Monday, March 2, 2015

QuiltCon Recap, Part 2: Classes and Lectures

A week out from the end of QuiltCon, I've recovered and processed everything much more sufficiently. I want to share my reactions to the events I paid to attend - because if you're going to QuiltCon anytime in the future, you should know about some of the options (though of course they change year to year)!

 One of the reasons I was so excited to attend this year was to take a full-day class taught by Anna Maria Horner (as many of you know by now, because I've probably said it a million times :) ). I admire her work so much, and it was a thrill to make it into the Mod Corsage class at registration time (she also taught Drive by Color, which was about the color wheel above). I wanted to take more than one class at QuiltCon, but because the financial commitment I was already making by going to Austin, I limited myself to only one. I'm so glad I chose this one.

 The original Mod Corsage block to the left, and some of her flower prototypes to the right.

What I loved most about the class was the amount of possibilities. Anna Maria encouraged us to work in the medium that felt most comfortable to us (machine applique, hand applique, improvisational piecing) but also to be open to trying new things.

As much as I love machine appliqued orange peels, I love improvisational piecing even more! I took on the challenge to create a trellis-like flower vine using improv piecing. I'll add in much more white and couple of bias stems to make it look more like a vine. I'm so excited to keep working on it! Like my glittery washi tape improvised design (literally) wall? There were times where I could have used more direction and advice, and everyone was so busy with their creations that I shied away from asking. That's okay, though. As you can see, I haven't pieced much together yet; I spent a lot of time making flowers (some of which you don't see here).

 I'm not one much for handwork, but I can appreciate it. Anna Maria brought us aside in small groups to teach needleturn applique. I will definitely try it as I advance my design. I want to include some of those beautiful large flowers from her fabrics, and cutting them up isn't always okay!

My fellow classmates were making some AMAZING flowers. I was so inspired by them and I can't wait to make more kinds (check out Ashley's post for some eye candy). I took a ton of pictures but I'm not sure which one's belong to which quilter (the whole workshop was a bit of a blur) so I won't post them here. But, here's Renee and I, smiling away when class was just beginning, and an AMH photobomb (someone on Instagram commented that if anyone is allowed to photobomb, it's AMH). :)

I can pick up this quilt whenever I'm stuck with another project and just make. The "joy of making" is something I posted about a year ago, and this will one of those quilts for that purpose. The purpose of joy. Just because it's fun and it's going to be beautiful no matter how it comes out or how long it takes. And yes, it will stay with me when it's done!

 When I was packing, I had no idea which fabrics I would want to use in three days time, so I packed a good amount... so much that Anna Maria let everyone in the room know that if they wanted to purchase some fabric, they could come over and see me. :P And you know the next day I went to the vendor hall and bought more of her fabric... quilter problems.

Finally, the class was very lively and encouraging. Denyse Schmidt was taking the class herself, so between her and Anna Maria, everyone got some pretty detailed feedback during show and tell time. Anna Maria gave Denyse the most improved quilter of the day award - lol! Oh, and I had to get a picture with my quilty idol. Thank you for such an inspiring class!


So, about those lectures. I attended three, and here are my brief thoughts about each, for those that are curious:

1. I attended the All About Fabric Design panel on Thursday, which was led by Kim Kight. Denyse Schmidt, Amy Ellis, and a representative from each Windham and Michael Miller answered the questions. I especially appreciated the audience's questions about fabric design (about choosing colors, finding inspiration) and Denyse's answers to those. Much of the rest of the discussion was more about fabric production and how companies and designers work together. That was quite misleading in my opinion, and I walked out a bit sad that the panel title and description weren't clear. It was also midday and I had been volunteering all morning, so I felt myself drifting a few times (it wasn't very lively). I'd be curious to hear from others who attended that panel and if they had the same experience.

2. Nancy Zieman's lecture "Creating a Business, Stitch By Stitch" was up next on Saturday, smack dab in the middle of the Anna Maria class and lunch hour. I had high hopes that I would learn some tips about getting myself out there and starting my own business. Most of the lecture was about Nancy's journey through building her business. She did give some tips towards the end about the decisions she made in her many years of business, but again, I felt a bit misled by the title/description of the lecture. She is a very inspiring figure/speaker and as a historian, it was interesting to hear about building a business in the 70s and 80s, but it didn't give me much to go off of in the 21st century. Again, I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed.

3. I attended the keynote address by the Quilters of Gee's Bend. It was very inspiring to hear their stories (my friend Yvonne has a great detailed recap if you are interested) but for an hour and a half lecture, I was disappointed by the lack of quilts. It was hard to see from the back of the room, but they had brought a few blocks and tops to share; those came out after about 45-50 minutes. I wished there had been some quilts to look at on the huge screens on either side, or that they had talked more about their process. I realize that religion is a huge part of their lives, but it was a bit overwhelming for someone who isn't religious in the slightest to take in. However, on the positive side, their singing was uplifting and their comments often invited chuckles (or full-on laughs) from the audience. It was the most entertaining lecture I attended.

Okay, "brief" turned into several sentences about each lecture... but there you go. My honest thoughts on everything I attended (I made sure to relay both the positive and negatives to the MQG for their planning purposes next time - I definitely need more details as to what the lectures will really be about before I sign up again. I don't know if that's the speakers' jobs or what, but I'm hoping that it will be clearer next time). All in all, I'm still feeling super inspired by everything/one I saw/learned from at QuiltCon, so I've been sewing away like crazy at every opportunity!

 If you attended QuiltCon, what were your impressions of the classes/lectures you attended? If you didn't attend, what would you like to see in the future?


  1. I am so glad you wrote down your thoughts and insights on the workshop and lectures you attended, Jess. I feel like this way I am getting a much bigger slice of the QuiltCon pie. Seeing your AMH mod corsage quilt progress is going to be awesome. :) I think your thoughts on the lectures are unfortunately not unique (I must have been lucky with the ones I chose to pay for!). And I TOTALLY agree about having a quilt slide show going while the Gee's Bend quilters were talking - that would have been amazing. And standing up at the end while everyone was grooving and clapping along felt awkward and weird to me (spiritual but non-religious is how I categorize myself), so I videotaped it all to feel less weird. o_0

  2. I completely agree with everything you said about Gee's Bend! I'm glad I snuck out before the end to avoid the awkwardness Yvonne described--and WHY were there no quilts on those big ass screens?! They could have just been on a loop, and their talk could have been the exact same. I loved how down to earth and approachable AMH was, and wish I could have felt better and been more engaged in the class. I am so glad you and Ashley so enjoyed it though! I've really been enjoying working on my block at home between projects though.

  3. I appreciate your sharing your thoughts about QuiltCon. As someone who didn't attend, this feedback, along with your other posts here and on IG, helps me understand what the event is like and why I need to go next year! : )

  4. You're so lucky! Thanks for the post. 👍😃


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