I first heard about the International Quilt Festival last year, but never made it downtown since Emma was so little and I had just gone back to work after maternity leave. I was bummed, but fortunately it’s an annual even here in Houston — and this year I wasn’t going to miss it! Jose wouldn’t have been too interested and Emma wouldn’t have cared either way, so I ended up taking Friday afternoon off work and went by myself. I stayed at the convention center for about 3 hours and could have spent a couple more — there was so much to see!
Half of the convention center was full of vendor booths overflowing with fabric, patterns, tools, and more. This part was actually a bit overwhelming — I didn’t even know where to start or what to look for so I just wandered around until it was time to head home. I did end up buying two big items though — a new sewing machine to replace my first one (which broke last week and thus provided a convenient excuse to upgrade) and a neat portable design wall. I’d been planning to make one of these, but a DIY wall wouldn’t have been portable or storable. This one is stretched on a customized frame made out of tent poles, so I can take it down and store it in a small bag when it’s not in use. Perfect! Almost all of the booths had tons of beautiful fabric to buy, but I left without anything to add to my stash since I’d already spent plenty of money on my two big ticket items. Next year, I think it’d be nice to go to the festival with a few projects already in mind, and get fabric for those.
The other half of the festival was set up sort of like an art show — except with quilts, obviously. I spend about 1.5 hours admiring all the amazing work and feeling totally inadequate with my own quilting skills! (That’s a joke…sort of.) I took a bunch of photos of my favorites:
This was a combination of quilting and embroidery — the designs in the middle of each diamond were hand-stitched and really impressive.
One of my favorite sections had several quilts based on maps — a combination of two things I love! The one on the far right was and interpretation of an aerial photograph the quilter found that confirmed her house was destroyed in a wildfire, and the plaid house squares are made from pajama bottoms that she had packed for evacuation. Wow.
I’ve had an idea percolating in my head for months to make a quilt based on aerial and/or space photography and I’m even more inspired to make that happen now.
This was perhaps my favorite of the whole show, for obvious reasons. So amazing! I don’t even know how to go about laying out something like that but I’m so impressed.
There was a section of quilts inspired by nature that I also loved. The one on the left is one of a series the quilter has done based on the aurora borealis (which I assume she often sees from her home in Canada). The one on the right referenced something called the “stained glass technique” which is easily visible. I’m going to have to learn more about that!
There were several hugely impressive photo-realistic quilts. Again, I don’t even know how you go about making something like this but WHOA. The one on the bottom left — Chihuly’s Gondola — actually won best in show and was made by a Texas woman who started quilting only 6 years ago. So hey, maybe I’ll be winning best of show in 2017??
When it comes to the type of quilt I think I could handle making myself, I’m always drawn to brightly colored and/or geometric patterns. I particularly liked the one on the upper left — a planet! yay! — and the one on the lower right based on a firework.
I loved this one too, inspired by the quilter’s husband’s work as a CAD specialist. I get excited every time I see something “soft” like quilting combined with something “hard” like engineering or other technical subjects.
These three were in different areas but all caught my eye as I walked through. The one on the left had a lot of additional embellishment — shiny threads, sequins, etc — that made it figuratively and literally sparkle. The one on the right is based on blue-domed churches in Greece.
And finally, there was a section of long, thin vertical quilts that I thought was neat. I’ve always thought of quilts as being square or rectangular, but when you start to think of them as art instead of just something functional, there are a million possibilities. I had a soft spot for the one on the left especially after reading the description — the quilter happened to sit next to an aerospace engineer on a flight, who calmed her down during some turbulence.
Lots of inspiring stuff, right? It made me simultaneously want to quit my job and sew all day…and just give up entirely, since I can’t imagine making stuff this cool. But I can try…right?