This year was my first time at QuiltCon. And I can’t say that I wasn’t tired. Truth be told it was utterly exhausting – sleep deprivation from the long flight, jetlag of seven hours difference and all those visual impacts or stories to absorb… But what it was even more is exiting, joyous, encouraging, loving…
I loved seeing the exhibition – which I did in small bites over all the four days because it is a lot to take in and I wanted my time to appreciate all the lovely works. And even more so, I loved meeting friends from Instagram, talking to complete strangers that where not really strangers because we are all quilters. Starting from the bus from the airport to the convention center, the hallways, the lunch breaks… The fun it was to spot your heroes and how much like the superhero you felt, when you were spotted yourself :)
What I will most remember about QuiltCon is the excited energy & the friendliness and kindness of all the people I met and talked to!
I have divided my recap of QuiltCon into two posts. It seemed artificial to post them on different days but it was too much content for just one post. In this one I will talk a bit about what my schedule looked like aka what workshops I took and which lectures I attended. The second post shows you more of the exhibition, my favorites quilts and such.
My Own Schedule
When I was planning for the booking of QuiltCon 2020, I decided to only stick with 3 hour workshops and lectures. I did not book any of the 6 hour sessions. And I also tried to avoid the night time slot because I knew I would be sleep deprived and tired.
What turned out beautifully by accident is that I had a 3 hour workshop on all my main days (Thu, Fri + Sat). Additionally there might have been a lecture or two. But the way the workshops where spread out over the days really helped with staying on my feet for the rest of the day. I realized, I really cannot do a full day walking the show floor. So if I can manage to attend a second time – which I would love to – this would be what I would try to plan for again.
To see the exhibit through someone else’s eyes
Special Exhibit Tour
with Mary Fons and Victoria Pyle
Quilt enthusiast Mary Fons and Lancaster History Curator Victoria Pyle will lead attendees on a private tour of the special exhibits before the exhibit hall opens. Mary will discuss design, inspiration, history, quilt construction, and so much more.
It really was what the catalog description promised. With just 45 minutes it might appear rather short but it was packed to the brim with information and I think everyone should have learned something or found a new perspective.
I did not know (of) Mary Fons before, so it was a cat in the bag, but what I have heard about her since, totally fits what I experienced. She is a very active presenter, funny and you can only be “with her” as she gives you all the information. I recommend this tour and would totally book it again! It was especially cool that I managed to snag the first one (Thu). So I had all the input already when I started to walk the show floor.
Let’s dive deeper into a topic
Workshop 1: Adventures in Paper Piecing Design
Ever had the itch to design your own foundation paper piecing patterns? Learn how to break patterns down and walk through the design process using a reference sketch or photograph of your choosing. Come to class with pencil, paper, and some inspiration images. During class, we’ll tackle FPP design through a series of group exercises before breaking off to explore your individual design concept
As expected the class was very brain intense. We first did the basic rules of FPP design and then as promised the basic to more complex exercises. Afterwards we worked on our own picture. I had trouble picking something and brought at least five options :) Thankfully it was just on this side of crazy to work on my desired lion head1 design.
Of course I did not finish the thing in the workshop, but through working on something on your own, I learned a lot. I also loved, that Sarah walked the classroom a lot, talking through the problems and possible ideas for each design. She also took time to answer any other questions you had; concerning the class or design ideas you already have in your head.
I totally forgot to take pictures in this workshop. Uuups!
Workshop 2: Throwing Stars: Improv Meets Magic Numbers
Merge improvisational triangles and simple quilt construction in this techniques and skill building workshop. We’ll touch on quilt construction and design arrangements using a system called Magic Numbers. The Magic Number system will sharpen your eye for designing your own quilts — pattern and math free. Endless design layouts at your fingertips.
I must not have really remembered the class description. And as it was a sewing session, which meant we were to bring quite a few fabric supplies, I only looked at the “example quilt” over and over to figure out what to cut.
So I was very pleasantly surprised about all the information we got. I had expected a tutorial for the block and a few layout options. What I received was so much more. Quite a few variation on the block but mostly a system that Katie calls “magic numbers” that will help you with puzzling improv style quilts together. I would call it a logical improv ;)
Quilts by Katie Petersen
I looked for a workshop by Katie Petersen because I have heard so many good things about her teaching style from Daniela @blockmquilts. And although I opted for a different class content – the other class was a full day one – I was not disappointed. I loved my workshop!
I did finish “only” the elements for two blocks in the workshop. But I also wandered around a lot, talking with people, admiring their fabric selections…
But I will probably show you more of my progress shortly. Because after having a hard time picking anything, I talked it out loud with my QuiltHelper aka Mom and we came up with this beautiful combination.
