The Long Beach Quilt Festival

I went down to the Quilt Festival in Long Beach on Saturday.


I had a great time, but I have to say… we modern quilters are just not in the least represented there. At least not in what’s for sale… 450 booths and I spotted ONE YARD of Heather Ross. IN THE WHOLE PLACE! And it was HUGE.


Forgive the lousy photo but you’re looking at a convention center full of fabric – with only one yard of Heather Ross mixed in.

What do you all think? Do they not know we exist? Do we not go to these events enough for it to be financially worth it to vendors who do sell our style of stuff? This is an interesting topic for me seeing as clearly we are the next generation of quilters. Why aren’t they trying to appeal to us more? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

But I shouldn’t complain because I still scored with the loot and had a blast digging through all the bins and bins and bins of fabric! I got a lot that I’ve never seen before. There are pros to being exposed to the enormous quilting world you don’t know (read: the non-internet based one!).  And there were deals to be had… prices varied a lot, but overall, after searching through the place forever, I found some beautiful stuff.

Fat quarters:

Loot from Long Beach Quilt Festival

Yup! A bit of Flea Market Fancy!

The half yard and up bits:


The red Mingle was the only colorway I didn’t have and wanted.  And while you would think the fabric crazed ladies would be fighting me for it at $7.00 a yard… nope!  That was one of the good things about no one else in the place having my taste!

And I mean lil’ cowboys?!? How could I not…


Aside from the frenzied fabric shopping, there were some really beautiful quilts on display. Mostly very traditional, but also some that weren’t at all. I apologize for these horrid photos but I just had my little not so great camera… I linked to the artist’s site if I could find one.


Castle Wall by Trudy Kleinstein. My close ups of this came out fuzzy (found one here) but every tiny little “stone” you see is appliqued on there!! Amazing!


Leaves of Grass by Betty Amador – One of the handful of improv. pieced quilts.


Hospital Rising by Ginny Eckley


Red Owls by Karen Peirce

Overall I had a great time, but it sure did make me feel like they don’t know that all of us modern quilters are out here… Here’s hopin’ that changes soon!

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  • Cheryl Arkison

    July 27, 2009 at 6:59 am | Reply

    Funny how we modern quilters have to turn to the internet for sources and inspiration! But I believe it is good to get out there and stay connected with the traditional world. It’s all about building bridges and still knowing the basics of construction and design.

    That is the second place I’ve seen that cowboy fabric in two days, my sister-in-law used it as a table cloth at a baby shower. And what is that second from the left brown?

  • Libby

    July 27, 2009 at 7:55 am | Reply

    Maybe they have a different definition of “modern quilter”? Is it really an “us” and “them” thing? The good news is pushing the limits of your comfort zone is almost always good for your creativity – and it looks like you got lots of beautiful fabric anyway! Have fun with it.

    • Alissa

      July 27, 2009 at 9:12 am | Reply

      Oh of course not – it’s not an us versus them thing. It’s just that we were represented AT ALL. I was surprised….

  • Ellen

    July 27, 2009 at 8:49 am | Reply

    You know, I live in Dallas, TX and I can’t find modern quilting fabric there, either! I found lots of civil war reproductions and batiks, but NO HEATHER ROSS! I have to get mine on-line. That’s OK, in 30 years, our kids will be griping that Heather Ross is all they can find! Glad you had fun!

  • ~Michelle~

    July 27, 2009 at 8:50 am | Reply

    gosh, I missed all of those quilts except the owls… where was I looking?? lol… Great score on the fabrics – I didn’t find the FMF, but I did find some old Amy Butler and the Full Moon Forest owls, so I was stoked about that!

  • Marlene

    July 27, 2009 at 8:55 am | Reply

    Great post and awesome question! I feel the same way about quilt shows and shps here on the east coast…and while I LOVE shows and shops, I just do not feel very well represented in them. Maybe some of the younger girls need to be more involved in guilds or in the shops themselves!!! I am definitely hearing you on this issue!! What’s a hip, fun quilter left to do, but shop on line and with the word from others like us!!

