QuiltCon 2016 recap

QuiltCon 2016

Oh my goodness. I can’t believe it’s been a week already since I was at QuiltCon. I’ve been trying all week to figure out how to process and share and I still don’t think I can do it adequately. So, I’ll just have to give it my best shot. Hopefully the pictures will do it some justice, because I know my words can’t.

quiltcon experience

If you are wondering what QuiltCon is, it is a convention put on by the Modern Quilt Guild that includes a juried show, 4 days of lectures, classes, and workshops, as well as a vendor’s hall where you can gawk some more and even shop from vendors who come from around the country to participate.

This year QuiltCon was held in Pasadena, California, which was wonderful! It was my first time attending QuiltCon. I loved so much about the experience – meeting so many people, being inspired by the amazing quilts on display, and taking a class. (And blue skies and 75 degrees wasn’t bad either!)

Strip Piecing Class Amy Smart QuiltCon

I was so honored to be invited to come and teach a few classes. One of them was a Strip-Piecing class. I shared some techniques – including projects from my book, Fabulously Fast Quilts – and LOVED watching all of the creativity that emerged.

Robert Kaufman Riley Blake roll-ups

We were the lucky beneficiaries of pre-cut 2 1/2″ strips from Riley Blake and Robert Kaufman. Those strips saved us so much time in class and gave everyone more time to play as well as experiment with new colors and fabrics.

Advanced Piecing QuiltCon class

I also taught a couple sessions of an Advanced-Piecing class where we talked about partial seams, Y-seams, etc. I was so proud of how much everyone learned so quickly. (I have to say, one of my favorite parts of attending classes is seeing the variety of colors and fabrics people use. )

Cristy Fincher Paperless Paper Piecing

I was also lucky enough to get to take a class from Cristy Fincher – we learned her “Paperless Paper-Piecing” technique which was so cool and totally mind-blowing to me. It’s something I never would have figured out on my own. And Cristy is such a good teacher. I learned so much!QuiltCon modern Quilts

And then of course, there were the quilts on display. They were just just amazing. The variety and the creativity were mind-blowing to me and totally inspiring. (Top left, going clockwise: (Ebb by Carolyn Friedlander, Cotton Sophisticate by Chawne Kimber, Mixed Cassette Tapes by Lysa Flower, and Holyoake, 1938 by Timna Tarr.)

Modern Quilts QuiltCon

Loving the saturated colors. Clockwise starting top left: Handcrafted Triangles by Jennifer Johnston, detail of Colorfall by Timna Tarr, Melon Wedding Ring by Karin Jordan, Scrapy Side Trip by Leslie Tucker Jenison, and A Kiss for Paul by Tricia Royal.

Eichler Houses quiltcon

One of my favorites: Eichler Houses by Mickey Beebe. I think I have a thing for trees in quilts. 😉

The Whole is the Sum of It's Parts QuiltCon

Check out that mind-blowing matchstick quilting. It was flawless. This one is called The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts by Cassandra Beaver.

Double Wedding Ring Tara Faughnan QuiltCOn

Another personal favorite was this saturated solids Double Wedding Ring by Tara Faughnan.

My Brother's Jeans QuiltCon

This year’s Best in Show went to Melissa Avernios’ quilt, My Brothers Jeans. The dark crosses are pieced from the jeans that belonged to her brother which she rescued from the dumpster following his suicide. Such a moving, personal quilt. Best in Show ribbon QuiltCon

And here’s a close up of the Best in Show ribbon, hand made by Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft.

Fabric Companies at QuiltCon 2016

Other inspiration (as well as some nice shopping *ahem*) was also to be found in the Vendor’s Hall. These are all glimpses of some of the fabric manufacturer’s booths including bolts in Free Spirit (top left) Cotton + Steel, a mini wall in the Andover booth, and paper dresses and pieced curves in the Windham booth.

Malka A Stitch In Dye

Gorgeous color in Malka Dubrawsky’s booth including her hand-dyed prints.

Craft South at QuiltConDetails in Anna Maria Horner’s beautiful Sew South booth.EZ Quilting Bunny DesignsOn the right, adorable Japanese Imports from Bunny’s Designs. I didn’t have a quilt in the official show, but I did have this quilt on the left in the EZ Quilting booth. 🙂  I’ll be sharing more about this one soon.

people of QuiltCon

But definitely one of the best parts of the QuiltCon experience is connecting with so many other fabric-weirdos quilters! It’s fun to meet people in person that I’d only ever stalked on social media, as well as so many new friends and faces. I loved running into people who’d been in my class later during the weekend and feeling like I had so many new friends. It really is fun to connect with other people who “get” this addiction form of artistic expression.

Gwen Marston Quiltcon 2016-001Finally, one of my favorite highlights of my experience was hearing from this lady. The first morning I was waiting for a shuttle from my hotel and talking to a friend who was with a nice, chatty older lady. It was halfway through the conversation that I realized who she was – keynote speaker Gwen Marston. She was so darling and un-affected, and delightful.

