Christa’s Soapbox – QuiltCon 2016 is NOT Your Traditional Quilt Show

Today I will talk a little bit about the quilts from QuiltCon. I took a bazillion pictures on the last day of the show, as part of my preparation for a webinar on Modern Machine Quilting (which I’ll be presenting to members of The Modern Quilt Guild in April). However, rather than overloading this post with pics, I’ll just share a few of them here. For a complete list of winners visit The Modern Quilt Guild Blog.

Read my earlier post about why I think that QuiltCon is about more than just quilts.


Best in Show Winner – Pieced and Quilted by Melissa Averinos – My Brother’s Jeans

First of all, QuiltCon is NOT like any other show out there. While I was at the show and perusing social media, I ran into comments somewhat disparaging the Best in Show Quilt for not being up to par with other national quilt show winners. I also remember some grumbling at QC 2015 and 2013 that some quilts that earned accolades at other traditional shows got nary a ribbon at QuiltCon. My answer is that QuiltCon is QuiltCon – it’s not trying to be like any other show, and for that I am grateful.


Best Home Machine Quilting – Pieced by Members of the Albuquerque MQG, quilted by Renee Hoffman of Quilts of a Feather

I was so thrilled to see Renee win such a high honor. For me this truly is the epitome of a modern quilt. You can look closely to see that she combined many traditional quilting elements successfully into a modern design. I love it! Yes you CAN combine swirly motifs and feathers in a modern quilt. It’s not always just about straight line quilting! It’s all in how you do it.


The details on this quilt are so fabulous! I’ll discuss it more as part of my upcoming webinar.

One of the things that excites me about the quilting community is that there truly is something for everyone. If you love to spend 500 hours machine quilting a quilt, you can – and I think that is fantastic! I’ll admire your breathtakingly beautiful workmanship and appreciate the skill, thought and precision that goes into each stitch.

If you pour your heart and soul into a design, and rather than spending a small fortune on having it professionally quilted to perfection, you decide to quilt it yourself so you can take ownership of the entire process, I’ll equally applaud your perfectly imperfect stitches.

In fact, I was able to have a very in-depth conversation about this topic with Annie Smith – host of Quilting Stash Podcast. Click here to listen to our hour long QuiltCon chat, or find it in Itunes.


Annie and I discussed QuiltCon, my books, and my first ever BERNINA sighting!

Something unique about QuiltCon is that they hire 3 judges with 3 different areas of expertise to judge their shows. There’s a certified quilt judge, a modern quilter, and an artist outside the realm of quilting. So with these 3 combined voices, I think they are able to evaluate each quilt as a whole rather than the individual sum of its parts.

I truthfully do not know whether or not they take the artist’s statement into account when choosing their winners, but I’m pretty sure that overall design trumps workmanship when it comes to picking the winners and I’m okay with that. This is not to say that it’s a blanket excuse for shoddy workmanship, but I’d rather see someone be rewarded for their own best efforts rather than feel like they can’t even enter because their work isn’t “good enough.”


I love black and white quilts! This one was made by my good friend Christopher Thompson, aka The Tatooed Quilter. He nailed it on the machine quilting, too! He said he was inspired by the wavy lines from my book and created his own version of “organic matchstick quilting”. I love it!


Detail of machine quilting on Let’s Connect by Christopher Thompson

One of the things that I found particularly refreshing about QuiltCon was that there was so much originality in the quilts on display. As a designer, of course I’m flattered when someone purchases my patterns to make a quilt, but there’s something special about seeing a new work at a quilt show that I haven’t seen a hundred times before.


I love the design and texture on this piece by Paige Alexander. Her work is always so fresh and inspiring! Both she and Christopher get bonus points from me for doing their own work.


This was my favorite quilt from the show, Mod Mood by Debbie Jeske from A Quilter’s Table, made from Bee Sewcial bee blocks. I saw this one coming together on Instagram and thought it was something special. I love the retro vibe! It won a 1st place for group quilts.

It’s always thrilling to share my own quilts in any quilt show, whether they win ribbons or not. I was pleased to have two of my quilts from Machine Quilting with Style on display at QuiltCon. Of course I had to grab the obligatory “hey look at the quilts in my book” photo op! 🙂


 “Rain” was in the minimalist category at QuiltCon. Thanks to Becca Bryan for photography!


The title of “Focal Point” pays homage to Jacquie Gering who gave me the best piece of design advice when making modern quilts – “always have a focal point.”

One of the things I love about QuiltCon that truly sets it apart from other shows, is the beautiful display of charity quilts. Each local MQG chapter is invited to create a quilt with a specific theme that will be then donated to their local area after the show. You can see a snippet of my guild’s charity guilt – “Home is Where the Heart Is”  in the podcast picture collage earlier in this article.


These are the most beautiful charity quilts I’ve even seen, with beautiful details and amazing workmanship. The one is my favorite  – Flame of Inspiration by the Seattle MQG.

Jason is always pushing me to go more modern and I learn more about the aesthetic with each quilt I make. I’m sure there will be continuing discussion on what makes a quilt modern as well as what makes a quilt win a ribbon, and I love to be part of the dialogue! Feel free to add to the conversation below, but just remember, this is my space, so please be considerate and thoughtful when you comment.

For more inspiring modern quilts, check out #quiltcon and #quiltcon2016.

Read my other post from QuiltCon 2016 here.