  • wendy

    July 27, 2009 at 9:15 am | Reply

    I’ve been wondering the exact same thing. Like, for example, why there are no specialty quilting fabric shops that carry mostly designer fabrics, and even whole lines of designers? Why??? It’s not encouraging to me to go to six different real world stores to find one or two designers featured with a few fabrics. Ridiculous. I can only exist in the cyberworld as a quilter. Check out my current Heather Ross improv quilt on my blog.

  • barbara

    July 27, 2009 at 9:22 am | Reply

    I can’t find modern fabric unless it’s on line. Once in a blue moon you’ll find some Moda pre cuts around here but that’s it!

  • Lisa

    July 27, 2009 at 9:23 am | Reply

    Oh, that owl quilt is so CUTE!!

    I have the worst time finding modern fabrics up in the Northwoods of Michigan/Northern Wisconsin. I have to get my newer stuff online. Mostly what I see around here is “country” type fabric or like you said, repros. I kind of like it that way, though, because then when I do make a really modern quilt, everyone is so surprised by it, which I like. It makes me feel more “original”, I guess.

    I get most of my quilt inspiration and connections online, too. Although I do really like some of the local quilters’ work, I am DEFINITELY in the minority up here as far as my fabric choices. And I am not even a truly modern quilter. I like the newer stuff, but I also sort of think of myself as in between the two worlds.

    Even if I am not overly fond of the “country” look, I certainly appreciate their talent, because some of these ladies can SEW. I enjoy the local quilt show and will have to eventually join the guild and put some of my quilts in it. I would be curious to see what kind of comments they drew.

  • Christine

    July 27, 2009 at 9:50 am | Reply

    I went to the Maine quilt show this weekend and had a similar experience to you. I would have expected in California that the quilt show would have more modern fabrics. Luckily there was one great vendor (Alewives Fabrics) at the Maine Show. It was so good to see the fabrics I admire online in person. I wish I lived closer to that store.

    This relates to another post. Do you know the name of the green and white dotted like fabric you used in your blue and green baby quilt? Thanks!

  • Kit

    July 27, 2009 at 10:15 am | Reply

    Here in Southern Ontario (Canada) there is nary a modern quilt to be seen at quilt shows! Okay, I may be exaggerating just a teensy bit because I haven’t been to ALL of the quilt shows in Southern Ontario, but I haven’t seen a single modern quilt at any of the ones that I’ve been at. Your post actually gives me hope – maybe I should keep on going, and I’ll make some great fabric scores! 😉

  • Melissa

    July 27, 2009 at 10:28 am | Reply

    The Long Beach Quilt Festival was my first, and I was overwhelmed. (Especially by all the art quilts! Those quilters are A-MA-ZING!) Yes, there was a LOT of traditional quilt vendors, and I found most of them rather boring — certainly not inspiring! There were 3 or 4 vendors that I liked, though, and plan to go back next year — and spend more time! :o)
    I agree with Marlene, though, that we of the younger generation need to either join, or start, more quilt guilds and get the word out. Also, as members of the guilds, we can volunteer and start having some more influence in the world of old-fashioned quilting.

  • Mal*

    July 27, 2009 at 10:28 am | Reply

    Aw, man. I’m LA-based, but been so overwhelmed with work recently that I didn’t even know this event was going on! I would have loved to attend. Instead I will live vicariously through your photos and account. Thanks for posting it!

  • Faith

    July 27, 2009 at 11:47 am | Reply

    I’ve been wondering if I should go to the Chicago Quilt Show next year but I’m afraid there won’t be anything to my taste. We do have a couple good quilt shops in the burbs here (where I live) and I know there is a modern one in the city – I’ve never been but I’ve been to their website. Who knows – just thank goodness for the internet!

