Tuesday, February 4, 2020

What you will (and will not) need for QuiltCon!

As I am getting ready to board my flight (an excruciating 26 hour long journey - not counting the 10 hours that I have to drive to reach the airport) to take me to the other side of the world to spend one of my favorite weeks, I decided to put together an "essentials" list for all of those who are travelling (near or far) for QuiltCon.

What is Modern Quilt Guild?

The Modern Quilt Guild is made up of over 150 guilds across the country and world. Their mission is to support and encourage the growth and development of modern quilting through art, education, and community.

The MQG developed out of the thriving online community of modern quilters and their desire to start meeting in person. The founding guild was formed in Los Angeles in October of 2009. Through blogs and the Internet, word spread quickly of the fun they were having and soon guilds started popping up everywhere.

What is QuiltCon?

QuiltCon is an international modern quilt show featuring over 550 quilts, over 100 vendors, and dozens of workshops and lectures over four days. QuiltCon 2020 takes place in Austin, Texas from February 20-23, 2020.

If you ask me, QuiltCon is the place where I can travel across the globe and still feel at home! It is a wonderful event, brilliantly organized by an organization that I am proud to me a member of. I have attended QuiltCon in 2015, 2017 and 2019 and was totally floored with the atmosphere there! It was an experience that I'm sure I will cherish for a lifetime. 

So what will you need for QuiltCon?

Your preparation will begin right when registrations open. Here are the things you should get done right at that time.

Registration: You will need to do a lot of planning when it comes to registering for QuiltCon. Firstly, you will need to book the lectures and classes that you love. For this you will have to make a list of those that you want to take according to your preferences. Then be ready at the moment when sign-ups begin. The best classes are sold out in minutes! So be sure to act fast. Check your internet connection the day before to be safe. Keep your payment information handy. And when its time, sign up!
QuiltCon Tip #1: Decide your order of preference when it comes to classes and the moment the registration opens, register ONLY FOR THAT ONE and finish the process. Then go back and modify your registration to add others. That way you will get at least one of your favorite workshops.

Accomodation: You will also need to look for hotel accommodation. The best way is to share rooms with your quilting friends.  In 2015 and 2017, we booked our hotels in June, and believe me, we did not have a lot of options left. So, as soon as the QuiltCon dates and all other info is up on their website, I suggest you look at the most desirable hotel and book it. While booking the hotel, make sure it is as near as possible from the venue. you do not want to end up having to travel a lot to and from the venue everyday. There are usually a lot of options for hotels. You can also try AirBnB or Couch surfing or if you have friends in the city, you can just crash on their couches.

Transport: Book your transport. For me it means booking a flight ticket. But for you it could be anything. You might be driving to the venue. Make sure to make all the travel arrangements.

Volunteer: Sign up to volunteer at the show if you can. It is a wonderful way to be a part of the show and it is really fun!!! Plus if you are a super volunteer, you get a goodie bag free (It is totally worth it)

About a month before your trip:

Get the household ready: If you live alone - just skip this part. Get your household ready for your trip! If your SO is not familiar with the kids schedule, get them on board. Keep talking about how BIG an OPPORTUNITY this is and how it MEANS A LOT for your quilting career (or hobby or passion or love).

Make financial arrangements: You will have a lot of temptations at QuiltCon. So be ready with a budget and train yourself to some SUPER self control. (Try working / volunteering in a quilt shop and NOT BUYING a single piece of fabric for a week). Make a list of things you want to buy and then set a suitable budget. 

QuiltCon tip # 2: If you are a super volunteer or you sign up for more than $350 worth of classes, you get an awesome goody bag! 
Plan your itinerary: To pack your bags, you will first need to make your itinerary. Make a day-by-day list of your plans. For the Quiltcon 2015 trip, I used one index card for each day and marked hourly intervals on it. I had my classes and lectures marked into it so that I knew where I would (or rather should) be every moment of the day. After 3 QuiltCons, I no longer plan hourly, but I do have a dedicated double page in my Bullet Journal for the 6 days (Day before to day after QuiltCon) where I put in any important appointments I do have for that day. That way I do not miss out on anything. I also click a picture of the page and keep it on my phone for quick reference. 

