What season is it?  It’s quilt show season – of course!   I attended a great local quilt show this month and have to share some of my fabulous finds and observations!

The first weekend in March I made it to The Quilt Fest of New Jersey XI, by Mancuso Show Management. The show was held at Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, NJ 08873. The venue is only an hour north from home and I go every year, its ritual. This is not a big show, but there are plenty of quilts, lectures, workshops, and vendors to check-out.  After a long, cold winter I really needed to escape cabin fever and get lost in the buzz at the expo center. The quilt show was a sweet retreat.

New Jersey knows how to Bring It On!

The Buzz at NJ Quilt Fest does not match the madness you might find at a national show like AQS Quilt Week in Paducah or The International Quilt Festival in Houston, but New Jersey knows how to bring it on and that is exactly what Mancuso did here!  Whether you are a seasoned quilter or just beginning your obsession you will find great fabrics, tools, and inspiration at these local quilt shows.

OCQ at mancuso

When I walk through a quilt show I am not only checking out the great products, but my marketing background pushes me to focus on spotting industry trends. I can’t help it.  For me, there is no better way to absorb the trends than to stand at the end of an isle filled with shoppers and colorful displays and take it all in. That’s what I did, and here are a few things I noticed at the Garden State Quilt Fest.

Fabrics:  Bold Color and Graphic Prints!  Fabric designers are producing bold prints with an abstract retro aesthetic. One collection, in particular, that caught my eye was the Daydreams line designed by Kate Spain for Moda. These fabrics are full of carefree graphic design in clear pure colors.  (Go read her blog!)

Check out Bear Creek Quilting Company for these collections and more…

Patterns:   Fresh and Contemporary!  Many of the new patterns reflect the Modern Quilt Trends. They are fabulous when paired with the abstract graphic fabrics that I mentioned above.  I noticed plenty of Modern quilts in the isles of quilts on display at the show. I love the deconstructed method of taking traditional quilt patterns and creating something new, simplistic, and bold. This trend seems to be attracting a younger generation of new quilters leading to fresh contemporary self-expression in textile designs.  Its an exciting trend!

Kits and tools:  Layer Cakes and Jelly Rolls!  I noticed designers are packaging their patterns, tools, and fabrics in kits. The kits are coordinated; many are pre-cut into easy to use, ready to sew strips and charms. This idea is not new, we’ve seen quilt kits for as long as I can remember – the difference now is that many of these pattern and fabric kits are being paired with new tools, and templates that make cutting and assembling easier.

I saved the best for last!

Gadgets I love!  I always look for my friends LuAnn and Steve Tippets from Sew Very Smooth when I’m at any show.  Sew Very Smooth is based out of the Pacific NW and introduced the Sew Very Smooth polish kit to use with the Sew Steady Extension Table.

I admit one of my all time FAVORITE finds is my Sew Steady extension table that I would NEVER be without when sewing. I purchased it at the AQS show in Lancaster, PA a while back through Steve and Luanne. I always enjoy stopping in and talking with Steve and LuAnn about their other products as well.  Another of my favorite tools is the Sew Steady Seam Guide and Gauge.  With these simple gadgets my seam allowance is consistently ¼ inch and straight. These guides are SEW VERY Awesome and should be your go-to tool for every project.  I’m SEW OBESSSED!

Just look at all these STRAIGHT strip sets!

In fact, I am SEW VERY excited about this tool that I will be giving a Perfect Piecing Package away to one of my blog readers on April 1st.  To be eligible to win this awesome package, simply comment on this blog post below or comment on this blog post on SEW SMOOTH Facebook page.

perfect piecing packageI will run a random drawing on April 1st and you could win a PERFECT PIECING PACKAGE (retail value $55.00).  The Perfect Piecing Package includes 10″ and 5″ Ideal Seam Guides, the Ideal Seam Gauge and the Sure Center Ruler.


The next show, for me is MQX East in Manchester NH in April.  I can’t wait to see my longarm quilting friends and see what other trends and products I can spot!

See you in Manchester!

Happy Quilting!