International Quilt Festival 2018

Being that I live outside of Houston, most years I am able to attend the International Quilt Festival. However, I also drive a big pick-up truck, so driving myself downtown and trying to park is very nerve-wracking for me.  My husband can usually drop me off and pick me up, but depending on his schedule, my time inside the festival is limited.

This year, I was only going to have about three hours! Even with my navigating skills well-honed from previous visits, I knew I would only see a fraction of  the 50 quilt exhibits and more than 400 vendors! (If you click on the link above, you will see a view of the impressive vendor area.)  For the first time ever I looked up the vendor list online, and actually mapped out my path.

Plan of Purchasing.

I am not affiliated with any of these groups or companies; I just like to share good finds.

The Accustomed

There are some vendors that I visit every year. I love Second Chance Fabrics, which sells big pieces of clean, preowned fabric.  They are folded and lined up in clear envelopes, allowing easy browsing of the prints, which sell for about half of retail.  I like these pieces for the backs of lap quilts for the VA Hospital. (Although they do have a website, every item that I clicked on there said “out of stock.”)

Pre-owned fabrics I will use for quilt backing.

Another favorite vendor is Spirit of the Artisan which sells beautiful handwoven fabrics and vintage needlework from Thailand and Burma. I love their silks to put in all my art quilts. The handwoven fabric sells for about $10 a yard or less, and I use these for table toppers.  (They do not currently have a website.)

Handwoven assortment.

Detail of handwoven fabrics.


Burmese and Thai silks from Spirit of the Artisan.

The Aspirational

I am always inspired by the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) exhibits.  (This year they have two here in Houston, Metamorphosis and Dusk to Dawn, which you can see online.) They had several things for sale for fundraisers, and I picked up this lovely collection of fat quarters.

Art cloth fat quarters sold by SAQA.

The Anticipated

It seems like every year, after I have spent my budget and am actually on my way out the door, I glimpse a few more intriguing vendors.  Then I have to wait until my next visit to check into their offerings. And last year, I didn’t make it to Festival at all, so I had to wait an extra year to find these vendors!

In 2016, I bought a lot of stencils from one booth, and then on my way out, I saw a different stencil company that looked interesting. I found them this year and stocked up! Unlike traditional stencils made from sheets of thin plastic, Hancy Creations Full Line Stencils are printed on sheets of nylon, with tiny holes to allow the pounds chalk to go through to the fabric. This allows for very fine marking of quilts.

Full Line Stencils.

Close-up, showing the very fine holes in the stencil screen.

Also in 2016, I saw an interesting system for quilt-as-you-go tools being demonstrated. There was such a crowd around the booth, I couldn’t get through, and I neglected to note the company name.  I have been thinking about that technique for two years now!  Since I didn’t know the vendor name, I couldn’t find search for them in the exhibitor list ahead of time, but fortunately my abbreviated shopping path took me to their location.   I got to see Pauline Rogers give her demonstration, and bought her book and sashing tools.

Pauline Rogers’ book and sashing tool.

And this summer, I was introduced to the Just Wanna Quilt podcast and the Quilting Army by Melanie McNeil of Catbird Quilt Studio.   I looked forward to visiting their “clubhouse” in a corner of the vendor area, and had time for a cheerful and relaxing visit with their volunteers.

The Au Courant

Every year I see something new to me. This year I found a vendor selling rechargeable LED lights that fold up for easy traveling. These lights are great for workshops, because they don’t have to be plugged in. Also, where I live, we lose power quite often. So having one of these lights charged up would allow me to work on hand-stitching when I can’t use my sewing machine.

Rechargeable LED lights by ViviLux.

That vendor is Harbor Sales, Inc., and they also had rechargeable laser lights.  When they told me about those, I was thinking, why on earth would I need a laser?  And then they showed me that you can clip it to your sewing machine, and set it to shine a straight line.  The second I saw it, I realized the function — it acts as a sewing guide that floats on top of the fabric to be sewn!  No more worries about covering up the little lines etched in the metal of your throat plate as you sew.

I actually had some restraint and did not buy one of those — this year, anyway.

The Accumulation of Essentials

I spent the most time poring over the wall of thread at the Wonderfil booth.  I have to see what my new sewing machine can do with the wonders available! I bought everything from 12-weight metallic to 100-weight polyester, as well as 50-weight Egyptian cotton, and wash-away polyester thread, fusible thread, and pre-wound bobbins.

I can’t wait to experiment with all of these.

So I hardly got into the exhibit area at all, but there are so many lovely antique quilts for sale, and so many creative samples in the vendor booths, that I got a good dose of inspiration anyway.  I can’t decide which of these new treasures to play with first!