CNA Reprinted with permission from CNA magazine, an imprint of F+W Publications.
t the age of 19, I thought quilting meant women (usu-
ally older women) using calico fabric, old clothing
and old curtains to make unattractive quilts. Most of the
quilts I had seen were of the "Handmade in China" variety.
The others were either made by someone's grandmother
or belonged to their grandmother as a child. Usually they
were traditional patterns: Dresden Plate, Sunbonnet Sue or
Grandmother's Flower Garden, for example.
I now realize that quilting is not just about old women and
old fabric. How did I, an obviously misguided young woman,
start quilting? I went into a quilt shop. Yes, it's that simple. I
went into the shop and saw a flannel log cabin, and I wanted
that quilt. My mother said that I needed to take a beginner
class before I tackled the more challenging log cabin, and,
because I would have been intimidated to go to the class
alone, we took it together. Now quilting is my passion.
Visit Your Store
Your store can be an intimidating place to young women.
To put this into perspective, imagine going into a store to buy
a gift for a teenager. Inside you find loud music, pictures of
barely clad models and hip young employees sporting worn-
out clothing looks.
Do you feel apprehensive upon entering this store? If you
go in, you will want your experience to be quick. A quilt shop
can be just as uncomfortable for people born after the Carter
administration, the quilt shop experience can be just as
intimidating as your experience in a store designed for them.
Consider your shop from an objective point of view. The
attitude you project is an important influencer in terms
of whether younger customers, who may not see them-
selves reflected in your store employees, feel comfortable.
Friendliness is the key! As an owner, you need to be sure that
your employees are friendly to new quilters of all ages, but
help them realize how important it is to put younger poten-
tial quilters at ease.
Keep in mind that a younger quilter has different spending
habits than your typical customer. If she sees a fabric she loves,
she will probably have to buy some of it. In my experience, she
will figure out a project involving the fabric and buy all the
Attract Young Women
by Christine Welch
fabric she needs at the same time. Most younger quilters do
not intend to build a stash. If she is going to buy one fabric,
she'll want some coordinates to go with it.
Is your store well lit, neat and inviting? If your shop is dark
and disorganized, new customers will have to work to find
what they need. Use bright lighting, and have plenty of open
space for people to move around without feeling crowded.
Do you carry bright, colorful and fun fabrics? I have yet to
see a younger woman get excited by primitive fabrics and his-
torical reproductions. Yes, there are markets for those fabrics,
but if you want younger customers, you need bright and fun
fabrics as well. You don't have to fill the store with them, but
some novelty prints near the door are a great way to attract
younger customers. Batiks are popular with younger quilters
because they are clear, bright colors. Texture is also a big draw
for younger people. Because they are soft and touchable, my
friends love the baby quilts made for my son.
Are your models and displays interesting? Be sure that some
of your models are fun. Showcase a baby quilt out of bright
Minkee fabric, or make up small wall hangings for different
holidays. There are lots of fun fusible appliqué patterns that
are quick to make. Kit one up and see what kind of response
you receive. Your goal is to find something that is irresistible to
If you are struggling to understand what appeals to younger
customers, look to popular women's general interest and shel-
ter magazines. The next time you are shopping at a discount
store like Wal-Mart or Target, wander through the home décor
aisles. Look at the colors and patterns that jump out at you.
You may already carry fabrics and patterns that will appeal
to the younger customer. The key is to bring these things
together, along with a genuine desire to pass on the love of
quilting, to inspire the customer with possibilities. The young-
er customer is eager to put her personal stamp on her home
décor, whether it's in an apartment or starter home.
Christie Welch is a principal in Two Chicks Designs. In addition to her
quilt pattern line, she offers a wide range of novelty T-shirts that appeal
to quilters of all ages. To learn more visit www.tcdwholesale.com.