Letters from Quiltcon

Yesterday emails were sent, read, and either celebrated or commiserated over.

The wait is over, and Quiltcon has its show quilts. Regrettably, none of my quilts will be hanging in Austin this February. Nor am I the only one without an entry, many of my amazing, talented quilting friends did not get in. Instagram has a new hashtag: #quiltconreject

Here is where I have a problem: the word reject.

Reject can be a verb or a noun. As a verb, reject means “dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate, or not to one’s taste” As a noun, reject means “a person or thing dismissed as failing to meet standards or satisfy tastes”. Reject has the undertones of failure, inadequacy, of not being good enough. Its not a very happy word, and using it to describe ourselves and out work is detrimental and frankly insulting.


We were not rejected, we were regretfully passed up. Not because our quilts weren’t good enough, but because they just didn’t fit with the vision the curators had for the show.

It is hard to get a letter saying that your work is not chosen. I understand all too well. But that does not mean you aren’t good enough.

Jess over at Quilty Habit spelled it out perfectly in her blog post Positive thoughts on Quiltcon Rejection. She gets to the heart of the matter in a great way. there were over 1300 entries to Quiltcon. The show coordinators have a vision of how they want Modern Quilting to be represented to the public, and the quilts they chose reflect that vision. There are so many interpretations of Modern Quilting, so many aesthetics and techniques and visions, that to narrow it down to one must have been agonizing. But they did, and then they had to flip through the thousand plus entries to find the quilts that reflect the chosen aesthetic. It is the same selection process used in museums and art galleries. You could submit a masterful landscape painting that accurately reflects the people, time, and techniques of the style, but if they want flowers in vases, the landscape isn’t going to make it, no matter how talented and perfect the landscape is.

From what I have seen from the quilts that did get in, this year Modern Quilting will be represented by bright, bold colors, simple quilting, color blocking, and graphic designs.

So lets change the hashtag. Lets rejoice in our shared love of quilting! Lets cheer for our friends in the show! Lets ooh and aah over the quilts that will be displayed, and see the show for what it is : a curated selection of quilts, selected from a pool of the best modern quilts in the world-our quilts!


*UPDATE* Latifah Saafir at The Quilt Engineer has an amazing, insightful post about the jury process. Go check it out, it helps to put things in perspective!

Happy Goes Mini

Happy Goes Mini

18 thoughts on “Letters from Quiltcon

  1. Great post Stacey. I totally agree, I think everyone should get a pat on the back for finishing a piece of work that they thought worthy of submitting!! There were quilts that I had either not finished or knew I couldn’t submitted to be judged. 🙂

    • What a beautiful letter you wrote on rejection ! what a great attitude you have displayed ,it is true everyone has different ideas ,and not every entry can be chosen so carry on and keep quilting.

  2. I don’t know anything about how a hashtag works, but I would love to see all the quilts that were not selected. All three of mine were rejected. Everyone is trying to talk a good game, but when you get no feedback on why, that bugs me. If they are going to take your money and judge you then why not expect feedback? Until quilters stop taking it and put their foot down this practice will continue and they will continue to say there were so many entries we cannot possibly comment on every piece. Garbage. Everyone wants to be treated fairly and with respect.

    • Hi Patty! I just updated with a link to Latifah Saafirs blog, and I hope it puts your mind at rest. The jury process is NOT what I thought it was! I had 5 quilts passed on, and one of them was my AQS 1st place quilt! And after reading Latifah post, I can make a pretty good guess as to why, and its certainly not because of quality or workmanship!

  3. Way to go. I didn’t enter a quilt, and I was feeling down about all the people saying they were rejected for Quilt Con. This is a much better way to look at it. I don’t care that you paid money and should get feedback like patty says, you paid a fee to have your quilt looked at for entry, not a guarantee that by paying the entry by paying the fee would be accepted. Sour grapes don’t look good on anyone.

  4. This is why … I didn’t even think about sending an entry! Even if it’s not personal, I take it that way. That’s on me, and I know it, so I keep my quilts to myself. I think I may try to enter a quilt into the fair this year, though – I think they take all comers. lol Even if I don’t win, at least I’ll get to have something on display. Kudos for you for having the courage to send an entry in, and the positive attitude to recognize that you are not a failure. I love your work. 🙂

    • Thanks Maria! I have seen your quilts, and I really hope you start to show them. I enter as many shows as I can, not because of the competition, but because I am proud of what I make, and hope that my quilts will resonate with people and inspire them to try quilting for the first time, or a technique or color or something they hadn’t before. COuntry fairs are a great place to start, and who knows, you may surprise yourself!

  5. As a writer first, and a quilter second, I have no quibbles with the word reject, just as I have no value judgement attached to the word accept, its opposite. Words are merely tools and that word does a fine job of carrying out what it has to do, which is to impart information about inclusivity into a defined set. I’ve outlined where I see the problems on my blog post this morning, and for me, it exists in the “I’ll know it when I see it” sort of definition given these days to what is modern or not. I’ve read several posts this morning, and I applaud your shifting the conversation to a quilter having a good sense of self-worth, but the underlying problems in this modern quilt business still exist.

    I’m headed off now to explore your blog and see your quilts–thanks for a well-written post on the process.

  6. You are totally right. Now, if you had made a quilt specifically to enter in one fictitious show, meeting all the listed criteria, and if other quilts were accepted that had obvious flaws, and did not meet the show critera, then complain. But if you quilt to enjoy the process, and make pretty things to enjoy or share with friends and family, getting into a quilt show is just a bonus.

  7. Adore your post Stacey – as always. The rest of my comments for the whole concept of Quiltcon and the modern quilting community I will save for an evening of sewing, as I’m sure they’re much too opinionated for your blog 😉 Bring on the wine mama!

  8. I am a member of the MQG but never even though of entering a quilt because I was pretty sure my quilts aren’t “modern enough” for the MQG. They are modern enough for Australian quilt show judges though, as one of them has won two modern quilting awards. But I know that quilt would never have made it in. Needle turn appliqué, lots of great solids, but also lots of a Keiko Goke prints which are dark, not at all bright.

    I do believe that MQG is limiting it’s definition and becoming a little, ahem, exclusive, which is ironic given one of the reasons people joined the MQG was to quit the snobbishness and exclusivity of traditional quilt guilds (which I always thought weird as I am a member of a traditional quilt guild and have never experienced this. My opinion is that you get out of a guild what you put back in). And having seen the Modern Quilting display at Yokohama where so many of the “fit perfectly into the definition of modern quilting” quilts left me cold, I figure perhaps this new modern quilting isn’t for me. I’ll stick to making the quilts that make me happy, and that don’t blend in with my home decor 😉

    I am sorry your quilts weren’t selected! But there are plenty more shows out there that aren’t as defined and which you no doubt already know about. Thanks for such a positive, thought provoking post. I agree with you on the reject thing. And it’s just quilting! It’s supposed to be fun.

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