The State of the Quilt 2017

Dear Fellow Quilters:

It’s that time again.   It’s almost the beginning of the New Year, so it’s time for me to give my yearly address concerning The State of The Quilt.  I do this every year.  It gives me time to think about what happened in the quilting world during the previous year and make predictions about the upcoming trip around the sun.


So, I have my glass of 19 Crimes Red Wine and the latest statistics from The Quilting in America Survey 2017. The DH is snoring on the couch.  This is a perfect time for Sam and me to crunch numbers and make predictions.  First, let me explain the details of the survey as given by the Quilting Company itself, because we all know numbers are beautiful things.

In October 2017, the Quilting Company and Quilts published a survey that was independently conducted by the ORC International and Advantage Research.  The Quilting Company is a division of F+W Media, LLC.  This is the eighth in a series of studies they’ve conducted since 1994 to track the amount of time and money spent on quilting.  The study was conducted in two phases:  Phase I, administered by ORC International in January 2017, involved surveying an on-line, national panel of households to measure incidence of participation and the dollar value of the quilting industry.  When 6,105 completed surveys were received, ORC closed the survey for tabulation.  This information along with new sources of market data that were not previously available, were used to present the 2017 findings.

Phase II was conducted by Advantage Research in April and May of 2017.  Survey invitations were sent to a total of 415,104 quilters over a series of weeks.  I received one, perhaps you did, too.  The invitees were comprised of customers from APQS, The Quilting Company, Hobbs Batting, Northcott Fabrics, Quilting Treasures, and Quilts, Inc.  When the survey closed, a total of 21,347 completed surveys were received.  This means that Advantage Research had a yield response of 5.1%.

Now that we have the details about how the survey was conducted, let’s look at what all this data is and keep in mind that the last survey was conducted in 2014.

Who is the average survey participant?  These were the quilters that The Quilting Company defined as Dedicated Quilters.  That means that their households spend more than $500 per year on quilting-related purchases.  They represent 16.4% of all quilting households and account for 72.2% of total industry expenditures.  This group spent an estimated $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion in the quilting market.  The typical individual dedicated quilter is female, 63 years-old, well-educated (70% attended college), affluent ($95,000 was the average household income), she has quilted for an average of 19 years, spends on average $3,363 per year on quilting, and 85% of the dedicated quilters prefer traditional quilting, 20% art quilting, and 37% modern quilting. Ten percent of this group defines themselves as beginners, with 6.9 years experience; 59% considers themselves intermediate quilters with 16.8 years experience; and 31% consider themselves advanced quilters with 26.6 years experience.  It was also determined the more years a person quilted, the more hours per week are spent on the art.

How many people are actually quilting?  This is a complete number, not just the dedicated quilters – 7 to 10 million.  This boils down to 6 million to 8.3 million quilting households, spending an estimated $4.7 billion.  The average household spent $442 in 2017, up 48% from 2014.

What are we buying?

  • Dedicated Quilters spent an average of $136 on books, magazines and DVDs. They read an average of 3.4 magazines regularly, and spend about 6 hours a month reading about quilts, quilting, and quilters.  The top reason they read is to learn new tips and techniques (88%), inspiration (75%), find out about quilting products (63%), look at photos of quilts (62%), and find patterns (60%).
  • Sewing Machines. Ninety-five percent own a sewing machine, up slightly from 2014.  Most (86%) own a traditional machine, 45% own a serger, and 18% own a long arm machine.  Long arm ownership is up 11% from 2014.  In 2017, 26% purchased a new, traditional machine at an average price of $2,212, and 9% plan to buy a new machine in 2018.
  • In the past 12 months, the average, dedicated quilter has purchased 99 yards of fabric at an average cost of $9.34 per yard (total of $925).  Fabric favorites are batiks (72%), small floral prints (65%), holiday prints (64%), print solids/blenders (64%), and tone-on-tones/neutrals (58%).
  • Thread and Batting. The majority of us plan to purchase more thread in 2018.  Most will purchase 100% cotton thread (83% — up from 79% in 2014), 44% plan to purchase cotton/poly blends, 30% will purchase polyester, 15% plan on buying pre-wound bobbins (up 9% from 2014).  Over half (54%) have batting on their spending list, purchasing that in queen form.  A slightly smaller group (43%) purchase batting in roll form.  Out of all that batting, 66% is natural cotton and 55% is a cotton/poly blend.

