Discover Vintage America - JUNE 2019

Tips for a great quilt show: Part two

In Part One, I detailed many of the logistics for dealing with the quilts such as hanging quilts, entry fees and signage. Read on for other important things you need to consider for a successful show. Again, having coordinators over each specific area is critical as well as having many volunteers.
Vendors, guild boutique, appraisers, classes and speakers.

1880s Hexagon quilt, Starley Collection (photos by Sandra Starley)

Besides seeing quilts and friends, one of the most enjoyable things about attending a quilt show is buying fabrics, patterns, and kits from vendors and seeing new products. Have a few area quilt shops come and sell at your show. You can also have a table for guild members to sell some of their stash of books or have a guild boutique shop in the show.

Vendors add a lot of interest to your event and the booth fees help pay for the costs of the show. Also, think about having a certified quilt appraiser do appraisals for a fee at the show. This provides a valuable service to your attendees allowing them to learn about their quilts (old and new) and properly insure them. Anyway, the public enjoys watching appraisers at work, especially on antique or unusual quilts.

Having a few quilting classes can make your show a must-see destination event. Engaging demos of easy quilting techniques or projects can also add buzz and create return visits. Why not bring in an interesting speaker to do a trunk show or an antique quilt bed turning?
Make your show an exciting event.

Quilt Show Appraisal Booth (quilts from Starley Collection)



It is crucial to get the word out about your show and to do so well in advance of the event. No one wants to do all the work for a fabulous quilt show and not have people come and enjoy it. There are so many methods now for spreading the information.

Newspapers are still a good option and along with a paid print ad, you can usually have free community event notices. If you do your homework and are persuasive, you can frequently get a free article too. Most print media have online formats that will show up in search engines to increase the reach of your advertising.

And speaking of online, of course, you need to harness the power of social media to advertise your show. Share information on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Set up a simple guild website or free blog to make the show details easy to find. List your event with local and regional arts and quilting sites.


Taxes, permits and raffle quilts

You may need to obtain a special event permit from your city, county or state. In many states, you will need to obtain sales tax forms for your vendors. They will be responsible for handing the sales tax from there. If you are charging admission fees, that money may be taxable. Some shows take donations at the door rather than charge entry fees. Check with your accountant for the rules in your area.

Also, double check with an accountant on using raffle quilts to help with show costs. In some areas raffling items is considered gambling and not allowed but treating the chance ticket money as a donation or having the money be for a small purchase (like candy) may be okay. Other states allow raffles but have very strict regulations requiring that you account for each ticket and file paperwork with the state.


Community event

Why not try hosting a quilt show in your town this year? It is a great way to share your love of quilting and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how many non-quilters will enjoy it as a community art event.

Sandra Starley is nationally certified quilt appraiser, quilt historian, and avid antique quilt collector. She travels throughout the U.S. presenting talks on antique quilt history, fabric dating classes and trunk shows as well as quilting classes. Learn more at Send your comments and quilt questions to

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