Guess what?? I just got back from a trip to Utah, a state that I haven’t visited since I was a child traveling with my family of six plus a few aunts and cousins, all stuffed into a van seeing sights like Zion park and Lake Powell. What took me to Utah this time? A quilt show!! Riley Blake Designs and Ashton Gardens pulled together to create the largest quilt show I have ever attended, the Garden of Quilts. It was enchanting! I don’t even know where to begin. A dream of mine has been to go to an outdoor quilt exhibit where I could see my quilt hanging in nature and the experience was exactly that, a dream. From the venue to the quilts to the events, I was constantly entertained.
First off, the venue, Ashton Gardens is massive! When you walk through the main entrance you find yourself at the very top of the gardens. From there you can go to the right which will lead you to intertwining paths and beautiful views. If you go left you are headed to the top of the waterfall where you will be able to peek through rocks and shrubs, to the amphitheater where there are lectures at different times throughout the day. As you are walking down this path, you will see a water efficient garden with tiered flower beds. A meadow of aluminum arches covered in sweet potato vines dancing in the sun. There are many installments and I will touch on a few later.
As I bought my day pass
into the garden, there were bags of fish food for sale and of course I want to
feed the fish even if I didn’t know where they would be or what type of fish I
To clarify one thing, Thanksgiving Point and Ashton Gardens are close together but are not in walking distance of each other. Silly as I am, I typed Thanksgiving Point into my GPS and I was left thinking to myself . . . where is everyone? Luckily I was able to figure out where I was supposed to be but don’t be like me. Pay closer attention haha!
The Garden of Quilts Show
Can I just say wow! It was sublime. There were layers upon layers of quilts. The best part about it was they were spread out along 55 acres of lush garden grounds, which teased you forward as quilts peeked out in the distance. There were tents full of quilts, quilts hung under the shade of trees, quilts in gazebos, quilts out in the open on wooden stands. They were sprinkled everywhere! Each quilt had room to breath and show off their own individual glory. In total, the number of quilts was less than a thousand and the Ashton Gardens venue has so much room to grow. It could easily triple the amount of quilts on display. This was the first year of the event and it was an absolute hit.
The secret garden
I have two favorite areas. The first one was the secret garden. There I found hand quilted quilts and antique quilts. To get to it, you had to walk through a tunnel of vines. Now if you are hot, I would suggest going there because it has its own little ecosystem of shade.
Another place I would suggest going to if you want to cool off are the vendor tents. The variety was great! I had a nice time talking to the daughter of Jill Finley. There, I bought a few half yards of Jill’s newest line called It’s the Berries. I was in heaven at the Chenille-It booth where I got two rolls of soft pink. The Missouri Star Quilt Co had the biggest booth. I was excited to buy the ruler I have been putting in their online shopping cart (but not buying) for three months. The ladies from Sewtopia were a hoot; I was so happy to meet them!! (They had a virtual challenge a few years back that I participated in.) I also bought a new pin tray by the Tattooed Quilter.
My second favorite area at the Garden of Quilts was the Rose Garden. As I stood in front of a huge half circle of sixteen intricate wooden arches with quilts hanging in each arch, I was left speechless! Right next to that was a Koi pond. I easily found two of my three quilts. For my third quilt because I wasn’t looking for that quilt during the first half of my walk. I decided that I would be happy enough to see it on the Facebook quilt gallery (I will link to it when it is up.) that will hold pictures of all the quilts in the event.
Cindy Cloward and Karen Ashton were incredibly smart and thoughtful because they were prepared for those that didn’t want to walk the gardens. They had golf carts to move people all around.
I was delighted to see the owner of Riley Blake Designs Cindy Cloward in the thick of it. She was one of the many trunk shows at the presentation tent. In the gardens, I found her fixing a few of the quilts. It was there where I asked her to take a photo and she happily obliged. When I got back to my hotel I sorted my loot and looked over the event brochure. I read her letter. It was totally inspiring as I found out that she too has to muster up the guts to take those chances to make her dreams come true. Something that I shy away from. There is a link to her letter of hospitality.
What else can you do while you are there??
Well it might be easier to say what can’t you do? The event was kicked off with Meet the Makers, a time when all the instructors were in one place so you could meet the face behind their creations. There were 47 classes available to take in the three-day event. The teachers were fabric designers and industry leaders. These are some of the techniques taught: paper piecing, English paper piecing, machine quilting, embroidery, curves, and more. During the day you could see presentations in two different areas, the Waterfall Amphitheater and the Presentation Tent. There you could listen to lectures on topics like the History of quilts, the Art of Applique, and What’s inside matters. You could see trunk shows from various designers. There was even morning tea and a celebration with cake.
Before the event, I signed up for two classes, Dishes Quilt that is all curves with the lovely Lella Boutique, and Hexie Cabin with Heather Peterson from Anka’s Treasures. I always want to improve my skills and these classes are just what I needed. It was wonderful!! They even had extra sewing machines so I didn’t have to bring mine all the way from Tucson. A big plus.
This quilt show was an incredible undertaking. I am in awe of the vision of Garden of Quilts. My hope is that it becomes a major annual international show. I heard whispers that the event will be back next year and I can’t wait!! Next year, you should go, too. Let’s meet at the gardens, have tea, scones (Yes. They sold scones with jam!!! My favorite.) and talk quilts!! It will be sew much fun! Hmmmm . . . what quilts should we enter?