  • Meaghan

    July 27, 2009 at 11:51 am | Reply

    I think people often think of quilting as only a traditional grandma-style craft, which makes my friends really curious about why I love it so much at age 25… I hope that perspective changes in the coming years – ditto to what Faith said – Thank goodness for the internet! 🙂

  • Ashley

    July 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Reply

    Looks like you found some great fabrics! I found the same thing to be true of the VT quilt show this year – I really had to search to find the kind of fabrics I was after. Luckily we do have one quilt shop in the area which carries all modern, fun fabrics, and I do my best to keep them in business! 🙂

  • LIfe a Colorful Life

    July 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm | Reply

    We have two quilt stores in the Fresno area, and luckily for me, they seem to carry a lot of modern fabrics, although having worked there for about a year I know that the owners prefer reproduction fabrics. But that being said, I can usually find Amy, Heather Ross, Heather Bailey, Paula Prass, Jennifer Moore, etc., although they rarely if ever carry the entire line. So I still do most of my shopping online.

  • beth

    July 27, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Reply

    red owls was one of my favorites from the show! glad you posted it. sorry the show didn’t have what you like…i’m in trouble, cuz i like almost everything.

  • Meg

    July 27, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Reply

    I guess I’ve just been really lucky lately. I have a bit of a drive for most of the “local” fabric stores in my part of Connecticut, but I’ve been happily surprised that both of those I’ve visited in the last few months have had a nice selection of Moda, Michael Miller, Robert Koffman, Kaffe Fassett, and Hoffman. I do some modern, some traditional, and there seems to be a fairly reasonable mix available near me. I suppose I should just count myself lucky. 🙂

  • Andi

    July 27, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Reply

    Looks like a great day.
    Love your haul!!
    Andi 🙂

  • Amy (badskirt)

    July 27, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Reply

    Each time you post a new stash, I’m always surprised to see how similar our tastes are. I’ve a bolt of the brown retro wonky squares and so much mingle, of course. I’ve also got the cowboys and the light blue with orange. It’s good you didn’t come away empty-handed!

    Thanks for sharing the quilt photos. It’s great to see what’s happening on the other side of the world.

  • lily boot

    July 27, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Reply

    I know what you mean – I have to order my Heather Ross and Kokka and even a lot of Alexander Henry and co. from the internet because it’s just not available at the quilting stores here in Brisbane. As for Joel Dewberry (did I get his name right?) – egads, no one’s even heard of him. And I WORK in a quilting store. I have asked the owner about it several times – we are the biggest store in Queensland if not Australia and have several thousand bolts of fabric – and she says it just doesn’t sell. We have only just finished selling the bolts of Heather Ross’s West Hill – and that’s probably becaue I bought most of it. We didn’t even bother with Mendocino or Far Far Away – much to my disappointment. When I look at our clientele – the vast majority are very traditional and over 50 years old. Even most of the younger people who come to the store tend to buy very traditional fabric. The 1930s repros do pretty well amongst the younger people, as do the Kaffe’s and the Amy Butler but the other – when we do get it – just gets left on the shelf for years. Especially the sweet, repro Japanese stuff. You know, perhaps the Kaffe’s and Butler’s do well because both artists accompany their fabric with books and extensive pattern selections. Perhaps if there were more pattern lines that focussed exclusively on the modern and Japanese fabrics – and used them in modern and traditional ways – and got way more coverage in the magazines – they would come to people’s attention more?

  • Bianca

    July 27, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Reply

    Lovely quilts and fabric haul! Even if there wasn’t many modern ones. I live in the internet world so then I do go to quilt shows I forget that the majority of quilt makers are of the more traditional kind. I have great appreciation for their work as it is the bases of every quilt. I still enjoy seeing what processes they use and looking at their choice of colour, fabric etc. xox

  • amandajean

    July 27, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Reply

    glad that you found some good fabric at the show! mingle for $7. would make it worthwhile for me. 🙂

  • Becky

    July 27, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Reply

    I hear ya! My quilt store here in MO doesn’t hardly ever have anything that I want. She tailors more to the traditional crowd…which surprised me that they would spend that kind of money on them. I like bright, bold, fun, inspirational. And I end up ordering online alot. I love the reds that you found!

