releases. The one above is by Carolyn Friedlander who also has a new collection for Robert Kaufman shipping this month (featured in her quilt above).

Modern Quilt Relish (shown above) and Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts also have BOMs. I’d actually like to offer all three of these!

The Modern Quilt Guild was in the house. Convergence by Latifah Saafir was part of the exhibit curated by the Modern Quilt Guild in the Quilt Festival show area. My understanding is the quilts will travel with Quilt Festivals across the country. What a milestone. In a matter of several years, the MQG has grown into a bona fide movement of quilters that is influencing the marketplace, introducing a new generation of quilters to the craft, and re-invigorating the creativity of experienced quilters looking to grow, explore and enjoy their passion in new ways. It really is that simple and it’s fabulous!

This display in the Free Spirit booth reminded me how far the market has come in offering a variety of  base cloths. Linen, Rayon, Cotton Lawn, Voile, Velveteen, Double-Gauze Cotton, Laminated Cotton, Jacquard and Home Dec Sateen. The creative possibilities for mixing these textiles with garments, quilts, and accessories blow my mind.

This new dress pattern from Serendipity Studio (coming soon!) is a great example of taking a cotton/linen blend fabric (this is Melody Miller’s new collection for Kokka) and making it into something fresh and fabulous.

Craftsy. These guys were everywhere. Lots of good press from designers that have taped classes with them. I have a free class ticket and I’m looking forward to learning more.

Getting back to basics. I saw quite a few offerings of basics targeted toward the modern quilter. All bathed in bright color. In keeping with that trend, I also saw many side prints in designer collections that can stand on their own. A much needed direction. Modern stash builders want timeless designs and colors that will work in a variety of projects. There also seemed to be a shrinking of the mega designer collections. Fewer SKUs and better curated. What’s not to love about that!

Now I maybe should leave this next set of opinions in the Hilton Lobby Bar with my glass of cheap house cabernet but I won’t. One phenomena that can be observed at a place like Quilt Market is that of the copy cat. Designs that look like something we’ve seen before. A lot of it is just ‘same old, same old’. Been there done that. Some of it is, gasp, someone else’s designs. Copied, scaled and colorized a bit differently. I’m always amazed someone even takes the time to do it. Why bother. I like to be dazzled when I view a new collection. I like seeing something fresh. Art on fabric that really makes me stop and take a closer look. Something that makes me say ‘wow, that is SO cool!’

There are several designers creating work that are just worth a shout out in terms of originality. This is by no means a complete list – it’s just a handful of things I noted when I reviewed my pictures that I just couldn’t stop admiring and feel a need to highlight and celebrate:

Carolyn Friedlander – an amazing talent that has blazed her own trail in paper-pieced modern designs.

Cloud9 Fabrics – Michelle Bencsko and Gina Pantastico continue to design, curate and produce a line of organic cottons that always delight.

Zen Chic – Brigitte Heitland presented Comma, her second collection for Moda. Fresh design combined with a line of breathtakingly simple graphic quilt patterns.

Anna Maria Horner – her passion for needlework and the extent to which she’s producing quality designed products to showcase the craft is inspiring!


I have a bit of quilt market swag to give away including a signed copy of Anna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook, a Michael Miller Cotton Couture Charm Pack and twenty $10 Pink Chalk Fabrics Gift Certificates (I love having lots of winners!). Winners announced 11/14/12

Leave a comment sharing what trends you see and/or like the most. What did I miss? What do you think of Block-Of-The-Month programs, can they work for modern quilters?

Thanks for reading along. See the entire set of Fall Quilt Market 2012 Photos on Flickr.

336 Responses to Fall Quilt Market 2012 Trend Report
  1. Mom C
    November 7, 2012 | 7:12 pm

    I hope there’s room for many trends in quilting. Sometimes I really like the clarity and restful colors and shapes of modern, other times I want the busyness and color explosion of more traditional. What do you call paper piecing? Are those incredible starburst quilts modern or more traditional. I appreciate your post, I saw so much to love at quilt market. Thanks.

  2. Kate F.
    November 7, 2012 | 7:21 pm

    Thanks for the great summary! I think that for a BOM to capture my attention, it would have to include some techniques or patterns that stretch me. Also, being offered in multiple colorways is a bonus!

  3. Nanette
    November 7, 2012 | 7:47 pm

    The Orange peel quilt pattern looks really impressive, as do the bright clear colors. Thanks for sharing what you saw.

  4. Angie
    November 7, 2012 | 10:00 pm

    I always love your reviews! I love the ombre’ fabrics and am looking forward to Vanessa Christensen’s line. I just love nice clear color, and I hope that trend isn’t going away. I have never done a BOM, but as a modern sewist, I think that might be fun!

  5. Mims
    November 7, 2012 | 11:59 pm

    Anna Maria’s book is at the very top of my wish list right now.

  6. Leslie Shiner
    November 8, 2012 | 3:51 am

    I am just struck by the simplicity and beauty of the circle quilt from Zen Chic. Motivation to finish the six works in progress!

  7. Rene'
    November 8, 2012 | 4:46 am

    I like the use of gray as a neutral with the saturated colors. I too appreciate the new types of cloth being manufactured – linen, lawn, voile, etc. The other thing is I’m never sure how to use them.

  8. Marcia Van
    November 8, 2012 | 5:50 am

    Thank you for the comments on the Market-Glad to see that the MQG is getting recognized.
    Now it will be interesting to see what the next wave of quilting will be.

