A handbook for attending a national quilt show or expo

Most quilters end up attending a quilt show at some point in their quilt careers. Some of the big national shows can be daunting. Below is a set of suggestions for helping you get the most out of your quilt show experience.

1. Don’t touch any of the quilts. – For many of us, this rule seems unnecessary; we would never dream of touching someone else’s quilt. But in fact, at every major show, there is someone who manhandles a quilt to get a closer look or to check the back. This is especially important if you are touching your OWN quilt in a show. You are not educating those around you that you should not touch quilts on display. All shows have white glove volunteers who will help you and have protection to guard these works of art from grimy hands.

2. Don’t take pictures in the vendor area. – Even if the show has a lax photography policy, it is very important to know this cardinal rule. The vendors rely on the samples they hang in their booth to drive sales on the patterns hey create. You may see a wonderful quilt that you think you can recreate without the pattern, and want to photograph it for ideas. This is against the purpose of the vendor hanging the quilt, and might even be copyright violation. In all cases, please ask the vendor first before photographing their booth.

3. Don’t post pictures of quilts from a show on the internet. – This is very important for the copyright holder of the quiltmaker. Also, by posting pictures, you are opening the quilt maker up to having that image appear on trinkets like coffee mugs and mousepads should your image be taken off of your website and used without your permission. While the pictures can be on your computer for your personal viewing and use, once you “publish” them on the internet, all kinds of legal issues pop up. Save yourself the trouble, and view them privately.

4. DO take classes. – A major show is the perfect time to meet with and learn from “famous” quilters whose books or patterns you admire. Even if the technique is not 100% to your tastes, take the class and you are bound to learn SOMETHING. Even if that something is that teaching might be something you want to do in the future!

5. DO have fun. – Do a make-n-take project, learn from the vendor floor demos, look at gorgeous quilts, take a class, and meet with friends. The show is about fun, and quilts, so enjoy it.

6. Wear comfortable shoes. – I know, I know. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, this is to say comfortable shoes are also not shoes you just purchased. Wear comfortable BROKEN IN shoes. Trust me. Especially if you will be at the show multiple days. If your feet hurt, you will not have a good time.

7. Spend money. – The vendors area is a tempting pit of goodies to empty your wallet. Be prepared ahead of time to spend your money, but wisely! At one show, I spent a certain amount of money per day so that I could afford to come back in the next day and still shop, and also eat some food, and park my car! Another tip is to make sure that if you want to chance coming back to a booth to buy something later, be sure to note what aisle number you are in, even write it in a notebook. You can lose a vendor booth quickly, and end up never finding them again. One more thing: The more unique the item, the better chance it will be sold if you come back for it. If it’s unique, evaluate whether or not you need it now or can chance it being gone later.

8. Follow the show rules. – Ok, ok. I know what you are thinking. Are we not old enough to read and follow directions, or so infantile that we have to be told this? Well, in some cases, apparently… If the show has a “No Photography” rule, respect it. If a show rule says no rolling bags allowed, this does not mean you are the exception.