myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

QuiltCon 2017 Report

I can’t believe it is already two weeks since I came home from QuiltCon – it really seems just a beautiful dream to me now! But I was there and I’m sure you want to hear all about it!
The photo above is the crowd surging into the show on the first day, and you can just see ahead the quilt that one Best in Show. 
This was the completely off the scale ‘Bling’ by Katherine Jones of Tasmania. Oh my goodness this was SO impressive! I can’t get my head around how you would even start to make this! Just WOW!! And a huge congratulations to Katherine who I met not long after she got her prize – she seemed a little stunned by all the attention! 
Just to give you an idea of scale it was 98 inches square.
But let’s rewind a day. The show started on the Thursday but Karen, Pam (one of my Edinburgh MQG buddies) and I got there on Tuesday night. After a little prep for Karen’s classes on Wednesday morning we were free to be tourists for the day. Here’s me and Karen on River Street, Downtown Savannah as we start to explore. Unfortunately it was a little grey and very soon it was a lot rainy!

I really wasn’t expecting Savannah to be so drop dead gorgeous is it turned out to be. These few snap shots do not do it justice, round every corner lay more beautiful streets or gorgeous houses with wonderful architectural details.

Lining every street were ‘Live Oak’ trees, they don’t look anything like oaks but are green all year round and are covered by ‘Spanish Moss’ a cobwebby type of lichen which gives a wonderful atmosphere to all the views.

On Karen’s recommendation I had been reading ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ which is all about Savannah and centres on the murder trial of Jim Williams who lived in the (now called) Mercer Williams House. We went to take a look at the house and were delighted to find we could do a tour that was starting in 10 minutes! The tour was excellent and really brought the book to life for me. 

After a delicious lunch at the Bohemian Hotel with Pam and three lovely Danish quilters Helene, Suzanne and Maria, in which I tried Fried Green Tomatoes for the first time (a wonderful revelation!) we were off for more wandering.

I spotted this lovely woolly fellow in a delightful yarn shop (which was also full of quilters – of course all of Savannah was full of quilters for a few days!!)

One of the first things I did when the show opened on Thursday was to find our Edinburgh MQG Charity Challenge quilt and have my photo taken beside it. The charity quilts were absolutely stunning with so many different interpretations of the theme!
One of the best exhibits in the whole show was the Quilts For Pulse stand. After the terrible massacre that targeted the LGBT community at the Pulse night club in Orlando last year the local MQG started a quilt appeal. They asked our community to send heart blocks to make quilts for the victims and their families. They hoped to make 200 quilts…

… they made almost 1800 quilts!!! They were able to give quilts to EVERYONE who was involved in the tragedy, including all the first responders (police, fire, ambulance), hospital workers, legal aid, city council workers…

The stand was one of the most moving things I have seen and I am tearing up again while I type this. I spoke a couple of times with the Orlando MQG members who were at the stand and every time we all ended up crying. Huge congratulations to the Orlando guild, the work involved in doing this was IMMENSE!

They had a photo of every quilt on the stand all collaged into heart shapes. Our guild made blocks and then Lesley turned it into the most amazing quilt after attending Sarah Fielke’s wonky letters workshop. Lesley made ‘love is all you need’ and surrounded it with the heart blocks. I was therefore able to find and photograph our quilt amongst the others as it is the only one that says this. Thank you so much for doing this on our behalf Lesley.

I attended three lectures which were all excellent (and more about one of them in my next post). One of them, by Shruti Dandekar, was about traditional Indian quilts including those made by the Siddi people in Southern India like the example above. The way they are made and the story about their history (they were Africans brought to India as slaves by the Portugese and then left there) was absolutely fascinating and very inspiring.

And then there were the amazing quilts!! Oh my goodness, so much beauty! My eyes were hurting after 10 minutes! Here are some of my favourites (but this is the tip of the iceberg for that category).

Above is View of the City from the Suburbs by Kim Soper. Below is Fireworks by Jeannie Jenkins.

Here is a detail from Hills and Valleys by Cassandra Beaver.

This is 21 Blocks by Katie Clark Blakesley.

Round Peg, Square Hole by my pal Krista Hennebury (read on to see what Krista’s Mum gave me when I met her at the show!).

This one below I think may be my absolute favourite this year – Big Island Blossom by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill.

I love this little guy below by Stephanie Ruyle, in the small quilt category.

If you want to see A LOT more quilts from the show then check out my pal Tatyana’s blogpost, Tatyana was taking way more photos then me!

On Thursday night we went on a ghost tour! Not Karen as she is a big scaredy-cat ?

It was so much fun and actually quite scary at the end when we were all in the depths of an old chandlery and there were some quite clever special effects (certainly Pam got a bit more of a cuddle then she was anticipating!). Plus we also got a tour of another lovely old house, the Andrew Low House (not haunted at all though!).

