Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quilters Gone Wild

I have to tell you about the experience I had on Saturday. I was asked to make an appearance at a retreat that Valley of the Sun Quilters Guild was having here in Phoenix. They wanted me to bring a trunk show of my quilts and tell a little bit about what I do. I thought it would be fun and it's always nice to meet fellow quilters but nothing could have prepared me for this group...

The retreat was being held in a local hotel. I wondered why they would choose a hotel instead of somplace more cozy, refined, and bed-and-breakfasty. My wondering would soon be quelled. I expected we would set up and present my show-and-tell in a conference room there. When I was led into the room where this would all take place, I couldn't believe what I saw.

It was like they had taken up some kind of semi-permanent residency in this place that had become a foster home for wayward fabric scraps, sewing machines, and any conceivable sewing and quilting notion to be had. Their quilting projects-in-progress were displayed on every available square inch of wall space. Every stationary object in the room, and some living and breathing objects, were either draped in fabric or covered, beyond recognition, in stray snips of thread. I mistook one of them for a chair. The only word I could think of at the time to describe my first impression of this place was "overwhelming". Looking back, I'm wondering if it wasn't more like what I've heard about shell shock.

I couldn't believe that they were spending 3 or 4 days buried in this kind of "rubble" and "destruction" only a true quilter can create. It's the aftermath of a few days of creative wild abandon when rotary cutters run amok and billions of bits of ten-dollar-a-yard fabric fly in a kind of frenzy that's usually kept behind the closed doors of the elusive quilters' den. But not on Saturday. Nay, these quilters were proud of what they had accomplished in the complete transformation of this room that most likely, at one time or another, had hosted such civilized (and scrap-free) happenings as wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs, and Kiwanis Club meetings. Events like that couldn't even be imagined in this space in which I found myself. Then, as if that weren't enough to make me wonder how I was going to be able to locate the door through which I would make my escape, they came closer. Not one by one, but as a pack. They descended upon the containers of fabric we had brought to show and, like wild animals, marked their territories.

Thankfully my friends, Gary and Ellen, one of the herd's Alpha members, fought them back and made them sit, mostly in chairs but some amid their droppings and debris on the floor, while I made my presentation. It seemed to work. They calmed down a bit and, for the most part, were docile and attentive while I told them about my work (And while I formulated in my head the idea I'm going to pitch to Mutual of Omaha for their next television endeavor, Wild Kingdom of Quilters).

All kidding aside, the way that the day turned out is what the community of quilting artists and crafters is all about. We shared our current projects and past accomplishments, told stories of our successes and failures, voiced our likes and our dislikes and happily offered our personal expertises to those who are still (and always) learning. I was on a "high" when I left there. And not only because we were able to locate the exit. What a fun day and what a FUN group of people!

Sign-ups are going great for "Party with Patrick™". All of the quilters at the retreat were really excited about it and told me they were going to find local shops where they could sign up. I'm really looking forward to this year. It's going to be something very different from what I've done in the past and it's exciting to have something so new and fresh to work on. The shop owners I'm working with are as much fun as the ladies in the Valley of the Sun guild so it looks like it really IS going to be the party I had hoped for! I hope you'll join us :)


  1. I don't think the decible level of the room ever went higher than during the fabric feeding frenzy after your talk, Patrick. Obviously, we loved your quilts, patterns, fabrics, stories and everything.

    Thank you (and Gary) for sharing so generously with us.

  2. Uh huh...I'm still hearing a slight "buzz" in my head from it. But it was well worth every decibel ;-) Thanks, Sophie!

  3. Patrick what a wonderful time we had while you were there and your discription of all of us had me rolling on the floor.

  4. It was amazing! I even made one of your patterns, "Love Blossoms" on Sunday night. I will post photos on my blog. It is not at all like your sample, but my friend whom I gifted it to, loves it. Thanks for your wonderful fabric and patterns!

  5. I've added a couple of my photos from your visit to my blog, check it out here, I Partied with Patrick

  6. Patrick, I am so glad that as one of the Alpha members of the herd, that I could rein them in! I thought when you put those boxes of fabric right in FRONT of them & on the floor no less....that I was gonna either have to fist fight them, or else get my infamous "whip"....
    LOL! You almost started a quilter stampede!
    Note: Next trunk show, NEVER, EVER place an ENTIRE box of fabric goodies too near the quilters!

  7. Patrick, it was so very nice to meet you & Gary, and thank you for signing the book I won in the drawing! I have about 2 dozen nieces and nephews plus extended family members having babies and I need all the baby patterns I can get, so this is the perfect one for me! You were so very generous with all of us...sorry we startled you at first, hope the bite marks heal quickly, LOL!!!


  8. You don't scare me, Ellen Born!! LOL! I loved hearing and seeing your trunk show, Patrick - I wanted to do the design workshop you had scheduled at Quiltz last year (Feb. 2008) but it was the same week as the 2008 AZ Retreat - and I haven't seen it scheduled anywhere since. Any chance you'll be doing something like that anywhere in the Valley in the near future?

    Pat H.

  9. "I thought one of them was a chair"....would th
    at be why I lost my spot to Gary's checkout station, Patrick? No, no, I wasn't IN the chair. I was at the head of the cutting line clutching the biggest catch of the day. Thank you both for your work....and courage.

  10. So great to meet you and your patterns Patrick. Don't forget to get some Canadian shops in on the party, especially in Saskatchewan! I am 21/2 hours from any quilt shop, but am willing to brave the elements to get in on the fun
    Quilt on!!!

  11. What a grand time we all had! Your patterns and books are wonderful and I was pleased to find your out of print "At Home with Patrick" via Amazon. Thanks for braving wonderful afternoon for all.

  12. I enjoyed the trunk show so much!
    I've been using your fabrics for several years and absolutely love them. Can you come back and sew with us next year?? (Bring Gary)


  13. Thanks for the great trunk show and for creating such wonderful fabrics!
    You and Gary are invited to any of our sew days.

  14. Patrick,
    I know I am a slow-poke when it comes to posting. But I must say that your truck show was absolutely wonderful!! Thank you for taking the time to spend the afternoon with us. You have inspired me to attempt that "scary" satin stitch I have been avoiding all these years. Your presentation great!

    THank you!! Donna
    And thank you for the fabric....I won the yard that isn't in shops yet!