Thursday, February 28, 2013

QuiltCon: Days 3 & 4

Day 3: Saturday was Lecture Day for me!

Donation Quilts in the Lecture Hall

Seriously. Great lectures today. 

I was tired and had trouble getting to the lecture hall by 9am, but I'm glad I wasn't running too late. Kristen Lejnieks's lecture on Copyright, Trademark, and Quilting was really interesting. I was always of the mind that fabric is to sewists what paint is to painters, but not everybody feels that way. There's a lot of ways to interpret the law, too. Kristen was of the opinion that you're fine selling a handmade item with whomever's fabric in it, but that doesn't mean some fabric company's attorney isn't going to come after you with another interpretation of the law. I guess we're just rolling the dice.

Donation Quilts in the Lecture Hall

I got some coffee after that lecture, and I bumped into three Austin MQG members in the hall :-) The coffee gave me a pick me up, before going to Meg Cox's presentation on The Quilt Index, The Quilt Alliance, and QSOS. Go poke around those links. The Quilt Index has 54,000 quilts documented with lots more coming. You can search by keyword, too. Hawaiian quilting, hexagons, flying geese, oh my!

Amy Butler at QuiltCon

After that I went to Amy Butler's lecture on "Creating Your Unique Color Story." I loved seeing all the pictures of her travels to India, Egypt, etc. She has a very analog way of designing. It's all paper and markers, and she has an employee who digitizes the magic. After seeing 600 photo collage slides, someone asked what camera she uses. Amy said she uses her iPhone and name dropped the Camera+ app.

Blue Ice by Jacque Gering, Modern Medallion by Rachel Hauser, Scramble by Jenny Cameron

I got some lunch with Christine, the VP of Events for the Austin MQG. Then she went to an afternoon workshop while I headed back into the lecture hall for a good panel on fabric design. Austinite, Laurie Wisbrun, was representing as the talent ;-) She did a great job of describing fabric design as something that complements the many other skills of someone in the industry rather than it being a sole source of income. I'm not really interested in getting into fabric design. I'm surrounded by folks whose fabric I'd love to see, though, and it's nice to understand the behind the scenes workings in the industry.

Curried Plums by Debbie Grifka and Techno Flakes by Amy Ellis

Next up, Heather Grant from the Austin MQG gave her presentation on the History and Design Fundamentals of Modern Quilting. I've seen her give this presentation before, and it's so interesting to see how different parts of it grow and change. It's crazy to think about us Austinites squished into Form & Fabric's office space a year ago seeing Heather give this presentation. So much can change in a year. Heather started getting teary-eyed on stage talking about QuiltCon coming together. She said that 1,500 people pre-registered for QuiltCon. This is definitely a big jump from r0ssie's flickr group that was born in 2008, and it's taken a lot of work to get here. Heather has certainly put in a ton. I laughed when she said that "[Modern quilts are] meant to be used, not put on the wall, . . . except some of them, maybe." Especially since my Frost Bank mini quilt is no bed quilt ;-)

Impracticality by Angela Walters

During the Q&A session after Heather's lecture, a gal stood up and gave her opinion on traditional vs. modern quilting in a very confrontational way. Heather explained that for Modern Quilters, design comes before everything else. That makes sense to me; when I'm working on a modern quilt, I think about the design first, then figure out how to make it. When I make a traditional quilt, I'm really just choosing colors. The audience member misconstrued what Heather was saying and claimed she was trying to say that modern quilters are using their brains while traditional quilters are mindless drones. (I'm paraphrasing.) Heather obviously tried to clear up for the woman that this was not what she was saying. Heather reiterated her opinion about the design-oriented approach that modern quilters take and said again that it was just her OPINION. There were a few more questions, and Heather wrapped up. The cranky audience member was sitting a couple of chairs down from me and continued to speak loudly to her friends about her traditional vs. modern gripes for a few minutes. It was pissing me off. I quilt both ways. There is no right or wrong way, and I will not stand for people trying to raise hell where there is none. Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'. I found myself thinking "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." I moved chairs until I was out of earshot of her. This was my only observation of anyone being a Negative Nancy at QuiltCon. The only one.