  • katrina

    July 27, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Reply

    i was just lamenting this to someone saturday night. here in ottawa, the stores have never heard of heather ross or even denyse schmidt, and if they have, they’re not admitting it. my guild is the same. i’m the youngest person by at least 40 years! but it’s changing, or will change, since i’ve got a small group that are willing to charge in come september. 🙂

  • pamela

    July 27, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Reply

    hmmm…. i’m starting to see a pattern (pun intended!). since so many of us “modern quilters” are in search of more places, maybe we should organize a quilting fair?… not exclusively to modern quilters, but at least then you would know your style would be represented as well… just a thought!

  • Audrie

    July 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Reply

    I have to order my fabrics online too because the stores around here don’t stock fabrics that appeal to me at all! Such beautiful quilts at the festival though!

  • Kate

    July 27, 2009 at 7:24 pm | Reply

    I have just recently been to 2 quilting and craft shows and have had a similar experience to yours…there were a few ‘FANTASTIC’ stalls but the rest were not my thing AT ALL. Love those cowboys…I used them not long ago – gorgeous!

  • mommymae

    July 27, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Reply

    i just moved from st. louis where there were only a few shops with very little that i liked. i asked about anna maria horner & mentioned she designed for free spirit when the clueless woman at one shop said, “all of our amy butler is over here.” i reiterated that i wanted amh & she said, “oh, yes. she designs for ab.” i didn’t have the energy to set her straight. i haven’t searched phoenix yet, but hope there is more modern designer fabric here.

  • Amy

    July 28, 2009 at 3:58 am | Reply

    I leave with the same feelings after every quilt show that I attend on the East Coast.

  • Natalie

    July 28, 2009 at 5:45 am | Reply

    Thanks for showing us such amazing quilts! I just did some baby items in the cowboy print (but in orange). It goes so well with so many things. And the last time I went to our quilt shop in Fresno, I kept pulling the Alexander Henry bolts without looking at the labels. I guess I’ve found my taste!

  • rhea

    July 28, 2009 at 6:48 am | Reply

    Hi and thanks for your post…

    I often wonder the same thing about quilt shows and quilt shops in general…

    I own Alewives Fabrics (thanks, Christine, by the way!) and we carry almost exclusively “modern” fabrics and what I am continually surprised by is that these fabrics DON’T just appeal to the new quilter… they appeal to the older quilters as well.

    Maybe we are more lucky than I realized that we can carry the type of fabric we love and be successful… a lot of the other shops here in Maine have not caught on to the popularity of modern desginer fabrics, BUT, in their defense, they have to do what sells for them.

    In reading your comments it sounds like a lot of other parts of the country are like this, too.

    Truly, it is a bizarre situation…

    I think in years to come you will see these fabrics becoming more and more prevalent.

    The fabric companies certainly think so…

    Every year there are more and more choices for us modern gals!

    I’m glad this got brought up!

  • annie

    July 28, 2009 at 7:13 am | Reply

    amazing quilts

  • nanann

    July 28, 2009 at 7:27 am | Reply

    I must first admit that I would not term myself a modern quilter. There are modern quilts I like and love — I really dig some of the patterns — but the color profile in the modern quilt movement as I see it I just don’t understand.

    For example, I just don’t get the love of orange and brown and avocado green – the return of the 70s apparently. And I don’t understand the vintage movement quite so much – been there, done that. (Of course, I admittedly succumbed to that and joined a vintage fat quarter swap). Anyway, I don’t think quilt shops see those fabric colors selling, and until they and the public *see* the fabrics made into quilts at quilt shows and patterns for sell, they still won’t become uber-popular/available.

    However, if you are looking for Kaffe Fassett, Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, Anna Maria Horner, etc, you *can* find their fabric (at least I can in my local shops) because there are quilt samples and patterns out there with their fabrics.

    SO, I think the modern quilters need to get their own work out of the blogosphere and into quilt shows and made into patterns for sell, and then the fabrics really will become available.

    (just a note: I never heard of Denyse Schmidt until I started reading quilt blogs, and I’ve been a quilter myself for…14 years, and my mom has been for over 30 years).

  • Debbie Myers

    July 28, 2009 at 7:29 am | Reply

    So, did you go to The Quilt Merchant booth??? So not your taste, but still, a nice booth, eh? I like all your purchaes!!! Sounds like a fun day !

