Survive Your First Big Quilt Festival
What to Bring
Pack a suitcase that's bigger than you need or a second empty suitcase (especially if you're flying and not driving). Make sure you have extra room for all your purchases.
Don't forget to bring a pen, notebook, or even a highlighter. You may be circling things in catalogs, mapping out a path to take at the show, or even taking down phone numbers of people you meet or notes on products or fabrics you love.
You may also want to bring a handwork project like EPP or embroidery. After a day of looking at all that quilty goodness, you'll feel inspired and want to do something creative! Plus, if you make new friends, you can suggest a craft night in the hotel lobby!
This may seem obvious, but don't leave your phone at home! You can use it to set alarms, take pictures, search social media to see what other attendees are excited about, find local restaurants, and more. You may also want to bring a charger with you, so you can power up if your battery runs low.
And don't forget your smile! Yes, we know your time there can be exhausting – both physically and mentally. But a smile gives you energy, lifts your mood, and makes you more approachable when meeting others.
What to Wear
You want comfortable shoes – we've tried in the past to wear something stylish and always end up regretting it. You may be on your feet for hours standing and walking, so make sure your feet are prepared! Be sure to pack some Band-Aids and Tylenol just in case. You may also want to dress in layers. Convention centers can be too cold or too hot, but never seem to be the perfect temperature.
Don't forget the bag! If you're doing shopping, you definitely want to have something to carry your purchases in! It can be a backpack or large tote, but remember those can get heavy after awhile. If you're buying a lot, it may be best to bring a small rolling carrier to avoid shoulder strain.
Show off your style! Quilters are visual people! Adorn some fun enamel pins, wear a cute lanyard, or sew your own clothes or bag. It will be a talking point to meet others and give you a chance to show your creativity.
Food and Snacks
Many shows have food on site, but the lines can be long and the food can be pricey. Pack your own water and some small snacks like a granola bar, fruit, or nuts to satisfy you. If you need a full meal, consider going off-site.
Navigating the Show
Most festivals have a map available, a list of vendors, or an online app with that information, so that you can plan in advance who you want to see. If you're really excited to see a specific vendor, plan to visit them first. People are there to shop, so if you wait too long, they might run out of products before you arrive to them. After you've hit your must-sees, you can walk row by row to make sure you don't miss anything.
And don't forget that many festivals also have quilt exhibits in the same building. So, if you need a shopping break, make time to wander through the exhibit and admire the quilts. Many times, the exhibit halls are quieter and less crowded, so you can truly recharge before heading back.
You're surrounded by hundreds of passionate quilters, shop owners, and designers. Make time to grab a coffee with others or ask those around you what they've seen that they've loved. You may discover a new find or a new friend!
If you're on a budget, you may also need to plan how to spend. When you're surrounded by so many quilting goodies, it can be easy to go overboard. Consider writing a shopping list before you arrive at the show, or bring yourself only so much money to treat yourself.
We hope these tips help you have a successful trip to your next festival! Trust us, you'll have a blast while you're there!