Quilt show etiquette

April 2, 2013

There’s a rumor going around that the “quilt police” are really a myth. That’s true…except when it comes to quilt shows! If you’ve ever gotten a little too close to a quilt hanging in a show, you know the quilt police are really there when white gloves tap you on the shoulder!

We’re really just teasing about the quilt police! But when you attend quilt shows, there are some guidelines to follow to respect your fellow quilters and their work.

Ask white glove attendants to show you a quilt

In all seriousness, having “white glove” attendants at a quilt show is a very good thing. It allows viewers to see the backs of quilts while protecting them from dirty hands, ink pens and more. These volunteers also help instill the idea that, even though a quilt may be destined for 50 launderings, every precaution taken to preserve it translates into more years of enjoyment.

That’s certainly not to say that many quilts are made for and meant to be loved, cuddled, washed and dried until they literally fall apart. But the kind of care given to the quilt will impact how long it will keep you company on a cold winter.

To be safe, keep your ink pens in your purse at a quilt show. If you are toting a ballot for a “viewer’s choice” award or you simply like to keep notes about what inspires you, carry a pencil instead. If you’d like to see a quilt up close, ask a white glove attendant to show you the quilt. They are wearing those gloves so they can handle the quilts and give you a more intimate view of them. They WANT to be asked!

Follow rules regarding photography

If an exhibit forbids photography, honor that decree. While excessive light exposure can damage a quilt, the more common reason for restricting photography is to protect the copyright privileges of the designers or exhibitors. Sneaking a photo and then posting it on Flickr or Facebook is tantamount to stealing. If you aren’t sure about the rules regarding photography, simply ask a volunteer or check the program booklet.

However, remember that if you snap a photograph of a quilt you like, and then post it publicly, you may be violating the copyright of the pattern designer, quilt maker or both. Any quilt maker using a pattern that is copyrighted by someone else should get permission from that designer or publisher to display the quilt in a public setting such as a quilt show, and should acknowledge the designer in the quilt description and program listing. For example, entries into the American Quilter’s Society show must include “release” forms from publishers or designers before quilts that are not original can be displayed.

Check if wheeled totes are allowed

If you plan on doing lots of shopping during the show, make sure you know in advance whether wheeled totes are allowed. Some venues restrict the totes, and provide baggage checks instead. You could still bring the tote to the show, but check it at the baggage stand and use it instead to haul your purchases to the car.

Carry a small purse, wear comfy shoes and don’t forget to eat

Lots of quilts and lots of vendors mean lots of walking! Wear comfortable shoes, and leave your big purse at home! Find a small, across-the-body wallet or purse just large enough for your cash, credit card and any critical items. A big purse will only strain your shoulders, may limit what you can carry and drive you and everyone else crazy as you bump into them in the aisles! Most importantly, budget time to eat and time to rest. Who can quilt or shop on an empty stomach?