www.thesaltyquilter.com - QuiltCon is like Sex

QuiltCon is Like Sex…

The first time it can be awkward and over in a flash, not quite living up to the hype. The second time you know what to expect and it’s more relaxed, letting you get into the groove.

*Wink wink nudge nudge*

*Wink wink nudge nudge*

After attending QuiltCon in Austin in 2015, I was a bit underwhelmed. I didn’t plan on attending again anytime soon. But then they announced QuiltCon West in Pasadena. This California native couldn’t resist, especially combined with cheap February airfares.

So, as follows my review of the tiring, yet extremely satisfying, second trip to QuiltCon.

The Venue and Location

I much preferred Pasadena to Austin. It was easier to get to, the convention center was nicer and there were more amenities close by, such as the world’s best placed Starbucks.

The partnership with Lyft was also handy – I used the service a lot to get around when I wanted to explore Pasadena or was just too lazy to walk to/from my hotel a kilometre away.

I will admit that I am biased – I’m a California girl and the location was both practical and convenient for me. I wouldn’t have gone to QuiltCon again if it hadn’t been for the location.

The Workshops

When the workshops opened online I copied/pasted in all my choices, assuming I would miss out on some. Well, they all went through. So I had a very busy QuiltCon. I did three FMQ classes, two piecing classes and one finishing class.

www.thesaltyquilter.com - FMQing at QuiltCon

Me free motion quilting in Angela Walters’ Textural Quilting workshop


The results of my Broken Wreath workshop from Krista Withers



I managed to do improv quilting in Heather Jones’ Improv Pineapple workshop and not have an apoplexy.

Things that were good:

  • The instructors. Part of the reason I’m willing to pay more is getting world class teachers that we aren’t going to see in Australia anytime soon. All my instructors were excellent, open and inspiring.
  • The setup. The rooms were much better set up than at Austin.
  • The machines. All the machines I used (HQ, Babylock, Juki and Janome) were easy to use and the dealer assistants were friendly and helpful.
  • The three hour class times. For FMQ classes this was a perfect amount of time. Enough to get the idea without being exhausted.

Things that weren’t so good:

  • Sharing Sweet16s: In two of my FMQ classes, students had to share quilting time on the mid-arm machines. This cut down on our quilting/learning time. I would have preferred to have individual domestic machines.
  • Three hour class times: my two evening classes, which focused on piecing and finishing, felt a bit rushed. This may have also been because my brain was on overload.
  • Over prepping. This is more my foible: over-preparing and bringing more than I really needed. Particularly for my FMQ, one 1 meter square practice sandwich would have been sufficient for my three classes, rather than the two I brought. I also bought a 6″ x 24″ ruler at Joanns that was totally unnecessary.

The Show

Last year at Austin, I did the show all in one go, and it was just way too much at once. Talk about visual overload. This year I was smart and took it in chunks.

I enjoyed the show a lot more this year. While it seemed like there were less quilts overall (and this was totally fine!) the variety was greater. Last year seemed like a lot of the same thing over and over. This year, trends included less matchstick quilting (thank God!), a greater variety of background solids other than white or grey (thank God!), an increase in variety of fabrics including hand dyed and prints, and more complex designs.


My favourite quilt in the exhibition – by @blue_dragonfly5

A few quibbles… I still feel that technical issues were common. I know I’m being the quilt police (and according to one of the quilts on display, I can go fuck myself), but these are supposed to be the best of the best quilts to represent the work of the MQG’s 10,000 members. A quilt in the piecing category should have good points, or be so wonky it’s clearly deliberate. Starts on straight line quilting shouldn’t be visible; it’s not hard to bury threads. And don’t get me started about how much it chaps my ass that a quilt with only straight line quilting won an excellence in quilting award.

I also would have swapped the locations of the Minimalist and Modern Traditional sections. The Minimalist quilts were right behind the main winners. The Minimalist quilts are probably the highest on the “modern” spectrum, so it was a bit confronting to jump right into these. I think the Modern Traditionalist section could have eased people in a bit better, especially those visitors who are new to the style.

The Vendors

I always save my shopping until Sunday afternoon to get the best deals, but by then of course some vendors are a bit picked over. I felt like there was more fabric, but fewer gadget/lifestyle vendors. I did notice more batiks for sale at this show; I predict these will be trending soon in the modern quilt sphere. I ended up spending about the same amount as I did last year.

It did seem like the fabric companies upped their game as far as displays/activies in their booths. Many made creative use of technology. And the giveaways were fairly generous (yeah free fat-quarter of Kona Highlight from Kauffman!)

The Vibe

The vibe is really the main reason to go to QuiltCon. You’re surrounded by likeminded and excited quilters.

Me and my close friend Mary Fons.

It was amazingly awesome to chat with my wonderful fellow attendees, workshop students, volunteers, vendors and crew. I got to meet people I’ve followed online and made some great new quilter friends.

Again, in part because of the California location, the show had a more chilled vibe. It felt more like a nice buzz instead of caffeine overload. It definitely left me with a much better afterglow.


That was good.

I won’t be going to QuiltCon in Savannah (just too far away), but I would certainly go to one in Pasadena again.

Share the saltiness...
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

12 thoughts on “QuiltCon is Like Sex…

  1. Jess @ Quilty Habit

    This was a great review to read – thanks for synthesizing it all for us folks at home. I agree about matchstick quilting! I think things are going to shift a bit. 😉 Not that there’s anything WRONG with that but really, there are so many other options!

  2. Bronwyn

    thanks for that review Coral – I went to Austin but not this one – just too soon to afford the trip again from Oz. I really did enjoy Austin and had no probs with anything (except the Keynote speakers’ ‘talk’!). I did take in the show in chunks which did help a lot as it did feel quite overwhelming so I completely understand it if you did it all at once and it felt bad. I think the ‘quilting’ aspect is not really understood by the Modern fraternity and I don’t like quilting awards given to quilts where the ‘piecer’ is the main focus. Would have loved to see this one too; hopefully will be going to next West one in 2018!

    1. Coral

      Thanks Bron. If they do Pasadena in 2018 I will definitely attend. Already have my roommate lined up.

  3. Charlotta Norby

    Great review! I didn’t go to Austin, so I can’t compare, this was my first time. I agree with a lot, but not all. But that’s how it should be. It was fun to meet you, I’m sorry I won’t see you in Savannah, but completely understand. I wouldn’t to come if it was going to be in New Zealand, or anywhere down under!

    1. Coral

      Thanks Charlotta. It was a pleasure meeting you. I would love to have a QuiltCon Down Under someday, but completely understand it’s a long trip!

  4. Jen

    I agree with many of your observations. I too, like the more relaxed venue of Pasadena, and I think most of the instructors are top notch.

  5. Jaye

    Great to meet you at QuiltCon! Thanks for reaching out. I agree with you about the Vibe! It was fantastic. I also agree that Savannah is too far and I live a lot closer than you! I am sure our Georgia and Florida friends will provide excellent commentary. Hope to see you again!

  6. SonJa

    Loved the review! Totally agree with you on the “chapped ass” awards for straight line quilting! While there certainly ARE some quilts well suitd for it, an award given for best quilting when its just straight lines is ludicrious! So many talented machine quilters and the award goes to….straight lines….