Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Reflections on visiting a quilt show

Even though I'm swamped and I have NOT got my 150 Canadian Women blocks done for the week - yet!  I see someone on Instagram posted that they have 23 blocks left to go. Now the race is on! At least most of my fabrics are cut and I do have a Sit n Sew day later this week. I'll see what I can get done.

It's quilt show season and I'd love to visit more shows than I have in previous years if possible. But since I have a work schedule, I have to work around that. Which is why I was writing very late last night and very early this morning to compensate for the time that I was away yesterday. That's the beauty of working freelance. As long as the work gets done, who cares WHEN or WHERE you do it.

Anyway, I had posted the fact that some of the Monday ladies had gone to the Ailsa Craig Quilt Festival which is in Ailsa Craig. It's not close for us to get there, but I thought it would be fun. Someone asked me (via Instagram) if the show was worth going to. Hmm - now that's a very interesting question and I responded YES and NO. Someone else responded to my comment with a very negative view of the show and that prompted me to write today's post.

What makes a quilt show good? And what price should be charged for the show admission? Let's chat about the admission price for a moment. How much do you pay to see a movie? If you go on half price Tuesdays, you pay $8.10 to get in. That gives you two hours of pleasure at watching a movie that took time and money to make. Then there is the cost of the movie theatre and all the employees that work there. It works out to about $4 per hour of entertainment. The movie could be good, could be bad. You be the judge. Sometimes, I go to movies and they aren't great. But should I complain that I wasted my $4 per hour of entertainment? Probably not.

The cost to enter a quilt show is anywhere from $6 to $10 and it was $10 to get into the Ailsa Craig quilt show. We were there for two hours. That "entertainment" cost us $5 per hour. Not a bad price considering that the quilts had to be shipped (and insured from Iceland), cost of travel of the Icelandic team and whatever other sundries there are. Was the price too high? Not when you look at it in this way. It was cheap entertainment and there was lots of eye candy.

What really bothers me is that us quilters do NOT do ourselves any favors. Instead of looking at our quilt shows with pride or attending other guild shows with pride, we consider this a "hobby" that one should be able to attend for free or for a "cheap" price. Why do we cheapen our craft (for some (like myself) - it's their livelihood) with the notion that things should be cheap? I make MONEY doing this. Writing patterns, writing blog posts, quilting quilts - I get paid for that. If everything were free, I would be out of a job!!

That begs the other question - is the show good? Well, that depends on who you are, what your tastes are, how open-minded you are, who you go to the show with, what your intentions of going to the show are and a whole lot of other questions. If my intention is to be WOWED at every show, then I should be packing myself off to Quilt Festival or Quilt Week or some other major show. But let me tell you something - I've been to a number of shows and while I am wowed, I'm also getting very blase (I know shame on me!) about seeing all these amazing quilts. I can rip through one of those major quilt shows in a matter of a couple of hours, take a few pictures and call it a day. These people are way too focused on minutiae detail to make the quilts even remotely doable for the average person like myself.

The other problem with being WOWed at a quilt show is when will the WOW factor be totally achieved? These ladies spend years working on those WOW quilts and that would bore me to tears. I sometimes feel sorry for those prize winners. All that time and effort so you can POTENTIALLY win a ribbon or a cash prize. Was it fun? Don't they get bored?

Anyway - what are some of the other reasons we would attend a quilt show? Perhaps there's a new style or technique that intrigues you. Perhaps it was a different take on a group project or a challenge. People who worked on round robins or perhaps showed a common block in a totally different perspective. I saw some amazing quilts yesterday and I saw some regular quilts. I saw some interesting ideas on a challenge which got me so excited that I want to run home and write up instructions for the challenge. I saw round robins quilts that almost made me want to break my vow of doing a round robin. STOP ME!!!

We got to see some native costumes of the Icelandic people and wool and sheep is huge. There were a couple of wool pieces in the show that blew me away.

We got to see how a different culture embraces quilting and even though they use different materials (in some cases) we are all quilters. We learned that their ONE major quilt shop is closing. The owner is retiring and there is no one to buy her shop. We saw quilts that had been sent to the US for quilting? Does that mean there are no long arms in Iceland? Hmm - an opportunity - opening up a shop and long arm business? Any takers?

As for vendors, do you go to a quilt show for the vendors? This person (who commented on my post) also stated that the vendors were close to her and she could go to their shops any time she wanted. Well, what about the lady from New Brunswick who was there with her wool? I even bought something from her and I learned something very interesting which I will share with you in a couple of weeks. I learned about a couple of shops that I had never heard of and it was interesting to see all the new stuff they had. I agree - if the shops are ones that I already shop at, it isn't as interesting as if I haven't seen their stuff before. But I DON'T go to a quilt show just because the vendors are there. That's a bonus. I took cash and only spent cash!

All I ask in future is that when you ask someone - "is the show good?" You should qualify that. Perhaps instead we should be asking the question - "were you inspired?" "did you see something or learn something that you would like to do?" If all we are looking for is that WOW factor, then let's just hang one or two WOW quilts in a library for all to see and be done with quilt shows. We really must think about what we say when we start to lament about something.  I know - even myself - I can get caught up in that.

Hopefully, this will put a different light on quilts shows and why they have them and why we go.

Anyway, I'm off as I have a class to attend today (hey - the same things can be said about classes). I've done NO WORK since the last class which isn't uncommon and I still have to finish proofing a pattern. I have to leave at 10 AM.  Better get to work NOW.

Have a great day!!!!



  1. Speaking of shows, are you coming to Quebec Quilt?

    1. Yanicka -- I hadn't planned on it, but I just checked it out. LEt me see if it works into my schedule! Would be fun@!

  2. I believe you are so correct about shows. I've been quilting since 2008 and have only attended a handful of shows. Not because I didn't want to, be I was unable to because I worked or had other stuff with the kids. Life happened. But the shows I did attend all inspired me in one way or another. I love seeing the everyday quilts. I love seeing how quilters use colour. I love seeing the different takes on traditional patterns. I also like seeing the quilts done with techniques that I don't usually use, like applique. I really appreciate those. I think every quilt show that I gone to was worth the money to see all the quilts up close and personal.

    1. Ariane - thanks for your comments. Yes - the everyday is so worth celebrating and visiting. Hope you'll be able to get to more quilt shows in the future. Elaine

  3. Well said Elaine. I love quilt shows and always come away inspired by something. To each his own as they say.
    Pat Dauphinee

  4. Excellent comments! If we can't pay a few dollars to support the shows, where would we be able to show them off at? I go to look, get inspired (haven't taken a class at one yet though), sometimes get my mojo back and in general, just meet with like minds! I am so excited to be able to attend Quilt Canada for the first time, as I live near Vancouver!