QuiltCon: My Thoughts


By now, you’ve probably seen at least a dozen posts about QuiltCon (I know I have), so today my challenge is to attempt to add something new to the conversation! QuiltCon was amazing and thoroughly inspiring. But it was also a bit overwhelming and a lot of work for me, since I taught three classes. That means I didn’t get to see or do everything I might have liked, and I certainly didn’t take as many pictures as I should have! But I’ll do my best to sum up my thoughts on the full experience.

Flame by Rebecca Bryan of Bryan House Quilts

There was a lot of discussion before the show (especially around the time people found out whether their quilts were juried in) of what type of quilts would be in the show. Now that we’ve seen them all, I personally think the full spectrum of modern quilting was well-represented at QuiltCon. In my own opinion, design is the single most important element of a modern quilt, and it seemed clear that the show organizers held that opinion as well. That’s not to say quilting and technical skill aren’t important, because of course they are, and the best quilts had all those things going for them. But there was no question in my mind that the quilts that were shown at QuiltCon were all examples of design at its very best, and as a graphic design nerd, I’m all about that. : )

Geometric Rainbow by Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft

If there was any one over-arching design lesson that we can take away from QuiltCon, I think it’s this: Get creative with your layouts! If you aspire to make quilts that push the envelope and/or are worthy of a modern quilting show (not everyone does, and that’s completely fine, but if you do), don’t keep doing the same four-blocks-across-and-five-down layouts that we’ve seen over and over again since, oh, the 1800s. Easy for me to say, right? Since I taught a workshop on creating alternate layouts at the show. : ) But walking around the floor, it was pretty hard to miss the layout creativity that was on display. There is so much more you can do with the blank canvas of a quilt top.

Diamond Dust by Doris Brunnette of Made By a Brunnette

Maybe that’s particularly important in my own little niche of modern quilting, Modern Traditionalism. I think the QuiltCon Modern Traditionalism category was trying to tell us that it’s great to use traditional blocks in a modern quilt, but if you’re going to go that route, you need to offset those traditional designs by getting really creative with the layout. I personally submitted 6 quilts for QuiltCon, and had 4 accepted into the show. The 4 that were accepted had alternate layouts, which used negative space and/or block structure in unexpected ways. The two that weren’t accepted? Standard tiled layouts. And I don’t think I’m the only Modern Traditionalist who had that same experience. And you know what? I think that’s awesome. Because: Design, you guys. : )

What’s the Point by Susan Slusser Clay
That’s not to say that every quilt I make from here on out is going to have an alternate layout. The truth is that I enjoy quilts with traditional layouts just as much as the ones with more unique layouts. My Spin It Again quilt from my book Vintage Quilt Revival was rejected from QuiltCon. It’s still one of my favorite quilts I’ve ever made, and I’m sure I’ll want to make more like it in the months ahead. But a show like QuiltCon is supposed to inspire us, get our creative juices flowing, and move us in new directions. That’s exactly what the show did for me, and hopefully many others. There were plenty of new directions hanging up in that convention center, and I can hardly wait to see what we all come up with next, thanks to this show!
Balancing Act by Amanda Hohnstreiter

In general, QuiltCon 2015 really was a whirlwind—with my teaching schedule, I barely had time to get through the entire show floor. I had literally NO time for shopping and came home without buying a single solitary thing (the horror!). And at times the show felt a bit too overwhelming and chaotic. The quilts were displayed in pod-like groupings, instead of in rows, and I really wish it would have been set up in rows, so I could have gone through it more methodically. All the beautiful colors and designs are distracting enough as you’re walking through—I tried several times to get through the whole show and hit areas I had previously missed, but somehow there were still whole sections of the show that I never saw (including the Gee’s Bend quilts).

Lovely Fishbourne by Mandy Leins of Mandalei Quilts 
(I liked Mandy’s “Egg and Dart” quilt that was in the show even more than this one, but my picture of it is terrible, sorry!)

So I’m going to wrap up this post with photos of a few more personal favorites from the show. I really wish I would have gotten better photos, but …. yeah, whirlwind again. : ) Enjoy, and if you’re thinking about attending Pasadena in 2016, well, book your hotel right now. If not sooner. LOL.

