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My First Market as a Moda Designer

My First Market as a Moda Designer

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

That sounds a little like a milestone from my baby book, doesn’t it? It should! Though I first started attending Quilt Market in Houston nine years ago, this year really did feel like a case of “baby’s first steps.”

Those steps started months ago, when Moda asked me to design a line of fabric based on feed sacks.


Feed Sacks: True Blue strike-offs. I was so excited by this selvedge!

This past summer I got “strike-offs” of the fabric—samples of the actual designs on cloth—and realized I’d better get serious about planning my Quilt Market booth and the quilts to make with my fabric. Over summer vacation I made lists and sketched quilt ideas on graph paper.

Once home, I started refining quilt designs with my friend, Pam. She is the perfect partner—smart, kind, and her quilt math is impeccable. We spent many hours going back and forth over designs. In the meantime, I haunted thrift stores for a few more blue items to use in my booth.

The weeks before Market were a whirlwind. Yardage of Feed Sacks: True Blue arrived while I was on a long-planned anniversary trip. Pam started cutting and sewing and by the time I arrived home she had completed a quilt top and cut fabric for two more. Other friends stitched for the booth, as well, making me a Liesel + Co Everyday Skirt, Wiksten Bloomers and Harem pants, and Double Nickel potholders. I embellished dishtowels with ½” hexies, bound quilts, and made a Me and My Sister Double-Wide Dresden pillow.

Half-inch hexagons stitched to Moda toweling
The most pleasant part of Market prep—sitting on the porch and binding this Metro Rings quilt.
Me and My Sister Double Wide Dresden pattern, made with their cool ruler. I used Moda chambray for the background and Moda Barkcloth toweling in Fog for the piping.

Because my fabric arrived while I was on a trip celebrating my 40th (gasp!) anniversary, the people at Moda offered to stitch, too—Tammy pieced May Chappell’s gorgeous Blooming Dresden, Carrie stitched a lovely, subtle quilt from Cake Mix #1, and Sarah D. pieced this Churn Dash based on a a late-1800s quilt from Mississippi. If there’s anything I can say about Market prep, it’s that it really does "take a village."

Carrie's beautiful Cake Mix quilt
Churn Dash quilt with Stacey Iest Hsu's adorable dolls in front. The "I Dream of Moda" booth was amazing!

I was pretty jittery flying to Market and during the Friday set-up. As I hauled in my booth items it was amazing to see the enormous hall in its pre-market phase—huge crates, and wads of cords, ladders, and boxes clogging the aisles. Pam and Codi (the owner of Home Ec Workshop, where I work one day a week) got the booth's cardboard walls covered with Grunge and hung plates with t-pins while Moda’s other new designer, Christopher Wilson-Tate, and I met the sales reps, showing them some of our quilts and telling them a little about ourselves. (We did the same thing again later that day with the international reps.) I had the chance to talk with a few reps over the course of Market and they were friendly, knowledgeable, and super helpful—you shop owners already know that!

Pam's and Codi's help was indispensable. So many dear friends helped me make this booth happen and I'm so very grateful.
New designer Christopher Wilson-Tate and Moda's Design Director Cheryl Freydberg share quilts sewn from Chris's Regency Blues collection with Moda sales reps.

Market opened the next day and I was delighted to be joined by my daughter Maggie, who drove over from Austin.

I'm wearing a Liesel + Co Everyday Skirt and Maggie’s top is Indygo Junction Easy Tunic and Top pattern, sewn by Amy Barickman's crew. Did I mention it takes a village?

We talked to visitors who stopped by the booth, sharing the backstory of Feed Sacks: True Blue and answering questions about the booth items, including the Indygo Junction Fabriflair stars and basket.

Outside, Houston was in the throes of World Series fever and Halloween celebrations. 

But inside, a different kind of energy going on. The colors, the people, the gorgeous fabrics and booth displays at every turn: Market was exhausting, but thrilling. I loved getting to meet shop owners face-to-face, including many I’d interviewed for the Cutting Table. The other Moda designers were warm, welcoming, and helpful, sharing pointers about Market and tips of the trade and I wish I’d had more time to spend with them. I am in awe of being in the midst of so much talent (and so glad Carrie shared examples of it in these two Cutting Table posts). And the Moda “family” answered all my (millions of) questions and made me feel great about taking on this new role with them—you'd think after writing for them for the past seven years I wouldn't have so much to learn, but I definitely do!

I am in awe of the behind-the-scenes work that each designer and the Moda staff does to make Quilt Market the inspirational event that it truly is...and delighted to be a part of it.

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