Quilters Take Manhattan, 2014

We did it again!!!

Logo for QTM

The nonprofit Quilt Alliance had a spectacular success at our 4th annual Quilters Take Manhattan benefit. As president of the Alliance, I spend a great deal of time helping to organize all the parts of this event, and it’s great when the hundreds of people who come to learn and party get so excited.

Amy Butler

The main program was on Saturday, September 20 at FIT, the Fashion Institute of Technology, with keynote speaker Amy Butler. A hugely talented and successful fabric designer, Amy surprised many by the focus of her remarks: instead of giving the typical overview of her career with a heavy promotion of her fabrics and patterns, she launched into a very personal account of recent struggles in her business, and how she overcame them. It was a courageous presentation, and most people in the room were absolutely rapt. She followed up by answering questions both to the audience at large, and when individuals came up to her at a table piled high with her latest vivid creations.


Mark Dunn checks out the display of his quilts just before QTM.

Mark Dunn checks out the display of his quilts just before QTM.

Amy was followed by Mark Dunn, founder and owner of the magical Moda, a beloved fabric company based in Dallas that has led the industry in precut fabrics and its general high standards for design and quality. He brought a selection of quilts from his personal collection that ran the gamut from traditional pieces made in the 19th and early 20th century to very contemporary art quilts. It was touching that his two sons, who are coming up in the family business, worked as his “quilt wranglers,” holding and carrying these masterpieces so everyone could get a good look.

There were also 5 short videos shot for the Alliance’s oral history project Go Tell It At the Quilt Show. The group who spoke included three quilters, author/collector Roderick Kiracofe  and Stacy Hollander, a curator for the American Folk Art Museum.

Melanie Testa told the story of this quilt for her Go Tell It.

Melanie Testa told the story of this quilt for her Go Tell It.

Emcee Mark Lipinski kept everybody jumping, and laughing. I can’t print everything he said in his introduction of Amy Butler, but she was laughing hardest of all.


Every year, we try to add new dimensions to the experience at FIT, while also presenting new add-on events on Friday and Sunday.

This year, the extras at FIT included vendors, such as City Quilter, which even brought a Handi Quilter machine for people to play with, as well as authors, who sold and signed books, and a labeling demonstration, conducted by Alliance board member Leslie Tucker Jenison.

Leslie demo

There were also lots of quilts to see, including contest quilts from Cherrywood’s “Wicked” challenge, and some of the quilts from the Alliance’s 2014 contest, Inspired By.

Karla Overland vended and brought Wicked contest quilts.

Karla Overland vended and brought Wicked contest quilts.


With a longer day that began at 10 am (although tickets were the same price), there was a lunch break this year.


The afternoon concluded with Quilt Match Manhattan, a live quilt-design competition between 3 quilters, who were given fabric and tools, but could bring a yard of fabric from home. One of the 3 invited contestants couldn’t come at the last minute, so Earamicha Brown was pulled up as an audience volunteer to compete with John Kubinec and Allie Aller. Crazy quilter Allie Aller was the winner, according to audience applause, and she won this stunning CHAMP belt made by Alliance board member Frances Holiday Alford.


This year’s extra events included a theater outing on Friday night, plus workshops at City Quilter and a workshop with Victoria Findlay Wolfe that she taught at her loft home.

We added more tours of the garment district this year, and all of them quickly sold out. Those small groups got a chance to visit Manhattan-based fabric companies with a well-known quilter (Paula Nadelstern, Mark Lipiniski or RaNae Merrill) and learn how fabric collections are put together. For an account of that, here is a blog for fabric company Benartex, about Paula Nadelstern’s tour for Quilters Take Manhattan.

Another outing that sold out fast was a tour of the Ratti textile center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Friday afternoon. This was truly an amazing opportunity to see some of the museum’s masterpieces, in the company of curator Amelia Peck, who put together last year’s epic Interwoven Globe show at the Met. You can read more about what we learned of the Met’s textile collections in the September issue of my e-newsletter, Quilt Journalist Tells All.


Closeup of a signature quilt with 360 prominent names.

Closeup of a signature quilt with 360 prominent names.























Every year, QTM’s Saturday fun ends with Quilters Take Manhattan After Dark, a party in the loft home of Victoria Findlay Wolfe. This is an intimate space, and a great opportunity to network with some of the quilt world’s leading lights. One of the comments we consistently get from people who attend Quilters Take Manhattan is that they can’t believe how many members of “quilt royalty” they run into at both the daytime FIT event and the party.

If you want to read some of the early reactions to QTM 2014 by bloggers, you can go check out this blog. and this one. And this blogger, a first-timer at Quilters Take Manhattan, rates every aspect of the day at FIT from “meh” to “awesome.”

Here I am with Amy Milne, executive director of the Quilt Alliance, celebrating the great day at FIT, and getting ready to open the doors for the After Dark party.



I hope you will consider coming to Quilters Take Manhattan 2015. We already have a date: September 26, 2015. And a keynote speaker: Ricky Tims. To keep abreast of add-on events and the date that tickets go on sale (we sold out 4 months early this year), you’ll want to go to www.QuiltAlliance.org and sign up for the free newsletter, or look for the Quilt Alliance FaceBook page.  Remember, all proceeds help the Alliance in its mission to document, preserve and share the stories of quilts, and their makers.