Where is the internet and social media in all of this? I am very happy to report that 97% of all dedicated quilters are still purchasing the majority of their quilting needs through brick-and-mortar stores.  If you read my “Woe Is Me” blogs at the end of 2016, stating my concern about a lot of LQS closing, this gives me great comfort.  On-line sales are steady with 68% of quilters choosing to purchase some or all of their quilting needs on-line.  Quilting-based websites were sited as good sources among 64% of dedicated quilters, up 28% from 2014.  And a whopping 52% enroll in on-line classes and videos, up 30% from 2014.  Approximately 7.9 hours were spend surfing the web through Google searches or recommendations from other quilters.  Fifty percent use social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest – up 14% from those surveyed in 2014.

So, what do all of these numbers really mean? I have thrown a lot of numbers at you.  And I know by now with some of you, your eyes are glazed over.  But as a former chemistry and physics teacher I can guarantee one thing:  numbers don’t lie.  Words can lie, but numbers never do.  This is what all those percentages mean in a nutshell:

More people are quilting.

More people are spending more money on the art.  Most of this is in the LQS.

More quilters are taking advantage of the falling prices of technology. Long-arm sales are on the rise and the price is dropping.  More quilters have discovered the beauty of pre-wound bobbins.  More of us are taking advantage of on-line classes.


However, there was also a curious side-bar to this survey.  The number of younger quilters is on the rise (Halleluiah!).

The average age of this younger quilter is 45 and she is an occasional quilter – that is defined in this survey as one who spends less time on the craft than the dedicated quilter.  But since this number is growing, I think it’s really, really important that guilds and quilt groups pay attention to this younger quilter.

This average, young quilter:

  • Is well-educated, with 35% having a four-year degree and 23% having a post-graduate degree.
  • Is affluent, with $98,000 the average household income.
  • Devotes an average of 10 hours per week on quilting (which if you consider exactly what was going on in your life at 45, this is an amazing number). The average total sample was 13 hours per week.  And this group is twice as likely to be employed full time.  Awesome!  We have our next group of quilting addicts.
  • Though most of these folks consider themselves beginners, they are hardly “newbies.” Most of them are really intermediates.
  • Most (26%) have traditional sewing machines and 26% have attended a quilt show in the past 12 months.
  • In general, they spend less than Dedicated Quilters, but only by about 10%. And this is driven by lower spending on machines and equipment.
  • Websites (75%), and on-line video (63%) play a stronger role for information and inspiration than the total sample.
  • Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are important resources for this group.
  • In addition to internet search and social media, blogs are also very important to this group.
  • Modern Quilting is more prevalent in this group.

Guilds and quilt groups – put some effort into your website and social media presence to attract younger quilters!

These were my predictions for 2017:

  • There will be fewer large shows.  They’re just not cost effective. I was wrong on this one.  The year 2017 had more shows and they were going gang-busters because more brick-and-mortar stores closed and went to on-line and show sales.


