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.