Organizing Canopy Displays for Festivals

I am a super planner person who sometimes drove coworkers nuts in my professional life before retirement.  I find the PLANNER in me comes out big time when I’m preparing for a festival.  Every festival prep is different because the inventory of quilts is different and sometimes the target audience is different.  You may want to display more small and medium quilts in some markets whereas experience may show large quilts are good sellers in other communities.  And I want to know exactly which quilts are being hung on which walls in my canopy for the start of the festival.  Clearly, as soon as one quilt sells, IMG_7239which you hope is the first hour, you begin to improvise.  That is OK…I just know I want a plan initially.

It is hard to find a 10′ x 7′ floor space in our house that I can use to lay out quilts.  Plus, the act of IMG_7244putting anything on the floor means that the quilts will become cat hair magnets which is UGH!!  And, you can’t really get a good impression of the quilts hanging when they are laying on the floor.  The first two years I found myself putting the canopy up and down between shows to organize my quilts.  But really….that became tiring!!  Carting the quilts outside, up and down stairs, putting the canopy up and down…there had to be a better way.

Now I have a “set up” space in a spare bedroom over our garage which is a room with plenty of length for the 10′ wall space.  In order to simulate the actual walls of the canopy so I can use the mesh hanging system, I drilled two hooks into the ceiling, hung 2 fabric slings, and then hung one of the 10′ poles from the canopy in the two slings.  It looks like a very long trapeze bar!  (see photo) Then I can hang each mesh wall, one at a time, onto the metal pole (see photo) and layout my walls for the canopy.  I actually inseIMG_7254rt and attach the clear plastic twist ties for each quilt hanging from a dowel, creating a loop for the ends of each quilt’s dowel. (see photo)  I use “S” hooks for quilts hanging by plastic rings.  After the layout is established on each mesh wall, the quilts come off the walls and get organized for travel. I roll up the mesh walls individually and when I unroll them at set up, the twist ties and hooks are ready for the quilts.  It takes less than 30 minutes to hang all the quilts once the canopy is set up!  And most important…I take a picture of each wall on my ipad to remind me which quilts go where.  This set up space is mere steps from IMG_7251my sewing studio and where all my quilts are stored so there is no carting up and down stairs.  With 80 quilts in my inventory, it is nice to have them all available to select which ones I want first for the canopy.  Necessity is the mother of invention!

I almost forgot, some festival venues have set up tight against each other so I can’t walk outside the side or back walls.  In order to hang replacement quilts after sales, this means I cannot use my clear plastic ties with the replacement quilts.  So IMG_7205prep for festivals with this restriction on canopy access involves putting safety pins on the upper corners of each quilt so I can hang all quilts with “S” hooks.  (see photo)

This first festival in Lewisburg, PA I have a perfect spot where I can also hang quilts on the outside of each side wall.  This means I had FIVE walls to organize yesterday…which took more hours than I thought it would!  But we are ready for Saturday!!


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