Modern Lily Bean by Claire Jain of Sewing Over Pins (I love how this one looks like Pyrex!)
Iceberg by Crystal McGann of Raspberry Spool
Percolate by Emily Cier of Carolina Patchworks
Upstairs by Kristen Lejnieks
17 replies
  1. Marty Mason
    Marty Mason says:

    Love your take on the quilts that made QuiltCon 2015 such a great show for me. It truly was the unconventional block placement that inspired me. Oh, and I do so much enjoy the openness of the hanging quilts as well as the light drapes on which they hang. When quilts hang row after row (while that does make for faster viewing) it creates a tunnel effect which I think takes away from an otherwise wonderful quilt display. It is what I call a 'dark hole' quilt show.

  2. Carrie Wikander
    Carrie Wikander says:

    I agree with what you said about how they hung the quilts; not everyone had multiple opportunities to see the entire show and it literally tooj hours to go thfough it all.

    I definitely came away inspired and with many nee ideas. Sure is fun to see the enormous creativity!

  3. Kitty
    Kitty says:

    I think you are so right in that design layout is KEY in the modern quilting world. That's part of why your workshop was so paramount in my QuiltCon experience. If I had all the time in the world, I would love to try to implement each of your alternate layout strategies for different quilts, and really… I guess I do have all the time in the world since I hope to be quilting for a long, long time still. Between seeing the quilts in the show (and I definitely did not see all of them) and the workshops and lectures I attended, I'm home with more ideas than I can implement and a renewed fire for creating and designing unique modern quilt designs. Thank you!

  4. Michelle@factotum-of-arts.com
    Michelle@factotum-of-arts.com says:

    Great write up of quiltcon. I agree. the show, I think it showed a great (overall) examples of modern quilting as well as some history and where quilting has come. One of the big takeaways I have learned is you do need to understand history (how you have got here) both in quilting and the movements in art as well.

  5. Yaharalady
    Yaharalady says:

    Lee, I loved reading your thoughts on QuiltCon 2015. I was fortunate enough to attend too and totally agree about the display of wonderful designs. I really liked how the quilts were categorized into different types of modern quilting styles.

    The pod displays were not my favorite. It was difficult to know if I had seen all of the quilts. I prefer a much more organized mode of viewing.

    All in all I found the show very inspiring.

  6. Cathy Kizerian
    Cathy Kizerian says:

    Of all the recaps and comments I've read about Quiltcon this year, I believe yours really hits the nail on the head best. The takeaway lesson here is DESIGN. I do not aspire to make quilts of that caliber (too much pressure!), but I do love them. Quiltcon quilts to everyday quilt making is like haute couture to everyday fashion. Lead and inspire. And you're right there in the thick of it!

  7. Wanda Dotson
    Wanda Dotson says:

    Is modern quilting about knowing where the next design trend is? Is it about innovation in design? I'm more confused about what is a show worthy modern quilt than ever. Before joining Modern Quilt Guild, I liked what I was doing. Now comparison has made me critical of what I'm doing and unsure what to do.

  8. Wendy @ Wendysquiltsandmore
    Wendy @ Wendysquiltsandmore says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on QuiltCon. It's interesting to read your views on which types of quilts were accepted into the exhibition. I know some people were very disappointed that their quilts didn't get in, but as you say, they were looking for a particular type of quilt. Those other quilts are still lovely, they just didn't meet QuiltCon's criteria.

    How could you return home with no purchases!!! You must have been super busy.

  9. Sandra W
    Sandra W says:

    I totally agree with you about the show layout. Zig zag lines that ran at right angles!! No rhyme or reason or method in their madness. I kept thinking I was missing whole sections while seeing the same quilts over and over. I wrote QuiltCon about how confusing I found this layout–and I'm hearing the same complaint on other blogs. Please write QuiltCon and let them know your thoughts on this zig zag format. The folks at QuiltCon replied that they thought the floor plan made it easier to see the quilts and made it feel less crowded.

  10. DeborahGun
    DeborahGun says:

    I loved this post, and I have read a lot of QuiltCon reviews! I was trying to pinpoint why I loved so many of the quilts I was seeing photos of – and you have hit the nail on the head with Design 🙂

  11. Mokki
    Mokki says:

    This was a great post. I'm a designer though I don't work with quilts. I appreciate design in everything a person might make and my favourite quilts to see are as you said the ones with something a little unexpected. I love the quilts you've shared with us here.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

I love comments! Please join the discussion!