19 thoughts on “Christa’s Soapbox – QuiltCon 2016 is NOT Your Traditional Quilt Show

  1. Barbara Konkle says:

    Wow, thank you for your review. I did not get to attend, but I hope to next year! Quilts to me are so powerful. Whatever you are going through, feeling, ect flows through to the piece that you are working on. I love that we each have a voice. I get overwhelmed at times or feel my work is not there yet, but this is a journey and I am so excited to be on it. These quilts are so inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Paige says:

    Christa, thank you for sharing with us, especially those that did not get to go, some of the quilts from the show (including mine :)) Looking forward to your upcoming webinar! And if I don’t get see you before, I’ll see you in Savannah!

  3. Patsy Musaraca says:

    thanks for keeping us informed. I learned quite a bit last night regarding modern quilts. Keep up the good work….

    Patsy Musaraca

    On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 9:02 PM, Christa Quilts wrote:

    > Christa posted: “Today I will talk a little bit about the quilts from > QuiltCon. I took a bazillion pictures on the last day of the show, as part > of my preparation for a webinar on Modern Machine Quilting (which I’ll be > presenting to members of The Modern Quilt Guild in Ap” >

  4. adaisygarden says:

    I go to various Quilt Shows and I actually enjoy the differences. I don’t expect them to be all alike and I am always excited to see how each one highlights different things, and even how displays are different. It makes each quilt show interesting and fun for me.

  5. Tina says:

    I’m glad you adressed the comparison to other shows’ best in show winners. It’s apples and oranges.
    For my own work, I get the biggest boost when my nephew or cousin, both artists, compliment my quilts. Then I know I’m on the right track.

  6. mycreativecorner3-Vicki H. says:

    I have never been to quilt con , hope to some day. Not everyone will like the winners, or the statement quilts, or the color etc. You can’t really see a quilt from a photo. I agree , quilts made by a Quiltmaker and quilted ny a human are more meaningful than having a computer longarm it imho. Of course, that’s my preference. I saw many pics I loved, many I didn’t get and a few I didn’t care for…. but that is true in any show. But many say the same about my quilts, too. Keep up the good work! I am gonna try again to get my modern quilt in a show and try again for quiltcon.

  7. Renee says:

    Thank you so much, Christa! I really hope that my quilting to win that award encourages other FMQers! I chatted with one of the judges at QuiltCon this year and she said that they didn’t read the descriptions–they wanted the quilts to speak for themselves. She said they would ask the read the descriptions on quilts they didn’t understand. And that they weren’t looking for quilts that were technically perfect, but for quilts made from the heart. But think having a clean, well made quilt helps!

  8. scorchedeyebrowstudio says:

    As one who has served on show, floor, and master artisan juries, the standards committee, and the board of directors for a regional fine craft organization, I can’t tell you how exciting it is for me to hear that this show’s judging panel included an expert artist, who was not a quilter. There is just too much goodness from this for me to describe here! I might have to write a blog about this, myself. Your inclusive and welcoming attitude to folks who are not “technicians” is quite refreshing and lovely, too.

  9. Ben says:

    I wasn’t able to attend, so I appreciate the review.

    I was already impressed with what I had seen of the ABQ quilt, but it wasn’t until seeing your photo showing the tramway that I really understood the design.

    All the quilts are wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Jenny L says:

    For someone many thousands of miles away and not until my children are grown is not likely to get to QuiltCon, these reviews on blogs of pictures but also reflective commentary are really appreciated. So thank you.

    I so agree that QuiltCon is different, refreshingly so. I enjoy going to quilt shows where you see tremendous skill and artistry but I’m left feeling a bit detached. I’m never going to be making hugely time consuming and exquisite heirloom style quilts. So it’s difficult to be inspired even though I admire the craftsmanship and dedication involved. Whereas the quilts at QuiltCon and all the modern quilts displayed on social media appear more accessible and hugely inspiring. Some I’m sure are very time consuming or look deceptively simple but there there is so much innovation and fresh ideas from which to draw. All the quilts are winners to me.

  11. Rike says:

    Wow! The Flame of Inspiration is really wonderful! !! But the other quilts are, too. It’s such a pitty that QuiltCon is so far away from Germany 😉
    Thanks for showing us the pictures!
    Greetings, Rike

  12. Charlotta Norby says:

    Even though I was there, I’m really enjoying the various reviews of QuiltCon 2016 I run across, including this one. It’s interesting to see how others perceived the event, how they saw things I may have missed or how things which were important to me don’t show up in their reviews. I recognized your Rain quilt the minute I saw it, even though I’d only ever seen it on your blog, it was one of my favorites in the show, and I agree that the quilting in the Albuquerque quilt was just fabulously interesting. I was also so very impressed with the many amazing charity quilts. I’m so glad they hung them all. Every one of them deserved to be displayed and it was wonderful to see that such great work is being put into quilts which are going to charity and were not there to be judged! It’s NOT all about who gets a ribbon.
    With respect to ribbons, I’m just glad I’m not involved in handing them out! I think it would be impossible to pick the winners and I can never understand why they picked the ones they did above all the others!

  13. Katie V. says:

    There really was a little something for everyone to enjoy at QuiltCon. After spending some time in the exhibit hall, I felt like I had gone to a museum and spent a whole day talking about art and how it moved me. And yet I was looking at fabric and thread. QUILTS! So beautiful and unique that it had me feeling like I had spent time in front of a Picasso or a Renoir. I truly appreciate what every quilter brought to the show.

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