After a couple of long years, QuiltCon 2022 in Phoenix felt like a breath of fresh air and a start to our return to ‘normal’ (whatever that may look like!). In the middle of a long winter, I was happy to escape the wet Pacific Northwest forest for a few days and enjoy some warmer weather in a beautiful city.
With workshops, lectures, the amazing quilt show, a vendor hall, and (best of all) quilty friends to be seen, QuiltCon can be a bit of a whirlwind!
Here’s a small sampling of what I did while there and the trends I saw. This is by no means an exhaustive list- there is just too much to see and do for one person!
On Wednesday night, we gathered in the lecture hall for the awards ceremony. The last time I attended QuiltCon, I skipped this event- never again! It was so great to hear the winners announced and cheer for and celebrate with them, whether they were in person or watching on the livestream.
Seeing quilty friends!
Always the highlight of QuiltCon, but especially this year, everyone was thrilled to be among ‘their people’. It was so great seeing friends both in passing and at special meetups.
I got to spend some time with my sweet friend (and Quilter’s Planner 2022 BOM designer) Cheryl Brickey (@meadowmistdesigns). Here is our selfie with Yvonne Fuch’s (@quiltingjetgirl) absolutely stunning Pulsar quilt.
I also attended a fabulous dinner event hosted by Carolina Moore (@craftmoore) for our Quilt Pattern Designers group. It was so refreshing to just sit and visit and connect with some people I knew online, but had never met in person.
In addition to that, I met several sweet new friends as I went about my time at QuiltCon. It’s amazing to me how the love of this craft creates an instant bond between strangers.
Lectures and workshops
I attended several lectures while at QuiltCon, and was happy with how the lecture hall chairs were spaced out in groups of three. There was plenty of room for those who wanted to social distance to spread out a bit.
I think a quilter could happily spend all four days in the QuiltCon vendor hall! I browsed around and did a little shopping, but was careful because I had strategically limited the space in my suitcase for my return flight! One highlight was seeing the Radiant Dreams collection in the Aurifil booth next to Kitty Wilkin’s Color Crush collection.
The Quilt Show
With over 600 modern quilts on display, there was so much beauty to process. As I walked the show, I noticed a few trends. It’s important to note that these might be overall trends in modern quilting right now OR just the trends that happened to get selected for the show. With any juried show, the selection process can really effect what we get to see!
Hand quilting or combined machine and hand quilting.
I noticed a lot of hand quilting, but also several quilts that combined hand quilting and machine quilting. This combining of techniques really makes you lean in and focus on the quilting design!
My favorite example of this was Through the Looking Glass by Olga Bocharova (@bocharova12345)
Look at that quilting!
One trend that was a little surprising was the use of browns, as well as the predominance of brown-toned colors. This is not a color we have seen a lot of in modern quilting. But with the aesthetics of color constantly changing, it was bound to happen!
SquashBlossom Basket by Noreen Borys (@noreensquilts), made for the Artisan Cotton Fabric Challenge, was a notable example of this trend. This quilt is magical: with a traditional basket design and brown as it’s primary color, it is still somehow unmistakably a modern quilt.
Another lovely example of this was Languishing Looks Like This by Karen Duling (@karenbduling). The artist statement on this quilt was one I think we can all relate to; I have included it below.
Narrow pieced strips.
I saw several quilts with very narrow pieced strips, including the Small Quilts 1st place winner, Sudoku by Charles Cameron. (@feltlikesweets)
Another notable example of this technique is Little Snippets by Abigail Sheridan de Graff. (@cutandalter)
Blue and orange/orange yellow
As I walked the show floor, one color scheme seemed to be repeating. And for good reason- blue and orange are a classic complimentary color combination.
Most of the blue and orange quilts I saw were fully saturated, but Sky Top by Nancy Lampbert brings in some pastels and grey tones, creating a lot of sophistication, depth, visual interest and movement.
Shockwave by Caitlin Lisle (@caitlisledesigns) has just one solitary point of orange, but it makes a big visual impact!
From my perspective, quilters this year seemed to be pointing us back to traditional colors, techniques and designs. Whether it’s simply a change of aesthetics or a desire for something that feels more like ‘grandma’s quilts’, I’m looking forward to seeing where the trends go next!