Tattoos at QuiltCon

For some of you that title might seem strange. For others totally normal.

Below are just a few of the tattoos that were received while in Austin attending QuiltCon. Not all of them are sewing related, but a few are.

Here are their stories. Thanks to all the people who sent their photos and stories (multiple times).

A little History… I got the left bracelet when my oldest daughter was 1 1/2… Her name is Olivia Rose… I got the right bracelet when my second daughter was about 1 1/2… Her name is Violette Grace… so I thought it was a great idea to add their names to my wrists… I was putting stuff on my wrist as it was healing and Vivi says to me, “mom I don’t want my name to rub off!”…. I told her not to worry it will never go away…. she loves it so much!

Now in Portland I need to get something for my boy….



I actually wanted a tattoo when I was in Kansas City for International Spring Market 2012 – but a good friend of my (Colleen) said I couldn’t get a tattoo if I didn’t do my research; basically you can’t walk into a random place to get one.  The idea was tabled for the next city…which was Austin during QuiltCon.  Marci and I were planning our tattoo outing while in Austin.  Luckily she did all the research on where to get it (asking a cute waitress where she got hers).

The reason I got a Hello Kitty tattoo was completely childish.  I’m a huge Hello Kitty fan and the older I get the less I can sport Hello Kitty without embarrassing the kids, hubby, or whoever I’m with.

I really liked how it turned out. . I don’t know if I would get another one, mainly because I don’t know what I would do next.
no b hello-1

What & Why?
Well, I had been thinking about this particular tattoo (my first one!) for quite some time! I knew any tattoo I got would have to be bright and colorful, and I really wanted it to be representative of color in general.  A regular pigment color wheel just wasn’t  bright and happy enough for me, so I happened upon the light spectrum color wheel (primary colors are red, green and blue (you see I took some liberty there) and secondary colors are cyan, magenta and yellow.  And when you mix all the light colors together, you get white!  It also has some spiritual meaning for me (white light and the trinity and all that).  In any case, I got this long planned tattoo in Austin to really permanently “mark” the time and my QuiltCon/Modern Quilting experience.  Quilting has become such an integral part of my life and I had such a wonderful time at QuiltCon…it was just the right time.  And I LOVE it.  I’m already planning my next one!

It all started on the plane. I’m not even sure who mentioned the word tattoo first – Amber or Monica I think – but before you knew it, we were all on board! I have been wanting more tattoos for quite awhile but the excitement of experiencing the inaugural Quiltcon with some of your very best friends to join in the experience with you made the perfect storm. My tattoo is a little nod to the constant question of whether Craft is my real name. It is, of course. The saying has been with me for awhile to signify my little family’s crafty-maker existence in life. And now it’s also a perfect reminder of a fabulous weekend with some really great friends as well… all a part of the craft. People often ask if you’ll regret your tattoo when you’re 80. I can’t wait to say.. “We were there! It was 2013 and we went to Austin for the first Quiltcon and got tattoos! Things were different back then.” haha! A super big thank you to Michael’s talent, professionalism and hospitality. It wouldn’t have been the same without him.

Normally when I travel I get a new piercing as a souvenir. If you ask me I can tell you exactly where I got each and every single one and I like that they each have their own story. The plan was to just get a piercing in Austin to commemorate QuiltCon but my plane/travel/hotel buddies Monica and Violet had to get all crazy on me and vote for tattoos 🙂

I’ll admit I was on the fence and still planned on getting just a new earring when Monica and I saw some amazing tattoos on our waitress while at dinner with our new friend Marci. First words out of Monica’s mouth were “Where did you get your amazing tattoos!?” Sam, our waitress, promptly pulled out Michael’s card and couldn’t say enough great things about him. Man was she right! Not only was he a perfectionist about placement and discussing concerns about your idea without making you feel like your idea was stupid, he was funny, goofy and a blast to hang out with; a truly amazing tattoo artist! I’m thrilled to have a piece of his work…I LOVE my tattoo!

After seeing our tattoo escapades on Instagram, the comment made the most was “How many beers did you guys have tonight!?!?” It seemed like tattoos on a whim, but this phrase was something I’ve been wanting to have permanently on me at some point in my life and I couldn’t think of a better time and place then with friends at QuiltCon in Austin!

I got it in Austin because I have wanted to get another tattoo for ages, but couldn’t decide what to get. Being at QuiltCon was like a lightbulb moment – duh! Of course, a sewing tattoo! And Austin is renowned for its ink. It was the perfect souvenir.

