Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Welcome to WTF Wednesdays, or WTF Wednesday #1

As you all know, I attended the Madison Quilt Expo.  My experience there led me to an epiphany of sorts, which I will detail further in this post.  Before I let you all get into the nitty-gritty of this particular epiphany (really, it's a rant), I have a few disclaimers:

First of all, note the title:  "WTF Wednesday".  That should pretty much say it all, but I'll be super clear just in case.  "WTF" is the acronym for "What the Fuck".  So, if that phrase at all offends you, you probably don't want to continue reading this new weekly segment.  

WTF Wednesdays are going to be my forum for sounding off on the various issues that hit my hot buttons.  And there are a lot of them, I'm realizing.  This is me turning my internal filter off, and letting fly with the things that irk me.  I'm going to try and keep them quilt-related, but you might see more of my more interesting personality quirks than you had really ever intended to.

Since you've been warned, trolls, flames, and other unpleasantness are not welcome.  Adult, engaged dialogue is totally encouraged and welcomed.  I have no intention of turning the filters back on for these Wednesdays.  It's my blog.  If you don't like it, you are more than welcome to not read.

Should you choose to join in, and I kind of hope you do, fill in the linky at the end of this post.

Now, onto the ranting...

It took me two passes through the vendors at the Madison Quilt Expo to talk myself into buying anything.


I'm not kidding.

Finally, when I purchased four yards of fabric from Nancy's Notions, I spotted this gem:

I repeat.  WTH??

Just... No.  NO.

Not in any world should a sweatshirt, no matter the number of alterations, be your go-to wardrobe option.  Not even when you've hit what seems to be Nancy's target demographic, the retirees.

Don't get me wrong!  If you're a retiree, more power to you.

However, this catalogue cover just epitomizes what kept bothering me throughout my wanderings at the Expo.

I'm just too damned young to be a quilter, apparently.  Age-ism runs rampant in quilting.

I could count the vendors offering more modern prints on one hand.  Yeah, in a 75,000 square foot vendor hall containing 153 vendors.  Yes, I counted.  Most of those vendors were offering such safe fabric options, I could have gone comatose from boredom.  Reproduction fabrics, particularly Depression Era, were rampant. And don't get me started on the number of pre-cuts.  Almost none of the vendors carried bolts of fabric.

Now, I understand that this was the Nancy Zieman Quilt Expo.  And I realize what age bracket Nancy falls into.

Just to be blunt, quilting's current target demographic, the female retiree is a shrinking demographic.  That customer base is going to, literally, die off.  And let's not even get into how many of us will even be able to afford to truly retire in this economy.  Marketers in quilting have done virtually nothing to woo generations X and Y, and even less to keep those two generations interested in the hobby.

Do they not realize that as the woman in my household, I control 90% of the discretionary income and how it's spent?  Does the quilting world not want my money?

Because that's certainly how it felt, and how it has felt over the last several months.  I realize that at 30, I'm in a minority as a quilter.  However, we're out there!  I follow the blogs of several dozen talented quilters who are all under the age of 45.

Really, just give me some freaking options!  There are so many other things I could be doing, other than quilting, and a lot of them offer far hipper color and pattern options.  They're actually trying to get me to spend money.

And, honestly, it really isn't that hard to get me open up my wallet.


Sandi said...

I know there are more options out there, and I'd love to support my local quilt shops, but they just aren't carrying the stuff I want to buy. I think part of the reason this show in particular was short on "our" fabric was geography. I think it drew a lot of shops that are in the area, and while we have a lot of shops, they're primarily traditional.

P.S. - Thanks for using "45" as the "under the age of..." when you talk about blogs you follow!

mjb said...

It's funny - I expected to have the exact same reaction when I went to my first quilt festival in February, being the same age as you. And while there weren't many other people my age (and you're aiming low - I read recently that the median age for quilters is 59!), I was surprised at the number of art quilts that I liked that were definitely in the "modern" category, and the number of sellers with at least some modern fabric prints available (none of which my local quilt shops carry). I have read that people are more likely to buy pre-cuts than yardage at shows, so that probably explains the lack of bolts. I was looking for things like notions (jumbo ric-rac), yarnspun/wovens, and hand-dyes that I wouldn't be as comfortable buying online, and definitely spent at least $100. Lizzie House's video from quilt market is great about this - if quilt shop owners and quilt show organizers had any idea how much discretionary income I spent on fabric (easily $100/month) they'd be courting our market to a much bigger degree!

