Quilt Journalist Tells All!
A Newsletter from Meg Cox                                  December, 2013

Caryl Bryer Fallert:
A Dazzling Career's Roadshow  
see all 30 quilts here

     Caryl Fallert is a legend in the quilt world: a groundbreaker in the areas of technique and technology who has been amazingly generous with her knowledge.

     If you know your quilt history, you know that when her quilt Corona #2: Solar Eclipse won Best of Show in Paducah in 1989 it was a scandal. No machine-quilted work had ever won the American Quilter's Society top prize. But for all the horrified hand quilters, there were legions of relieved machine quilters. They were no longer second-class citizens.

     Over the years, Caryl blazed a trail in such areas as fabric-dyeing; using printed photographs as a quilt design element; and designing quilts with computer software. 
     To celebrate her 30-year career (thus far), Caryl didn't just assemble her previous masterpieces, but created 30 new quilts that trace her artistic journey. All are 30 inches by 30 inches, remarkable for their masterful technique and her trademark jewel-toned colors.

     Anyone who made it to Quilt Festival in Houston got to see this show, but now it's on the road, so there are many more opportunities. The show just opened at the National Quilt Museum Show in Paducah, Kentucky, where it will reside until March 11. 
      Click on the quilt above to find out whether it will be near you. Even if you can't see the quilts live, check out Caryl's website: in her usual methodical way, she has created a gorgeous online gallery that tells the story behind every one of the quilts. 



 Hey, everyone. Thank you so much!!!
 The folks at Constant Contact gave me some sort of a gold star, because they say this newsletter ranks in the top 10% of those using their platform in terms of reader response.  I hope that means you find it of value, and if so, please, forward it to someone else who might like it. 
 Not a subscriber? Then go ahead and make my day. Just click on the white box below that says JOIN OUR MAILING LIST, and become a quilt world insider overnight. 

Join Our Mailing List

Who is Meg Cox?  

click for author website






 Traditions Expert


 Quilt Alliance


Hire me to lecture to your guild.

Click on book covers for more.

 book cover


 600 pages, $18.95








 300 Traditions, $16

December Giveaway!!!
Jamie Fingal's blog
     This vivid, whimsical, endlessly adaptable fabric designed by Jamie Fingal was introduced at Fall Market and will land in stores soon.
     But one of my lucky subscribers is going to win a fat quarter bundle of Jamie's fabric now. There are 13 fabrics included, and to give you an idea what they look like, click on the image above to read Jamie's newest blog post: she challenged some quilter friends to make a quilt using this same bundle, and you can get inspired by what they did. 
 The winner will be chosen at random from e-mails received by midnight January 1.  To enter, you must be a subscriber.
    Just send an email to meg@megcox.com.
The November winner of the Metropolitan Museum catalog for the Interwoven Globe show was Chris Motl. 
Quilt Alliance Video: Check it out!!!! 


Please spend five minutes watching this video annual report, and consider giving even a small donation to a great organization!! It was a landmark 20th anniversary for an organization very close to my heart. 

Happy New Year to all of you!
And thanks for your support in 2013.

Quilt on!

Dear Friends--                  
      As a new year dawns, I'm thinking about my "quilting resolutions," and borrowing one from Mark Lipinski. I was on his radio show, Creative Mojo, recently and he lamented that he hadn't made a "major" quilt in the past year. That got me thinking that a lot of the quilts I make are either gifts or giveaways to causes or samples made for classes. While it's good to get them done, there isn't anything quite like the feeling of conceiving and completing a big, demanding project. 
      I'm going to be starting a big, new quilt soon, and I'll share the details as I progress.
      Meanwhile, I hope you find some inspiring and thought-provoking material in this issue. I'm back on my soapbox with a rant, and you'll also find some news and reviews about what's going on in the quilt world. Fun giveaway this month, so check that out too.
     If you find this newsletter meatier and more newsy than others on quilting, I do hope you'll forward it to a friend and share it on social media: what I'd like for Christmas is a growing subscriber list, and you can help!

