Lessons Learned from QuiltCon - Lesson #1

I'm so glad I didn't go to QuiltCon.


I couldn't go  - I had other stuff going on that prevented me from going. I'm pretty bitter I didn't get to go, but I think I'll get over it. Eventually.

I learned a few lessons about myself, my quilting and the modern quilting community by watching QuiltCon from the sidelines through blogs and Instagram.

I had a quilt in the show....

It's my In The Clouds from Modern Designs For Classic Quilts book. This quilt was made to go on my queen size bed and was inspired by a quilt by Gwen Marston. This piece wasn't made to be a show piece but rather to be used in my bedroom. When Kelly and I got serious about writing a book, this quilt was one of the pieces I thought would be a good example of a modern design that would be a beginner level pattern.
When I asked Jill to quilt it, I asked for a very specific pattern that was inspired by Sashiko stitching that I saw in a book. And she did exactly what I asked for.
This quilt has surprised me by how much attention it's gotten from people who've bought the book. It seems to be an accessible design for those wanting to venture into modern quilting or someone who wants to make a large modern quilt without a lot of fuss.
And I really love this quilt - I love the colors, I love the use of juicy, graphic prints for the geese, the use of navy as a neutral, I love the minimalism. I just love this thing.

But, as I expected, it didn't win anything at QuiltCon. I didn't make this as a show piece - it was made for personal use that got a second life as a pattern for my book. When it got accepted to be in the show, I was super happy that it would hang as an example of "Use of Negative Space". 

But up close, the judge said she saw tension issues, but I'm not sure what she's talking about. I've never noticed them.  And I got some feedback about the use of colors and prints for the geese and the background - the judge said they seemed unrelated.

There were good things said, too. The quilting design was well executed, which Jill should be proud of. My workmanship, piecing and binding were judged as excellent, which makes me feel really good.

So where's the lesson in this?

Lesson #1:
If you want to win prizes at a quilt show, make a piece that's perfect show worthy. Everything should be up to snuff - fabric choices, binding, backing fabric, quilting design and execution and overall craftsmanship. If you enter a casually-designed-and-made-for-personal-use quilt in a show at  the very last minute, kind of on a whim and just to see if it gets chosen, don't expect to win best of show.

I'm so happy I entered it, win or no win. And I'll use the feedback from the judge to get better, to push myself to make pieces that I could show in a major quilt show. That's just me - I'm kind of competitive like that.

Which leads me to Lesson #2, which may take a day or two to think about how to word so as not to piss too many people off.  Standby....


  1. I would have not had the stones to enter a quilt made for home use in a show. I am always pretty careful about piecing but the quilting I am not as meticulous with. My bindings look nice but I should probably use much much smaller stitches if I was gonna show them I am waiting for #2!

  2. Curious as to what Lesson #2 is!!! I love your quilt btw, and you have inspired me to try to make some 'perfect flying geese'....

  3. A good piece, and always nice to learn lessons from these things, I'm entering my first competition this month, with a piece that i started improv pieicng last year, for no reason other than it "needed" making, i'll try not to cry when i get the feedback!!! Looking forward to seeing lesson number 2 :)

  4. i love everything about this quilt and look forward to being potentially pissed off!

  5. Waiting for #2! I'm guessing because the use of navy as a background isn't so common in "modern quilting" - maybe that's why you got that comment?

    Either way, I think it's awesome you had a quilt in the show and it got talked about on instagram!

  6. BTW, Craftsy has a number of the lectures from Quilt Con on their site, free of charge.

  7. No matter what the judges say, the quilt is beautiful, and if you love it, that is really all that matters. I, too, am awaiting lesson #2.

  8. Can hardly wait for #2. If anything came from QuiltCon for me, it was the blunt discussions going on and I am thrilled with the honesty being penned in regard to creativity, the freedom to express oneself and the pressure from the masses

  9. I love it too! you're thoughtful not wanting to piss people off ;)

  10. Intrigued at what lesson 2 will bring....

  11. I have entered quilts in National Shows before...never expecting to win and never have. I have ribboned at a couple small scale shows. But, in my humble opinion, there is no perfect quilt. I appreciate the feedback from the judges (both the positive and negative) and like you say, learn from it. If you get to be at the show where your quilt is hanging....that in itself is a win. Walking by it, you may hear some quilters enjoying it. It's all good and I'm so happy you entered your quilt. It is lovely!

  12. I'm really interested to hear what Lesson #2 is.

    That is a beautiful quilt. I bet it looks stunning on your bed.

  13. so I'm obviously a little behind in reading your blog! (hangs head in shame.) But getting this over text with you today was more fun. I LOVE THIS QUILT. AND YOU. AND YELLING IN MY HEAD.

  14. Hey, I've been thinking about this message for a few days and wanted to respond. I learned the same lesson a few yrs ago at the county fair. I entered my kids baby quilts because they were beautiful and I loved them and wanted to share them. But not made for the fair, they got slammed. I thought the whole experience was still great and I'm glad I did it but I did learn a lesson: don't send your baby quilt to the fair without washing it first! Ha ha. As long as you're proud of it I guess that's all that matters.


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