My Quilting Anniversary, A Retrospective

Quiltcon and AQS Lancaster 2015

Quiltcon and AQS Lancaster 2015

So, let me start out by saying that I live in Lancaster and look forward to the AQS show when it comes here.  It is an Anniversary for me.  Two years ago, in 2013, I attended the show here for the first time in Lancaster and posted on Facebook as I looked around, ” I feel very tall and young.”  I found out that year, that the AQS show’s average age of attendance was 63 (that quote came from the press box).  At the time, I was in my early 40’s.

 So, in my past life, I have a business degree and I looked around the show and asked myself, “Where is this industry going?”  It literally looked like it was dieing off.  As an art form, the quilts were amazing, the detail was impeccable, and the art of sewing was stellar.  But where are the people that will carry on this tradition and art form?  I did not see another generational gap there to carry on the art form.  I was feeling young at 40ish there but I also looked and felt like a fish out of water.

But who sews anymore?  Who is going to pass on these amazing skills.  At that point in my life, I thought that grandma taught you to sew.  Mine taught me.  I could do basic sewing, like a button or a stuffed pillow, but what I saw at the show was an art form that was amazing and artistic.  Sewing was not just a domestic skill, who knew?

I didn’t.

So, welcome to the Modern World of Quilting.


I started Googling what the different blocks were called, what their historic value was, and how to construct them. Thank you: YouTube, Craftsy, Pinterest, Flickr, and Creativebug!!!!

You are my Modern Grandma.

So, back to “Where is Quilting going?”

So, after the Lancaster AQS show in March 2013 I went searching for an answer and learned about Quiltcon 2013 that had just happened in February in Austin, Texas.  I had just missed it!  Quiltcon was a “Modern” Quilt Show.  Filled with young and old, internet savy, graphic artists, fine art majors, engineers, mathematicians (who knew), and traditional quilters all looking for something different but all looking for a medium to express their creativity.  They found it in “Modern” quilting.

The church ladies have moved out of the basement and onto the internet!

I found a world of people, literally “around the world,” all connecting on the internet.  All ages, languages, and varied sewing abilities. They were all talking about this “Quiltcon” and how they left so inspired, excited, and consumed with creativity.

I need to go to QUILTCON!

I made a goal for myself to be at the next one in 2015 and I made my goal.


Quiltcon vs. AQS Lancaster?


I left Quiltcon this past February so energized, excited, motivated, head spinning with ideas and just a great sense of community.  I was encouraged to make mistakes, and learn from them.  For the last month I have not been able to stop drawing, EQ7ing, or just doing some improv pieces.

They expressed that you should be original.  Learn from those mistakes.  Create something with that mistake.

DO YOU and love it!

And then I went to AQS Lancaster last week,

Well, I took a class and the person next to me told me that “Wonky” was another word for mistake.

Really, here we go…

She will only follow a pattern.  I respect that.  Not everyone is comfortable just playing around. And then it went downhill… “and anyone that thinks “wonky” is a creative interpretation, is wrong.”

I was heart broken.

And then I went to look at the quilt displays at my lunch break.

As usual, they were beautiful and mind boggling. But this year there was no modern quilt section?  Last year AQS had a great entry category of Modern Quilt (upstairs, along the back, facing the back wall with little light.. but hey, they had one).  I thought that AQS was starting to realize the business of quilting and that they were recognizing a Modern category.  I was hopefull.

Not this year, it must have been a special exhibit last year.

So how does the industry stack up today?

When I went to Quiltcon, it was quoted that the industry as a whole is comprised of the following:

80% is Traditional

13% is Non-Traditional/ Quilt Art

7% is Modern

However, the Modern Quilt Guild grew over 600% in the last 18 months.  That is crazy in a business sense!  As a business, I understand that the Modern definition is not the dominate.  But, looking at the growth, where will the industry be in 2 years?

I’m excited to see!

I’m not trying to bust on either show or either demographic or style of quilters.  I love traditional quilting and appreciate the history and nostalgia that goes into the beautiful historic blocks.   If you ask any modern quilter they will agree. A lot of them got into modern to allow themselves to play “off” of the opportunities the block designs give them.  I just wish that more traditional quilters could be more open and accepting of different styles.

As a parent, I teach my children to respect others opinions but still be open new possibilities.  I teach them to embrace new ideas and to learn from them.  So why can’t the adults in this world abide by the values that they too were probably brought up to abide by.  It is easier to work together than to work against each other.  I think we have a good start.

So the next time you see a traditional or a modern quilt, look at the work and time it took someone.  Regardless of its style, someone put a lot of heart into.



Why Am I Blogging?

When I tell someone that I got into Quilting about a year ago…their face says it all!

Say what???

I am not gray haired (although my hair colorist could probably prove that theory wrong), I do not have grandchildren (my own kids are still young), I don’t go to church on a regular basis (sorry, not hangin out in the church basement quilting), I don’t spend my day making homemade baked goods for my kids (I pick them up at the grocery store, baked), I like a good glass of wine ( and that does not make me a bad person), and …  what other stereotypes can I think of….hmm.

I am a 40 something woman who works out, has a great husband with kids and a dog.  I spend my weekends and after-school driving my kids to every sports practice, tournament, game, art class, volunteer opportunity, tutoring, oh and I get dinner on the table each night!  Hubby helps too!  Today’s quilter is not necessarily the stereotypical grandmother we still envision in our head.

I live in Lancaster PA where we have many Amish and Mennonite ladies that do some AMAZING traditional quilting.  It is truly an art.  My town also hosts the AQS (American Quilters Society) Convention every year.  A few year’s back I stumbled in for the first time.  I believe in being a tourist in my own town and this time, it proved to be a game changer for me.  I was floored by the artwork that these people could create using fabric.  My grandmother taught me to sew but never in my wildest dreams had I seen THIS type of sewing before.

But here was the hook for me.  As I walked around, I am 5’8″, blond and in my 40s. I pretty much stuck out like a soar thumb.   I posted on my Facebook page “I’m feeling young and tall today.”  After talking to some of the vendors, I found out that the average age attending was about 63. Well my head went crazy.  So if the average is 63 what is happening to this Art of Quilting?  Is it a dying breed?  Who is learning and carrying on the traditions of this aging art?

About a year later and a bit of snooping around (oh how I love the internet) I found the MQG Modern Quilt Guild.  For as old as traditional quilting is, modern quilting is new.  It is taking all the respected traditions of quilting and allowing you to freshen them up with your own interpretation.  It is bright colors, wonky squares, traditional blocks just made with fresh fabrics instead of old clothe shirts.  It is respecting the traditions but allowing the creator to put their own spin on an old block design.

So, why am I blogging?  I would like to be able to show others this amazing creative world I have found.  The Quilting Bee has come out of the Basement and found its home on the Internet.  Blogging has created a world for Quilters to connect from across the country and many continents.  Someday I would be intrigue to document how Blogging has changed the Quilting community from a quiet little local community thing to this vast, no walls, community of wonderful helpful people.

But for now, I’m going to get back to quilting




Deb in Baltimore Harbor with Napa