5+ Spectacular Can’t-Miss Quilts From the AQS Paducah Show

May 3, 2024

I love that every quilt show has its individual flavor, shared with us through the way organizers establish categories and how entries are juried and judged. A quilt that wins at one show may not even get accepted into the next, creating a scenario where each quilt has a new opportunity to stand out in every show it is exhibited in.

At the recent American Quilter’s Society (AQS) show in Paducah, Kentucky, an array of quilts spanning traditional, art, and modern designs were included. Today, I’m privileged to share five exceptional quilts from the AQS show that are not to be missed, along with a bonus quilt that deviates from my usual selection criteria for this type of post.

5+ Must-see quilts from AQS Paducah in 2024

How I select the quilts to feature

Narrowing down my selections was tricky because there were so many fantastic quilts to choose from this year, and many of them were new to me. When choosing quilts, I try to:

  • Avoid quilts that have won awards. You are much more likely to see award-winning quilts elsewhere on the Internet or in print publications. (Breaking this rule is how a bonus quilt got into this post!)
  • Include quilts that I have yet to profile in previous show wrap-up posts.
  • Make sure to include different construction and design styles.

A note on photography

AQS shows are set up in a cubby format with a chain across the front. This format helps to protect the quilts, but it also means that the quilts on the sides always get photographed at an angle, and the quilt in the back frequently doesn’t get a high-quality detail image, especially since convention center lighting is notoriously poor quality. I will do a small amount of color correction (with varying degrees of success) to the photos I take, but in this situation I do very little correction to make quilts look square because I usually can’t tell if I am causing additional distortion since I haven’t seen most of these quilts straight-on.

The arrangement of show quilts in the upstairs room of AQS Paducah in 2024

5 Can’t-Miss Contest Quilts From AQS Paducah 2024

An Artist’s Eye

By Peg Normandin

Category: Small Wall Quilts- 1st Entry in an AQS Paducah Quilt Contest

What I love about the quilt:
  • It boasts a simple color scheme with high contrast.
  • Striped motifs are balanced between regular and improvisational to create a sense of aerial perspective.
  • An effective combination of irregular curves and straight lines develops depth in the composition.
An Artist’s Eye by Peg Normandin
Detail of An Artist’s Eye by Peg Normandin


By Miyoko Watanabe

Category: Wall Quilts- Stationary Machine Quilted

What I love about the quilt:
  • Improvisationally constructed circles include a wide range of fabrics and circles within the circles that fall in wonderfully unexpected places.
  • Piecing activates the quilt’s background and combines beautifully with the broken yellow lines, guiding the viewer’s eye around the composition.
  • Dense, irregular quilting around each of the large circular forms in a mix of coordinating threads creates a fuzzy feeling, blurring the edges of the pieced form into the background piecing of the quilt.
Matchless by Miyoko Watanabe
Detail of Matchless by Miyoko Watanabe

Any Which Way

By Charles Cameron

Category: Small Wall Quilts- Quilter’s Choice

What I love about the quilt:
  • Improvisational piecing includes riffs on traditional patchwork and linear elements, creating a composition that dances across the quilt’s surface.
  • A combination of machine and hand quilting, including embroidery stitch motifs, creates a beautiful play on historic crazy quilts.
  • The quilt’s irregular edge embraces the overall design’s improvisational roots.
Any Which Way by Charles Cameron
Detail of Any Which Way by Charles Cameron


By Betsy Kulamer

Category: Small Wall Quilts- 1st Entry in an AQS Paducah Quilt Contest

Inspired by: Double Wedding Ring Quilts- Traditions Made Modern: Full Circle Sketches from Life by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, C&T Publishing/Stash Books, 2015.

What I love about the quilt:
  • Combining curved and straight corners creates a feeling that the composition could continue well beyond the borders of the quilt
  • Peach, orange, and the complementary teal create a dynamic color palette. A color palette featuring peach was well ahead of its time since contest entries were due two months before Pantone announced Peach Fuzz as the color of the year for 2024. 
  • Mixing quilting motifs and densities allows different areas of the quilt to poof out and recede. I’m particularly drawn to the line of dense linear free-motion quilting, rounding the piecing from the top of the quilt to the bottom.
River/Rocks/Fire by Betsy Kulamer
Detail of River/Rocks/Fire by Betsy Kulamer

