Friday, February 27, 2015

QuiltCon: Post Three

These last three days of reviewing QuiltCon have been good for me... thinking about the whole experience, and particularly about the quilt judging. Many of you have commented about it too, reflecting my thoughts: Why does it seem that straight line quilting was rewarded, and others overlooked? What were the judges looking for?

I can speculate all I want, and still won't ever hear the answers. But it's possible that the judges had a strategy. Perhaps they meant to:
  1. Reward quilts that adhere to the modern quilt aesthetic, focusing on simple and minimal quilt design elements, and those included simple and minimal quilting patterns. These quilt characteristics are in keeping with the definition of a modern quilt.
  2. Encourage new quilters to stretch themselves. A new quilter who has straight-line quilted her own a quilt (rather than send it out to be long arm quilted by someone else) has put herself into her creation. Then, entering that quilt in a show is another way to try something they've not done before.
None of the three judges were certified quilting judges. They were: 1) Carolyn Friedlander, a fabric and pattern designer, and teacher; 2) Janine Vangool, publisher, editor and designer of Uppercase magazine; and 3) Stevie Graves, a quilter since 1975 who is the Road to California quilt show judging coordinator, and president of the International Quilting Association.

It was disappointing to see few quilts with interest quilting. I'm not the only one who noticed. I've read many comments about it on Instagram, and KathleenQuilts posted about it from her longarm quilter perspective.

Suffice it to say, the judging criterion (and judges' comments) for QuiltCon were definitely not those of a typical national quilt show.

And, in other randomness...

In the minimalist design category was this beauty called "Modern Mojo 2" by Linda Thielfoldt, of Troy, Michigan. She's a DAM girl! Ha, ha. A member of the Detroit Area MQG.

Linda did a super quilting job of this one. I couldn't help but admire the detail.

Fabulous, isn't it? No surprise... when I Googled Linda's name, her longarm quilting business came up. A study of that quilting, and I just knew it was longarm quilted. Still, it's similar to the "elaborate" quilting I strive for, though I have never quilted as densely as this.

Another Instagram point of discussion has been about the predominance of quilts using solids. Again, quilts with solids, or mostly solids, received the awards. Makes one wonder how it is that so many print fabrics are being sold, and presumably used in quilts, and those quilts weren't juried into QuiltCon. An exception is our "Ad Libbing" quilt with it's print improv blocks.

On Sunday afternoon, another mostly solids and low volume quilt was awarded $1000 as the People's Choice winner. "Quilt for our Bed" was made by Laura Hartrich. The back of the quilt is as graphic as the front.

Throughout the four days of QuiltCon, ongoing demonstrations were offered at one of two locations in the hall. In this demo by Latifah Saafir (she's one of the two founders of the MQG), she first demonstrated how to piece both small and large curves to make half circles, and then how to sew a complete circle! You know... a circle inside a circle. It was interesting to see how easy she made it look. Good information here, and all of it free!

A few interesting stats that were presented during the Sunday afternoon MQG general meeting:
  • membership grew 600 percent from 2013 to 2014 
  • 8161 members worldwide as of December 31, 2014 
  • 95 percent of all pre-structure MQG chapters have now affiliated with national
  • 139 local chapters (Our Central Florida MQG chapter became official in late January, 2015.)
  • 2785 individual members
  • membership represents 50 states; 32 countries; and 6 continents
On Saturday and Sunday of the show, my Riley Blake Challenge quilt, "Dandelion Clock" was displayed in the MassDrop booth. For bringing my quilt in, and picking it up, MassDrop thanked me with a bundle of a dozen Birch fabric (organic) fat quarters. Nice! 

I couldn't leave Austin without getting barbecue one time. The fam went to dinner at Salt Lick in Driftwood, and after a two hour wait (no kidding!) for a table I got my one pound of pulled pork. I'd like to brag and say I ate it all, but I couldn't manage it. But at least three-fourths disappeared!

Have you ever seen such a thing as this? It's called a Pub Crawler, and is powered by people sitting on bar stools pedaling while they drink! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it - traffic was heavy in downtown Austin too!

And speaking of pedaling... these were just outside the convention center doors. Demand for quick (or not-so-quick) bicycle transportation must be such that someone decided it was worthwhile to offer them for rent. 

Over two days, we drove back home in cool temps and rain most of the way. An overnight in Pensacola was the perfect opportunity for one more meet up with long-time blog friend, Karen of NanaGirlQuilts. She's a domestic machine quilter too, and we've been following each other for several years, thanks to an introduction by Lollyquiltz. Karen and I have FaceTimed on several occasions, consulting about our quilts, but meeting in person over dinner at Cheddar's was the best. We shared quilty talk - happily, she's gradually inching her way toward more modern quiltmaking - and other mutual interests that make for lively conversation. Quilty friends already know I have no problem "keeping it lively!"