I had so much fun at Quiltcon, especially volunteering. Thanks for putting together such an amazing event!
Charlotte Newland

My tattoo is very simple. Just two circles that are representative of my husband and son.  As a fun quilty touch I asked the artist to set them “a 1/4 apart”. It’s pure quilting fate that when later measured they are the perfect scant 1/4″ apart!

I wasn’t thinking of getting a tattoo when I left for QuiltCon but when I saw everyone getting them on Instagram I instantly knew I wanted to join in. I’ve thought about getting a tattoo for years and there was something about the energy at QuiltCon that made it the perfect moment to mark.  We worked incredibly hard leading up to and throughout QuiltCon. Getting a tattoo was a great way to celebrate!

Why did I get a tattoo at QuiltCon?
I have been talking about getting a tattoo of longitude and latitude of  where I grew up for quite some time.   I even had a cuff made with the coordinates so I could test drive it before making it permanent.  All it took to get the ball rolling was a super cute waitress, Lone Star Beer, sushi, and two awesome ladies from PMQG (Thanks Monica and Amber!).
Marci Tattoo

A constant topic of conversation with my friends is discussion about “the next tattoo”.  Where to get it, what to get, “we should do it in _____”.  Talk, talk, talk.  We were even discussing it on our way to Austin, one of the best tattoo towns on the planet.  Austin being famous for SXSW, Whole Foods, tattoos (and now QuiltCon!), it was a pretty sure thing some tats were gonna happen.

Shortly after arriving in Austin and settling in at our hotel and registering at QuiltCon, we make our way over to Piranha Sushi for dinner.  We are greeted by Sammy, the cutest, sweetest, cotton candy haired, tatted and gorgeous server.  Even before we go all Texas and order some Lone Star beers, I’m mesmerized by Sam’s beautiful sleeves and ask her who did them.  Next thing I know I’m calling Sammy’s tattoo artist Michael Williams and making an appointment for us.  Yeah, phone phobic me is making a phone call!   Soon to follow are instagrams and tweets, and by the next 4 days it’s a QuiltCon party at Affinity Tattoo where Michael Williams’ makes his magic happen!

There’s something so deep and communal about getting tats with friends.  Most all of us already have tats, so it wasn’t like it was whim – more like it was the perfect storm of a great (kind, sweet, fun and talented!) tattoo artist, a rockin’ city, being with great friends (who also share a common passion).  And for the few people who got their first tats – it was like having your friends join you in this weird sisterhood.  L-inked together.
My newest tat (by Michael Williams in Austin, TX)

I have been wanting one for a long time (since my first one 13 years ago while on an archaeological dig–I was studying to get a PhD in classical archaeology–when my boyfriend at the time said “no girlfriend of mine is going to have a tatoo!” which was rather like throwing gasoline on a flame… but anyway.), but I could never settle on something that seemed to fit.  My first one was chosen from a book of Victorian wallpaper designs in 5 minutes, and just seemed right (decorative and ironic all at once).  So anyway, in Austin, my roommate Nikki had said she was wanting a tattoo and I said, “I’d be happy to go with you if you want,” which quickly translated to “I wonder what tattoo I should get?”  And in 5 minutes, I knew: I wanted Charles Rennie Mackintosh roses,  to represent my best beloveds–my husband and kids.  When Ben and I were married in 2005, Mackintosh roses featured prominently on our invitations, our homemade fans, wedding cake, and we tried to get our flowers to have the same full and round look.  Getting the tat seems perfect.  And Ben, my fella, was helping from afar as he did internet searches and read reviews for us the night we went to get one on a whim and texted us reviews, addresses, phone numbers, and more.  The three-mile-hike to the first place we went is a story all on its own…

I’ve always loved tattoos but only got my first (and second) just under a year ago. Like they say, it’s very addicting! I’ve had a few more planned for a while but the timing never seems to be quite right. When I heard of all the gals getting tattoed at Quiltcon I thought it would be so fun! Having the chance to head to the parlor with Elizabeth and Alissa (whom I adore and love and am a total fangirl for) I decided I couldn’t be left out! And I knew it had to be something stitchy, since it was really my grandest Quiltcon souvenir! Though I hardly find time to sew, I’ve always been a bit crafty and my close friends and family always turn to me for help with such things so I decided a needle and thread was the way to go – and now I’ll never be without!

