Just got back from the first QuiltCon (Modern Quilting Conference) in Austin, TX. I went with my friend, Nancy Smith, from Bloom Handmade Art and we were both interested in finding out about this new movement. After attending Houston, this convention was quite small in comparison and we found that spending only one day was time enough to see every vendor as well as look at all the quilts. Of course, this was their first convention so hopefully, it will grow as the years pass. There were a lot of local quilt stores vending as well as national fabric and thread companies. I didn’t see anything new or different from traditional quilt shows so this was probably the first time I went to a quilt convention and didn’t buy anything. (Of course, my first love is thread and there weren’t a lot of options in this category).
The quality of the quilts ran the gamut from “Oh my, what was she thinking!” to “Fabulous!” But I quickly became tired of seeing the same color schemes over and over. There were a couple of standouts that really made me stop and look (see the end of this post to see my favorite.
One of the surprises were two large quilts featuring the word fu*k. Prominently displayed, one spoke of cancer and the other was a group of women who just liked using four letter words. Personally, I don’t mind curse words but seeing them on a modern quilt really bothered me. Modern quilts are generally not art quilts where lots of words and emotions define the fiber art. Modern quilts are made for beds and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to cuddle under these.
Nancy and I got to the ticket counter about 11ish in case there was a long line to get in. There wasn’t. The exhibit hall was pretty empty as we walked around. That was a nice change from other quilting shows where there are so many people in the aisles, you had to wait your turn to even buy something from a vendor! At QuiltCon, you could easily see all the quilts even from a distance. There were very few “white gloved ladies” so people were touching the quilts and turning them around to see the backs. Again, I thought this was a nice change since secretly, I always want to touch the quilts myself! Since these are bed quilts, they are made to be touched, washed, and used so I think that the organizers are not as worried about damage from dirty hands.
At larger shows, strollers and wheelies are banned but not at QuiltCon. There were lots of children present with their moms and grandmothers. I was also surprised at the average age of the attendees. I would guess 55ish. The Modern Quilt movement is supposed to be about attracting the younger generation to quilt making. I had expected to see many more people in their 30′s and 40′s. Of course, it was Thursday so perhaps the working moms were at their jobs and would attend over the weekend.
The nice thing was how many of my Craftsy students were there and came up to me to introduce themselves and talk about their experiences in my classes. I LOVE meeting my online students in person!
And, a lot of my friends from the industry were there — Jan Magee from The Quilt Life, Bill Gardner from Quilter’s Newsletter, Vicki Anderson from Modern Quilts Unlimited, Iris Karp from Misty Fuse, Helen Gregory from Interweave, Luana Rubin from eQuilter, Nancy Zieman from Sewing With Nancy, Gregory Case and Elena Morera from Gregory Case Photography, to name a few, and all my friends from Craftsy.
Craftsy has filmed 8 lectures from the conference and is offering them for free. Go to this link and sign up to see what happened this weekend.
Here’s my favorite “modern” quilt at the show — “The Flying Saucer”. The designer and quilter is Lisa Alexakis from Culver City, CA.