Sewing Show Smarts

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This time of year there are often lots of sewing and quilting shows happening. I leave tomorrow for Quilt Market, which is the BIG trade show for the industry–only those with a business can get in to it and this is where shops buy the products and fabrics you see in their stores. Since consumers can’t attend, I’ll give you a full report when I return early next week.

Whether you attend a local guild sewing event, or travel to attend a regional or national show, here are some helpful hints for maximizing the experience:

  • Make a plan

Usually the show information is posted online, so you can see what vendors will be attending and who will be teaching classes. There might also be a discount coupon available for reduced admission. If you want to attend classes, register early online to ensure a space if that option is available.

  • Take both money and credit cards

Not all vendors take credit cards–some smaller companies may take only cash or perhaps checks. It’s a good idea to have both with you, and also access to an ATM if there’s a “must-have” item you can’t live without. If you need to limit your spending, it’s easy if you pay for everything in cash and when the set amount is gone, that’s it for purchasing.

  • Balance shopping and class time

Don’t overload yourself with classes and leave no time for shopping. Attend the show multiple days if you are able to do so to conserve your energy.

  • Check for photography policies

Many show have exhibits, contest winners, etc. and some can be photographed if you have your camera. Others do not allow photography, so be sure to check with posted policies before you snap.

  • Visit with sewing celebs

This is the time to purchase new patterns, books, videos and DVDs from sewing stars, and have them signed while you’re there. Also, give feedback to pattern designers if you like their work.

  • Take time to eat

It’s easy to get caught up in shopping and classes and not take time to eat, but soon you’ll be dragging. Allow time to refresh and nourish your body. Carry a bottle of water with you, but note the rules for where you can and can’t drink it. If you’re local, perhaps bring your lunch and save money for fabric.

  • Participate in a charity sewing event

Many venues offer a sew-for-charity event during the show time–perhaps you can make a quilt, a hat or other item for a worthy cause. Projects are planned for minimal sewing time, so help out while you’re visiting.

  • Group effort

It’s always more fun to go to a show with a group, so gather a friend or guild member or two, or three, to go with you. If you don’t stay together, set a meeting time and place to share findings, then allow some time for going back to vendors once you see what others have unearthed that you might need as well.

Overall, have fun at the show and support the vendors, so they’ll continue to come back, and stay in business.