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.