Lessons Learned QuiltCon ’22
Wow, what an amazing first trip ever to QuiltCon 2022! But if I don’t get this posted soon, I’ll need to write about the next one. I wasn’t sure if it would even go off, thanks to Covid, and I know there must have been many people who stayed home. No judgment there, and I so get it. I’m glad I went…….and QuiltCon will be my go-to quilt conference every year.
Here are 11 things I learned, some about modern quilting, quilters, and myself in general. In no particular order…….
Few boundaries–Modern quilting, too me, means very few limitations. I saw some fantastic quilts…..some superb artwork…..from a quilt made of eyes and tears (Hillary Goodwin, Best in Show Award) ……to a quilt that featured a wrestler in a face mask…….and a quilt that showed the joy between a mother and her two kids and a backing made of ice cream cone fabric (Veruschka Zarate, People’s Choice Award).
Tradition–I didn’t hear or see discussions of perfect lines, “points,” or traditional blocks. Mind you, those all have a place in quilting. Nothing like seeing a flying goose with its nose cut off (if you quilt, you get it). I have a lot of respect for tradition……but modern quilting gives us a chance to do something different. I saw some quilts that weren’t perfectly square, and that really is the point…..all quilts were welcome.
No lack of excellence—Modern quilting, which allows one to stretch boundaries a little, doesn’t automatically accept lower quilting standards. I saw some quilting by hand and machine. Straight matchstick lines don’t lie….they are either appropriately done or aren’t. Excellence is excellence…….
Volunteering—While I’ve never been to QuiltCon…..I thought the best way to get to know the convention and the people was to volunteer my time……so I spent almost four hours wearing white gloves and showing others the backsides of quilts. Yes, I was the museum monitor in white cotton gloves. I gingerly handled quilts and showed participants the other sides (backs) of quilts. I got to talk to many people from all over the world, even met some of the makers of the quilts, and had a lot of fun. And no, it didn’t require me to have much previous knowledge, just an eagerness to be involved and to talk with people.
Quilt Backing—I learned that in some instances, the backs of quilts, for non-quilters, the underside of the quilt, sometimes was more ornate, more beautiful than the quilt itself. Makes sense since it’s the side often the closest to the human body, so why shouldn’t it be just as marvelous. The adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” had meaning to me…. I’d just say…spend some time looking at the back of some quilts….and sometimes there will be great surprises.
Kindness—in almost every instance, people were very kind, friendly, and respectful to the artists’ work. Even if someone didn’t fully “get” the quilt, most people acknowledged the work and the process. If it means something so important to a person that ends up in a great art form, that’s good enough for most. And kindness is essential right now when the world seems a little off-kilter.
Social Justice and Covid— Perhaps one of the best things that came out of the pandemic (if there is such a thing) was that it gave people the time to be secluded enough to let their true artistry flow. I was so thrilled to see quilts in honor of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, and the right to just say WTF!! There was an excellent all-white quilt that simply (well, not just simply) had the words “SUFFOCATION” etched across the quilt. COVID also played an essential role in some of the quilts on display……
Youth–It was also very inspiring to see quilts made by younger people depicting important times in history and reminders of how imperative social justice is. Inspiring! I’ll admit I am very jealous of young people sewing and winning ribbons in their teens……. I’m happy they have found the craft so early in life…..and I guess I just wasn’t ready!
Binding—For the 3 years that I have been quilting, I only assumed there was one way to bind…….I think it would officially be called “French Fold Binding.” I learned that another type of binding is called Facing. Facing was utilized ton many quilts at QuiltCon as it doesn’t introduce an edge to the front of the quilt or a frame. Instead, the quilt just seems to run or fade off the edge. I’m probably not explaining it very well. Audrey Esarey has a very nice tutorial on her Cotton and Bourbon website: https://www.cottonandbourbon.com/tutorials/quilt-facing-tutorial
Small Quilt Exchange—During QuiltCon, we had the opportunity to each make and exchange a small quilt with another attendee. My matchup was the lovely Melonie @quiltylabcreations, and we were able to exchange small quilts. It was fun meeting her, and we learned we are both RNs and have a love of anything @tulapink. Pictured at the beginning of the blog are our exchanged quilts.
Quilted Clothing—I guess I saved the best for last. There indeed were many people wearing clothing that was derived from a quilt. I saw jackets, vests, skirts, all made from patchwork. I understand it’s a pretty notable fashion trend right now. I read that the designer Greg Lauren and some of the quilters from Gee’s Bend have joined forces to create patchwork fashion……and it was certainly evident at QuiltCon 2022 https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/greg-lauren-gees-bend-take-aim-cultural-appropriation-1234976482/
So, just a handful of trends and things I learned at QuiltCon 2022. I look forward to future years when even more incredible quilters are present. See you next year in Atlanta for QuiltCon 2023 and Raleigh, NC for 2024. It’s not too early to start planning your trips to the world of Modern Quilting.