The Price We Pay:
A Rant on Consequences
    I remember when I interviewed Len Riggio, the genius who built the Barnes & Noble chain, for a front page profile in the Wall Street Journal. It was 1992, and everybody in publishing was scared to death of B & N, predicting its success would mean the end of local bookstores. 
     Two years later, Amazon.com was launched, and the prophecy started coming true. When Amazon began, there were about 4,000 independent bookstores in the U.S. Twenty years later, there are less than half that number. Barnes & Noble itself is struggling to survive, while the second biggest chain, Borders, went bankrupt in 2011. When Borders shuttered its last 399 stores (down from the peak of 1,300 stores), 11,000 people lost their jobs.
      I live in Princeton, a university town, and if it weren't for the campus bookstore, all we would have left is the Barnes & Noble that just slunk off to a smaller spot in the local mall. I honestly don't know whether this crisis makes me sadder as a reader, or an author. 
      But I do know this: I can't sit idly by and watch the same thing happen to quilt shops. This rant is a call to action, asking all of you, my faithful readers, to help me prevent this scenario from happening to our quilt shops. You know, the places that feed our souls as much as our stashes? The kind of quilt shop where you feel like a character in Cheers: they know your name, and so much more. 
      Now I can hear you objecting already: "But quilt shops are different from bookstores because of what they sell. You don't need to fondle the pages of a Dickens novel before buying it. You don't need to bring your existing books from home to make sure they match the new ones in the store. And your local bookstore doesn't teach you new ways to read."
       I agree, to a point. All of those distinctions should help quilt shops survive. Fabric is an ingredient, while a book is a finished product. And while there is something truly magnificent about a passionate bookseller who introduces you to a new book or author, the best quilt shop employees teach us how to turn our own dreams and visions into real, one-of-a-kind objects. Sometimes, even museum masterpieces. 
     But if quilters already appreciate these distinctions, the special functions of good quilt shops, then why are they behaving as they do? A new word was added to dictionaries this year, the verb "showrooming." It refers to shoppers (not just quilters) who visit full-price retailers like they were showrooms that exist just to display merchandise, then walk out the door and buy the same goods online or at discounters. Sometimes, they even scan barcodes on items at the quilt shop, before buying the books, fabric or notions elsewhere. 
       Sure, most of us are on a budget of some sort, and it's nice to get a good deal. But the reason those outlets, online and in storefronts, can charge such cheap prices is that they don't supplement the goods with personal service. They don't want to know your name -- just your credit card number. 
      And here's the thing: if we, as a community, keep treating our quilt shops this way, then eventually, we will only be able to shop at the bare bones places. Do you really want to drive 4 hours to fondle fabric or wait months for a quilt show?
       Now, I am not saying you should burn those coupons from Jo-Anns, and only buy the highest priced batting you can find. It would be nutty to buy the highest quality materials to make a sundress your child will outgrow next year, let alone a costume for a 2nd grade play that will be worn twice. Discounters have their place.
      However, when you are making a quilt you want to pass down through the generations or enter into quilt shows, it makes sense to buy the highest quality materials. And it isn't just choice and quality we want from our quilt shops, but all those hard to price extras like technique tips and fabric-matching advice. Think of it this way: the local quilt shop is like a memory storage device, where the staffers know your quilting taste and history. 
      Let's be clear: I'm not advocating against all discount shopping, or against e-sellers in general, even the fabric discounter owned by Amazon. I don't know how I would survive without eQuilter.com when I'm looking for conversation prints or lots of different choices of red. And there are specialty e-sellers like Glorious Color, which sells pretty much every fabric Kaffe Fassett ever designed: where else would I find it? 
       But I deeply believe that it's worth it on a regular basis to pay the extra few dollars for a book or fabric yardage at my local shop, knowing that I'm investing in the store's future existence. How would I feel, if the worst happens, when I have a fabric emergency and no emergency supplier? What if I had no place to audition 13 different colors of blue to match the quilt I must finish for a wedding this weekend? Now that the big chain stores have cut way back on quilt magazines, where else can I take a peek at a dozen different current issues and perhaps find the perfect new pattern I didn't know existed?
      Do quilters want to be tiny molecules of algae in the vast sea of Big Data? Or do they want to be human beings, whose personal tastes and preferences are respected, even celebrated?
      We all choose, every time we shop. 
    ( FYI-- the temple of fabric in the photo above is the exceptional City Quilter shop in Manhattan. )
The Quilt Index:

