Quilting and Fiber Art Marketplace opens with wall-to-wall shoppers

Fabric, food and fellowship found at fourth annual arts and crafts event
Jan. 12, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

Questions about yarn weight floated through the air Friday, mixing with the smell of perfume and food from Mrs. Lacy's restaurant, during the first day of the fourth annual Quilting and Fiber Art Marketplace at the Dennis Wicker Civic Center in Sanford.

The arts and crafts show was packed as hundreds of people looked through fabric swatches, quilts and design books at nearly three dozen vendor booths. The event, which will continue today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., had seen about 600 people by 2 p.m. on Friday, according to organizers, who said the biggest rush was early in the morning as people came out for door prizes and other early bird specials.

Those will continue today, with a drawing for a Pfaff hobby sewing machine at 11 a.m. and a drawing for a goodie basket at 4 p.m. Entries for both drawings have to be submitted before 11 a.m. at the event, which costs $5 for admission. Organizers said the event is on pace to beat last year's attendance of about 1,100 by a long shot, since today should be even busier than Friday.

Patti Cline, event organizer and co-owner of The Quilter's Gallery in Cleveland, N.C., with her sister, Cindy Page, said this is one of three Marketplace activities they put on as a way for female small business owners — a description she said fits most, if not all, of the vendors at the event — to make some money while meeting and socializing with others who share their passions.

"If you're a little shop, and you get $1,000 extra (this weekend), that could get you over the hump," she said. "... A lot of them are doing this for fun, but bottom line is you have to make money."

She said vendors will keep all the proceeds they make this weekend, except for a fee to pay for operating and rental costs.

One of those vendors was Suzanne Christopher, owner of Find X Designs, located at 719 Carthage St. Christopher said she thinks her business is not only the only local vendor this weekend, but the only place at all in Sanford to buy materials for quilting and other such projects, and that she was glad to have the chance to advertise her relatively new store — it opened in May — this weekend.

"We've had a lot of people come out," she said just after giving an out-of-town visitor directions to her store to see an even bigger selection of material. "It's been a good day so far."

It was a good day for customers, too. Local resident Ann Clarke, a member of the local Hearts and Hands ECA Quilter's Guild, came out searching for a piece of fabric that matched the dress of several geisha figures she had sewn into a wall hanging with a Japanese theme. But once she realized she hadn't originally bought enough fabric for the hanging, which will measure approximately 4 feet by 3 feet when complete, she went back to the original store only to find they didn't have the right color anymore.

"I thought, 'Goodness, I'll have to either find it here or just start another,'" she said. Ultimately, Clarke did find some fabric that wasn't an exact match, but which she said was close enough to get the job done.

"I almost always give them as gifts," she said, explaining what she would do once she's done with the hanging. "Although sometimes, I'll keep one for myself."

A list of all the show's vendors, plus more information about the event, can be found at http://quiltersgallery.net.