I also took a couple of classes, but those are for the next post.

Meanwhile, in this chronological photo journey, it appears we are up to the last evening of my stay, and Karen and I managed to meet up for drinks with lovely Karin (Leigh Laurel Studio) at our hotel.

We had a bit of a laugh at our Thread House partner Lynne’s expense after it occurred to us how much Karin looked like a ‘Lynne stand in’ here! Of  course in reality Lynne Goldsworthy is completely irreplaceable ?

So it was goodbye to beautiful Savannah! Even the airport is beautiful! Pam and I sat in those rocking chairs for a bit before going through security (while chatting to Missouri Quilt Star’s Jenny Doan, don’t you know!)

One of the best bits about QuiltCon is connecting with old pals, and Dolores is one of my oldest blogging friends (from back in the Flickr days!). I got to spend a lot of time in Savannah with Dolores and her adorable hubby Don which was wonderful. And of course the very generous Dolores brought me presents! Fabric, thread and a Patchwork Threads T-shirt and badges!! That badge there says ‘I quilt so I don’t kill people’ ?? and there was a lovely Bearpaw one that didn’t make the photo. 
But the loveliest thing Dolores gave me was this little mini quilt. I had been so inspired by this when I first saw it about 18 months ago that I totally stole used it as inspiration for the sewing shelves wall hanging I made for Popular Patchwork magazine. Thanks for giving me such a special gift Dee!
You will also notice those rather gorgeous handmade socks in the photo below. These were a gift (along with the mug in the pic above) from lovely Sybil who is Krista Hennebury’s mum (Superknitter on IG) and who I met up with at the vendor hall. I had no idea I was going to get such a wonderful present – thank you Sybil!

 And speaking of the vendor hall… I may just have spent a few (ahem) dollars on this awesome stash of fabric below!!

Oh and did I mention all the FREE STUFF! Yes I got one of the goody bags (for the first 1000 people that registered to attend)!! Plus the fabric companies that were there were SO GENEROUS and gave away so much fabric!! Especially Cotton and Steel, AGF, Ink and Arrow, Andover, Northcott and Paintbox studio – thank you all so much!

I have shared a lot of this booty with my Craft Club members already, but have kept a little for myself.

There wasn’t really an organised pin (badge) swap this year but I knew some people would still have them to swap (as it is so much fun!), so I got Thread House badges printed up (I did myBearpaw two years ago).

These are all the badges I collected in Savannah. And below is the bag I made when I went to Austin with all the ones I got there plus some from our Stitch Gathering badge swap last year. I think I’ll have to make a new bag now!

They are such a great reminder of all the people I met. And QuiltCon is really all about the people. 
I had the time of my life but it wasn’t because of the quilts, or the free fabric, or the classes. It was because I was with ‘my people’, my special tribe of quilters who are all warm, friendly, chatty, enthusiastic, inclusive, generous and funny! It feels like I never stopped talking and laughing for the whole 5 days I was there!
Of course the MQG does an amazing job organising this event, and it really does run like clockwork. I got a little peek behind the scenes this year (as Karen’s ‘assistant’) and am even more impressed! Everyone involved works so hard, so thank you MQG!

And so what about Nashville in 2019??!!! I am definitely going to be there – I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Who’s with me???!!


  1. What a fab post, Jo!!! If I was still considering going or not to QuiltCon – after your beautiful summary, there would be no doubt. Totally, the exhibit worth visiting at least once! Well, so one can do it again!))
    Thank you very much for referring to my photos – the more folk see them, the better! 🙂 xx

  2. how good to read all about your fabulous trip what a wonderful time you had and all the lovely quilts you saw, going to check out the link you shared and see more. Lots of goodies too. Fun ghost trip I did the tour of underground Edinburgh a good few years ago and that frightened me!

  3. Thanks for this great account Jo. It's been wonderful to read about people's visits. Fingers crossed that one day, in the not too distant future, I will be able to go and see all this first hand!

  4. What a lovely recap of your Savannah and QuiltCon experiences, Jo! Seem you were touring Savannah the same day Di and I did, but how lucky for you to get to go through the Mercer House! I'd read the "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Book," but didn't watch the movie until we returned home from Savannah. Now I want to go back to visit that house! But, our tour day was spent dodging raindrops, and not getting to walk through the squares as we wished. Had a yummy lunch at the Six Pence Pub though. It's fun to see your take on QuiltCon, though you came to the same conclusion I did. It's wonderful… where our kind of people hang out (your picture is on my blog post). It's totally inspirational (I attended 12 lectures and two workshops) and wouldn't miss Nashville for anything. I hope to meet up with you again!

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