Happy 2020!

Here we are at 2020.  I don’t know about you, but 2019  flew by so quickly, it’s hard to believe we’re in a New Year. 

New Year.

New Goals.

New Theme.

But before we get into all of that, let me give you my State of the Quilt thoughts and go into the predictions I had for 2019, as well as my thoughts about what may be happening in the 2020 quilt world.  I had three predictions for 2019: 

  1.  A Return to Traditional Quilting
  2. More Acceptance of Embroidery Machines as Part of the Quilting Landscape
  3. The Layout of Fabric Stores and Quilt Shops will Continue to Change

Let’s take them one at a time.

A Return to Traditional Quilting – I think I was dead on with this one.  Last year I thought it there would be a resurgence of traditional blocks, hand piecing, and hand quilting.  If there was one niche in the quilting world that specifically backed up this prediction, it is the explosion in popularity of English Paper Piecing.  While personally I don’t enjoy this technique, obviously hundreds of other quilters do.  With this revival of EPP, certain traditional quilt patterns and blocks also enjoyed shaking off the cobwebs and basked in the glow of popularity.

More Acceptance of Embroidery Machines as Part of the Quilting Landscape – Not only did embroidery machine work earn a place at the quilting table, but hand embroidery also has garnered a good deal of exposure this year.  Many quilt patterns incorporated hand embroidered blocks.  Not to be left out of the party, many applique patterns encouraged details performed with hand embroidery.  And embroidery machine programmers designed programs  for the embroidery machine that will allow you to quilt your quilt in a hoop. 

The Layout of Fabric and Quilt Stores will Continue to Change – This is one of those good news/bad news issues.  The landscape of the retail quilt world continues to evolve and unfortunately part of this evolution includes shuttering more of the brick-and-mortar quilt shops.  The biggest of these in 2019 was probably Keepsake Quilting. 

When I began quilting in 1986, Keepsake was at the forefront of the quilt world.  If I couldn’t find what I needed in Hancock Fabrics or one of the local quilt shops, the next place I’d look would be Keepsake.  Those were the days before the internet.  I’d hang on to the old Keepsake catalog until a new one came out.  Through the years, Keepsake changed hands a couple of time, until fairly recently one of “my” local quilt shops purchased it – Pineapple Fabrics.  They kept it open for a while but the distance between Keepsake and Archdale, NC (where Pineapple is located), as well as declining sales coupled with increasing costs of the brick-and-mortar establishment proved to be too much.  Like many quilt shops, Keepsake will live on in the internet world, but the shop itself if is closing. 

Okay, that’s the bad news.  The good news is the quilting world is keying into the next generation of quilters, while trying to keep us long-established ones happy.  The costs of sewing machines is declining, as technology continues to get cheaper.  Fabric manufacturers are still churning out their goods, but the colors are changing and growing somewhat brighter.  And there are more “niche” fabric producers, such as Spoon Flower that allow you to design your own fabric and have it printed.  With this sensitivity to the younger generation and their shopping habits, there are more available on-line stores to purchase your fabric.  And while I still encourage, urge, and push quilters to buy from their LQS, it’s nice to know that home-bound quilters now have everything at their fingertips. 

However, I do miss the days when I could go to a fabric store and see two or three of my friends there or make new quilty ones.  And I really miss the days when I could run into Hancock Fabrics and purchase machine needles at 8 p.m. on a Friday night after my last one broke and I was in the middle of a project.  Now I must Prime them because there are no fabric stores in High Point. 

None.  Not one. And I’m not counting Hobby Lobby.

Now my predictions for 2020….

Technology will continue to change our quilt world, both for the good and the not-so-good.  I believe that on-line classes and how-to YouTube videos will increase more and more as the next generation of quilters step up to the plate.  They’re the group that seems completely at ease with on-line teaching, as many of them have had this type of instruction in undergrad and grad work.  For us older quilters, this is awesome because it allows us to plug into designers that may never make it to our area.  The downside to this is there will be fewer “physical” classes.  With more and more brick and mortar stores closing, we quilters are losing precious classroom space that is difficult (if not impossible) to re-gain.  And in this process, we are losing one of the most valuable parts of quilting – the fellowship with other quilters. 

More technology means cheaper price tags on things like sewing machines and long arms. It also means more competition between brands and manufacturers.  And this means quilters will be able to afford machines and gadgets they never thought they would be able to purchase.

Quilt groups will become smaller.  With the rise in quilty technology, the number of on-line groups will continue to grow. The results could be the possibility of shrinking membership of physical bees and guilds.  This possibility bothers me a great deal, as quilt bees, guilds, and groups are a vital part of our quilting heritage.  If we have to wage war against any of these predictions, this is the one we should choose. 

This year may be the year that there is a resurgence in quilt preservation.  I am old enough to remember our bicentennial year – 1976.  With America’s 200th anniversary, there was a rising interest about quilting and antique quilts.  From that point in time, well into the 1980’s, many states had groups of quilters organize to document and photograph old quilts.  I have North Carolina Quilts book from this time.  It’s one of my prized possessions. 

I think with this new decade, we may very well begin to hear some rumblings from quilters that “We need to do this again.”  God knows its time – some of the quilts that weren’t eligible for the last round of documentation (because they weren’t old enough), would be up for it now.  This should be done.  If it’s not, we’re on the precipice of losing a good chunk of our quilting heritage.

And a side benefit of this may be an increase in numbers of folks that are interested in quilting. 

Predictions now out of the way, it’s time to announce the 2020 blog theme!  In 2017, we Quilted Fearlessly.  I urged you to get out of your comfort zone and try new things…harder things…stretch yourself as a quilter.  In 2018, we Quilted with Excellence.  I wrote a lot of “teachy” blogs, emphasizing the basics and encouraging you to embrace each step of the quilting process with your best work.  If I remember correctly, there was a lot of math involved in some of those blogs.  And those blogs still receive a lot of hits – especially the ones involving quilting and the Golden Ratio.  This past year, we Quilted with Passion, throwing our whole selves into the craft we love.  All three of these years have been a build up to 2020’s theme, which is:

Level Up!

What does this mean?  Well, if you or someone in your life is into any type of video gaming or games like Words with Friends or even Solitaire, you’re aware you “level up” – or go to the next level – after so many points are scored or certain skills are attained.  After Quilting Fearlessly, Quilting with Excellence, and Quilting with Passion, we are ready to push our quilting to the next level.  We’re ready to “Level Up.”  Details will be examined, reasoning will be questioned, directions will be dissected, and new skills will be tried.  I’m excited about this.  So, pull out your fabric, fire up those sewing machines and in 2020….

Level Up!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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