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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Garden of Quilts - Utah

Thanksgiving Point and Riley Blake Designs partnered to create this beautiful outdoor exhibit of hundreds of quilts from around the country and beyond.

The 55-acre Ashton Gardens, was a beautiful setting for the juried exhibition of quilts from artists across the country, as well as rare access to view some stunning private collections.

In addition to the quilts, there were classes, vendors, shopping, trunk shows, charity service projects and other special events.

A non-quilter friend managed to get a free pair of tickets.

I don't know how she got them, I didn't ask.

What I did know is she had them and didn't want them, I wanted them and didn't have them.

So we traded.

I got what I wanted, she didn't have to have something she didn't want.

Good Trade!
There were classes, of course there were classes.

Classes required pre-registration. Since we only came into possession of tickets the night before, we didn't attend any classes.

Ashton Gardens by Thanksgiving Point
All the "cool kids" were teaching:
   Carmen Geddes from Ten Sisters Handicraft
   Jenny Doan from Missouri Star Quilting Company
   Stacey West from Buttermilk Basin
   Sue Daley from Sue Daley Designs
   Camilla Roskelley from Thimble blossoms
   Marie Eldridge

And that was just the morning of the first of three days!

The Gardens

Mountain Garden at Ashton Gardens
Ashton Gardens is 55 beautiful acres of walkways, statue gardens, butterfly gardens and waterways including a Koi pond and a spectacular man-made waterfall.

The waterfall serves as backdrop to a wonderful outdoor amphitheater. You can see it here in this Piano Guys video.
If you are not familiar with Jon Schmidt's Waterfall,  you should be. No one should have to go through life without this joyful music! Also filmed at the waterfall at Ashton Gardens.
Events at the waterfall included:
   Amy Smart fom Diary of a Quilter trunk show
   Lori Holt from Bee in My Bonnet trunk show and book signing
   Melissa Mortensen from Polka Dot Chair
   Janet Wecker Frisch from Joy Studio
   Storytellers and lectures
Sadly, we didn't make it to the waterfall area presentations. Although there was a continuous golf-cart shuttle provided for all us old-lady-quilters, my daughter and I just hung around the presentation tents near the Secret Garden.

 We wandered through the Missouri Star Quilt company acre of quilts.

Quilts from Jenny's tutorials as far as you can see in each direction!


And the Lori Holt display

There were quilts that told stories


 And quilts for story telling

Quilts for kids

and quilts for Grandmas

 At the Presentation Tent

We arrived at the tent in time for a trunk show by Christopher Thompson, The Tattooed Quilter, who only makes mini quilts.

 He referred to this one as "massive."


  I also loved the Christmas Gnomes.

 The next presenters were Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson from Sew Kind of Wonderful. They are the designers of the Quick Curve and Mini Quick Curve rulers.

This was my favorite of the quilts they showed.

This Quilt references the Tree of Utah.

I like it.

It's a Utah thing...

Except I'll bet most Utahans don't know there's a giant cement tree standing in the middle of the Salt Flats.

I only know about it because I grew up in Nevada and we passed the tree on the drive into Salt Lake City.

Hmmm.... Maybe it's not a Utah thing.

I still like it.

The vendor tents were next to the presentation tents.

For the record I bought nothing.

Not that I wasn't tempted, you understand.
 It reminded me very much of the markets in Old City Jerusalem... only pink.

I was sort of waiting for someone to offer to sell me something for "One tiny, little Yankee-Doodle."

(You other travelers understand.)

It was hard to walk by this Bee Quilt by Jillily Studio.

How cute are those bees appliqued onto the hexagons!

Or this darling Elephant from Carmen Geddes.

Carmen's  Easy Piecing Grid makes Pixel Piecing a brilliant technique.

Quilts for Kids

My favorite "vendor" was a charity quilt group called Quilts for Kids.

Quilts for Kids is a non-profit organization that has chapters sprinkled around the US. We are fortunate to have a chapter in Salt Lake City. (And... my neighbor works at the LQS that also serves as the drop-off.)
The Quilts for Kids tent was filled with kits that include fabric for the quilt top,  simple pattern, binding, backing and label. Everything you need to make a kid-sized quilt except the batting and the time.

You check out the kits, similar to a library book. When it's as complete as you care to make it, you return it to a designated drop-off point where it's collected, finished (unless you completely finished it), and donated to local hospitals to give to their young patients.

