#101 Back From Houston: Impressions

We are back from market in Houston and we hd a great show!  This year we were in booth 2436 which was the center aisle end cap on the last row just before the FOOD COURT! It was awesome and we had GREAT Traffic! Overall the LIGHTHOUSES were a HUGE hit! The Holiday Houses continue to be very strong and of course the Birds and Butterflies always do well. It is always amazing to me how many new people we reach!

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I gave three Schoolhouse Presentations which were all WEIRD!!!! The first presentation was with Hoffman Fabrics featuring my Lighthouses and the 1895 Batik collection. I had dropped off the door prizes to Hoffman earlier.The presentation time approaches and the Hoffman people did not show up! OKAY _ so I winged it! It went okay – but I was pretty caught off guard! No Hoffman, no door prizes and I was “on”!

Schoolhouse two was at 4:45 – It was on Zebra Patterns Custom Design Services. However….Patti (our Sales Manager) called me in a panic and said you are scheduled at 4:15!!! for a Block of the Month Schoolhouse. Hmmm – I had submitted paperwork for that schoolhouse but was put on a wait list. Apparently the schoolhouse went through but I never got an email!  So can you all say – lets WING it AGAIN????

Schoolhouse two (I thought) – now schoolhouse three is on my new concept of Custom Patterns and my Where Ya Been Series…which is Scrapbooking for Quilters. I was totally prepared…until – oh NO! My main quilt is gone!!! YEP gone! Now I am a bit shaky  from winging the first two Schoolhouses and now – no QUILT!!! So one more time I winged it. The presentations were not great – however I do know that almost everyone who attended bought in to the Lighthouse series! So now the day is over and I am frazzled and visibly shaken!


It was a ROUGH Day to say the least! On the way back to the hotel Patti and I stopped at our favorite Mexican Restaurant – Guatalehara.  They have the best food – and it was happy hour. I needed a drink! They have AWESOME Mohitos! Keep in mind I rarely drink – ever! I needed a Mohito! I had one – then two then we switched to Chocolate Martinis- and finished with a Key Lime Martini. It was a hot time in the old time for us! After several hours Gary called and asked if we were ok. We said NO! He came and walked us three blocks home! It was a crazy scene! And at 2am I remembered why I do not drink!…OH yes – I was worshiping the porcelain god! An interesting tip…if you have to get sick drinking all that mint in the mojitos helps slightly when you are on your knees in the bathroom! LOL.  I can comfortably say drinking will be off my agenda for the next several years! I have only gotten sick twice in my life from drinking! Once when I was 18 and another when I was about 22 – and now 52!!! Good news I was able to get up on time and pop a few aspirin and do the show! I think I am cured for the next 30 years! That will make me 82 – maybe by then I will be ready for another drink!

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My overall impressions were not overwhelming. As I reflect back on the past 5 years we have attended market I had seen definite trends. The first year I can everything was browns and rusts and the homespun prairie look.  I just remember thinking I was not going to do well as I was not even close to that color palette and no where near the general folksy imagery. I was wrong and I stood out and landed my first book contract and tons of new business! The years that followed I remember a serge of aprons and small projects – like pincushions. Every other booth was an apron or kids outfit. Then came the Amy Butler phase where every booth seemed to have the bright retro colored large print florals and more aprons, kids clothes and home dec. Last year was the Modern movement of white quilts with very simple patterns and bold sparse colors. This year – there was a genuine mix. I saw much less modern, less aprons and kids clothes and more Easy to do Patterns.


We did great with the Lighthouses. The Holiday Houses continue to be a home run. The new SCRAPBOOKING for quilters with my New WHERE YA BEEN Pattern and CD and panel was defiantly something new! Everyone “got it”! It is very exciting and I look forward to adding more “Fabric sticker” packs. The first addition will be military!

Where Ya Been?

Where Ya Been?

Lighthouse Quilt

Debra Gabel designs Lighthouse Quilt Series

Lighthouses Logo



12 HH - Tabloid - Collection



It was very exciting to be a part of the 2014 Row by Row Experience presentation!  What is the Row by Row? Last year my friend Janet Lutz of Calico Gals in Syracuse approached me with an idea to include my FabricPlates™ in he New York Shop Hop. I have a pix below of some of the fun plates that were created. Janet made up a concept of a SUMMER LONG shop hop in which she did all the work. Quilt shops in NY just had to sign up and be a part of the hop. Janet compiled a list of participating shops and published on Facebook and other social media. There were no meetings, no advertising no fuss – just a plug for the store and an opportunity for quilters to hop all over the state of NY. She asked me to do an “optional” FabricPlate(™) program. Well it became like a beany baby frenzy! After one week Pennsylvania shops called and wanted in! The hop went all summer and I sold hundreds and hundreds of plates! I had designed the hop logo and the plates and Janet did the rest.

FabricPlate™ Program By Debra Gabel of Zebra Patterns

FabricPlate™ Program By Debra Gabel of Zebra Patterns

RowbyRow Wide logo2

The program was such a hit she decided to repeat and expand the program as she got inquiries from neighboring states and Canada!  So during my two CRAZY schoolhouses Janet pitched the program. OMG! It is going crazy! She has over 20 states – probably more by now – and it is going to be a fun new thing to do over the summer.

I guess I should explain what it is. Each participating shop designs a “row” pattern for the year’s theme. Last year 2013 was “Festivals and Fairs”. Each NY area has some notable fair..like an apple festival or a county fair. Quilters visit the shop and can get a FREE pattern or by the row kit for only 10.00. Janet sold well over 300 kits! Quilters went nuts planning day trips and overnight trips to different areas.

2014 Row x Row Theme

The 2014 theme is “Sew a Season”. It is on a whole other level as so many states have joined! I designed the logo and it is pictured below. Each shop will pick one season. They will make a row. Quilters can make a whole quilt of all winter or a quilt of every season. The first quilter to complete a quilt – fully sewn, quilted, bound and labeled wins a prize from the store they purchase the row kit from. They get their quilt posted and win a gift of the shops choice. This year we have fabric printed by Timeless Treasures – designed by me – Debra Gabel for the 2014 RxR Experience. It is going to be a ton of fun – so tell your shop to participate!

2014 RxR FabricPlates

So that was a HUGE POSTING! I am back from Houston and getting recharged for what is to come in 2014! I just realized it is the first time in quite awhile I posted with some humor! I have really been working way to hard! Last year was dedicated to trying some large trade shows – bad idea! This year is dedicated to expanding my book line and adding digital appliqué!  Keep tuned! No more drinking until 2033!!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jvan4803@gmail.com
    Nov 02, 2013 @ 12:47:14

    Gary & Debra Glad you are back and had a successful time. At Piece by Piece in Appleton, WI we are ready for the cardinal block to be sent to us for our November release. I am sending this from home.

    June Vandenberg, Store manager Piece by Piece 1350 B W College Ave. Appleton, wi

    ps. I will be back in the store on Monday Sent from my iPad



  2. Susan DeScioli
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 02:39:13

    Everything looks so great! The booth looks fabulous. Sounds like Houston was an adventure, as always. I’m so sorry we missed you this year but Boston was a great trip for us. See you next year.



  3. Sarah Eheart
    Nov 21, 2013 @ 10:32:23

    Debra, Loved your pictures and commentary of your adventures at Houston this year. Hope to be there next year to visit your booth in person. Have your complete house and butterfly series and hope to finish more of the blocks in 2014. Look forward to a new book soon. Thanks for the humorous touch in your patterns and blog!


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