QuiltCon tip #3: Download the QuiltCon App as soon as it is available. You will not only have all your registrations in one place, but will also have a map of the venue to help you find where you have to go quicker.

Plan your outfits: Once you have your itinerary, you will be able to plan all your outfits for the trip. I make a detailed plan in Excel. I make columns for 
Date - Event - Category - Top - Bottom - Other - Footwear - Accessories
The date, event and category columns are the ones filled first. In the category column I usually just write Indian Casuals/Indian Formals/Western Casuals - Cold  Weather/Western Casuals - Warm Weather/Western Formals. That way I can later just put in the other details and have a packing list ready. Once  my list is final, I write it down in my bullet journal.

Make a detailed packing list: And by detailed I mean, absolutely detailed. This is the part which I enjoy the most! I am a chronic list maker! And my recent obsession with bullet journaling has given me an opportunity to actually make a list of the lists I would love to make! You already have a list of your outfits. Add a few for reserve and your clothes category is complete. Next make a list of all the supplies you will need for your classes. Then make a list of all your skin care, makeup and hair care stuff . Next comes the miscellaneous list - this is the list which has your luggage and all other items you will need to carry - your travel documents, snacks, water, electronics, books, notebooks, pens, medicines and anything else you specifically need. 

Check your documents: Make sure you have all the necessary documents to travel and they are all valid. Check BOTH your visa and your passport. Also check if you will need a visa for your layover. A quick visit to the website of that country's visa office will let you know. Click pictures of all your important documents and email them to yourself. That way even if you loose them and your phone, you will always have the details with you.

Get business cards: It is the best way to connect with other quilters. Get your business cards done if you haven't got the mdone already. 

A week before you leave:

Start Packing: You have your list ready, now its time to start packing. I just get my clothes from my list ready - washed and ironed - and put them in my guest room as and when I remember. I wash my clothes even when they are clean so I can check them for stains or tears. This is also a good time to get stuff that needs professional help or special attention, cleaned. Dry cleaning, shoe cleaning etc.I pack all my clothes  and other stuff into the packing cubes over the week. But I do not put them into my suitcase yet.
I also keep all the luggage I am taking in the guest room. So that I can visually see it together and know how much room I have.
I also start bringing other stuff that is  not used and  putting it there. I use a lot of pouches to separate categories. It helps me find my stuff easily. I do not, usually, put anything directly into the suitcase.

QuiltCon tip#4: Pack a second set of your daily makeup for touch-up in your purse/bag that you intend to carry to the convention center. You will be spending a lot of time there. And if you use makeup, you might need a touch-up. That way you will not have to remember to carry your makeup with you everyday.

Get your prescriptions: If you are taking any prescription medicines, make sure you have enough to last the entire trip. I also make sure that I carry the prescription with me (and of course a photo on my phone) for all the medicines that I have.

Get currency: If you are travelling abroad, get your currency converted or your travel card loaded. Inform your bank that you are travelling so that they do not think that your card is being misused and block it. Make sure your debit card or credit card has not expired.

Two days before you leave:

Pack suitcases: Now it is the time to play Tetris. All those packing cubes and pouches now go into the suitcases. I weigh each pouch and cube and write its weight on a post-it and stick on it. So when I have to pack my two 23 kg suitcases the job just gets easier.

QuiltCon tip#6: Even if you think you do not need the complete luggage allowance, bring along the two suitcases you're allowed (Maybe one inside the other like I did in the first picture above - the brown suitcase has a carry-on size suitcase inside) You will need all that space inside to bring back all the stuff you pick up there!!!

Charge your power bank: Make sure your power bank is fully charged.

Check your list: Make sure you have packed everything on your list and put all your packing cubes inside your luggage. This is where having all my luggage and my packing items  in the guest room helps. A quick glance around the room tell me if I have left anything behind.

