National quilt shows are like Disneyland for quilters. I know what you are thinking - you really are crazy!! But let me give you some examples to back up my thought. At a national quilt show there are over 250 quilts from which to gain inspiration. There are vendors galore that sell everything from sewing machines and fabric kits to notions, thread, and products to make quilters feel more comfortable while enjoying their favorite craft. There are classes that allow the attendee to learn from nationally known teachers in the industry. And there are so many quilters who love all things quilty as much as I do.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend just such a show - the American Quilter’s Society show in Des Moines, Iowa. The American Quilter’s Society - also known as AQS - puts on five shows a year in a variety of places across the country such as Grand Rapids, Michigan, Daytona Beach, Florida, and Paducah, Kentucky, Branson, Missouri, as well as Des Moines. I have been to several of these shows and each time I had a specific reason for wanting to attend. My first show experience was in Des Moines when we were looking to purchase a long arm quilting machine. I was able to “test drive” 15 different models that day and decide which one would be best for me. At the second Des Moines show that I attended I chose to take a couple of classes to improve my long-arming skills. At the show in Paducah I was looking for a new domestic sewing machine so again I was able to compare several different brands all in one place. I also took a couple of classes where I was able to actually do some quilting on a long arm machine rather than just watch the instructor. Plus the show was in Paducah - the mecca of quilting! What quilter doesn’t have a trip to Paducah on their bucket list?!? This time I was excited to take some classes again after having missed several years due to the pandemic. An added bonus - we could stay a couple of nights with Lindsay and Dustin who live about 45 minutes away in Pella.
When I arrived at the show on the first day I headed straight to see the show quilts. Wow! Just WOW!! So many beautifully done quilts. The award-winners were obviously stunning but two of my favorites did not even win a ribbon. The first one was a large quilt called Amish Chow Chow that was made by Nancy Simmons of Duncannon, Pennsylvania. It featured several appliquéd borders surrounded by some sensational quilting that was done on a stationary machine. But what really caught my attention on that quilt were the tiny pieced blocks which included Ohio Stars, baskets, 9-patches and churn dashes. This quilt measured 82’ x 82’.
The second quilt measured 93” x 93” and was called Hosanna by Audra Rasnake of Meadowview, Virginia. It was hand-quilted and filled with 1” appliquéd leaves. Yes! One inch!! It reminded me of the “Almost a Thousand Leaves” quilt that I quilted for Janet Huenink. This quilt was equally amazing! It also had 1½” appliqued flowers positioned all around the edge of the quilt. Quite a masterpiece!
In one of next month’s blogs I’ll fill you in on all of the other adventures I had during Quilt Week in Des Moines. My fun included shopping, taking classes, attending a special presentation, and running into a quilty friend. Do you have a special place that feels like “Disneyland” to you? Let us know in the comment section. Another reader may just be looking for that place too!