 10 Years & 55,000 Quilts
      Anybody in the world who loves quilts should know about the Quilt Index, which is like a virtual Smithsonian of quilts. This truly mind-blowing online archive features more than 55,000 documented quilts from four centuries, and there are so many ways to browse and surf these beauties. 
      This great resource is celebrating it's 10th anniversary, so I got historian Marsha MacDowell to answer a few questions about what's new. Marsha is curator of Folk Arts at Michigan State University's Museum, and has been a major architect and chief manager of the Index. The Index is run principally by the Museum, along with techies at MSU, in partnership with the nonprofit Quilt Alliance. 
      The Index continues to add quilts from state documentation projects (one of its first uses), and the glorious star quilt above is from the just-added Arizona project. But in recent years, the Index has added everything from museum and private quilt collections, to quilt ephemera like old patterns. 
       Marsha MacDowell talked to me about what comes next. "We're excited about moving from the initial focus on American quilts to global ones (Canadian and South African quilts are up already); from a passive repository to one that is more interactive with contributors and users; and the growing use of the Quilt Index as a tool to contribute research data as research is conducted, not just after it's complete."
     What does that mean to you? Consider these new initiatives that the Index will start working on in 2014: How would you like to permanently preserve the quilts of your local guild in the Index, along with an illustrated history of the guild? Or, would you like to be part of the Quilt Index Legacy Project, under which all the quilts you have made, or collected, can be archived, along with your biography?
       In the meantime, the Quilt Index will continue to be the go-to website for research and inspiration, for anybody who cares about quilts. 
      By the way, the Index is not cheap to maintain, and these new projects will require plenty of support. If you want to be part of this exciting moment in Quilt Index history, go here to donate. To learn more and browse the Index, click on the Arizona quilt above. 

The Revamp: American Quilter magazine 

     I've been receiving the American Quilter magazine for years now, and except for Diane Gaudynski's masterful column on machine quilting, I found it dull and dated. There was never a project I wanted to make, and 95% of the quilts were traditional. Even the layout and photography seemed staid and uninspired.
     Then came this bolt from the blue, when Michele Duffy took over as editor. She's been at the helm for almost a year, but considering how far ahead magazines work, she didn't get involved until the May issue. Some changes started immediately, such as the inclusion of a few modern-style quilts from the likes of Weeks Ringle. But the latest issue, for January, sports a nearly complete overhaul of the publication, and I heartily approve. 
      All of a sudden, it looks lighter, brighter and more up-to-date. There are still some traditional projects and styles, which is fine, but the big hexagon quilt, for example, lends itself well to a modern palette and fabrics. Featured artist Melinda Bula is an art quilter: the stunning floral quilt on the cover is hers. I think Michele has wisely realized that most quilters do not make just one style of quilt: as new things come along, they want to at least try them out.
       I had the chance recently to ask Michele Duffy about her overhaul of American Quilter, as well as reader reactions:
      Q: What sort of feedback have you gotten?
A: I am trying to move forward without alienating my current readers, which is tricky, to say the least. While there has been a lot of positive feedback, some readers are not so happy.
Q: It seems like the magazine has more about quilters, delving into their stories and process. Is that true?
A: Definitely. Not to speak against other magazines, but for magazines that just have patterns and nothing else, I find it hard to connect with that. I feel like quilting is a community, and if I am part of a group, I want to converse with other members of that group.
Q: So, I notice that the magazine now has a featured artist. Will that be in every issue?
A: Some people love this feature and some do not, but I can't imagine changing it. Sheila Franpton Cooper will be our featured artist in May: her art quilts are very exciting, and she is so interesting. I am not sure yet whether the featured quilter will always be the cover quilt. 

Click on the magazine cover above for more information, and to subscribe.