It’s hard to believe it was already my 4th year of enjoying a day at the International Quilt Festival, but it was, and that’s exactly what I did on Friday! I met my friend Jenn downtown just before the doors opened at 10:00. We walked up and down every single aisle on the vendor side — something I hadn’t ever done before just because there are 20+ aisles. My only purchase this year was a full set of rulers from Robin Ruth Design to make up to a 32-point mariner’s compass block. That block has been on my quilting bucket list from the start, and her rulers let you make them more easily with strip piecing. (Her show deal included a free pattern. She has a pattern called “For Elon” inspired by her daughter going to work at SpaceX, so OF COURSE I chose that one.)
After wrapping up our shopping, we finished the day by checking out many of the incredible quilts on the show side. Here are some of my favorites from this year:
Nancy’s Closet by Kathryn Wright
This was one of the first quilts I saw when I walked in, and I loved all the colors and triangles. This was the result of a year-long Flying Geese exchange with the quilter’s officemates. Maybe if I teach my coworkers to sew we could do this…? Ha!
Esfahan by Megan Farkas
Every time I see an intricate tile pattern, my brain starts trying to turn it into a quilt pattern. But my brain never imagines anything this intricate because I can’t even fathom the amount of work that must have gone into this gorgeous quilt! It was hand appliqued and hand quilted and I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
Celestial Sedona by Norma Ippolito; Krackle Eins by Cheryl Sleboda
Hand applique in general caught my eye quite a bit this year, perhaps as a result of taking my similarly themed class with Carolyn Friedlander last week. The quilt on the left was full of gorgeous colors and took 3 years to complete! The one on the right was inspired by comic books — the design represents outer space, energy and power.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a few of 2014’s astronomical quilts back on display this year, including the one featuring the block that Karen Nyberg made as a crewmember on the International Space Station. They were joined by a space suit from the Hope 1 art project, a cooperation between NASA and patients at the MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital here in Houston.
Top Row: Apollo 6 by Linda Syverson Guild; Leaving Home: Launch of the Apollo 8 by Tanya Brown; Descartes Highlands, Apollo 16 by Marijke van Welzen
Middle Row: Earthrise by Ruth White; Last Quarter Moon by Ricki Selva; Window Into Space by Carole Nicholas
Bottom Row: Colonel James Irwin by Karol Kusmaul; Lunar Rover by Linda MacDonald; Moonlight in Vermont by Kate Themel
Continuing with the space theme, there was also a whole section of small quilts inspired by the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing (which was in 2014) called “Fly Me to the Moon.” Needless to say, I loved every single one of them.
Moon Connection by Gayle Simpson
Not to be outdone, there was also another moon quilt in a different section inspired by “rusted bed springs and computer printouts of monthly moon phases from November 2015 through February 2016.” Those four months were significant in the life of the quilter, and I love the way she has memorialized that time period.
Jungle Love by Sheila Frampton-Cooper; Rosita by Cecilia Koppman
As usual, quilts that are bright and colorful stand out even from across the hall. The quilt on the left is an abstract take on wildlife and exotic plants. The quilt on the right was made from striped shirts found at thrift stores and if you look closely, you’ll spot a few tags and pocket embroideries that were left intact. What a fun, creative reuse of fabric!
La Passacaglia by Tula Pink; Annie Stars by Kamie Murdock
There was a large section of millefiori quilts, and several in particular of the La Passacaglia pattern by Willyne Hammerstein. (You may recall that I’m working on one of my own. I have about 3 rosettes done and I started 2 years ago, so I call it my 20-year project! Heh.) The one on the left by fabric designer Tula Pink is credited with starting the craze. The one on the right is one I’ve seen on Instagram and was happy to see in person.
Cotton Sophisticate by Chawne Kimber; Sunburst by Yvonne Fuchs
I’d also admired these two quilts on Instagram, and enjoyed seeing them in real life. I always admire Chawne Kimber‘s amazing small piecing, and Yvonne’s beautifully simple quilt inspired by streaks of sunlight as seen underwater was hanging in the Modern Quilt Guild showcase.
Mini quilts by Carolyn Friedlander, Matthew Boudreaux, Nicole Daksiewicz and Tara Faughnan
There were also many familiar names in the display celebrating Robert Kaufman’s Kona color of the year: Highlight. I must admit that I really do NOT like this color…but I did like the design on many of these mini quilts. It’s also interesting to realize how much Instagram plays a role in the quilting community these days. I might not be familiar with any of these quilters if I wasn’t following them online.
Festive Lantern by Jin Dong and Liqian Li
This quilt featuring festival lanterns was one of my very favorites. The colors were so perfect, and the lanterns literally looked like they were glowing thanks to clever use of mesh around each of the lanterns. It was just gorgeous.
Head 7 by Diane Siebels
This quilt was really unique and featured a technique I’d never seen before. The stripes on the head silhouette were made by strips of fabric that were then tacked down with vertical stitches with thick, heavy weight thread. It was really cool, and the colorful thread also added extra dimension to the black background. This quilt was meant to evoke humans merging with “the constant influx of data that has become so much a part of our lives” and I think it does that really well.
Quahadi by Marla Kay Yeager; Vertigo by Elaine Wick Poplin
One of the very best things about the quilt festival is the sheer variety of quilts on display, so I’ll wrap things up with these two from totally opposite ends of the spectrum. The one on the left took 5 years to make from concept to completion — 6 months for the quilting alone — but the end result is well worth it. I tend to be someone who looks for projects I can start and finish in a relatively short period of time, but this kind of work makes me feel like there’s a lot to be gained from long-term projects. The one on the right is just fun, and reminds me that you really can turn just about anything into a beautiful quilt.
Till next year, Quilt Festival!