Off Centered Improv by Faith Jones & Seaglass on Sand by Felicity Ronaghan

It just got better and better from there, though. Jacquie Gering's lecture on Quilting Modern: Honoring Tradition was next. I first met Jacquie a few days before QuiltCon when I was volunteering during set up. We all introduced ourselves to each other, and she recognized my blog name. How fun! There was a lot of that this week. "Of course! BettyCrockerAss, I know you." "Oh YOU'RE Pile O' Fabric. Yeah, Alyssa, I'm in your QAL." "Duh, SHEA is Empty Bobbins. Hello!" Good times.

Unraveled by Kati Spencer, 269+2-2 by Colleen Wootton, and Starburst by Nicole Neblett

Jacquie pretty much started out her lecture in tears. Her whole slideshow was sprinkled with family pictures, and she told stories of the hard life decisions that change the course of your family's future. She talked about the beauty of "Making" and the super resourcefulness of her family and their Mennonite roots with great respect. When she spoke about her and her husband's willingness to move heaven and earth for the other's happiness, everyone felt it. She talked about her kids, her parents, and her quilts. Jacquie said she went to see the Gee's Bend exhibit, then came home and googled modern fabric. Alexander Henry popped up and she "let her Visa do the work." Jaquie said she hand quilted for awhile, because she just didn't know about machine quilting!

Right Here by Thomas Knauer and Texas by Dana Michaelsen

She said someone once told her they'd like to be a fly on the wall in her studio to see the magic happen. Jacquie said "It's not magic. It's a lot of trial and error. I am not afraid. You should see my trash can. Seam rippers are too slow for me." She talked about how in her husband's new job in Chicago, he gets a report on his desk every morning identifying the children who were killed since the previous day. Gun violence is out of control in Chicago, and she discussed, though tears, how her "Bang You're Dead" quilt came out of her reaction to and attempt to deal with it all. She said it was the hardest thing she had ever done. She also talked about giving her quilts to Bumble Bean Basics and the joy of seeing pictures of families and kids with the quilts she'd made. Everyone was in tears at the end of it. I was emotionally overwhelmed, but definitely better for it.

Single Girl, Courthouse Steps, and Glass House Shelves by Denyse Schmidt

Finally, the last lecture of the day was Denyse Schmidt's keynote. She talked about her circuitous route to get where she is today. She shared art projects from school and stories about her stone carving pursuits. I think it's interesting how she decided early on to delegate the quilting to Amish and machine quilters, because she could never make any money doing her own quilting. I didn't realize the big scale of manufacturing that she entered into by working with Garnet Hill and Pottery Barn. I recognized her quilt designs from those catalogue photos. Who knew? She said she regretted letting someone talk her into putting a quilt on her head for a People magazine shoot, and she advised that it's dangerous to take pictures of trucks while you're driving. We laughed a lot. I wouldn't want to do a lot of things that she did, but it was interesting to hear during the course of the day how there are some cases where people can make a living in this industry and there are a lot of different ways to try to do that.

Hurle Burle Marx by Daniel Rouse

After the keynote, we went to a pin cushion swap meetup at Clive Bar. A few guilds had swapped pin cushions in the fall, and the meet up was a great way to get to know each other face to face. I loved everyone I met, and there was even more laughing :-) I love me some Vancouver and Kansas City MQG peeps.

Over the Rainbow by Janice Ryan, Shattered Spectrum by Lee Heinrich, New York Beauty Mini by Kati Spencer

Day 4: Sunday

Ugh, I wanted to go to a 9:00am lecture on Quilt Conservation. And I had to look presentable to be on stage during two panel discussions in the afternoon. (I officially hate all of my clothes.) And I had to pick up a friend on the way downtown. FFFFFFFFFF. Too early. I really don't think I'm awake until 9:00 or 10:00am. It's probably just muscle memory until that time of day. I definitely don't recommend trying to talk to me any earlier than that.

Quilt made from donated blocks

Soooo tired. Mr. Pins helped me get out of the door, though. He hooked me up with a travel coffee mug and some toasted waffles in a paper towel that I could stick in my Everything Bag. I made it to Marcia Kaylakie's lecture at about 9:10am.