So to wrap-up, QuiltCon was a fabulous show that I would recommend to all quilters. I know and appreciate that a lot of people worked hard to make it happen, and that without the dozens of volunteers, it wouldn't have been such a nice show. While parts of it weren't what I expected or hoped for, I'm still grateful that I had the chance to attend and participate.

QuiltCon 2016 is in Pasadena, California; and, QuiltCon 2017 is in Savannah, Georgia. I'm aiming to attend in Savannah. Let's plan to meet-up! Linda


  1. I have really loved your posts about QuiltCon!
    Re straight line quilting: I don't think most "modern" quilters are modern by the "real" definition. I think most of us, myself included, would be labeled "modern traditionalists". Taking traditional pattern and motifs and freshening them up. Last QuiltCon I went to a lecture by Heather Grant, I believe, about "what is modern quilting" or something like that. I wasn't the only one who walked out of that lecture thinking, "Why am I even here? I am Not a modern quilter." I think it is important to the MQG to stick with what has been defined as modern: straight line minimalist quilting, solids, graphic minimalist design, solid fabric and negative space. Of course not every modern quilt will have all of these. Someone once likened it to a salad bar; if you put everything on it isn't going to taste very good. If they don't stick with the formal definition over time modern quilts will just blend into traditional quilts. I think there is a place for more elaborate quilting in other shows. I think one reason they don't have professional judges is that they want to stay distinct from traditional "values". I think there is a worry that when you bring in judges that have been trained to look at quilts a certain way they might not fully appreciate or give points for things that make a quilt modern. I think in the future modern traditionalist are going to receive more attention and awards in standard shows because they blend the best of modern and traditional quilting.
    There is a lot of speculation in this comment. I hope it makes sense. The small window is making it hard for me to edit. :)

  2. Lots to think about. I appreciate your perspective. I am a free motion quilter so I would probably have felt the same as you. I am still working towards visiting Savannah in 2017. I hope this works out so that we can meet in person. My good friend, Karen of KaHolly, was there this year and I cant wait to see her when she returns to Nova Scotia, so that I can bend her ear about her visit to QuiltCon and meeting you, of course!. She is the only one I know personally who has attended.

  3. Your two conclusions noted sound right on target to me, given what little I know about Modern Quilts. Most notably, the "minimalist" approach to the quilting and design may have left more elaborate quilting out of the running. And yet those open spaces are just so inviting to showcase some beautifuly stitching as if the Modern Mojo 2 example you showed. As you said, the judging was not that of a "typical national show", probably by design since a lot about the MQ movement is meant to be not typical. I'm sure the discussion will continue as the association grows, and aren't those stats an exciting look at how quickly it is growing! Another excellent post.

  4. Really interesting post. Thank you for taking the time to put it together. You already know my thoughts on prints versus solids ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Such interesting thoughts. As a complete hobby quilter I just sit on the sidelines and listen. I know my aesthetic has been moving away from traditional but more in my choices of fabrics than design. And I do very little of my own quilting...except straight line. Modern Mojo 2 is a wonderful quilt, the quilting just sings ! Thanks for taking the time to capture this all to share!

  6. Wow, I love the intricate quilting on Linda Thielfoldt's quilt. I haven't ever made anything that densely quilted, except maybe when practicing. :) I am really excited for Quiltcon next year - I live in Pasadena. I wanted to travel to Austin this year but didn't have anyone to go with and thought I might feel lonely since most people were going with friends.

  7. Wow, I love the intricate quilting on Linda Thielfoldt's quilt. I haven't ever made anything that densely quilted, except maybe when practicing. :) I am really excited for Quiltcon next year - I live in Pasadena. I wanted to travel to Austin this year but didn't have anyone to go with and thought I might feel lonely since most people were going with friends.

  8. I too love all of the discussion happening about the quilts that won versus the ones that didn't. I don't think that the free motion quilted ones should have been left out but that is just my opinion. I guess I'll just have to get my fill of great FMQ at MQX next month.

  9. Linda, I'll keep the 2017 Quilt Con in my thoughts ;-)

  10. I appreciate your thoughts on this show. I am not into modern. While some quilts are very well "designed" and click, many are just bla. Modern is certainly moving ahead -- will see where five more years takes us. In the mean time let's go quilt!

  11. Great post, Linda and interesting topics...good to hear your perspective. And, after all that BBQ meat, maybe a ride on the Pub Crawler isn't a bad idea!! LOL

  12. Loved this post and the comments as well. I feel the same as you, but even in the fine art world, they had to move past Hard Edge painting of the 1970s (straight edges, no pattern). Do you ever think this group will evolve? I think one of your commenters had it right when they said they wouldn't as it would be "diluted" by trad quilters (and you know how well that would go over in the Modern World!). Great write-up!


  13. There is so much to think about and I think you tackled the issues well. I am so glad you stopped in Pensacola, I think we could have talked another three hours! Thanks for a great visit, can't wait for the next one.



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