Good Luck With Your Quilt Show

I got a lot of comments to my post Is Computerized Quilting Killing the Local Quilt Show? Some of them came in the form of private emails.  Most people seemed to think I was trying to rehash the debate about technology moving forward.  I was not.  I was trying to spark a conversation about why quilt show attendance is down, generally.

I think computerized quilting tends to make one quilt show very much like another, which might be one reason attendance is down.  I can go from quilt show to quilt show and actually know the name of the longarm quilting pattern that was used on the quilt.   In some cases, patterns are made for certain types of quilts, so you might go to two quilt shows and see a computer-quilted quilt nearly identical to previous show (for example, wedding ring patterns are made to fit the melon and arcs).

I am not a snob who says we shouldn’t use technology.  But, I do think that beginners who come in and see the super-perfect quilting and embroidery that can only be done by a computer can be discouraged.  And as a hobby, we need new quilters.  This particular hobby tends to be picked up by many after their children leave the home.

Try to remember when you started quilting.  I remember going to Paducah after I had been quilting for about 5 years.  And for several months afterwards, I was completely discouraged.  I thought I could never achieve anything half so wonderful.  And the quilts then were less perfect.  But now, the quilts are getting somewhat “cookie cutter”, as are the quilting patterns, and therefore, the shows are also becoming cookie cutter.  Something must change, or quilt shows will start to lose money, and guilds will fail.  It may be a while down the road, but if we want to keep our hobby fresh, we can’t keep doing quilt shows the same we we did 30 years ago with today’s technology, and we need to inspire new members, not discourage them.

I hope everyone’s quilt show is a success, but I think we’re all going to have to make some changes to continue to succeed.

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6 thoughts on “Good Luck With Your Quilt Show

  1. I’ve always thought the art quilts have killed the quilt shows. Most of us are not artists, we just want to sew and improve our quilting. Then when I go to a show, I see artistic things that I know I could never do. It started killing the fun for me to some degree. I love the “story” quilts that are the quilter’s family story, and they are appliqued and pieced. To me that is the ultimate in self expression, and I imagine the quilter’s family will want to keep them forever.
    I don’t like to see quilts that people make copying the pattern exactly in the colors she chooses. I don’t judge a quilt by the size of the quilt stitches, or if there is a little wave in the border. I like a quilt that is pleasing to me no matter what the skill level.

  2. I don’t go to many local shows, so I don’t have a way to gauge that. As to larger shows, such as AQS or IQF, I think yes, perhaps attendance is down. I attended IQF in March in Rosemont IL, and my sister and I were surprised at how few people were there.

    Why? Maybe because we don’t need to go to shows for inspiration anymore. Those of us who reach for new ideas and inspirations can find them all day every day online. “Modern” quilters are using QuiltCon as a social venue as much as anything, to meet their blog and pinterest and instagram friends. QuiltCon is still new, though, only 3 or 4 years in existence.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. I still want to see traditional quilts, even with a modern twist. I’m not into art quilt, but, I do like small wall hangings. I like to see quilts that might have a flaw somewhere, not a ‘perfect’ quilt. I want to see something that I might be able to make, and also to sleep under (many of today’s quilts are NOT made to sleep under). I tend to barely glance at those artsy quilts, or too perfect quilts. I also don’t want to see the same quilt, over and over. Variety is the spice of life.

  4. I recently went to a quilt show with my daughter, and yes, I agree with your sentiments exactly. There was one stunning quilt, and it got the most attention of every quilt in the show – BUT, it was fairly simple blocks, jazzed up with stunning computerized quilting. Unfortunately, most of the chatter in the halls was about THAT quilt. I was happy to see though that they had also included some quilts that were far from perfect, not in a way that pointed out the errors made, but I felt that the show organizers made sure to include every guild member’s efforts, however experienced they were, and THAT made my day!

  5. Cost has become one of the factors also. Not only does the show charge 10 to 15 dollars, but parking is costing 10 to 15 dollars.. I don’t care if I can go four days. I drove a long ways to go one day. I want to spend my money at the vendors. That is too much for nonquilters to attend. We want to bring in new people. Unfortunately, I will be attending fewer shows in 2016.

    • I was talking small local quilt shows. Most local shows (like ours) I’ve been to only charge $5-$8. I have never had to pay for parking except the AQS or Mancuso shows–which do charge a lot more.

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