Witch Forest

By Kyoko Ochiai

Category: Large Quilts- Stationary Machine Quilted

What I love about the quilt:
  • The scale of the appliqué drew me into this quilt and brought it to an immersive level. While most appliqué is done at a small scale to show off precision techniques, the large scale of this quilt (80″x 82″) creates an environment that encompasses you as you approach the quilt.
  • A mix of fabrics, including bold prints and text fabric in the background that initially appears solid, adds interest to the design both from a distance and as you approach the quilt.
  • Hand embroidery and embellishments are skillfully used to accentuate and enhance the overall composition.
Witch Forest by Kyoko Ochiai
Detail of Witch Forest by Kyoko Ochiai

Bonus Quilt!


By Barbara Triscari and Christine McCann

Category: Small Wall Quilts- Quilter’s Choice

This was one of my favorite quilts in the show, so even though it won an award, this post didn’t feel complete without including it.

What I love about the quilt:
  • Improvisational piecing flows across the quilt, harnessing the feel of water that is further accentuated by the linear quilting that moves closer together and apart again as it moves over the surface of the design.
  • Unexpectedly incorporating other colors, particularly red, adds a living element to the design, allowing the viewer to imagine what object above or below the surface is causing that reflection.
  • Hand seed stitch quilting creates additional density and texture variation in the quilt, accenting where waves meet before melding into one another.
Convergence by Barbara Triscari and Christine McCann
Detail of Convergence by Barbara Triscari and Christine McCann

Do you want to enter a quilt? Here’s some exciting News!

These were six of my favorite quilts at the show this year, but I could easily add a dozen (or two or three) to this list. With over 400 contest quilts at the show, it was easy to find a lot of quilts to love.

If you’re inspired to enter a quilt, there is still time to do so in the final show of the AQS season. AQS Lancaster entries are due May 9, 2024.

The 2025 AQS Contest Rules are now available, and there are changes, so read everything carefully before entering. The most exciting change for me is that every show has a Modern category! I can’t wait to see all the fantastic modern quilts featured in each show.

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  • Reply
    May 3, 2024 at 8:25 am

    Thanks for taking us along on your trip to the show. Once again, your insights are thought provoking and inspiring. I love to read your reviews and look for them after each show.

  • Reply
    Marie S Spodek
    May 3, 2024 at 8:26 am

    I really enjoy reading your posts. Thank you for identifying specific features and highlighting what “works.”

  • Reply
    Michelle Pandzik
    May 3, 2024 at 9:06 am

    Thank you so much for your time, insight, and selections. I could not attend Paducah this year so very much appreciate your summary. I hope your vendor experience went well Cassandra.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2024 at 11:20 am

    Oh, wow! Thank you for posting these fabulous quilts! I too, love your insight and choices to share with us. I especially like the Witch Forest. Mind blown!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2024 at 1:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing these.
    I grew up in Paducah & quilting has been a part of my life for many years. My kin did quilts long before my Mom (b 1946) was a glimmer in her mother’s eye. (b1926) 😆
    It is very interesting to see what is popular ‘back home’.
    And… it might be an unpopular for me to say, but I actually don’t care for these color choices or many of the subjective layouts.
    The workmanship is extraordinary!
    I appreciate the quality, the time, efforts, and the perfection of each stitch.
    However, several I find visually unappealing.
    Washed out.
    Or- conversely- too much an eye strain- where they look like optical illusions from grade school science books… which I find a bit ‘much’.
    Unenjoyable to look at.
    Lacking any comfort.
    Not anything I want to touch or wrap myself in… and mehhh… that becomes more… utilitarian? Or perhaps… technical? It loses something – for ME- with this.
    Of course, I remind myself that it means that quilting is bringing in new people and expanding into different territories.
    Like all art forms, it is meant to have different phrases and trends, right? It’s the equivalent of modern- art- meets-fast-fashion.
    I am happy that young people are excited about this and if this is what they would like to make, I say- they should make every one of them exactly as their heart desires! ☺️
    I will remain impressed for their technical skill and use of it. It will sadden me on some level as I’m afraid fabrics will likely cater to these trends and I’ll be forced to buy ugly fabric by default.

  • Reply
    Betsy Kulamer
    May 3, 2024 at 3:47 pm

    Wow! Thank you for including my quilt in your post! It makes my day because you called out exactly the things I was most trying to achieve. It is so encouraging to be noticed.

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