QuiltCon Debuts in Austin, Texas USA


You might have noticed that our blogging has been a little bit sparce lately.  Here are the reasons:  (1) Cathy received a sewing machine from Santa and is learning to sew during her blogging hours. More on that later.  (2) Ellen’s blogging time has been filled recently with a move to a location around the corner from Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto.  Deliciously more on that later.   (3) Ellen and Cathy attended QuiltCon in Austin, Texas.  More on that right now!


Now, about QuiltCon: oh my goodness and wow!  Ellen joined me in Austin for a weekend of quilting awe.  This is the first year that the Modern Quilt Guild has introduced this wonderful event, and happily, they chose Austin, Texas for thousands of modern quilters to gather. It included classes, lectures, and a juried quilt show. When I registered in the fall, I didn’t even know how to sew.  We were originally planning to attend to see the fun projects that are made with our fabrics, but as a new “official stitcher,” I had a completely different experience.  We were able to look at every single little stitch very, very closely.   (No kidding, there was but a thimble-length between our noses and each quilt.)


Not only did we enjoy the juried show, but a separate group of quilts by Denyse Schmidt was also on display. “Modern quilting” is a little bit different than the kinds of quilts one imagines when thinking of traditional quilting. Lots of solid color and negative space, wonky shapes, and creative, improvisational designs. To attend a Modern Quilt Guild show feels a little bit like attending a show at the MOMA, only in this case, the artwork is made of fabric and thread.

The show was meticulously coordinated. The modern color palette used for all of the pre-show advertising was replayed throughout the show with signage, literature and even the hand-crafted award ribbons, shown below.


With all the Modern Quilt Guilds (MQG) in town, an extra treat for us was that several members from Ellen’s very own Bay Area MQG came to Austin, and with their friendly personalities combined with adorable Australian accents, they were most certainly the stars of the night when they took a break from quilting to go boot-scootin’ at the Broken Spoke!



The next day, we toured the main lecture hall, where the walls were adorned with quilts created by Modern Quilt Guilds across the country, for the Block Challenge using the QuiltCon color story. The blocks were sent ahead of time, and twenty were chosen to make a quilt that was selected for one lucky winner. The remainder of the blocks were then made into many amazing one-of-a-kind quilts. Following the show, all of the quilts were given to the Austin Children’s Shelter as a way of saying thank you to the city of Austin. I wish I could see a photo of a room in the Children’s Shelter filled with these beautiful modern works of art wrapped around little Austinites.

Below are the required fabric colors from the QuiltCon site, and an example of a challenge block by Heather Davidson of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild.


We attended several lectures, and enjoyed every single one of them.  A highlight for us was to see our friend, Laurie Wisbrun, speaking with a panel discussing the business of fabric design from the perspective of designers, as well as manufacturers.  The lectures covered a wide range of topics from David Butler’s photography secrets to Anna Maria Horner’s design process to the keynote speech by Denyse Schmidt, sharing her constantly evolving creative journey.  But interestingly, although every presentation was different, they all resounded with one similar message: Be True to Yourself.  We marched out of QuiltCon rejuvenated and ready to draw, paint, mouse and stitch.  And, of course, to be true to ourselves.


And in keeping with the lesson, we decided that to be truly true to ourselves, we needed to top off our last day with a delicious crepe from the very authentic crepe restaurant, Le Cafe Crepe, across the street from the convention center.  Quilts topped off with crepes … it just doesn’t get any better than that!





  1. Louisa March 20, 2013

    Love all the pics of the stitching – wish I’d been there!

  2. Holly April 5, 2013

    I’d love to see a photo of the quilts in action at the Austin Children’s Shelter as well! Our guild, the Vancouver MQG, sent down a quilt and it was fun to see it hanging in the lecture hall.

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