  • Fewer guilds will have shows with vendors, too.  They can’t find the people to organize them and they’re not particularly cost effective.  I do think they will continue to have judged shows for their members’ quilts, though.  I was wrong on this, too.   Guild shows are going strong. 
  • More and more publications will go to e-versions only. I was correct.  More and more magazines went to e-versions and completely stopped printed versions.
  • More local quilt shops will continue to either close or go to on-line sales only. Sadly, I was also correct on this, too.  More quilt shops closed in 2017 – at least the brick-and-mortar locations.
  • There will continue to be more and better on-line classes available for quilters and the cost of these will remain reasonable. I was correct on this one, also.  And more and more quilters are taking advantage of them. 
  • Instead of quilt shops, I see a rise in the number of “Quilt Studios.” I was kind of right on this one.  While I could find no hard numbers, I have found that quite a few of the brick-and-mortar stores have gone to this concept.

Now I know what you all have read through all of this to get to – my predictions for 2018:

  1. That younger group of quilters will make their voices heard.  I predict more Modern Quilt Groups and more quilt shows with modern quilt categories or completely comprised of modern quilts.
  2. More on-line classes will be available for quilters of all levels.
  3. I think that there will be a revival of brick-and-mortar quilt stores/studios. I believe we’ve learned the error of our ways.  I think the support for these stores will be tremendous and they will not be taken for granted this time around
  4. I see a new group of quilt teachers. Quite a few of our nationally known instructors are reaching that point in life where they are ready to slow down just a bit.  And unfortunately, we’ve lost a few of the wonderful quilt instructors this year.  I think within the next several years we will see a new group of younger quilt instructors on the rise.
  5. Quilting is not a dying art – Thank God. It’s always worried me that the art and craft of quilting will die out with my generation.  The fact that there is a rising group – a growing group – of younger quilters out there warms my soul and makes me happy.  We need to feed and nurture and support them in every way possible.


And after all of this, I have to ask myself (as I imagine you will, too), “Where do I fit in?”  I’m kind of an in-betweener.  I’m far younger than the average dedicated quilter, but older than the younger quilting group.  I’ve quilted 29 years, so that puts me in the advanced area and during 2017, I averaged about 15 hours a week quilting or involved in quilt-related activities.  So, since I’m not in the age-range of the dedicated quilter, nor as young as this rising group of quilters, I’m calling myself a “Bridger.”  I’m working at bridging the gap between the two groups.

I really, really appreciate you wading through all these numbers.  I hope this was informative.  I hope you’ve found either where you were on the charts of 2017 quilters or that the amount of money you spent on fabric was nothing out of the ordinary.

The year 2017 is quickly drawing to a close and with it our Year of Quilting Fearlessly.  I will sum that up next week as well as introduce our theme for 2018.  I’m excited about 2018 but 2019 will be even better.  However, it’s going to take me a year to get everything nailed down and put into play.  But 2018 will form the foundation for that!


Until then, quilt fearlessly!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



Of Green Guitars and Doc McStuffins

green guitar


It’s difficult to believe that next week this time, Christmas will be over and done.

I don’t have to tell anyone (especially wives and mothers), how much work goes into making this 24-hour span of time a particularly magical, warm, and loving event.  And then boom!  It’s all over but breaking down the boxes and eating up the leftovers.

Months and weeks of preparation…. for this.  It’s a bit of a letdown.

But since this blog is not just about quilting, let me share an event from my Christmas Past bag way past bag  that just about topped off the eggnog in my Christmas history.  The time period is somewhere in the early 1990’s.  My son was either in his late preschool years or early elementary.  My daughter was three years older than this.  They were both young enough that as a parent, you moved heaven and earth to make sure they had what was on their Christmas list, just so you could push that I’ve-Stopped-Believing-in-Santa back as far as you possibly could.

Let me insert at this point, my daughter is a lot like me.  She’s a list maker and a goal setter.  When I asked for her Christmas list in September, she went to her room, wrote it down, and promptly gave it to me, penmanship and spelling correct.  Then she asked me if I had any questions, so when I did talk to Santa, I could be very clear on what she wanted.

Nope.  I was good.  And luckily already had most those things on her list.

My son…well…let’s just say he was flexible.  He was still pretty young, so I offered to write the list for him if he would just tell me what he wanted.  This worked for him, so he went into dictation mode and I wrote down everything.  Most of it I was aware of…some of it was news to me.