Workshop 3: Subtracting for Minimalism
Subtracting for minimalism is a combination lecture and hands‑on workshop that explores taking away elements from a full quilt design to create a minimalist pattern. We will begin by showing sample quilts made using the subtracting for minimalism technique, then the method will be taught using both computer and hand drawn approaches. Students will practice the method by creating their own hand drawn minimalist quilt designs and then learn how to develop the designs into a plan for an actual quilt.
I have been following Cheryl and her blog Meadow Mist Design for quite a while. The blog might even have been the first or at least one of the first ones I found in our online community. And I loooooove her designs! Especially those using the Subtracting for Minimalism technique. So it was really a no brainer that I wanted to book this workshop. It was my number one priority and I booked it first and was sooooo happy to get in :)
Here are a few of her quilts as examples:
But now on to what we did that day during the workshop: We all received the same template and did than subtract shapes to come up with our own designs. I think our table looked very creative! And for once we where not covered in thread but in eraser crumbs :)
Next a few more: My second start of a design and three from other participants.
I asked if I could photograph these, so I hope it is ok that they are online. If not, please just send me an email and I will take them off. Or if you want your IG handle or blog link added, contact me too. I forgot to write those down.
We all started with the same template and I love how different they all turned out. There will for sure be some more playing around :)
Short detours into all kinds of questions
Besides workshops, I attended a few lectures. What I leaned about the organization of lectures is, that you can book them in advance, which will give you a small discount, but you can also always attend on short notice as the lecture hall is really big. Even the keynote lecture was not cramped.
The first one I attended was Dismantling Myth in the American Quilt Narrative: Planned Mistakes, Scarcity, and the Underground Railroad Thing (Mary Fons). The content was great but was impressive is her style. As I said already above in concern to the tour, it applies here as well: She is a very engaging and funny speaker. And btw never again say you can’t hold a presentation while speaking really fast ;)
My second one was Playing With Purpose (Victoria Findlay Wolfe (Featured Lecture)). I am not a big fan of her work and prior to planning for QuiltCon did not know anything about her. And even though the only quilt that I like visually is her Cascade quilt, I can really appreciate her art. It has some crazy parts and often some even more crazy piecing in it. She must be the queen of partial seams! What I totally liked about the lecture is that you got the story behind the quilt(s). Mary Fons mentioned that she is a great storyteller and very articulate about her process. And she was. We learned a lot about the meaning behind the elements and the process of her quilts. It was a very interesting talk!
Number three Minimalism Done Well (Teresa Duryea Wong) was my “disappointing” lecture. Don’t get me wrong. The content was ok and the presentation too, but I had expected some more input on how to do minimalism in your quilts and she talked mainly about art and architecture that she viewed as great minimalistic examples. And somehow during the first few minutes she said something that struck such a discordant note for me and my view of minimalism that I was not really engaged anymore in the rest of the lecture. But while I now write this and look up the catalog description again, she was totally on point. So it was mostly my expectation being “wrong”.
The last lecture was Playful Color Quilt Start (Rebecca Bryan). I had no idea what to expect. And to be honest, by this time on Sun my remembering-content-skill was totally off. I liked her lecture and the presentation was also very cool as she had many of the quilts with her to be shown IRL. Unfortunately I can’t recall a very prominent idea but I think this lecture was a very small part of a class/course/concept she has on her website. I have not gone looking for it yet, but I might. The general idea to not overthink color and play following just a few guidelines still sounds awesome.
So, as I said in the beginning, QuiltCon was great: Very exciting, energizing … and with many things to absorb. I for sure have a few things I still want to look deeper at: Of course designing quilts or for the beginning simply having some fun with Cheryl’s ‘Subtracting for Minimalism’ technique, but also finish my newly started project ‘Throwing Stars’ from Katie Petersen’s workshop. And the lion head was also very fun. So maybe I will finish that someday to make into a pillow for my dad. He is a “lion” and has a new caravan which can surely also use a personal, handmade touch. But I also want to take the time to look up the resources from Rebecca Bryan and her ‘Playful Color’ approach.
Did you attend workshops and/or lectures at QuiltCon? What was your favorite and why? Did you also bring back so many half started projects?
PS: Also, if you haven’t read it yet, remember that you can find more about the exhibition, my favorites quilts and such in the second post.
Thank you for sharing the inside scoop on lectures and workshops. This will be helpful to anyone who is having a hard time deciding what to pick. I have a feeling that your brain (and studio) is buzzing with many different ideas inspired by the workshops :-) I look forward to seeing them on IG and here.
Appreciate hearing all about your experience. I am especially glad you got to go on the exhibit tour with Mary Fons. I got to do that last year and will definitely do it again!
I am so glad you took my class and we had time to connect at QuiltCon!!
I’m sure it was tough to pack in as much as you could in such a short period of time. Tja, jet lag doesn’t help when you are trying to take in so much. It’s good to hear that overall it was a great trip… I’m sure you’ll spend the next months processing it all.