Gwen has been a “modern” quilter for over 30 years. Her keynote speech Saturday night was so funny, inspiring, charming, and motivational. She spoke about learning from old, antique quilts as the inspiration for her ‘liberated’ quilts. She felt like old quilts are more spontaneous and playful and not worried about precision and perfection. I love that thought, because I’ve always loved old quilts for the same reason. They’re not perfect and they have more of a “make-it-do” quality, than a worry about being coordinated and perfected – as a result they have so much more personality.

More “words of wisdom” nuggets from Gwen:

“Worrying about points will hold you back”

“You can follow the instructions, but what’s the fun of that?”

Experiment small.

On seeing an antique quilt: “It was so delicious, it would just make you weep.”

On being yourself: “We sew the way we sew. And that’s good enough because that’s the way we do it.”

So there you go. QuiltCon 2016 in a nutshell. For more glimpses and insights, check out Jennifer Moore’s Sewing Report video. You may even catch a glimpse of your’s truly being a dork.

Huntington Library and Gardens

And last, but not least, I’m throwing in this postscript. Two of my sisters came and spent the last night with me at my hotel. They are not quilters and got a kick out of (and were impressed by) the abundance of quilt-y people milling about our hotel. (One of them asked, “So if QuiltCon were like ComicCon, are you like the Spiderman of QuiltCon?” Not quite. Maybe more like the Green Lantern side-kick or something. 😉 ) We visited the beautiful Huntington Library and Gardens Sunday afternoon, drove through beautiful Pasadena neighborhoods, and all around just had a great time. If there’s one thing that’s even better than a bunch of quilters, it’s sisters. But it’s pretty dang close.

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  • Reply
    sue godfrey
    February 28, 2016 at 1:42 am

    Lovely insightful post, thank you for the pictures and for sharing. Xx

  • Reply
    Anne Heidi
    February 28, 2016 at 4:15 am

    Quilt Con looks like so much fun! Thank you for sharing. Maybe I’ll have to think hard about going next year, Savannah is a bit closer to Norway than Pasadena…

  • Reply
    February 28, 2016 at 5:37 am

    So inspiring! Thank you so much for your excellent post, Amy.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2016 at 6:59 am

    I had such a good time at QuiltCon! Your class was a blast and I feel so inspired by what I learned combined with all I saw. My brother came and looked at every.single.quilt with me. It was awesome because he is an artist and saw the quilts from a completely different perspective. But he also wanted to know about technique and quilting. It was a wonderful experience. Thanks for the recap. I have hundreds of pictures but none as good as yours — funny how a phone doesn’t work as well as a real camera. Thanks also for the class!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      February 29, 2016 at 8:40 am

      IT was so great to see you again. And I thought it was so awesome that your brother was there with you. I’m sure it was fascinating to get an ‘outsider’s’ perspective on everything!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post about the event! Made me feel like I got to be there for a little while.

  • Reply
    Karen Seitz
    February 28, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Thank you for the wonderful recap. I love your photos and commentary. So glad you had a great experience!

  • Reply
    Cathy Kizerian
    February 28, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Great recap, Amy! It was so nice to see all the pictures as I was on vacation when it all took place and missed out on IG. Don’t you love Pasadena and the Arcadia area? I was born in Pasadena and lived in SoCal until I moved here to Utah 30 years ago. Did you see any peacocks at the Arboretum? LOL. Thanks again for a great recap; I really enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Rosemary Bolton
    February 28, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Okay okay first of all, Amy, WHAT is the quilt to the left of the cassette tapes? It looks like a map of Rotterdam, Holland. Do you know the identity of that cool mappish quilt.

    Thank you so much for sharing all of this coolness and excitement at QuiltCon. It is super wonderful to see many of the faces behind the blogs that I know already. All of you are so great, I am so proud of all of you and to know all of you. All of you are so inspiring and enthusiastic.

    I know there were a million more quilts. I have been to the local quilt wingding here at Dulles Virginia, and there are so many quilts it is just incredible. I know you were overwhelmed with excitement

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      February 29, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Isn’t that map quilt amazing? It’s called Holyoake, 1938 and it’s made by Timna Tarr from Massachusettes.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    that’s it! I’m calling you spider man from now on!

  • Reply
    February 29, 2016 at 7:37 am

    I convinced my non-quilty sister to come to QuiltCon,too, and also spent a day at Huntington Gardens. It was such a wonderful trip! I loved that Eicher houses quilt, too.

  • Reply
    March 1, 2016 at 10:18 am

    What a great re-cap, Amy! I love what your sister said and yes, you are totally Spiderman (or Mary Jane ;)! It was great seeing you again and so glad you enjoyed your first QuiltCon! xoxo

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      March 1, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Thanks Melissa! I hope you had a great time as well. It was really great seeing you again too! I feel like there are so many people that I realized were at QuiltCon, but I never saw them. I’m so glad our paths crossed!

  • Reply
    Lara B.
    March 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Amy it is so fun to read your recap! It looks and sounds like you had the most fabulous time and I’m glad. How terrific that you got to spend time with your sisters too!
    I love what you quoted from Gwen Marston so much that I went and added her book to my wish list.

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