Kathy said...

After reading your posts backwards, I'm very happy that I didn't make it to the expo. I think local quilt stores need to understand that not everyone is a grandmother and retired. I'm not fortunate enough to have children and I work for a living, quilting is a release to me from the day to day stress. I hate going to shops that only feature options for the 60 plus crowd. What about the cool, young(ish), people who want some style in their lives? It makes me want to start my own place, if I were brave enough.....

Deb said...

Know what? You're right. And so are they. I've been quilting for 15 years, and am still 20 years younger than the 'average' quilter.

I think the problem is that modern quilting exists mainly in cyberspace, not in real space. If we go out, into quilt stores, and to guilds, and to quilt shows. We need to go in and ask for something that's not a primitive applique, or 1930s churndash blocks. Then, when they offer it, we need to go and participate, bring our friends, not order more fabric on-line and google for a tutorial on the pattern.

I think it's not age-ism, I think it's capitalism. Quilt stores are playing the numbers game. Think about the 80/20 rule, and that probably 70% of the quilters are 50 and above. Business is all about the numbers.

I also don't buy that it's a shrinking demographic. Quilters spend 10% more than we did 4 years ago, even if there are fewer quilters out there. The 'typical' quilter may not be retiring, but since her kids are out of the house she's got time on her hands. And grandbabies to sew for.

But that doesn't mean that we deserve to be ignored. I, like you, went to a big quilt show in the last month (300 quilts, etc) and walked out of there with a pattern (because I felt bad that I keep making quilts from cover photos) and a book (which was 40% off). I went to the Long Beach Quilt show and came back with one FQ pack.

For fun - google "Quilting in America 2010 survey" and see how a 2010 survey defines quilters.

Deb /

Ginny said...

Ok so I am coming to this post late, but I had to jump in because I totally agree! I am 42 and my quilting buddy is 45, we go to one quilt group thing each month (the store that holds it has really good sales that night) Sadly the ladies that run the thing cater to the "old biddies" as we call them. The worst part is about 1/4 of the people who attend are close to my age, yet they still act like old biddies! Someone has convinced these people that for their quilts to be acceptable they must be "reproduction fabrics" I could just VOMIT at the 30's repo fabrics or worse the civil war fabrics. The sad thing, this store carries some of the best modern, hip, groovy and cool fabric, yet they never never show case those fabric! ARGGG as you can see it makes me a bit NUTS. I do tend to lean towards the traditional when I quilt, but I shy away from oldie moldy fabrics and colors! Some day soon (I hope) these stores will figure out that we "younger" quilters want fun fabrics. We after all are the ones NOT on a social security income... BTW, the best quilt shop I have ever seen for was in Washington state on this little island, my favorite three... one with black and white bras and panties, one with black, white and red SEXY bras and panties, and the third was white with multi colored bras with definitions! It was great. Still considering either a quilt or a purse, and am leaning heavily towards the purse!

Unknown said...

*sssp!* I'm OVER 45. But let's not tell anyone, k? ;)

That said, I agree with you. It's why I never go to quilt shops (and I mean never - I went to two in the first year of my quilting and figured out that they just weren't my thing), and why I always buy my fabric from the fashion district or rarely, at The Textile Museum.

Contemporary quilters unite! :)

MariQuilts said...

Okay girls, lets not bunch all of us old ladies together. You have to admit we baby boomers probably have more money to spend than the younger quilters. If I want something I buy it, when my kids lived at home that just wasn't possible. But money aside I perfer modern and graphic type fabric's and quilts...I do often feel a litlle out of sink..or should I say a lot out of sink with my age group (over 50). The quilt shops in my area (Western Canada) are pretty good wth their selection. I would hpoe that age doesn't define our artistic talent. Also if you think the selection is limited you should have seen it 15 years ago.

McKenna said...

I agree with 99% of what you said. I too find the demographic of quilters in general to be on the high side but in all fairness to the more senior ladies out there, almost everything in our society is geared toward the youth population. If quilting and all its paraphernalia weighs more heavily toward older quilters well its probably one of the few that do. Now, with that said I agree completely that vendors need to rethink their target market and realize that not all of us are retirees.


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