News and Trends from International Quilt Market






It’s a question asked by retailers across our industry—“How can businesses attract the next generation of sewists?”


While there isn’t one single answer to that question, well-known quilters and industry members Tracy Mooney and Cheryl Sleboda think they have found
AN answer in the form of cosplay. Participants in this ever-growing hobby and movement wear—and often create—costumes and accessories that represent a particular fictional character.


Earlier this year, Mooney and Sleboda announced their new
Sew Much Cosplay™ brand, which aims to bring cosplayers products and techniques to make their sewing and costumes better, while also educating stores about how to attract this underserved audience.


For this edition of eInsider, we spoke with the dynamic duo about their new venture, product partnerships, and how retailers in the industry can cultivate new customers from the world of cosplay.





eINSIDER: First, please tell me about the Sew Much Cosplay brand—what is it, what types of projects and products do you offer, and how?


MOONEY/SLEBODA: With Sew Much Cosplay, our focus is to reach cosplayers through sewing education and better products for cosplay. We partnered with RNK Distributing early in 2017 with plans to create a line of products for cosplayers that would be available in independent sewing stores.


The products we have developed so far consist of stabilizers, interfacings, interlinings, and fusibles. There’s also a high density, closed-cell EVA foam in two thicknesses that is ideal for making armor or props. We have a quilting product for making pixelated quilts that we are very excited about. It’s perfect for making 8-bit or gamer quilts. For super shiny stuff, we have some vinyl backed foil and glitter coming in several colors. We even have specialty scissors for sewing and armor making. Plus, we have many more products in development.




eINSIDER: You say that cosplay is the future of sewing. Can you expand on that idea a bit?


MOONEY/SLEBODA: Cosplay (which is a mash up of the words “costume” and “play”) has been around much longer than you might think, but the first major comic book convention was around 1970. People have always dressed up for these conventions.


The popularity of cosplay has grown over the past several years, and it is not losing momentum. Making costumes for cosplay is no different than quilting – once you’ve caught the bug, you need to make more! We believe strongly that this is a very large entry point into sewing today.




eINSIDER: Who are cosplayers? And why do you feel it is important that the sewing/quilting industry embrace and try to reach this audience?


MOONEY/SLEBODA:  About half of cosplayers are between 18 and 29. They spend whatever it takes to make a costume look “screen accurate” and one costume can cost several hundred dollars. Wearing the same cosplay for multiple days at a show or convention is considered a faux pas. Once someone gets into cosplay, they are making several costumes per year. If you are looking for a younger customers, this is where they are.





eINSIDER: For a retailer who typically gears their inventory and marketing toward the general sewist and/or quilter, how can they begin to incorporate merchandise and marketing ideas to appeal to the cosplay audience?


MOONEY/SLEBODA: Cosplayers need a full range of notions for sewing, so anything you would suggest for a beginner works here.


Sew Much Cosplay™ products will be rolling out to stores this fall and will be better than anything cosplayers are currently using in their costumes. Those coming to Quilt Market in Houston can stop by the RNK booth to chat with us and see our new products.


Or, visit and click on “Stores” to sign up for our retailer newsletter and to learn about some of the things we are doing specifically for stores who want to learn more about reaching this demographic.




eINSIDER: Are there items that most sewing/quilting retailers already sell that are well suited to cosplay garments or projects?


MOONEY/SLEBODA:  Absolutely! Cosplayers sew with a variety of fabrics and materials. They need the right needles for the job like jersey, stretch fabrics, leather, etc. They may have already purchased a starter machine at a big box store, but that machine may not be working well on the materials they are using. They need to know what a good machine sews like, so we want them to go in and meet their local sewing retailer.


Licensed fabrics are ideal for this customer too. If you teach beginner sewing classes, consider stitching up a sample for your class in licensed fabric—like Star Wars or “Doctor Who”—to appeal to a cosplayer.




eINSIDER: Finally, how do you feel your creative and professional backgrounds have prepared you for this particular venture.


MOONEY/SLEBODA:  Cheryl was an executive of a comic book distributor in customer development for 20 years and spent the last 10 years traveling to comic conventions across the country. She is also a nationally known quilter and teacher, and has her own quilt business. Her theatre costuming background and pop culture experience make her a perfect match for the cosplay business.


As senior editor for Generation Q magazine, Tracy designed projects for kids learning to sew. However, she earned about cosplay through her children. With three kids and as a mom who sews, she was often the person who would get hit up in the weeks and days before the conventions to help make cosplay costumes and accessories.


Together, we make a great team and are dedicated to helping retailers reach the next generation of sewists.




International Quilt Market/Houston

October 28-30

Classes begin October 27

George R. Brown Convention Center

Houston, Texas, USA


International Quilt Festival/Houston

November 2-5

Preview Night November 1

Classes begin October 30

George R. Brown Convention Center

Houston, Texas, USA





International Quilt Market/Portland

May 18-20

Oregon Convention Center

Portland, Oregon, USA


International Quilt Market/Houston

November 3-5 (NOTE LATER DATES)

Classes begin November 1

George R. Brown Convention Center

Houston, Texas, USA



NOTE: Quilt Market is a credentialed
trade show only, and not open to
the public.

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News and Trends from International Quilt Market