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.
I am not affiliated with any of these groups or companies; I just like to share good finds.
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.”)
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
So, did you see any quilts? You really need to go back and see more.
Really, I only saw the SAQA ones, which were interesting, and some British antiques. I would like to go back, but my husband had to go out to our other property to fix a roof that fell in in a big storm, so I won’t get there this year. And I find I am pretty happy just to look at things online.
Geeze, that place would make your head explode!! As well as your charge card 🙂 Love the handwoven fabrics. Glad you got to go. We just had snow! Not to last.
Yes, the charge card may have had a little meltdown. That’s what I get for not going last year — all my spending proclivities were pent up! 🙂
Deep, deep envy… I live a very, very long way from the nearest city to have any kind of quilt exhibition, let alone one as comprehensive as Houston. I don’t travel well because of a damaged back, and to be honest, the household budget will run to fabric (yay!) but not to air travel for an exhibition (boo!) that I wouldn’t be able to take full advantage of because I couldn’t stand and walk long enough. So I’ll just have to carry on enjoying it vicariously through the reports of other people. Thank you 🙂
You really got me thinking about a version of “geography is destiny.” How much of the way I quilt is due to the fact that I do go to International Quilt Festival almost every year?
My great-grandmother made tied quilts with large pieces of sample fabrics, and we were always taught that they were very special, so I think I would have done some quilting, no matter where I lived, but probably not to the degree I do now.
And then I started wondering how you got into quilting. Have you ever done a post on your quilting origin story? If so, can you send me the link?
I sympathize about the back troubles. But if you ever do come into a lot of money and decide to fly over, they have motorized scooters! 🙂
I think my relative isolation from an organised quilting community has affected how I think, create and work in my quilting life, and for the better, maybe. I’ve always been able to sew, but the need to create quilts really took hold in my 40s. I’ve never done a class or found a group I enjoyed, so I create in splendid isolation except for the wonderful blogging community. It means I had to find things out for myself, and do things other quilters wouldn’t, but the results have been interesting.
I’ve never posted on how it all began, because it kind of crept up on me!
And if I ever win the Lottery, the Husband and I will go everywhere by ship so I can lie down at need, and I’ll definitely zoom around on one of those scooters! (Not as much fun as our motorbike, but much safer for the world at large…)
Even though I could join lots of groups, I prefer to learn things for myself too, even if I learn the hard way. Now finally I am reading some instruction books and taking some Craftsy classes — now I can understand what the instructions are referring to.
I hope I gave you a post idea to write about how you got into quilting! 🙂
Geography is destiny in quilting. What a thought… But of course it’s true. I’ve often bragged about having about 20 quilt shops within an hour (or so) of my home. How would I work differently if there were fewer? If I knew no other quilters in person? Wow, what a lot to think about there.
I know! I can go to IQF every year and actually see Eleanor Burns working her booth, or Kaffe Fassett explaining his latest line. It makes me think of them as real working people instead of just celebrities. I can see actual historical books of Japanese indigo samples ($1000, if you’re thinking you might like to pick one of those up), and stacks and stacks of antique African indigo cloth and raffia cloth, rolls of Hmong applique, and carved Indian printing stamps for sale. I don’t know that these experiences have shaped my quilting — but they should!
Sounds like you had a grand time! One of those times where you are floating from place to place with happiness.
It would have been wonderful to float over the crowds. 🙂 It turns out I am amazingly efficient at moving through groups when my goal is gathering quilting supplies. 🙂
I haven’t had the pleasure of going to Houston but maybe next year! I’ve been to the AQS show a few times when it was in Des Moines, and that was a big operation. Also the IQF show near Chicago once. Otherwise I haven’t had chances to go to some of the big shows. Maybe I need to plan a year of just going to shows and workshops… But then I wouldn’t have time to actually make anything. 🙂
Just think how inspired you would be!