  9. Anita
    November 8, 2012 | 6:09 am

    Thanks for the report and pictures. I really like the quilt in the picture with Brigitte Heitland, also the fabrics of Free Spirit and the quilts of Modern Quilt Relish. I might like to do a BOM if you offer one of those pictured.

  10. Kate
    November 8, 2012 | 6:17 am

    Thanks for sharing- really interesting seeing what is happening in the USA, especially the modern quilts,which seem to be moving ahead faster over there than over here in the UK, though they are increasingly popular- likewise using craft fabrics for dressmaking.The Orange Peel pattern looks fabulous in those strong bright colours.

  11. Robin
    November 8, 2012 | 7:48 am

    I thought there was a larger emphasis on paper piecing (Anna Maria’s new hexie kit was a huge hit among my guild members) and also applique. Lots more emphasis on adult-friendly baby appropriate fabrics (Patty Sloniger’s new line Les Amis) and also the trend in minky away from babies toward totally adult prints in luxurious softness.

    • Robin
      November 8, 2012 | 7:57 am

      And I need more coffee. The hexie kit I mentioned above is by TULA PINK *slaps forehead*. Anna Maria has awesome stuff, but it’s TULA with the hexie kit. You must check it out.

  12. Amy
    November 8, 2012 | 7:49 am

    I think bom projects totally work for the modern quilter! The blog hops in the last year are a great indicator – at least in my opinion! Thanks for sharing your highlights – I encouraged in my own creative journey.

  13. Teresa Green
    November 8, 2012 | 8:07 am

    I truly love seeing the trends of Quilt Market – it just gets my creative juices flowing to see all the new modern fabrics and modern quilting trend – I love that this “is not your grandma’s quilt” anymore – I love traditional piecing but I love the new spin on geometrics and the simple yet complex look of modern quilting. I cannot wait to get my hands on those fabrics and patterns.

  14. Susan
    November 8, 2012 | 8:29 am

    Thanks for sharing all the pictures. There are some fabulous designs available. I am a relatively new quilter and I would love a BOM. I am not great at picking colors, so this would give me an opportunity to make a quilt without having to stress over which fabrics would go well together.

  15. Karen
    November 8, 2012 | 1:35 pm

    Glad to hear to hear you had a good time at quilt market. Thank you for the update. I just finished a needlework class and would love to get a copy of Anna Maria’s new book.

  16. Marilyn
    November 8, 2012 | 7:10 pm

    I love the trends in more modern quilting and all of the bright colors. Thanks for sharing your pictures with us and for the chance to win!

  17. Susaninfrance
    November 8, 2012 | 9:29 pm

    love your report—agree that better editing of fabric lines is welcome. Love what AMH & AB are doing with more garment lines and hope to see more of that!!

  18. Kit Little
    November 9, 2012 | 4:18 am

    I love the trend – if you want to call it that – of incorporating more hand stitching into quilting projects. Not just hand quilting but needlework like in Anna Maria’s new book!

  19. Mandy
    November 9, 2012 | 4:24 am

    Thank you so much for your quilt market report. I love all the solids, and the many variations in fabrics available.

  20. bonnie carter
    November 9, 2012 | 6:01 am

    love all of the modern fabrics and designs

  21. Karen A
    November 9, 2012 | 12:54 pm

    I lean more toward the traditional patterns, but I am drawn towards the beautiful saturated colors.

  22. Darci
    November 9, 2012 | 6:10 pm

    I dont really get BOM programs. I Don’t want to be surprised, I want to know what I am getting before I pay for it.

  23. Sharon
    November 10, 2012 | 4:41 am

    I have never done a block-of-the-month, but a modern block really appeals to me.

  24. Fran
    November 10, 2012 | 2:40 pm

    I really enjoyed your Quilt Market report & the great photos !
    Wow…..thanks so much for sharing….I would never get this
    opportunity…I love getting this exposure….many thanks !
    Like several other posters BOM hold no interest for me…
    for many reasons. But I do think a contemporary one is a
    super idea…..as you can see from other postings.

  25. Beth T.
    November 10, 2012 | 10:37 pm

    Thank you, Kathy, for this walk through the Market. I love the idea of a modern BOM. I am certain that each month’s pattern would serve as inspiration as well as motivation. If you’re going to be hosting one, I’ll be putting it on my Christmas wish list.

  26. Kelli McDonald
    November 11, 2012 | 12:48 pm

    Love the modern with a vintage twist!

  27. Jenny G.
    November 12, 2012 | 12:07 pm

    I love all of the bright colors that continue to be showcased. I only wish that we would see more of things with some interest- I love solids, polka dots, stripes and chevrons like everyone else, but there is only so much of that I can take before I lose interest- other things can be ‘modern’ as well.
    A BOM would be a lot of fun- I like getting something each month that is easily completed in a short amount of time, working me towards a completed project in the end- so often it’s hard to find the time to sew, but I can always justify a little block of time to get a BOM done. One with a modern twist would be a welcome change!

  28. Eva
    November 13, 2012 | 2:57 am

    I agree with you on the basics. I like that there are basic that are not just here for one season and out the next. A great basic is pretty on its own and makes more complicated prints shine even more, so I’ve come to value them more and more. I also think that the use of the word modern can be a bit boring, since most of the modern styles have predecessors in the past and history of quilting. I love the example of mixing Civil War prints with a more contemporary line. I think that might well develop into a trend, since I’ve also seen a lot of fashion-forward quilters using 30ies repro fabrics with more funky designs. The fun is all in the mix. :-) Thank you for the overview!!