Machine Quilters Expo 2018

I decided to take some time away from the studio this past week. MQX New England is only a 5 hour drive from home and only 45 minutes from my Mom’s house. It is also 5 hours from my husband :-(.

Aside from my momentous visit to New Jersey Quiltfest last year, this is the first time I have attended a big quilt show, and this one is all about machine quilting. Hooray! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hand quilting sometimes, but machine quilting is my passion.

I signed up for classes with Bethanne Nemesh and Lisa Calle. Both classes were amazing.

The Bethanne Nemesh class was Creative Texture from A to Zen.  I was a bit intimidated – she has degrees in art, and her explanations of her art are just so elevated.  I love her work, and the class was great, but it is going to take a ton of practice to reach that level. Time to buy more lead for my pencils.


We did sketches of 26 fill patterns.  We alternated sketching a few, then stitching them with a longarm.  I really enjoyed the class. I came back home and practiced a few sketches, before having a binge piecing session to unwind.

The next day I took a class with Lisa Calle – Divide and Design. For some reason I was expecting this to be a hands-on class, too, but it was drawing. I was a tiny bit disappointed, but there is no way we would have covered as much information if we were fooling around with a machine.

Lisa showed us how to break up the area on a modestly pieced quilt and add quilting designs to make it stunning. I can’t wait to try this out.

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The practice top was a pretty simple pinwheel nine patch set on point. Lisa explained that she prefers the quilting to be elaborate, so she keeps the piecing simple. Apparently when I go bananas quilting an intricately pieced quilt, I am overdoing it. If both the piecing and the quilting are elaborate, it is just too much. I will have to keep this in mind in the future – it will save me a a lot of time.

20180415_201751.jpgFirst we drew lines to break the background up into interesting small areas. This is my first go. Meh. I like the movement, but I can’t figure out where to go next.

20180415_201829.jpgLisa’s demonstration started with a star shape at the middle, and it made me think of a mariner’s compass, so I went with it. She suggested I add some curves, and I love how the ring looks. All of these lines are echoed, leaving raised areas to define the spaces.

20180415_201854.jpgThe next step is to fill in the chunks of background with a motif. We were to choose one motif, like feathers, and use it in some areas, leaving others to have background fills. I got a little carried away, using feathers, rope, and wishbones.  We are supposed to use at least 3 different background fills.  I did a bit, but class ended sooner than I would have liked.

The goal at the end is to have a very elaborate background, with quilt blocks floating on top of the pattern. I do have a funky old dresden plate top I liberated from a bin at the quilt guild. Maybe I can do this kind of treatment to it before I give it back. Or perhaps the vintage Drunkard’s Path which had been lurking in the back room at Gotham Quilts would benefit from this idea. I can’t believe I can’t go back to my studio for three days.

20180412_112429.jpgI was a very dirty quilter by the end of class.

MQX showed me that I am starting to be one of the popular girls. FINALLY! I met Doug Sobel, who I know from our Beginning Longarm Quilters group on Facebook. My friend Liz came up from Massachusetts with her mom to see the show and hang out with me. And Kathleen, who is an Island Batik Ambassador, met up with me. I’m starting to understand why leaving the house is so much fun. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?


Oh, and I did have four quilts hanging at MQX. I’m not sure why I sent so many, but I did. The winners all seem to have sent just one. Hmmm.  The pink ribbons are the “Thanks for Entering” ribbons, but I’ll take them happily.  A ribbon is a ribbon.

IMG_20180415_193047.jpgThe final day of the show I went to speak with a man about a computer upgrade for my longarm.  The show ended at 5, and I was left to my own devices until 6:30, when quilts would be ready for pickup.  I offered to volunteer, and my offer was gleefully accepted.  I was assigned to the take-down crew, and oh, baby, I want to do that for every quilt show now.  I got to touch so many amazing quilts.  I touched the Best in Show quilt, admired the back, and helped lovingly fold it into a bin.  I even touched the ribbon made from space shuttle fabric.  Plus, I got to see how they finish up the show and get quilts back to owners.  So much work goes into a quilt show.  (And no worries – I had on white gloves when I was supposed to.)

16 thoughts on “Machine Quilters Expo 2018

  1. I’m interested to see where that drawing takes you. I recently bought a copy of Think Big by Amy Ellis because I’d like to do some large, more simple quilts that I can quilt the daylights out of!
    What did you decide to do about the potential computerization of your Gammill? I wonder how compatible the systems would be between yours and mine because I’m barely using it.


    1. I wish Lisa has a pattern for the quilt we practiced on. I’ll be nagging her about it.

      I am adding a computer soon. A lot of my clients are looking for edge to edge work, rather than custom. I found a computer that is affordable and will allow me to be more productive.


  2. Thank you for taking me, albeit vicariously, with you to MQX! Ahh, I can feel how good it must’ve been to touch said quilts! Yours, my dear, are beautiful; I especially love that flamingo one (and I can’t believe I wrote that; 8-10 years ago I’d have been uh no, it’s way too loud…) Interesting info on the quilting of quilts according to Lisa. Hmmm. Will be pondering that.


  3. Your time at the classes and show sound like they were very fulfilling. It is wonderful when people volunteer to help even though they are not scheduled. I like the design you were working on on paper and can see that it would make a quilt look quite lovely. I remember several years ago when yo began your longarm business. What a long way you’ve come!


  4. I love seeing your review of your classes. My goal is to get up my summary today. So great meeting you and on the heels of this I booked a hotel for Nashville; my plan has been to go so I thought I’d book more days than likely and will cancel the extras. Those hotels are not cheap, but I figure it is a good treat. I do miss my husband, but we have a lot of togetherness now, so it is all good.


  5. Glad you had such a great time. I went to MQX 3 years ago, took classes both morning and afternoon for 5 days and came back on overload, but I would do it all again. I moved so far along the learning curve….and the quilt show…I stood in awe before most of the quilts and soaked up the details….talk about inspiration.


  6. Hi Jen,
    I saw your post on IG of your lead covered fingers, and I wondered what you were up to! What a great quilt show. I don’t own a longarm and probably never will, but the show still sounds really interesting as many techniques can be applied to the DSM. The take down part sounds really fun – and space shuttle fabric?!! WOW! ~smile~ Roseanne


  7. Whenever I read a post like this, I wish I was a long arm quilter because I too love machine quilting, especially pantograph patterns. It’s like doodling on a gigantic scale, in my mind anyway . As for volunteers at quilt shows, you guys are the only thing standing between success and absolute disaster. I was the chair of our Guild bi-annual quilt show last time and was so grateful for folks who walked up and asked me to give them a job for an hour, or even for five minutes.


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