Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Behind the Scenes of the Sisters Oregon Outdoor Quilt Show

I stayed with my friend Susan while I was in Oregon. Susan works in the quilt show office doing a variety of jobs and is also in charge of coordinating the annual Quilt Block Contest (QBC). While I was there, I volunteered a bit here and there, although there were always plenty of volunteers helping to perform various tasks and that's so awesome because it really takes 1,000's of hours and hundreds of volunteers and staff to put together this one day show. I will share a bit of what I saw and learned that happens behind the scenes at the annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

Each year the quilt show needs to find a large space in order to house the 1,000+ quilts that they receive for hanging in each years show. This year there were 1401 quilts that were hanging in the show. They rented a large warehouse building where they set up an office for receiving the quilts. When the quilts come in there is a lot of computer data that must be entered for each quilt. They need to create a barcode for each quilt, and print out all the information onto a paper tag that hangs on the quilt in the show, plus attach a green tag to that tag if that quilt is offered for sale. All quilts also receive a participant ribbon and if it's a special exhibit quilt, then they receive another ribbon indicating it's a special exhibit.

Then the quilts get stacked into piles. Next comes the quilt sorting crew who arranges the quilts into new piles in which they try to choose similar quilt styles, colors, themes, etc. so they get hung together on a particular building. All this happens while they also have to keep in mind the quilt sizes (which the measurements are printed on the paper tags to help them) so they know there will be enough space to hang those particular quilts in the space that is chosen. Wow what a lot of work and what a great system they have for keeping it all together! Once the quilts are chosen for the location in mind they all get put into a large black plastic bag with the information of the location written onto masking tape that is on the bag. Those bags get stacked along the wall awaiting quilt show hanging day. The photos I took here were the last few quilts that needed the final sorting. Most of the quilts for the show had already been grouped and bagged.
These quilts are stacked here for the Special Exhibits, as the sign indicates.
The tables are where the volunteers and staff  add the labels, fold the quilts, etc. You can see the piles of black plastic bags that are filled with quilts waiting to hang on quilt show day in their location against the back wall.
Getting closer to quilt show day there are only a few quilts left. Before I arrived for my visit, Susan told me there were rows and rows of quilts stacked high. As you can imagine how much space 1401 quilts take up, even folded.
This is how the QBC works and the fabrics that were chosen for 2014
QBC blocks laid out on the lawn for the teachers to vote for their 5 favorite blocks. The teachers teach the week before the quilt show day. Jean Wells invites the teachers to dine at her home one night and that's when they vote for the blocks as they arrive at her home.
I liked this block with all the embroidery.
This block was very sweet and it was one of the honorable mention winners.
This block was also an honorable mention winner.
I liked this block a lot too. It didn't win though. Oh and I see she lives in Leavenworth where there is a terrible fire burning. My sister was going to go to Leavenworth last weekend and they couldn't because of the fire. Gosh I wish I knew her to see if she's alright.
This is the front door to Jean Wells' house. Isn't it incredible?
Love the view from the side of her house of the Sisters Mountains.
Nearby we saw this deer snacking on the shrubbery.
Because the weather was so hot they set up the dinner for the teachers inside the garage rather than in the backyard. I love the pretty sunflowers on the tables and the quilts covering up things around the garage.
I got a peek of her door on the inside as the teachers entered the house. It's all carved with animals and just as beautiful as the outside.
This quilt was hanging inside. I have seen this one in the Stitchin' Post before too.
Close-up of the carved birds.
This is the quilt that Jean designed and made which was the inspiration for the door of her home. It's hanging in the Stitchin' Post. Gorgeous isn't it?
Then of course there's more work to be done on quilt show day which is hanging the quilts, not to mention taking them all down again 7 hours later. More volunteers are needed to do the quilt hanging. More about this on another posting.
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  1. It's amazing how much work goes on behind the scenes. Thanks again for sharing...I'm enjoying!!! (ANd am so very inspired!)

  2. Wow, there is a lot of work and organization involved in a quilt show. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This post was a pleasure to read. When I go to quilt shows, I never think of all the work involved. Now I will instead of just enjoying the view.
    Your idea of showing us the fabric involved in the making of the blocks was very good. I always enjoy looking at what different persons make from the same material. Thank you!

  4. wow, the back story is very interesting. I guess I just don't understand why all that effort for just one day, why not keep it up longer since most of the work is in the set up and tear down. the town would make more money if it was longer and it would give folks flexibility if they couldn't make it or was sick on the one day. I'm glad you're breaking down the photos because you're making it easier to really see the quilts. I like the mini blocks as well and that door and those views are something else.

  5. that was so very cool! I linked you to my bee email group so they could take a peek!
    Leeanna Paylor

  6. So much work involved behind the scenes!!!! That door is amazing and love the quilt that it was inspired by. I'm green with envy that I couldn't attend LOL but I'm having loads of fun looking through your photos.

  7. Incredible post! Looks like you had a wonderful time. Lots to see and lots of friends to enjoy! Thanks so much for sharing, Daryl.

  8. It is all beyond amazing Daryl! What a fabulous time you had and so great that you played a role in the show!


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