How to make the most of your trip!
One of my favorite travel destinations is definitely the quilt shows. I mean, gadgets, new fabrics, workshops and amazing quilts all in one place? What’s not to love?? However, your first time at a show can seem a little overwhelming. Here’s my tips for getting the best out of your trip attending a quilt show.
My very first quilt show I attended was the Carolina Lily Quilt show here in North Carolina several years ago. It’s a great guild show to visit if you’re in the area! Going in I had no idea what to expect. However, I was able to see and do pretty much everything there in one day and had a blast!
Based on that experience I thought I’d have no problems attending my first national quilt show. Boy was I wrong. Not only did I not plan enough time at the show, I missed so many things that I didn’t even know were happening until the show was closing. Utter disappointment.
So, I vowed never again. After attending many shows all over the country of various sizes (Guild, national and International shows) I put together a list of my best tips for attending a quilt show. Now, you can learn from my mistakes and make the most out of every quilt show!
Know Before You Go –
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead when visiting Quilt shows as some of the larger ones can be overwhelming. However, most of them will have all the information you’re looking for on their website.
1) Pre-register for the show.
It’s always a great idea to register online for quilt shows for two reasons. 1) Some shows offer special events or trinkets for people who pre-register online. 2) Because many workshops will sell out. Many of the larger shows will also have a newsletter you can sign up for so you’ll be notified as soon as the classes are available.
2) Preview the vendor mall.
Ok, this one is pretty important. I have seen shows with nearly 200 vendors. Crazy right? So, I’ve always found it helpful to view the list ahead of time so I can plan which ones I want to make a point of visiting. Also, you can better plan your walking route.
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3) Look for the demos.
One of my favorite things at a large quilt show is the demonstrations. Many of the vendors are given 15 – 30 minutes to wow you with their best products and techniques. These can give you a fantastic amount of inspiration for your own products as well as let you see how many of the gadgets are best used. It’s kind of like those demo booths at fairs but better.
4) Set your budget!
Let’s be honest, we can go a little crazy at quilt shows. Heck, I have a problem keeping to my budget at my local quilt shop. However, sitting at home with our bank balance in hand, we can make a more measured plan for how much we can truly afford to spend at the show.
Budget Tip – Go with a pattern in mind. If you have a set list of items you need for a specific project you’re less likely to fall victim to the “OMG that is SOO cute!” problem. Don’t get me wrong, I always add in a little wiggle room in the budget for just such an item. Sometimes there’s just some fabrics we can’t live without.
Take Time to Explore –
Every Quilt Show is a little different which makes them so much fun to visit. However, generally they all offer 3 main things: Shopping, Workshops and Quilts. You want to make sure you have time to experience as much of each as you can.
Most Quilt Shows last either 2 or 3 days depending on their size. I’ve found the best way to see the shows (and do a little area exploration) is to break them down by day and event. One day for classes and one day for the floor. Which day will depend on the classes you sign up to attend.
When you arrive at the quilt show you’ll want to pick up your registration packet whether you pre-registered online or not. This will usually include a welcome brochure listing all the activities going on at the quilt show and may even include a few vendor coupons! And, who doesn’t love a good coupon; am I right?
I usually like to sign up for at least 1 class at each show. This way I get to learn a little something new and meet the teachers. Yes, you can learn many things online, but nothing beats the in-person tidbits and little extras you get from attending the Quilt Show classes.
This day is reserved for classes so I rarely will even step foot on the main floor. Plus, if I only sign up for a half day class it leaves more time for me to visit a local museum or art gallery!
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Quilt Floor Day
This is the big day. Depending on the size of the quilt show you’ll want to plan about 3 hours for visiting the vendors and about 2 hours for viewing the quilts. Obviously, these times will vary from show to show but it’s a good estimate. Just keep in mind the best laid plans are always subject to change. As long as you have your trusty Quilt Planner sheet, you’re in good shape!
Pro Tip – Scout out the bathrooms. As corny as this may sound, there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of the vendor mall and that little tingle hits you. But you have no idea where the restroom is. Yes, I speak from experience. Ever since that moment I’ve made a point to know where the bathrooms are the moment I arrive.
Which Quilt Shows have you visited? Any other favorite tips I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments!
- Watch: Check out behind the scenes of how a Quilt Show comes together!
- How to Turn a Quilt Show Trip into a Grand Adventure!
- More Tips for Attending a Quilt Show!
- Complete Lists of Quilt Shops in the US!
- Like Museums? Check out the entire list of Quilt and Textile Museums around the World!
Do you know someone who’d love these Quilt Show tips? Click the buttons below to share with your friends! Then be sure to join us in the Traveling Quilters group on Facebook for more travel adventures!
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Helene Golaneck says
A great inspiring article. My friend and I live in Quebec where there are not too many people interested in quilting. So we head off to the Vermont quilt festival once a year (before the pandemic). We travelled this year toBurlington to « visit» quilt shops! We are presently in Vermont, unfortunately going back today.
I was browsing when I stumbled on your informative article.
Next year, we will go to the quilt show in Massachusetts (I think).
Hope to bump into you next year.