Heather Grant, former Director of Marketing and Programming at the Modern Quilt Guild, has created a new non-profit organization called the Strategic Sewing and Quilting Summit that aims to grow the consumer market for sewing. The organization’s first event will take place this summer in Chicago (dates have yet to be announced) and will consist of a day and a half of roundtable discussions among key players in home sewing and quilting. The goal of the event is to develop a strategic plan for the sewing industry.

Attendees at this invitation-only summit will include independent retailers, event producers, prominent influencers, established designers, and company executives. Everyone in attendance must be a CEO, owner, or president of a company that exceeds $100,000 in gross revenue. Request an invitation here. Exceptions will be made for roundtable facilitators (apply here to become one).

Grant first floated the idea for the Summit at Fall Quilt Market where she held an informal meeting with several fabric company presidents and other executives to discuss feasibility.

The Summit’s board of directors has identified several major hurdles the sewing industry currently faces including the aging demographic of sewers, the lack of formal sewing education in schools, and the changing retail landscape. A future goal is to “conduct research on the state of the industry and understanding the end consumer.”

Serving on the board are Paul Ashworth, CEO and President of Bernina USA, Amy Barrett-Daffin (Marson), Publisher at C&T Publishing, Pokey Bolton, CEO at Crafting a Life, LLC, Jen Beeman, Founder of Grainline Studio, Michelle Engle Bencsko, Co-owner and Creative Director of Cloud9 Fabrics, Scott Fortunoff, President of A. E. Nathan Company, Inc., Blank Quilting Corporation, and Studioe, Johanna Fox, owner of Stitchcraft, Salima Jaffer, owner of AAA Sewing & Fabric, Steve Jeffery, Senior VP Product Development at Tacony Corporation, Jaime Jennings, Co-owner of Fancy Tiger Crafts, Rick Kimmelman, President of Pineapple Fabrics, and Mickey Krueger, President of Windham and Anthology Fabrics.

“I am thrilled to be working on developing the strategic plan for the industry with leadership. This has been a passion of mine for many years,” says Grant, “and I’m looking forward to working on our goal to educate, create desire, and help grow the sewing community.”

She expects there to be between 80-100 attendees at this summer’s Summit.

There seems to be a growing interest in thinking more broadly about the sewing industry as a whole. Last year Quilts, Inc., the company that owns Quilt Market, the quilt industry trade show, as well as International Quilt Festival, the largest quilting consumer quilt show in the US, sent out a survey to trade show attendees gauging interest in a “state of the industry” panel discussion.

Interest must have been high because the event is on the docket for Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh May 15-17. That panel will be moderated by Suzanne Hyland, Director of Education and Industry Relations, and will include Stan Gray, Chairman of EE Schenck Company, Mark Hyland, CEO of Premier Needlearts, and Heidi Kaisand, Publisher of American Quilt Retailer. Insights from the the 2020 Quilting Survey which polled 800,000 quilters will also be shared.


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