Close Window

A Trip to New York City

Have you ever wondered about how and when a fabric collection is born, or what will be the next quilting color trend? What determines if dots or stripes are the next "in" thing in quilting? For answers to these questions, it seems that New York City is the place to go to actually see how some of the textile companies determine and select what you see in the shops. Many, but not all, textile companies have offices in the the Big Apple, and that's where a bit of insight can often be found.

Deep in the heart of New York City.

As the new fabric releases hit the marketplace, the textile companies are already working on the next season, and in some cases, even further out into the future. The cycle is ever changing and growing. The quilting industry, much like fashion, is always working ahead, trying to meet the demands of the consumer and to be the first to jump on a trend.

It's all about timing and knowing what their customer base needs and wants. The textile industry is always one step ahead of the quilter -- well, they try to be. It seems to me that when we quilters have an idea and head to our local quilt shops, the fabrics we wish for are usually there. I, for one, can almost always find what I want.

On a recent trip to New York City, I had the rare privilege of taking a peek behind the design wall; that is, I had a chance to look at designs on the drawing board that were being readied for preview and printing. It's amazing how much work goes into each printed fabric.

There's a real science to putting together a collection of fabrics.

Each fabric is viewed and then reviewed. It is tweaked, increased and decreased in size, and re-colorized; then they start again. Everything has to be perfect before the design is sent to be printed. The fabrics are color-copied onto paper and grouped. Names and numbers are given to the prints to identify them. The collections are prepped for their debuts at one of the annual quilt markets, and the final touches are added for viewing by the retail merchants.

Textile companies do their homework. They pay very close attention to what you are buying, and with great care, they try to forecast your needs. It's a tricky business.

After all the research and collaborating with designers, it's still not a sure thing. There's still one more consideration: How will the fabrics work within a quilt design? Is there enough contrast? Are the scales compatible? Are there fabrics that will read as tonals? How do all the prints in the collection work together? Is the collection complete or will there be a need to search for companion fabrics to accompany the collection? After this experience, I have a newfound appreciation for all the work and preparation that goes into a collection. The next time I'm in a quilt shop or shopping online, I'll consider all that goes into those collections a bit more. They deserve that.

While I was in New York I also had the privilege of seeing some of the sample yardage rooms.

Just some of the wonderful fabric collections in your local quilt shops.

I have to say, it was better than my own personal stash. Which brings me back to our readers, and to scrap and stash solutions. I'm still sorting through many of your emails, letters and suggestions. I'm sharing more of your ideas in the Letters From Our Readers section and will continue to so in each newsletter. I hope some of these ideas help you. I know I've found several ideas that may work for me.