Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Chauffeur's Report on the Quilt Show

Ok, I'm not a quilter - just a chauffeur (to quilt shows and shops) who can appreciate art when he sees it, so this is entirely my own opinion!  But we managed a short winter break to drive down to the Lancaster Quilt Show, one of seven big ones run across the U.S. by the American Quilting Society, and really enjoyed our short trip - partly because we got out of the snow by the time we hit Pennsylvania..  Herewith is my report (in three posts).

The quilt show was dominated by wall hangings; there was hardly a traditional bed quilt in sight.  This was my favourite, quite small, but with stunning details.  And as you'll see for all my personal favourites, bright colours.

There were lots of picture quilts, creating a picture in quilting.  I thought this one was really well done, with a good selection of blues, and a nicely balanced picture.

Here's another picture quilt, a walk in Vermont in the fall.  All of those leaves on the trees are individual pieces of fabric.

Many of the wall hangings were more traditional pattern quilts, but the 'quilting' itself was stunning and detailed.  As my wife the quilter said, these quilts are quilted to the Nth degree.  I've darkened and highlighted the two photos below to show you what I mean.

As I've watched in my wife's studio, quilts are made in two big steps.  The whole process is described generally as quilting, or making quilts, but for quilters the term 'quilting' has a more specific meaning.  The first step is putting together the top of the quilt, selecting colours, fabric and the design, and then sewing it all together, or what quilters call 'piecing'.  That's the part my wife enjoys.

Part two is making the sandwich of the quilt top, the batting, and the back, and sewing the three layers together, or what quilters call 'quilting'.  This is the incredible pattern of threads that provide the patterns on these two quilts.  As you can see you don't just 'quilt' a pattern across the quilt, the pattern is adapted to different portions of the quilt to become part of the design in its own right.  And I was highly impressed by the detailed 'quilting' on the quilts at this show. This one achieves its impact more through the 'quilting' than through the colours or pattern.

I should add that this level of quilting is thanks to the advent of machine quilting, which I'll say more about in another post.  Hand-quilted quilts are rare enough now that they merit their own category in the show!

Some quilters enjoy the 'piecing' and some enjoy the 'quilting'; I'm sure some enjoy both.  Here the piecing involves thousands of tiny bits of fabric to create the blossoms on the cherry trees.  The colour and the picture provide the impact rather than the quilting.  In any case I was quite impressed by it all.

Photography policy - at this quilt show photographs were allowed, as long as not used for commercial purposes, except where specifically prohibited, as they were in several parts of the show.  I always follow the rules, not wanting photographers to get a bad rap!  My purpose here is just to celebrate the quilting artists themselves, amazing stuff they produce.


  1. Wow, these are really gorgeous quilts. I think my favourites are the fall leaves and country road as well as the last one with the beautiful purple flowers. Quilters do amazing and meticulous work and I admire their creativity. Thanks for sharing these ones.

  2. Beautiful beyond words, my favourite is the frog. FMQ, or free motion quilting makes the quilt or wall hanging what it is when finished, and yes, piece the top, and quilt the whole. I am so glad you are sharing these with us, novice, intermediate or superior quilters, or others who enjoy a stunning work of art. We can all enjoy, and realise how many hours of planning, cutting, stitching and finishing is in each one. Cheers, Jean.

  3. Very vivid work. I'm inclined to think of that autumn one as my favourite of the lot.

  4. Beautiful works of art! The machine quilting on that one of the beach scene is breathtaking:)

  5. Fabulous quilts! My favorite is the third one down.

  6. They are amazing! I'm sure the chauffeur enjoyed that more than trips to the shops.

  7. I've done a lot of piecing and some quilting. My grandmother was the expert. It's gone way beyond anything I've tried in recent years.

  8. These are beautiful quilts. Thanks for sharing these with us. I can only imagine how much time it took to make these works of art.

  9. Wow they are all beautiful. Such lovely works of art. My favorite is the boy and dog walking down the country road.

  10. I love quilts also---and have some priceless ones from my mother/friends... I still love the traditional pattern quilts --but some of the new ones are fabulous... Wow---what beauties!!!!!

    Glad you had a nice trip --away from the snow!!!

  11. wow, these are really fabulous quilts! great collection you shared. thank you so much and have a great weekend~

  12. Those are amazing. I've never seen quilts like that before.