Like some of the others, I hadn’t planned on getting a tattoo while at QuiltCon. But as you can see I did and I love it. I spent my time in Austin at three places, the convention center, the hotel, and the tattoo shop. It was fun seeing my friends gather around to watch the next one happen. I counted 18 people who got tattoos and most of them were at the same shop. I love looking down at my arm and seeing my tattoo. Seeing what I love to do. Seeing a reminder of the amazing time I had with old and new friends and knowing that I’ll always have the memory of QuiltCon with me.
Jen Carlton Bailly SEW Tattoo 1


I had been thinking about getting a tattoo for awhile, but I couldn’t settle on exactly what I wanted. As the instagram pics starting filling my feed during QuiltCon, I mentioned them to my friend and roomie. She instantly said that she would go with me! As I thought of design ideas, I couldn’t get the image of quilt blocks out of my head. I wanted something that had significance to me, but wasn’t overtly obvious. While we were eating dinner I decided to draw up a rough sketch of a three modern quilt blocks, to show the artist as an example. The number three seems to be a common theme in my life, and I am finally at the point in my life where I am actively pursuing quilting as a career.
I wanted the tattoo to be in a place on my body that was quite visible. I love the juxtaposition of a cardigan-wearing mom who is also rocking an arm tattoo – make it an arm tattoo of quilting blocks, and we have a winner!
In the end, I went with the original three blocks that I drafted over dinner. The artist cleaned up the blocks a bit, but left them slightly imperfect – as all things handmade should be! I had the tattoo put on the inside of my right forearm where I can see it, as can others. It also makes for a fun conversation-starter, typically about modern quilting!

25 thoughts on “Tattoos at QuiltCon

  1. Laur–You will find this hilarious. Quilters with tattoos. Not many seen, however, at the old fogie quilt guild that is in Lancaster.

  2. I love it!! I have a few tattoos from the early 80’s, had I been there in Austin I would have enjoyed getting another one.

  3. Great post! Such a fun experience! I miss you girls terribly. Amber I love your picture.

  4. I loved reading this so much – brought tears to my eyes! I’ll never forget heading to Austin with Amber and Violet – talking about tats (and making a quilt fort ON THE PLANE), and then dinner with Amber and Marci and making our way to the tattoo parlor with Violet and our little party there with Michael – and the many trips back for all the other tats friends got. I could go on and on, every person who got inked or was there with us will always be such a special to me and remembered as one of the happiest times of my life!

    Funny, I’ve read comments here and there (twitter/IG) how the tattoo parlor must have been surprised at all the quilters getting tats – because it was more like they were surprised the people getting tats were quilters. ❤

  5. Pingback: tats | amherst thread tales

  6. Perhaps this trend in the Modern Quilting movement is for the younger gals. Please tell me where the “old fogies” meet in Lancaster. I’ll get on a plane and join them.

  7. I love some of these tattoos especially the sewing-themed ones. I so love Allie’s and Mandy’s. I have my own tattoo of a lion (but it looks more like a tiger – so need to get it fixed up .. ). Thanks for sharing ….

  8. Interesting to hear why things were chose for tattoos, tho it is not for me. I’d draw one on with a Sharpie so I could change my mind. And when I am in my 70s I’m afraid what my skin will look like!

  9. Ohhh to be young again! If i had been there i would have joined in the fun…thanks for the smiles!!! lg

  10. At the age of 65, and having several tattoos, it is fun to see this younger generation carrying on with body art.

  11. This is FANTASTIC! I got my first tattoo in Nov and my 2nd one 3 weeks ago. I love how many of you have incorporated your love of sewing/quilting. Thanks for this great post!
    They all look so great!

  12. What beautiful ink, and lovely skin memories. I buried my mother yesterday, she taught me to sew, and she was so proud of my quilting. I’m thinking what to get in her memory, and for my dad, who died 98 days before her. Inspired now, thank you. PS – gave her beloved machine to my niece, who is 13 and just starting to sew.

  13. Really enjoyed this blog. I’ve been regretful
    of my tattoo for years but now I’m considering flaunting it at Quilt Market!

  14. Regretful of a tattoo for years…… that is the problem of tattoos… they are forever…. there are other ways to be creative…. that can change with the times…..

  15. I love this! I’ve been quilting since college, but never had any quilting friends. I feel like I would get along really well with you all – just another reason I’m glad I’m discovering modern quilting. I hope to join you in 2015!

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