One day before you leave:

Take rest: You are going to have a hectic few days ahead of you so take some rest on this day. Do absolutely nothing.

On the day you leave :

Check your documents: Make sure you are carrying your documents and your money - both card and cash. If you are travelling abroad, make sure you do not carry only foreign currency. You will need some money on your way to and back from the airport.

Charge your electronics: Make sure all your electronics are fully charged. If you do not have duplicate cables, remember to pack your charging cables. 

When you reach the destination (In this case Austin):

Check-in and unpack: I used to find it very silly that people unpacked in hotels and would prefer to live out of my suitcase on my trips. But on my last trip, just because I was alone in the room, I decided to unpack my clothes  and realized that just hanging them reduces wrinkles! And remember the tip I gave you about not packing your cubes according to type but according to day, it comes in handy here. Just unpack a couple of days worth of cubes at a time so that you do not end up hogging all the closet space if you are sharing room with others.

Wear comfortable attire: Walking shoes are the best to wear to QuiltCon. Or any shoes that will not hurt your feet at the end of the day after walking about 5 km (3 miles). Dress in layers, because the exhibition hall that is cold at the start of the day can get warmer as more and more people come. 

Register at the first possible moment: The line for registrations gets long, like suuuuuper loooong, in the evening so register as early as possible. Make sure that you do this the first thing when you go out of your hotel. Just doing this will save you about 50-60 minutes!

QuiltCon tip #5: If you have a quilt in the show or if it your first QuiltCon look out for some wonderful ribbons for your registration card. I loved flaunting my "Board Member" and "Faculty" ribbons at the 2019 QuiltCon
Attend the award show: A lot of people avoid attending the award show unless they have a quilt in the show that could probably be a winner. But the sheer energy in the room and the eye candy of all the wonderful award winning quilts is simply so inspiring. Also, you get to see the winners first hand and can connect with them about their quilts that you like.

Start the day well: We need to do this all the time, but it is especially true during QuiltCon. Start your day with a large healthy protein-rich breakfast. It is going to be a long day and you will be on your feet most of the time. You need all the energy that you can get.

Use the bag check facility: MQG provides Coat and  bag check facility at Quiltcon. Make full use of it. Carry large bags for your shopping and check them in as they fill while you enjoy the show or attend workshops. It is a lot more tiring to lug around a heavy bag. The fee is totally worth it.

QuiltCon tip # 6: Sometimes booth owners have fabulous deals on the last day. Watch out for these deals to save money. 
Start a conversation with a stranger: When I was alone at my first QuiltCon, often the thing that would cheer me up was a complete stranger starting a conversation with me over a quilt or a class! Since then I have made it a point to connect with complete strangers at QuiltCon. You never know when you might make a friend!

QuiltCon tip # 7: Do not overbook yourself. For the first QuiltCon I had signed up for 19 lectures and 2 workshops in 4 days! Not only was I always running around, but I was also super tired a lot of the time. 
Take lots of pictures: Don't forget to take a lot of pictures, and not just of quilts. You want the wonderful moments to never end. Having them in the form of pictures lets you remember and enjoy them again and again.
QuiltCon tip # 8: When you click pictures of quilts to post on social media, include a picture of the info card that is hanging right next to the quilt. That way it is easier to give credit to the maker.
Enjoy the show: QuiltCon is one on the most fabulous shows that features modern quilts. This once a year show is the go-to for anything modern. There are awesome special exhibits that you should definitely spend time seeing.

I hope my post will help you plan for your best QuiltCon experience. Have you attended QuiltCon? What are your tips for those who want to attend the show?


  1. Shruti-have a wonderful trip! Wishing you fortitude and a softly padded seat for the long flight! Welcome to Texas!

  2. Some great tips there Shruti, I was wondering if there was a bag check facility at Quiltcon and thanks to you I now know that there is one, it will be really helpful to use that. Yes to the comfortable shoes, much as I would like to wear some cute shoes, it makes for a happier day if you wear comfortable shoes. I will be sure to say hello to you if I see you while I'm at Quiltcon.


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