How to Prepare for a Trunk Show

If you’re a quilter, you know that showing off your work to others is one of the most exciting parts of the hobby. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s nothing like seeing the reactions of fellow quilters when they view your work. That’s why trunk shows at quilt guilds are so popular and provide a welcomed venue for a traveling speaker.

In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know to get ready for your next trunk show, including how to choose which quilts to take off the shelf and/or down from the wall, making a list as you pack them into suitcases, and preparing for a big show and tell.

Step 1: Choose Which Quilts to Take

It’s important to narrow down the focus of your trunk show, based on what you are wanting to share, how much time you have for your show and tell, and how many suitcases you can carry.

As a quilter for more than two decades I have a lot of quilts! My focus is based on sharing the quilts I have made as a Studio 180 Design Certified Instructor and as an Island Batik Designer. Most of my trunk show includes quilts made from my original designs and patterns. If you aren’t a designer or focusing on specific quilt making techniques, choose quilts that best tell your story.

Step 2: Taking Quilts Off the Shelf and Down from the Wall

Before you can pack your quilts for a trunk show, you need to take them off the shelf and down from the wall. Make sure you handle your quilts with care to avoid any damage. If your quilts are delicate, consider using a special wrapping or bag to protect them during transport.

Off the shelves and off the walls
Gathering all the quilts

Depending upon your talking points, group quilts together that showcase a particular topic or technique. Next decide the order of the groupings. Consider bringing unquilted tops that reflect your focus and skills, not only do they weight less than a finished quilt, but they also take up less space so you can actually bring more! 

Step 3: Packing Quilts into Suitcases

Once your quilts are ready to be packed, it’s time to select the right suitcase(s). You’ll want a suitcase that is big enough to fit all of your quilts, but not so big that it’s difficult to carry. I prefer rolling bags with telescoping handles. If you are flying to the event, check with the airlines for weight limits and the number of bags you are allowed to carry. 

Consider the size of your quilts and the amount of space you’ll need to pack them in a way that won’t wrinkle or damage them. Some quilters prefer to fold a special way or to roll them. I generally fold them with the backing facing out to create anticipation while waiting for them to be unfolded and revealed.

Step 4: Packing Order is Critical

If you have several suitcases, you may want to pack the quilts in the reverse order in which you will present them. I like to make a list of what is in each suitcase. One list is the packing order, from first in (bottom) to first out (top). The second list is the presentation order, including any speaker notations that would be helpful. This is also a helpful checklist to ensure no quilts are left behind! Don’t forget to label the suitcases with the presentation order!

Step 5: Preparing for the Show and Tell

Generally, you will need to request in advance to have a table or two to put your quilts on. I prefer to simply place the suitcases on the table, then take out one quilt at a time as I work through the suitcases. This works as an efficient way to reduce multiple handling of the quilts as well as keeping them contained and concealed until presented, creating an “anticipation” of what’s coming out of the “Mary Poppin’s” seemingly bottomless bag. 

Step 6: Showing Off Your Quilts

Finally, it’s time for the show and tell. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for – to show off your quilts to other quilters and hear their reactions. You’ll have the opportunity to share your inspiration, the story behind each quilt, and any special techniques or challenges you faced during the making of each quilt.

I like to recruit what I call “Quilt Wranglers”, or volunteers, to assist in holding up the quilts for the best audience viewing as they are being presented.  Generally, there are other volunteers who will be glad to help refold and replace the quilts back into the suitcases for the return trip to your studio. 

I have the best Quilt Wranglers!

In conclusion, a trunk show at a quilt guild is a great opportunity to showcase your work and connect with other quilters. By taking the time to properly prepare your quilts, pack them into suitcases, and set them up for the show and tell, you’ll ensure that your experience is a success. I hope you will happily be singing “on the road again” as you gain confidence in sharing your love of quilting!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, offering limited special engagements to share my trunk show and workshops. Let’s Talk Quilts!

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