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Quilters increasingly turn to social media

By Leanne Fuller lfuller@paducahsun.com

Social media allow people from all over the world to connect over shared interests and ideas, and National Quilt Museum CEO Frank Bennett said quilters are no exception.

Bennett said quilters' presence on social media has been strong for some time, and continues to grow.

"Quilting is a community," Bennett said. "Because people are quilting all over the world, they need a way to share their work with other people and have conversations with other people in the community."

Bennett said the museum's Facebook page is approaching 25,000 likes, and it also has accounts on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Pinterest and Instagram each provide a platform through which quilters can share pictures of their work and other quilts they admire.

"Quilters love to share their work. They love to discuss quilts, and that's why our social media community is so large," Bennett said.

The American Quilter's Society utilizes social media as well, and Marketing Director Katherine Rupp said many of AQS's more popular posts on Facebook are about quilters admiring and appreciating each other. Quilters also use the organization's Facebook page to discuss quilting and share patterns and other content.

"The other great, fun thing about that," Rupp said, "is we actually get a little more information about our quilters."

She said interacting with quilters online allows AQS to find out things such as where quilters are from and where their interests lie.

AQS also runs its own social networking site for quilters: http://myquiltplace.com. With more than 17,000 members, the site allows quilters to post pictures and videos, join groups, post events people can go to, participate in forums and write blogs.

"That's kind of a playground for our quilters to come together and share information," Rupp said of the site.

As well as allowing quilters to communicate with each other, social media allow quilting businesses to interact with customers. Quilt in a Day, a California-based company that sells quilting books, fabric and notions founded by quilter Eleanor Burns, is active in social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

"The thing about it is, business is gravitating toward the Internet," said Melissa Abarca, manager of Quilt in a Day's Paducah shop. "When you have a business as obscure as quilting, you kind of have to get heavily involved in the Internet. It reaches more people."

Abarca said the company's California location handles social media, but the Paducah site benefits, too. The Paducah store has a separate website, and Quilt in a Day refers people to the Paducah website - http://eleanorburns.com - and the store itself. Satisfied customers can also spread the word about Quilt in a Day online, which Abarca said likely attracts new customers.

Bennett said social media also attract new people to quilting in general.

"It absolutely does, because the more pictures of work done by today's quilters that go on any social media platform, the more people who are not familiar with the art form will see these pictures and get a better understanding of what it is," Bennett said.

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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