And probably, also how broke. The year after your “Big Year” of quilting, you would stay home and produce double to make up for it. 🙂
Such wonderful goodies. One of these days I will make it to there. Thank you for the sneak peek into the Festival.
It is an amazing event, I hope you get to go!
Wow – I loved seeing all your goodies from the Houston show! When I lived in Houston I did not quilt so I would have never thought of going. Now all these years later I keep meaning to go but have not.
I hope you can come down for the show sometime!
And I hope you look at that SAQA show Dusk to Dawn on line — texture and nontraditional fabrics are all the rage — one quilt even has toy cars sewn onto the surface!
That sounds so cool and creative! As a SAQA member I need to enter one of those shows sometime!
And then I will stand in front of it and say, “I knew her when… I was the one who suggested she should use blue fabric right there…” etc etc. 🙂
I wish – ha! 🙂
You made very good use of your three hours and I’m looking forward to seeing some of your purchases appear in your quilts. I’ve never been to a quilt show, apart from a couple of more general sewing village hall type events and I don’t know any quilters in real life. I think that is why I like to blog and meet other quilters online and I’m very appreciative of you sharing the inspiration and techniques you come across 🙂
It is hard for me to even imagine, not knowing other quilters. I started as a weaver, which is much more rare around here, but even then, I had a big vibrant guild to belong to.
But your artistic voice is so strong, I wonder if that’s because you are more isolated, so you don’t jump on every little idea going around that you might see in a group setting. Like for me, I might be working on a log cabin quilt, and thinking “what if I…” but then I go to quilt group and see stripy quilts or bug applique or something and go, “oh, I want to try that!”
Goodness what treasures you came home with! I can only imagine the sensory overload of a show like that.
On a different note, I am very much enjoying your archives – complicated life situation just now and being able to escape into your lovely images and research rabbit holes is so helpful – thank you for your efforts over the years.
I am sorry that you have reason to need an escape, but glad you are finding it here! With the current events and atmosphere in the world, I often question whether I should even be writing at all on such a light subject, but then I think of the times I have gladly found escape in other places.
And just in case you would like some other escapes, here are some of my favorites: 1) the Doodlewash site — it is about watercolor painting, and everyday Charlie does a little watercolor and a short positive post, and he also has a lot of diverse guest artists. I linked to one of my favorite posts rather than his home page. 2) Wild Fibers magazine – just published once a year now, but always incredibly fascinating, about fiber animals and people in remote areas — I buy back issues and keep a stash to bring with me to hospital vigils. Right now I only see 2 issues available on their website, but the website itself is a good spot to browse. 3) Piecework magazine from Interweave Press– all kinds of phenomenal textile pieces, their history, and even how to reproduce them! Available in print and e-versions.
And if there is any specific topic you would like to know about, please let me know! 🙂
Wow! That was quite a haul in your short time at the show! I look forward to seeing what you do with all that!
I usually do a year’s worth of shopping at that one show — but I didn’t go last year, so I had to do two years’ worth! This is supposed to be a cold, wet winter, so hopefully I will have time to sit down and experiment with all those supplies. 🙂
I love the fat quarters from SAQA … fabrics are so much fun to browse!
Hey Jane! I have been using an exercycle while watching Youtube videos of bike trips! I got that idea from you, and I think gratefully of you for writing about that!
Hi. Great! It’s an interesting way to pass the time as you cycle. I was looking over the drawings and paintings I did just the other day and I swear I have ‘memories’ of my trip through France! I am still cycling and my new way of passing the time is to edit the book I am working on. Time flies by!
It must be the time of year. I am at the edit stage in all my projects and I struggle through a chapter a day. I think allowing diversity into life, and letting life unfold rather than following the programmed lines is helpful if not healing.
We had also a quilt festival. Here the second part of my two posts.
Quilt show 2
Have a wonderful day!
I spent a lot of time looking at both posts on your quilt show — it was enjoyable and inspiring! Thank you for the link!