A Virtual Quilt Show

As I wrote earlier, I had two quilts accepted to this year’s virtual Houston International Quilt Festival, so I decided I should attend virtually. I bought the cheapskates’ package, which was admission and one free lecture. There were many class offerings and demo groups, but nothing really grabbed me.

How was it, you ask? I spent most of my time at the show looking at quilts, which is standard show behavior for me. Usually I cruise the vendors’ area and make a few purchases from purveyors of thread and unusual fabrics. I steer clear of booths chock-a-block with kitted patterns and novelty fabrics. I found the vendor interface at virtual IQF to be clunky. It took a few clicks to get to what was actually being sold, usually on the vendor’s website. Maybe there were show specials on offer, but I didn’t find them. It seemed to me that there were fewer small niche sellers.

So, let’s talk about the exhibits. I was relieved that the quality of quilts shown didn’t seem to be lower. I don’t know if there were fewer quilts, but at least in some areas very different sculptural quilts were included that might not have made it to an in-person show. I was amused at the judges’ choices for best quilts, especially for art and modern quilts. The quilt below won in the art quilt category. It’s a perfectly fine medallion quilt, and its maker stresses the number of pieces and crystals it has. But, I think it’s in the wrong category, and doesn’t say art quilt to me.

Here are others in the art quilt category that I found more representative of the genre.


Overall, the art quilt entries were heavily weighted to the pictorial – landscapes, portraits, and animals.

Moving on to the modern quilt category, again the judges chose a “safe” quilt for the best of category award. I see this as a contemporary, rather than a modern quilt, at least as defined by the Modern Quilt Guild. “Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work.” (from the Modern Quilt Guild website)

Here are others I found more interesting in this category that I think are closer to the MQG definition of modern.

Asymmetry, check.
Lots of white space, with quilting used to further the story.
Spare with lots of depth, great use of ombre fabric.

If you attended IQF this year I’d love to hear your opinion of the show.


Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows

11 responses to “A Virtual Quilt Show

  1. I loved seeing the various quilts because I so rarely can make a show in person, but like you I felt some of the choices for “best in” were fairly conservative. I also felt they could have done better on the platform for viewing quilts and for vendors. I thought there works be a lot more demonstrations and deals, but I didn’t find many Anna what I did find required digging through several links. That said, I loved that I could watch classes on demand and that the one I attended live allowed some interaction among participants, which was fun.

  2. Categorizing quilts correctly seems to always be up for debate. Thank you for sharing this, the quilts are amazing. I really like Mind the Gap and oh, the flamingo is wonderful.

  3. Norma Schlager

    Thanks for sharing the quilts. I agree with you about what category they are in. They are all beautiful and show perfect workmanship, but are they art quilts?

    • Boy, if the definition of a modern quilt is tricky, that of what is an art quilt is even more slippery. For this show I think the category was selected by the entrant, so the judges went with that. My personal feeling, based on working quilt shows, is that judges are dazzled by precision and lots of embellishment. So what if the piece looks like its maker used a protractor to design it. I guess I want more soul in my art quilt.

  4. I meant to attend virtually, but somehow I lost track of the days and never signed up. I thought this would be a good opportunity to actually take some classes — at the live quilt festival, there are always little free demonstrations on offer, but it is so loud, you can never hear.
    I like the quilts you featured, especially Mind the Gap!

    • I believe some folks have commented that you could get a front row seat and hear everything at the virtual festival. Some of the vendors had videos of their products and techniques you could access, but I suspect they are already available on YouTube.

      • Yes, I have been participating in a virtual conference for Texas Master Naturalists, and that is an aspect I have really appreciated. That conference is going to be available for at least 6 months, so I can attend every single class if I want to, also, which is wonderful!

  5. I kind of agree with you on the categories, BUT I think MQG thoroughly blurred the distinction between art and modern when they changed the definition of modern (OK, many years ago) to leave out the requirement that a modern quilt be of a size to be used as a quilt rather than a wall quilt. Also, definitions of all categories vary widely among individual bloggers. So I say “whatever”!

    • I hear you. I almost didn’t include the MQG definition, but I was trying to make the point that in my opinion there were other excellent quilts in that category worthy of first place that seemed more modern to me.

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