Free sewing for a good cause! You just provide the labor and (optional but appreciated) batting.

Another good trade.

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden tour was my favorite part of the event.

The Secret Garden at Ashton Gardens
Karen Ashton, founder of Thanksgiving Point along with her husband, Alan Ashton, had a display of quilts from her private collection.
Karen and Alan are my mother-in-law's neighbors. They are truly lovely people. I like to say I knew the Ashtons before they were THE Ashtons. They were just regular, but really awesome, people until he sold his software company, Word Perfect, to Novell and they became gozillionairs. Now they are just regular, but really awesome, people with means and desire to bless the community around them.

Karen refers to the Secret Garden in Ashton Gardens as "my garden". She designed it to reflect the secret garden from the book of the same name. It's fully enclosed, has a hidden entrance, and is a beautiful place to take asylum from a busy world.

Humming birds love it there too.

Do you know that a group of Humming Birds is called a "charm"?

A charm of Humming Birds was very active in the Secret Garden.

Isn't that charming?

 This video, filmed in the gardens at sunrise, shows Steven Sharp and his cello in the entrance to the Secret Garden.

Karen's presentation, I knew, would be very popular. So we made sure we arrived  early.

We were so glad we did.

When we arrived, Karen was there with a camera crew. She was just getting mic-ed up to do a filmed version of her tour.

We, and a very few others, followed the camera crew as they filmed her presentation. Because they were filming, everyone was very quiet so you could hear every word she spoke, or sang, or read.

It was such a beautiful experience. I'm so glad I was able to share it with my daughter.

The day was sunny and warm, but not hot. It was perfect weather for the humans, but it made the quilts difficult to photograph because of shadows, especially in the Secret Garden.

This quilt appeared early in the tour. It has depictions and written words of the stories and lullabies Karen shared with her 11 children when they were young.

Look at that applique border! Fabulous.

Karen only shared one quilt that she made herself.
She called it humble,

I called it wonderful.

I really wish I'd been able to get a better photo of this remarkable Sunbonnet Sue.

It's 20 blocks depict Sue at a quilt show where she's been informed that the Sunbonnet Sue concept is "done" and will never again earn an award at a major show.

Sue, determined to prove that statement wrong, proceeds to create "the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt of all Sunbonnet Sue quilts". (If you can, zoom in to see the amazing detail.)

Sue enters the quilt in the show and wins a prize.

It's based on a true story. The prize this quilt won was the peoples choice award.

Wouldn't this look great in your child's nursery.

There are so many crystals on the quilt that it shimmers.

I love Tinkerbell, all a-sparkle in the upper right corner, giving her blessing to the rest of the Fairy Tale characters.

Look at the applique on this amazing "Trip around the world" quilt. Amazing!

 And the message that Christ loves all the children, not matter which part of the world they live in, is very poignant.

This is my daughter's favorite.

Those bluebirds really are that blue.

Can't think of a good bedtime story? Maybe a Scripture Story quilt can help you out.

This may look like a painting but it really is a quilt.

Karen purchased this quilt because the girl looks like one of her grand daughters.

She said it has yet to hang in her home because each time it returns to her house it has already been requested for another show.

She called it her most traveled, most awarded and most insured quilt.

 And finally...

What good quilt show doesn't have a Haunted Quilt?

This ancient quilt has a wonderful history.

It started as a Flower Basket quilt which was then used as batting for the Drunkard's Path Quilt.

A quilt artist purchased it at an antique store where she exposed some of the Flower Baskets and patched some holes with stars.

Then she superimposed the photo of a woman from about the same era as the quilt.

That's where Karen obtained the quilt. She hung it in one of the bedrooms at the family cabin.

None of the Ashton children will sleep in the bedroom with the "haunted quilt" because the "blue lady" follows them with her eyes. Even while preparing for this exhibit, when Karen asked her daughter to retrieve the quilt, the (adult) daughter replied, "Cursed are those that handle the Blue Lady quilt."

The Garden of Quilts event was a beautiful day spent with my beautiful daughter exploring beautiful quilts.

Maybe it can become an annual event for me and my girls. I'll start saving up now.

See you next time!


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  1. RaeLyn, Thank you so much for sharing your photos, videos, and descriptions of the Garden of Quilts event. I had received an email about it, and would have loved to go. But NY was a bit too far for traveling there. I can tell it was wonderful.


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