  • Kim

    July 28, 2009 at 8:24 am | Reply

    I agree completely! My sister and I just returned from Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, OR and felt the same way. The modern quilters were represented there, but the traditional style is far more common. You would love the quilt store there (owned by Valori Wells and her mom, Jean). My sister and I went in at least twice a day while we were there. Fabulous store! We talked about how we would love to go to a more “modern gal” quilt show too. The key is that we all have to enter our quilts in the shows, not just attend. We entered a quilt this year and it was really fun! Ours definitely stood out as a modern quilt in the mix! I will try to e-mail you a pic so that you can see what I mean!

  • Adrienne

    July 28, 2009 at 9:26 am | Reply

    Kim said it, modern quilters can just wish there were more quilts of their taste in shows, we need to submit quilts so others can see them to. How amazing would it be to see the whole progression of quilting styles in a show? =]

  • Valerie

    July 28, 2009 at 11:02 am | Reply

    I really think people have to get involved if they want more representation. My quilt guild and local quilt shop (in GA of all places!!) both have tons of representation of the “modern” aesthetic. But a lot of it is because the “young people” in the 25-40 age range are very involved. They participate in the guild, enter quilts in shows, buy fabric from the local shop rather than online, etc, etc.

    Also, I’ll be honest, I don’t understand Heather Ross as the standard bearer of the “modern” aesthetic. To me, the modern look goes so far beyond a single designer or a single line of fabric. The gorgeous quilt you posted is done in solids but is undeniably modern. Don’t get me wrong: using a single designer or line of fabric is “easier” in that everything will match, but I don’t think it really has anything to do with the “modernness” of a quilt.

  • jacquie

    July 28, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Reply

    we need to have our own show don’t we…invite our fav quilters, fabric designers, bloggers…what a blast that would be. while i think modern quilters are making inroads…the vast majority of quilt shops/guilds in my area cater to the traditional aesthetic. if i didn’t order fabric online, i’d never buy any (with sarah’s in lawrence being the exception). and i have to say….not being in the age range quoted above…you don’t have to be “young” to be modern and may i say….totally hip!

  • jaybird

    July 28, 2009 at 8:06 pm | Reply

    i’m sorry you didn’t see more that you liked… but i did have fun searching with you! i’m impressed that you took a picture of the entrance and overall shot of the floor.. i was too busy looking at fabric to remember to pull my camera out.. i took so few pictures! you have a great ability to know what you are looking for.. and be super selective.. and i envy it!

  • Dorrie

    July 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm | Reply

    Isn’t it funny that in our own little world we’ve taken to modern fabrics, patterns (or lack of) and created a whole new quilting revolution. I’m probably considered older in this new revival, but I enjoy Heather Ross, the fun Lecien prints and others that are considered non-traditional or modern. It’s so empowering to know there is a group of sewists out there who very easily pass up the more traditional fabrics and the “one way of doing things” mantra for a more self-satisfying approach and style of sewing!

  • LEslie

    July 28, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Reply

    i am always a dollar late and a day short. i had no idea there was a quilt festival this weekend. Where do you find these things? I also went to Urban Craft Center Sunday and they said you were doing another class soon. i can’t wait to start it.

  • Claudia

    July 29, 2009 at 8:38 am | Reply

    This was my second year attending the show (with my sister flew down from SF). I feel like I have one foot in the traditional quilting world and the other in the more modern one. I’ve been attending quilt shows for maybe 5 years and I have noticed a steady progression toward more modern fabrics at vendor stalls. I do think things are changing slowly. As much as I love designer prints (I picked up a bunch of Anna Marie Horner, etc.) I love looking at quilts without the “designer” element being so obvious.

  • Jamie

    July 29, 2009 at 11:44 am | Reply

    Hey Alissa-
    It was so fabulous to meet you… and as you know, I agree wholeheartedly about your assessment of the festival. Love that cowboy print! Keep in touch!

  • Handmade by Alissa » Blog Archive » What a difference a year makes!

    July 27, 2010 at 9:06 am | Reply

    […] you remember when I went last year? Well, things have changed! Not at all in terms of their offerings (in fact, I saw even less fabric […]

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