Issue 25: Rhode Island was released to the public on January 1st, 2023, and for the first time in Quiltfolk history, a freshly printed issue was celebrated with a gathering of the amazing folks featured on her pages.
The actual party wasn’t until a few days later, on January 8th (who wants to celebrate their big day on a holiday, right?), and was hosted by Tracy Stilwell (page 64). When Tracy first told me that a party was in the works, I was nothing short of ecstatic. This was something I’d always wanted to see: all the folks we’d spent the last several months interviewing, photographing, emailing, calling, and texting—together, seeing the new release in all her glory.
“I tried to play it cool when I arrived at Tracy and Sue’s [home for the party],” Tina Craig (page 20) told us. “But I wanted to go straight to the magazine. When I opened the cover and saw my Changing Gears (2016) quilt with a two-page spread, I may have squealed! I sent copies to my adult kids. My daughter called me in tears when hers arrived. My brother texted, ‘I’m so proud of you!’ I’m 56 years old, and that still meant a lot to me.”
“[It] was funny watching people see it for the first time,” Tracy told us. “I seemed to have the only copies.” Which was true! Our publisher, Mike McCormick, kindly made sure a few copies of Issue 25 were expedited from the print house to Tracy’s, so that the new release would be there for them to see at the party (readers were just beginning to receive their copies, and we didn’t want to risk them not getting to Rhode Island in time). “Mostly,” Tracy said, “it was great to see everyone so excited and meeting each other.”
Meet-ups have occurred in smaller capacities on previous occasions, typically two or three folks from an issue happening upon one another at a totally separate event. This was different though. Sadly, I couldn’t be there myself, but I was able to send our amazing photographer, Melanie Zacek, to document the event for me. A few of these folks already knew each other. Even in bigger states, quilters find one another, so it shouldn’t have been surprising that residents of Little Rhody had met up on more than one occasion. But there was something special about seeing all the people who I’d been individually following for months, all gathered together—like introducing friends you’ve met from different walks of your life.
To be honest, sending a copy of Quiltfolk out into the world is always a bit strange. Our team and I spend months working on her, then she’s out there. Not mine anymore, but yours.
After an issue releases, we wait, as readers begin receiving their copies in their mailboxes, and eventually, the emails and social posts start popping up. We love hearing about which stories folks enjoyed reading the most, what inspired them from the issue, what they learned about that state and the makers that occupy it. And of course, we hear from our subjects, who are eager to let the world know about their features.
“[Being interviewed] initially gave me a sense of being very vulnerable,” said John Chamberlin (page 72). “To know that this is you, this is your work, this is your studio and living space. What will they think? Now, some time later, I am just so happy I agreed to participate with the publication and help create more visibility for what I do at this stage of my life, retired and approaching 80.”
“The experience of being in Quiltfolk was amazing,” Veronica Mays (page 38) told us. “I learned, however, that a photo shoot is not as easy as one might think! When the photographers (who were fabulous) would say, ‘One more shot,’ I kept thinking, ‘More?!’ I think the results are amazing. […] It was exciting, rewarding, affirming to see myself in Quiltfolk.”
This January 8th gathering added an extra special layer to that sense of excitement and recognition. The amazing makers on the pages of Issue 25 got to experience the magazine together. They were there to congratulate one another and marvel at each other’s work—the similarities, the differences—and the ways they each contribute uniquely to their quilting community. Things I’ve been marveling at for months now.
“It’s beautiful to see friends’ personalities revealed through these intimate photos and stories,” said Tina. “I’m grateful to have met more local quilters, adding to my collection! As exciting as it was to see my article for the first time, I think it was even more fun to watch other people discover theirs. When quilters gather, there tends to be a lot of talk about quilts, but we don’t always talk about how we got here. It’s always interesting to learn about each other’s backstories.”
While I know, for larger states, an issue release party won’t be a reality, seeing this one take place was very fulfilling. I was excited for the subjects to experience the new issue together—for them to see what they’d helped us create over the last several months and hold it in their hands, on paper. Each issue of Quiltfolk is really a collaboration between our team and the makers we feature. We can never say enough how much we appreciate the opportunity to go into their spaces, document their work, and share their stories with our community.
About the Author
Breanna Briggs joined the Quiltfolk team in 2016 and has worn many hats over the years. She is now the Editor in Chief of Quiltfolk magazine.