Chocolate, symbolism, polka dots at this weekend’s quilt show

"Table Scraps" by Roberta Walker

The San Francisco Quilters Guild’s biennial show is back and ready to prove needle arts are alive and kicking – and not just in grandma's eyes. The exhibit will cozy up the Concourse Exhibition Center this Sat/9 and Sun/10 with a display of over 400 quilts.

Twenty quilts made by members of the Israel Quilters Association comprise a special exhibition dealing in the symbolism of daily life in Israeli society through textile. Former film costumer and seasoned quilter Eleanor Dugan will be showing off the elaborate dot motifs characteristic of her work. Pieces by this year’s two featured artists Laura Lee Fritz, and Roberta Walker will also be on display exhibiting a fresh spin on classic techniques. 

The show will also include a special exhibit on wearable art as well as two quilting challenges, a SFQG tradition that goes out to members prior to the biennial so that completed challenge quilts can be on display through the weekend. For this year's challenges, the guild gang designed 20-inch square quilt based on the theme "chocolate." Others crafted from two required fabrics designated by the challenge committee, creating pieces that celebrate the guild’s 30th anniversary.

Roberta Walker is a longtime member of the SFQG, but this is the first year she has been selected as a QUILT San Francisco featured artist – and she has a pretty good idea what has helped earn her spotlight.

“What I do as a quilter that’s different from other quilters is, I am very involved in the Japanese stitchery called sashiko,” she tells the Guardian. Sashiko is a big running stitch that can be seen in Walker’s pieces made from Japanese fabric as well as in her quilts crafted from more conventional materials – the combination of which is Walker’s own adaptation of the technique. 

“I think that’s why people really like my quilts,” Walker explains. “I’ve put a different spin on them by doing that stitching. That has sort of been my specialty. In fact, people go to quilt shows and they say they don’t even have to look at the name to see whose quilt it is, they know [it's mine].”

Twenty of Walker’s pieces will be on display this weekend. Featured artists will conduct twice-daily walkthroughs of their quilts.

The Quilters Guild biennial requires almost a year of planning. In other words: prepare your eyes.

“People walk into our show and they sort of gasp,” Walker says. “When you see that many quilts hanging, it’s overwhelming.” 

"Quilt San Francisco"


Concourse Exhibition Center

635 Eighth St., SF