QuiltCon --- Bigger then the sum of it's parts

I still think that I'm in QuiltCon withdrawal and in order to properly "close out" my time in Austin, I need to recap it here although I know that I'm not going to do it proper justice.

Like many who attended this inaugural conference in Austin, Texas, I was unsure what to expect.  I have attended my fair share of conventions, although for a different industry, and while I attended Quilt Market last Spring in Kansas City...QuiltCon was the big unknown. 

This conference created by the leadership of the MQG was a big risk.  Would people attend?  Would they have fun?  Would they learn something? and bigger yet...would they want to come back?

If you've read any of the recaps that popped up in the blogosphere this past week, you know that the answer to all of the questions above is a big resounding YES!!! and I could not agree more.

While I do have a few photos to share with you, it's nearly impossible to capture the experience in a photo, even it they are supposedly worth a 1000 words.

My time was jam packed, as anyone who saw my nerdy spreadsheet could attest to.  Not only did I sign up to be a Super Volunteer (someone who is volunteering over 16 hours).  I was taking 2 classes, circled lecture after lecture that I wanted to hear, plus I had some demos and discussions to do myself...and let's not forget wanting to see all of the quilts in the Quilt Show and check out the vendors in the Vendor Hall.  My 5 days in Austin were jammed. 

I think the best thing I did was start off by volunteering, as it dropped me right into the action.  For 8 solid hours after arriving in Austin, I tried my best to help out where I could.

  • Unloaded pallets of ridiciously-jammed goodie bags
  • Organized and helped hang half of the 30-something Charity quilts that MQG's around the country lovingly made and donated
  • Helped several vendors unpack, organize and stage their merchandise in preparation for the morning rush

  • Worked at the MQG Info Booth, helping to sell MQG merchandise and answering questions about the organization
  • Put on some white gloves and walked the Quilt Show aisles helping attendees get up close and personal with the quilts

I signed up for two classes and it was my intention to not only improve my skills; but also learn from some amazing teachers, so I chose the following:

Free-Motioning Quilting on your Home Machine
by Elizabeth Hartman
:: This class was well worth the $$, because lightbulbs were going off in my head with every new stitch we learned.  I had seen and appreciated all of these FMQing designs from afar; but it's hard to learn how to do them from a book.  So seeing Elizabeth work her magic, learning that she quilts all of her quilts herself and then seeing her work up close made all the difference.  I was able to not only make a 40" x 40" sampler of stitches; but also put together a catalog of the stitches that I hope to use again. 
Piecing Hexagons by Machine
by Jacquie Gering
:: I was pleased to not only learn a shortcut to cutting hexagons without a hexagon template...WooHoo, one less ruler to have to buy; but also how to piece them together by machine.  I was equally excited to learn from Jacquie Gering and see her work up close.  I can't wait to finish the quilt top that I started as it will be a welcoming reminder of my experience.
It is hard to put into words everything I did and everyone that I saw.  If I did nothing but meet people for 5 days, I still would have called it a success.  I was finally able to meet in person many Bloggers who I have followed for years, reconnect with people that I had met at Quilt Market last Spring, and meet so many modern quilting icons that are seriously the most sincere, nice and approachable people ever. 
While there are too many highlights to count, I would like to recount two experience that I will always treasure.  The first one was quite humbling as I learned that one of the two quilts that I had hanging in the Quilt Show had won a ribbon.

My "Confetti Amongst Friends" quilt; which you can read all about here in this blog post, was juried into the Group/Bee category and WON 3rd place.

The second experience took place after sitting in on 3 back to back lectures.  The first was by Heather Grant, the second by Jacquie Gering and the final by Denyse Schmidt.  Each of these women in their own way, shared their history, their connection to this community and hopes for the future.  There was a point in each presentation when I too felt a real connection to something that was "bigger then myself" and at least for me, that's what I was searching for in QuiltCon...and that's what I found.