The takeaways:
- Dude, keep your quilt out of the sun. Even diffused light is trouble. It's taking the color out of your fabric and physically breaking down the fibers. Take this with a grain of salt. I definitely want my quilts to be used, but I'm not going to use one of my great grandmother's quilts as a tablecloth on the table in my yard and see how things go over the course of a summer, OK?
- Get your precious quilts appraised every four years and insure them. Marcia was appraising quilts at QuiltCon for $50. She said that her quilt insurance cost $0.19 a year for every $1,000 of quilt. Totally affordable.
- Piece your quilt label into the quilt back (not just appliqué) and quilt it in there. Also, hide a signature or identifier in the quilting. Quilts can be stolen when a burglar tosses valuables onto the bed, then gathers up the corners of the quilt to use it as a bag on his way out of the house. Your label should have the quilter's name, date, place made, and who the quilt is for.
- Don't let your quilts sit on wood.
- Cedar isn't going to stop silverfish, but little sachets of artemesia will. Replace the sachets every now and then, and be vigilant.
- Pull your stored quilts out every six months and refold them another way.

Mr. Pins liked this zigzigzag quilt by Danielle Wilkes

After Marcia's lecture, Mary Fons spoke from her unique perspective being Marianne Fons's daughter from Fons & Porter fame. Mary gets it. She talked about how it took her awhile to find her way back into the quilt world that she was born into, but now, whoa. She gets it. She talked about the beginning quilter now. That gal didn't have Home Ec in school. She doesn't know anything about a sewing machine. You have to start teaching them from the very, very beginning. No one in their family taught them to sew. They've never used a sewing machine. They don't have a vocabulary for quilting. "What is a bobbin? Why is it there? What is basting? Like basting a turkey?"

Retro Modern Shapes by Heather Davidson

She talked about the old guard and the new guard in the quilting world and how every year at Quilt Market in Houston, people were worried that the average age of the quilter was getting older and older and asking "What are we going to do?" Mary realized that their has to be a new way of teaching new quilters that respects where the new quilters are coming from. They have a different body of knowledge and learn differently. That's what she's trying to do with Quilty. Mary has had two different teachers come to her and say that they are burned out on teaching beginners. It really is about changing what you think a beginner knows. You've got to learn about a sewing machine before you can start piecing and quilting and making your own binding.

I found myself getting lofty ideas of partnering with the Austin Area Quilt Guild and local quilt shops to bring Mary back to speak in Austin. Whoa. Easy there. Then I thought I should eat something, so I did.

Spin Dr. by Angela Walters and Touch This Quilt by Elizabeth Hartman

The afternoon brought the public announcement of lots of good things coming from the national Modern Quilt Guild. Go to their site to hear more, but paying $10 to $15 of dues per member to the national guild for some crazy awesome features and 501(c)3 status is going to be a game changer for Austin. Exciting times.

After that, I geared up for participating in two panel discussions. What? I know.

I didn't really want to say anything about it, because it just felt like somebody made a mistake. I knew that I wanted to attend the lectures on "Tools & Strategies for Guilds" and "Building Community: Challenges, Activities, & Other Events for Guilds" to get ideas, so why was I being asked to contribute my thoughts to these panels? I was concerned this was going to be a case of the blind leading the blind. Plus, I'd be representing ideas and years of hard work from the many members of the Austin MQG. No pressure. I told the other guild officers "Ugh, I guess they're serious about this, so I'll just be talking about what we do . . . yeah . . ."

Hello! Both panels went spectacularly, though. I participated with Andrew Joslyn, Shea Henderson, Kristy Daum, and Holly Broadland. The MQG is going to post the slides and notes, so I'll just let you stay tuned for that info.

Spoonflower Booth

I was wiped out after the panels. I made a last pass around the show room floor to see if Christine and I could score any goodies for giveaways for the Austin Modern Quilt Guild. I bid farewell to Cristy and volunteered during take down as long as I could before I had another commitment. I came back later in the night with Mr. Pins to pick up my quilt. I ran into Charlotte and Jules and got to say goodbye to them as well. Mr. Pins and I headed out of the exhibit hall as all of the MQG gals let out a cheer for a successful QuiltCon. Kudos to you, ladies.

I'll be there in 2015, wherever the show may be!

Modern Mirage by Lee Heinrich. I'd post more photos, but it takes so long!

Happy Crafting!



  1. it was amazing, and so fantastic to see you again!

  2. Wow are you a journalist? You should be, you cover stuff so well.
    I had a bathroom brake whilst reading your post!
    I think I should plan ahead for a 2015 trip x

  3. The lectures sound fab! Alas the fees are going to break our guild, we don't collect dues at all, so we will cease to exist.

  4. This brings me back to a wonderful day at QuiltCon, thanks for the write up! I was at a lot of the same lectures and, obviously, the panel we were on together! Such a treat to hear what other MQG Leaders had to share about their guilds.