It took two trips to a couple of big box stores, early in the morning before work, but by December 1, I had it all and even had most of it put together and well-hidden.  And suddenly, they were out of school for the holidays and staying with their grandmother while I was finishing up at work.

Then it happened.  My phone rang one afternoon at lunch and it was my mother-in-law.  “Matt needs to talk to you,” she explained.  “He’s having a fit…”

A second later, the young voice of my youngest child said, “Mom…you know that list you made for Santa?”

Yes. Indeed I did.  Everything was crossed off and I had done the duty of a good mamma.

“Well,” he continued.  “I left off something.”

Panic ran through my veins like a fever.  He was my youngest and I wanted to keep that Santa magic with him for as long as I could.  My daughter was already getting suspicious.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I want a guitar.”

Relief flooded over me like a warm shower.  I could pick that up on the way home from work.

“A green one.”

Panic again.  My heart couldn’t take much more.

“Does it have to be green, son?”

“Yes.  Green is my favorite color.”

These were the days before Amazon.  Internet shopping was a distant blip on the horizon.  So, there was no point, click, and Prime next-day delivery.  No sir.  You got out in the trenches and braved the crowds and fought for what you wanted.  Naively I thought to myself, “This shouldn’t be too hard.  I mean, how many kids would want green guitars?  I bet the stores are full of them.”

Guitars, yes.  Green ones, no.  Apparently, my kid was the only one who wanted a green guitar.


Bill traveled a lot, so he was on the lookout.  A good friend of mine who was nearly a professional shopper pulled in all her resources and couldn’t find one.  I happened to mention this quest to a lady I worked with.  Patricia, mother of four children who had been exactly where I was, rolled her eyes at me and said, “The Lord will provide.”

And He did.  Through Patricia’s husband, Chester.  Who found me a green guitar with three days to spare.  It was in Virginia and he drove up there himself to pick it up.

And a little boy’s belief in Santa was kept intact for a few more years.

I had a chance to be a “Chester” this year to my own grand darlings.  My oldest, Evangeline, will be five in January.  And she’s smarter than even her mother was.  She’s already getting that Santa-suspicion.  It started when we went to Graylyn for Breakfast with Santa and Santa did not spend adequate time with his facial hair.  His black locks could be seen under the hat and through his beard.

Which, of course, Evangeline did not miss seeing.  And commenting on.

“I don’t think that was the real Santa,” she told all of us.

To her credit, Elli look at Evangeline like her older sister had lost leave of her senses.

“Of course that was Santa,” we all told her.

The look on her face told me that she was way too smart for that, but she let the matter drop.

Last week, my daughter sent me a text and said the girls wanted a Doc McStuffins All-in-One Nursery Playset.  Two issues here – the girls just let Meg know that they wanted it and it is the hottest item out there.  We searched online for several minutes and the best thing we could find was a December 27th delivery.

And then … a miracle.  A Christmas miracle.  The Disney Store had two left.  I’m not sure where this particular Disney Store was, but for $97, plus the code JINGLE I had next-day shipping to my front door.  Bingo, bango, bongo, point and click and it was on my front porch on Monday.  It sounds as if there are 90 million pieces in that box.  I am so very, very glad I don’t have to put that thing together.

And hopefully, I’ve pushed that I’m-not-so-sure-about-Santa deadline back a year or two with my oldest granddaughter.


Have a Merry Christmas with your loved ones…


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

PS—An epilogue on the Green Guitar.  Unfortunately, it didn’t last long at my house, as Meg accidently stepped on the guitar neck and broke it.  Strangely enough, Matt never really took up the guitar as an instrument.  He became a drummer and played in several bands in high school and college.  I purchased a set of Pearl Drums for him during this time and they sat in his Man Cave until recently. 

Funny how kids grow up…



Now What?

question mark

It’s December 15th.

