My First Quilt Show: A Horror Story

Alright, the title might be a little dramatic, but the experience of my first (and so far only) quilt show had a profoundly negative effect on me. It caused me to lose a lot of motivation and creativity to quilt and made distance myself from the quilting community for a long time afterwards. But I’m getting ahead of myself here’s what happened:


Back in the day, I had finished my first quilt, the Lord of the Rings inspired On the Plains of Gondor quilt. My family and friends encouraged me to submit it into the quilt show at our state fair. Now, I used to live in Minnesota. If you haven’t even been to the Minnesota state fair, it is massive. Second in size only to the Texas state fair, the Minnesota state fair has over a hundred thousand visitors a day. There is an entire building just for showing off creative arts. Intrigued by the prospect of seeing my own quilt hanging in the cases filled with amazing art, I went for it.


On the Plains of Gondor quilt

The day I went to the fair, I spent forever looking for my quilt. Somehow I couldn’t find it among the glass cases. I circled again and– wait, was that my fabric? The corner of my quilt was hanging off a pedestal, a table cloth for another piece of art. In fact, I could only see the top right sky portion of my quilt. Whoever had done the displays couldn’t even have showed the corner with the horse or the beast of the nazgul (the dragon thing for thee non Lord of the Rings folk).


I was devastated, but I went to talk to the the workers there and showed them the problem. They promised me that someone would fix it. But no one did. Not in the 14 days of the fair did someone care to respect me or my art. Not only did I not get a ribbon, but my work wasn’t even good enough to exhibit. On top of that, all my friends and family knew my quilt would be at the show. They kept texting me, wondering where my quilt was. I had to tell them all that it couldn’t be seen.


My quilting journey hit a low after that. I didn’t feel good enough to be a quilter. In fact, I didn’t even feel accepted by the quilting community with my nontraditional patterns or dinky domestic sewing machine. I took a step back from designing and tried to make a traditionally pieced quilt with fancy quilting. But I was so passionless, I worked on it for over a year. Then it got wet. The Sharpie I had used to trace my pattern pieces ran through the quilt and ruined it (that’s another story…). I threw the whole project away.


It took some time and a few knitting coworkers to help me find the creative drive to start designing quilts again. Some fabulous online quilters like Angela Walters and Leah Day have helped me find a quilting community that now I enjoy being a part of. From all of this, I have finally garnered the courage to apply to two more quilt shows this year. I’m not sure if my quilts will even make it into the shows, but that doesn’t matter. I’ve learned that the joy of quilting is the process of making the quilt. Whatever happens after is just extra.

Sew on!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments