AQS Show

The AQS Show in Des Moines was smaller than I had expected but the quilts were more spectacular – more sequins, beads, crystals, fabric painting, photography transfers, ruching, couching, decorative thread painting, embroidery, paper piecing, piping, trapunto – none of which interests me at all.  I’m a plain country quilter who likes to piece at my machine and you already know I dislike  that dense elaborate machine quilting so I did not come home very inspired.  I have pictures to show you and I’ll post some today and some tomorrow.  Please remember these are my opinions only and I’m not criticizing, only commenting.  These are super talented quilters that I would never be able to emulate and would never try.

92 thoughts on “AQS Show

  1. Jane

    Mary, I love reading your blog n looking at your quilts.! Totally agree with all the comments here. Love the Civil War, homespun, Kansas Troubles and primitive/traditional fabrics. Your quilt shop near Garner was like “heaven” to me! Wish I’d been able to go more often with more$$$! Thank for all the great ideas n info you share with all of us! Love to browse thru all your books n patterns and dream of all I’d love to make! Thanks so much for sharing your life!

  2. Beryl B C

    I’m sorry I didn’t see you to say hello. A group of cousins met there for our annual quilt show gathering. Wehad gone to Wisconsin previously but couldn’t find rooms this year. I enjoyed looking at all the quilts but was disappointed with the vendors.

  3. Liz Schrader

    The quilts are beautiful but I am like you Mary and like piece quilts from amazing fabric and homespun designs.

  4. Sue Wiggins

    I went to the Madison show and was disappointed as well, a lot of missing vendors. And I saw very few new lines of fabric. The quilt shows have been composed of the elaborate piecing, and overly quilted quilts for several years now. I have been hoping the trend will wane soon. Maybe we should write AQS and asked for a traditional or historical category to be brought back?

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      I don’t think that’s such a dumb idea, Sue! We can’t be the only ones who would like a traditional category!

  5. Donna

    Those quilts are beautiful! They belong in display but I want utility quilts that are simple and straight forward.
    I want to feel like I can use mine. I have only been to 1 quilt show and had to leave about 2 hours into the process. It was so overwhelming.

    Bless those people that have the patience to start and complete those works of art.

  6. Sue in Marion, IN

    I went to AQS Grand Rapids in August. All their regional shows feature mostly the same quilts. I agree that the art quilts are not my thing, and I don’t spend a lot of time on those. But I do appreciate the time and skill in them. My favorite part of the show is always the guild challenge area. Any guild can enter, few are chosen (10 or 12) but those quilts are always fun and interesting and made by average guild members. I also go to shop. Meredith Schroeder is a Quilters’ Hall of Fame honoree, and for 5 years she gave us a booth for free to publicize QHF. I was a volunteer worker 4/5 years. Fun, but exhausting. You had to go stay for 5 days, put up and tear down the booth, and work 10-hour days. This to say that the show was much bigger pre-covid. However, I was glad of it being smaller. You could see everything in one day and have time to shop without feeling rushed. I did take a picture of that same medallion quilt…it was gorgeous. Those churn dashes in the first border were 3”! Astounding!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sue – loved to hear what you had to say but I’m asking about the churn dashes – they didn’t look even 3”!

      1. Sue in Marion, IN

        The churn dashes may have been 2”. That was a month ago and I can’t remember what I had for breakfast!😵‍💫

  7. Donna Albright

    I didn’t read all the comments, but I thought the general consensus was that it was nice but the quilts were not what most people were wanting to make. I commented on one of the comments to come to the DMAQG show in Des Moines next weekend. We are at the 4-H building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds with over 700 quilts on display and quite a few vendors. I’m pretty sure there will be more traditional quilts at this show. We as a group used to have our show at the same time as the AQS show so there were always more traditional quilts. That’s probably why you noticed that everything was embellished and quilted very heavily. I prefer our quilt show to the AQS one, but then again, I am predjudiced. I too prefer to drool over quilts that I could do. I always say, ‘Now why didn’t I think of that!’ Sometimes I just need to see someone else’s idea to help me think outside of the box. Sure hope you get to come to our show….it’s pretty wonderful to see everyone’s accomplishments.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      And I can’t come to your show which is very sad. My church youth group is scheduled to come to the farm to pick the pumpkins on Saturday and after my disappointment at the AQS Show I am doubly disappointed.

  8. Kate

    I’m with you about the quilts. They are lovely, but not very useful and who will ever use them or hang them on their walls years from now? I like the good old utilitarian quilts myself that people can wrap themselves in. As for elderly pets, I start thinking about my babies after their five year mark thinking about how I will feel when they pass away. I can actually get myself teary eyed thinking about it. My three dogs are still fairly young so I have a few years more with them. They may outlive me, but I have already got someone to keep them or find them good homes.

  9. Jo in Wyoming

    They are beautiful quilts. Not cuddling, comforting, loving hugs.
    Can you imagine doing all that work and not winning a prize!! That would be devastating.

  10. Carmen

    I have to agree Mary. While the quilts are beautiful, they are something the average quilter can achieve. And I’m not saying most quilters are average!

  11. Twyla

    Totally beautiful but not my taste. I make quilts to use and enjoy. I’m old fashioned and a traditional quilter!! Those are art quilts and made for display not to be used. Thank you for sharing! It’s fun to read the comments because most of us are on the same page!!

  12. Lora Jans

    I am like you- give me traditional any day! I am planning to go to the quilt show next Saturday at the Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Hope it is good!

  13. Sharon

    I agree,those are art,not really quilts.I love traditional civil war fabric quilts.I used to go to all quilt shows near me,but don’t go anymore,because the quilts are not my style.I do know they put a lot of work and time into those art quilts but give me the soft worn ones!

  14. Micky

    Thank you for sharing the pictures. You can tell that most of agree with the other’s that’s not the quilting we feel comfortable with, we want comfort. When I was a new quilter I cherished the way quilts had been made for comfort and sharing the love of the quilter and the gifts that they gave to there loved ones Thank you for sharing in your blog the quilts that readers send as they give me inspiration and comfort..To me a quilt is comfort and not an art piece, but what can I say I’m from the midwest, thought that is not where your readers are from. My joy is in choosing the simple pattern and making it comforting it with the colors I enjoy. My inspiration comes from your readers and you Connie. Continue with the inspiration you send us tin this blog. Piece Micky

  15. Carolyn Boutilier

    I am with you Mary on these quilts. They are beautiful but how would you snuggle up in these quilts. I would be afraid to use them as a blanket for warmth.
    Nice late summer day. Picked up a huge white princess pumpkin and a beautiful purple aster to put on my deck.
    Carolyn b Shenandoah Valley Va

  16. Launa

    Thanks for posting some of the very unique quilts shown in the show! Some very talented works of art!

    Thankfully the sunny morning faded into an ENORMOUS RAIN STORM that must have put so much on Moose Fire and Woodtick Fire as well! Am so thankful for the Forest Service who have been working such long hours. I pray for their safety!

  17. T Black

    I agree!! I like old-timey comfy quilts like my grandmother had and that’s the kind I make. I don’t like elaborately-quilted showcase quilts even though I respect the creative talent required to make them. To me, a real quilt is something to snuggle up under during a cold winter’s day or night. Having said that, I love my little wall quilts made from your patterns. I guess I just like plain & simple.

  18. Judyann Yelton

    Wow! Those are some truly amazing quilts. Would have been even more spectacular in person.

  19. Jeanine from Iowa

    I agree with you and all the rest that responded. I have no desire to make quilts that are artsy! But thanks for the pictures. I don’t feel bad now about not going this year.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      I wondered the same thing but saw no rules as such – evidently medallion is the route to an art quilt?

  20. Carolyn - NE Illinois

    I think of these as works of art – like going to see a Rembrandt. While I honestly would love to have that talent, realistically I can barely do stippling! The AQS left Chicago a few years ago. It was always well attended and had tons of vendors. Since then, I’m not really interested in any of their productions. (Sorry – have a long memory and don’t forgive easily 😉😁)

  21. Kathy Hanson

    As you can see, Mary, we all
    Feel as you do about those fancy quilts, I not only wouldn’t want one but would never think of making one of them!!
    Lots of work for sure!

  22. Meredith in Cincinnati

    I attended the Madison Wisconsin quilt show last weekend, as I have for years. (It was Nancy Zieman’s show). The quilts are a great mix of ones that are show stoppers, cute kids quilts and traditional quilts. I did think there were fewer vendors than in past years, but hoping that will change as people are getting out more. The food at this show is amazing; great variety and delicious (much better than the usual hot dogs on a hot rolling machine that are featured at some shows. Ick)

  23. Karen Hamilton

    I was sad that I couldn’t attend this year, but after reading your post, I don’t feel so bad!

  24. Anna Mundt

    Totally agree, Mary. They are beautiful but they don’t look very snuggly! I make quilts to use!

  25. Joyce from NY

    I agree these quilts are amazing, so much time & patience put into them, I would have no idea where to start. I love the country traditional quilts. I worry that the quilt shops are dwindling, I try to keep going to my local shop, but use mostly my stash. I sure have enough of that!! Thanks Mary!!

  26. Carol at Pin Oak Quilting

    They are stunning, the quilting is amazing, and it’s entirely outside my zone of caring to do. Quilting is my hobby, my interest, it is what will sustain me over my retired life, I hope it keeps my mind active and my self involved with others sharing the interest, but I’m not looking for affirmation at shows. I’m just enjoying my own level of progress/process.

    On another note, yesterday we had to say goodbye to Kitty and my heart is broken. Every room has memories of her and I break down at strange and understandable moments (a restaurant at lunch, cleaning the summer porch she loved to lie in the sunshine in, folding her linens from the laundry, packing the trunk to drop things off at a shelter); it’s been a hard 24 hours. The last time I cried like this, my father had died,

    Many of you sent prayers and good wishes when she was a naughty girl and sneaked out and didn’t come home for a week, a few years ago. She was a declaw (adopted like that) and thus completely a house cat, so we were worried sick. She came home on Mother’s Day and my heart sang,

    Kitty (she never responded to her name, LuluBelle, just Kitty) was a tuxedo like Diane, and I wish I did not know your pain Mary, but I’m devastated.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Oh, Carol, I do know how impossible it is to say goodbye – I didn’t remember that she was the cat who was gone – I couldn’t believe she strolled back home! I find myself still looking for Dianne.

    2. Melody from Wisconsin

      Please take some comfort in that you adopted her and provided her with a loving home. Time heals but the devastation is real. I know the pain you feel as i have been there many times. I never had children so my pets have always been family for me. Time does heal and I wish you peace. A great big hug to you.

      1. Carol at Pin Oak Quilting

        Thank you. It’s amazing how so many of us share a love of animals as well as quilts. I do know every day will be a little bit better, but oh, the hole in our home and hearts is so real and so big… a ten pounder took up a lot of space with her huge personality.
        Thank you for the love!

  27. Christy Scales

    Beautiful quilts – thanks for sharing the pics. I do enjoy looking at the appliqué & seeing how it adds to the piecing. The quilting is beyond me though.

  28. Patricia Campbell in AZ

    Works of art! Only for a Monet or Picasso to attempt – not a 1st grader like me! 🤣 Plus, as all the others said, not cuddly !! I want quilts that remind me of my Grandmothers, Aunt, Mother-in-law, etc.

  29. Jean

    Those quilts are stunning! After 50 years of quilting I could never even approach that level of skill!

  30. Angie from Baltimore

    All I can say is “WOW”. What talent these quilters have. I as well love country style quilting but can’t be less than in awe of the fancy quilts. Thank you so much for sharing them.

  31. Diana in Des Moines

    Wow. Looks like we all agree with you. I make quilts to use, not just for looks.
    Quilt shop business and revenue is down – started with the pandemic, and now the economy sucks. Many of us are sewing from our stash, and not buying new fabric- thus the lack of vendors.
    Will you go to the Des Moines guild show next weekend? That’s the one I’m excited for!!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Had I known the DM show was next weekend I probably wouldn’t have gone yesterday. Why didn’t they combine the two shows?

      1. Diana in Des Moines

        DM guild was sharing till AQS stopped coming to DM. They have had their own show at the fairgrounds, and i have to say I like it much better that way. Local quilters, and better vendors. I hope you can find time to come. So worth the trip.

  32. Pat Book

    I agree with you Mary, the guilts are so elaborate that I’d be afraid to even put them on my bed. I guess I’m old fashioned as well. I think it’s all great that there are so many talented people that can guilt like that, but to me it’s just tooooo much thrills.

  33. Kathy in western NY

    I have made one large artsy quilt ( my cars with the license plates one) and it’s hanging on a wall as it’s too stiff and was quilted too tight to go on a bed and be cuddled with so I consider it my one and only attempt at a work of art. The rest of my quilts are functional and it’s what I prefer to sew but everyone has to do what they enjoy with fabrics and all the embellishments sold today. There are some quilters who just prefer to exhibit in shows with these types of quilts so I guess it’s a gamble going to shows not knowing if the organizers are more inclined to include this type or the traditional kind many of us here seem to like instead.

  34. Holly Woodyatt

    I agree. I love simple traditional quilts. also prefer more primitive muted colors. no pastels or brights for me.

  35. Bonnie McKee

    I completely agree with you, Mary!
    Those quilts are amazing and are works of art and I really do appreciate the skill it takes to complete one. But I have no desire to make any. I’d rather make quilts like my grandmother made! ❤️

  36. Jan from TN

    Hi Mary! I’m with you about these “fancy” quilts —. not for me either. I definitely appreciate all the hard work that goes into these types of quilts but I
    take a hard pass & will never even attempt to make one. Additionally, I can appreciate all the custom quilting – also not my cup of tea. I love an edge to edge Baptist fan quilting & have had a number of my quilts quilted as such. (I don’t quilt the large quilts.) I do quilt my my wall hangings & table runners & placemats. I either use straight line quilting like you do or wavy lines spaced a bit further apart. Both are easier & quick enough for me to do. My friend went to the AAQS show in MI in August. She was so disappointed. Not a lot of vendors & not very many “average” quilts. Such a shame all these larger quilt shows are shrinking. 😕

  37. Jean Elliott

    I totally agree with you Mary. I went to a quilt show in Paducah one year and I would say 75% of the quilts where “art” quilts filled with sequins, beads etc. I was so disappointed because that is not what I wanted to see.

  38. Pat Smith

    The people making these are really fabric artists rather than quilters. I’m much more interested in the traditional uses of quilts since that is what I do with mine. I saw quilts like these in Paducah and also at the Iowa Quilt Museum in Winterset. Lovely to look at and admire the talent it must have taken, but the most modern I go is Kaife Fasset and batik fabric.

  39. Susan in Ohio

    Were they hand quilted? I’m one of the strange people that love to hand quilt and do not like to piece have bought several quilt tops and hand quilted them.

  40. Marj in Western Wisconsin

    I agree, Mary. Beautiful, but not to cuddle with. I missed the Wisconsin show, but all reports were the same. Only 2/3 the usual vendors. Many of the regulars weren’t there. My hubby had a stroke last week, but is out of the hospital and in a rehab facility. We are hoping to get him home in 2-3 weeks.

    1. Kathy in western NY

      Oh Marj I am sorry for your husband experiencing a stroke. I know how hard it is to watch their recovery but thankfully he, like my husband, is here due to our wonderful medical services. It takes a lot of patience on both our parts as they try to put their lives back together. I enjoy my home now more than ever before cause I think he feels the most secure right here and I don’t push him.

    2. Mary Etherington Post author

      Oh, Marj, I’m so sorry! I hope he improves and gets right back home but also glad there’s a place for him to get therapy. Please keep us posted on his condition.

  41. Patty Brenner

    Those are some beautiful pieces of art, but I agree with your sentiments. I’m new to making quilts (just started a year or so ago), and I like making quilts that I want to put on my beds or snuggle under on the couch. I’ve attended the Houston International Quilt Show 8-10 times (and I’m going again this year) and I have to admit that I only spend a few minutes looking at the entries (primarily the winners) and then I get completely overwhelmed with the ‘I could never do that’ feeling and spend the rest of my day shopping 🙂 The shopping there is spectacular and is well worth my trip, lol.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Patty – I remember the shopping well!!!! Wish I could come back again someday.

  42. Donna Sproston

    I love looking at these but they are not my style. Just give me !lots of fabric and I will make hsts, qsts, geese, etc , and play all day.

    I love the new book and plan to make the cover quilt with my Civil War stash. It will hardly make a dent

  43. Sharon Lowy

    I agree with you < Mary. I am also a rather simple quilter. My quilts are for use more than show. I am sad to report the pictures did not make it through. I love and look forward to your posts anyway.

    Happy quilting,

  44. Vicki

    I decided not to go to the AQS show knowing what types of quilts would be displayed. They are beautiful, but I’m not into those artsy type quilts either.

    I’ll go to the Des Moines Area Quilt Guild’s show next weekend. They are more my style.

  45. Glenda Fletcher

    Mary, I also think like you. There is a lot of work put into them but I like the 9 patch, HST, stars, etc. I have been to the AQS show in Des Moines once. I took a bus tour from the SF Quilt guild to there. Was fun. We got just about 3″ of rain the last couple days. Hurray!!. Thank you for the pictures of the quilts.

  46. Judy

    Thanks for sharing pictures of the quilts. They are definitely beautiful. I doubt I will ever make a quilt like any of them. The time involved is a big no for me. I can’t imagine spending that many hours making a quilt.

    1. Sue

      I look at going to a quilt show like a hobby painter going to an art museum- they are the masterpieces that I can aspire to but probably will never match.

  47. Paula S.

    These are beautiful quilts, however, I couldn’t put something like this on my bed! They are pieces of art and not practical for everyday use.

  48. brenda

    I totally agree. They are amazing but do not inspire me to continue quilting. I am still learning and am happy to keep a continuously 1/4 inch seam. I am inspired to make the traditional blocks and am beginning to like some of the more modern blocks but know I will never want to any of the fancy stuff – way beyond my skill set. Thanks for all you do. I love following all your interests.

  49. Susan Sundermeyer

    Yeah, I’m sure my Lab would not be allowed to lay on any of those gorgeous quilts! 😊

  50. Sue in Oregon

    What a show! Magnificent quilts to see but never for me to try to make. Never in my wildest dreams. What fun to view and take photos of though. Thank you for sharing with us.

  51. Janet S

    Isn’t it wonderful that all of us are so very different but still call ourselves ‘quilters’. They are stunning and I love looking but it ends there.

  52. Jill Klop

    I feel the same as you do about the fancy quilts…there’s just not for me. I avoid the big national quilt shows but I love the local quilt guild shows!

  53. Barbara Moore

    While those are absolutely stunning quilts, they were made with a single purpose – to win a ribbon and/or cash. While the desire has never been there to attempt something that vast and complicated, they’re sure fun to look at and study the quilting. Turns out “Amish Chow Chow” has all the old fashioned blocks that have been called out here – nine patches, churn dashes, both eight-point stars and Ohio stars, and baskets – the quilter just ‘kicked it up a notch’😉. Barb in Tucson

  54. Frances E

    Gosh! I totally agree with you! I am not inspired by something that looks like they upchucked on a quilt. Sewing itty bitty pieces together is so unattractive.
    The quilts in the fairs are pretty, but not my cup of tea. However, for those who like them, go ahead.

  55. MN Jo

    Absolutely beautiful, but way above my talent. Give me traditional any day. I wonder how many hours are in these. BTW, I received your book, and loved it. Hoping to sew several of them.

  56. Charlotte Shira

    I totally agree with you Mary. They are amazing quilts with so much work put into them but it’s not for me. Give me a traditional pattern and I’m happy. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  57. Linda in Michigan

    Mary, I’m with you and the others who have commented. Whatever happened to sewing squares and rectangles together?? LOL!

  58. Liz Foster

    They are stunning quilts to look at, but I’m with you Mary, I honestly love my old style primitive country quilts. More so because I want them used and loved. I’d be afraid to use the ones you pictured. But they are beautiful!

  59. Connie R.

    I feel the same as you do . They are lovely quilts, but I like to look at a quilt for inspiration that I could make it one day. Quilts should be used, not just art, in my opinion. But, they are all spectacular.

  60. Linda

    I felt the same about the quilt show here in Georgia back in June, interesting but not very inspiring to this traditional primitive quilter. But the talent required is off the charts! I’ll be attending a show in North Carolina in a few weeks and will see if the trend continues there! We’re there many vendors. The last AQS in Des Moines had wonderful vendors!

  61. Lorraine

    I am with you–I love old fashion looking quilts. More traditional quilts are my favorite. I really admire all of the embellishments on quilts but don’t have the desire to work on something like that. Thank you for the beautiful pictures tho’

  62. Tanya T. in Houston

    Totally agree with your comments. Beautiful to look at, but not motivating to me at all! Give me a great nine patch or churn dash any day!

    1. Cynthiia from SW MN

      I am in agreement with you as well! Definitely lovely quilts, with out-of-world quilting! Beautiful! I am content to do simpler projects.

    2. Donna Albright

      Come to the Des Moines Area Quilt Guild show Sept 22 thru the 24th at the 4-H building on the Iowa State Fair grounds in Des Moines. We have fancy quilts and lots of pieced quilts without heavy quilting. Over 700, as a matter of fact! There will be vendors there too of course.

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