Ten days until Christmas.  My shopping is done and I only have two presents left to wrap.

Seventeen days until the New Year.

Those of you who have either read my blog for a while or know me well are already clued into the fact that I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions.  Resolutions – the word itself – seems exceedingly pushy.  Kind of like if you don’t perform the resolutions, there’s some kind of punishment waiting for you, just beyond the horizon.

I have enough stress in my life without dealing with resolutions.   However, I do make New Year Suggestions which has a much more positive spin on it.  Suggestions connotates that if one performs the following list, life may be a much better place for you; however, if you don’t – no harm, no foul.

That said, I think 2018 will be a year of transition for me.  This will be my last year as President of The Applique Society.  I originally signed on for only two years, but we couldn’t find anyone to take my place for 2018.  I agreed for one additional year, but after that, we really need new blood and new ideas.  If you’re not a member, but would like to find out a little bit about us, we have a great open forum Facebook page.  Go there and take a look around.  See if you’d like to join.  Better yet, see how you could be of service to your other quilters.

I now hold no office or real committee leadership with my local guild, which is okay.  There is not another show until 2019 and I have no desire to chair the entire thing.  I’m in charge of the quilts, which are my first love anyway.  I will still serve in a support capacity, assisting other chairs.  This is a good thing.  No organization needs the same people in the same positions year after year.  Change is needed and vital for any organization to continue to grow and become a better place or its members.

My year of Quilting Fearlessly is drawing to an end.  I have learned a lot and I will go more into details on that and what I want to do with 2018 in my next blog or two.  There are some plans looming on my horizon for 2019, but other than the classes and workshops I’m scheduled for in 2018, it’s a blank slate.

Now those of you who know me, remember that I’m a list maker and a goal setter.   I function well with these two mandates.  I like to steadily make progress in life a step at a time.  I am one of these people that does not work well with the stress of a last minute deadline.  Give me a deadline that’s a few weeks or several months or even a year out on the calendar and it’s a done deal.  I will give you what is needed in fine form.  Give me a deadline of 24 hours and you have a hot mess.  I fall apart.

But 2018 holds no clear cut goals or deadlines other than finishing the quilting projects and preparing for my classes and workshops.

Am I discouraged?  Not really.  I’ve realized that during these quiet times that God is usually preparing the next step for you to take – it’s just going to be a little while before He lets you know what that is.

So I’m waiting.  Fearlessly.


Have a blessed Christmas Season.


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam… and the grand darlings.




So, I’m through with my first finish on my Quilt Club’s mystery quilt (remember, there are three finishes in quilting:  finish the top, finish quilting, and finish binding).   To recap, remember that we were given six blocks to make.  We could make them either as 6-inch blocks or 12-inch blocks:


Then to those, I chose ten additional blocks that were similar:


We could choose any way we wanted to set the blocks.  I decided to use mine as border blocks.

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To this I added an applique center and some heavy-duty cornerstones.


And finally, three borders.


Now my top is done.  We’re supposed to reveal the final quilts at our January guild meeting.  However and unfortunately I don’t think I will be finished.  This quilt is obviously pretty large.  I didn’t have enough fabric for the backing, so I ordered additional Firenze orange and black from Connecting Threads.  I didn’t receive it until this week.  With the holidays and other activities (we have a wedding and a birthday party on top of Christmas and New Year’s), I’m not sure I will have time to get her completed.  As if December wasn’t enough by itself, Loretta needs some minor upgrades.  I’m switching out the Red Snappers for a zipper system (due to the fibromyalgia).  When I pulled the leaders off to disengage the Snappers, the Velcro that came with the Grace Frame came off.  I’ve purchased heavy duty Velcro to replace the old, but as with most women this time of year, free time is virtually non-existent and I haven’t had the free time I need to get everything up and running on my long arm.


I’m waiting on that sweet spot of time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day to have a few hours to myself.

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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