The Latest and Greatest of Everything

Julie Yonge © 2008

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The Houston International Quilt Market and Festival is an amazing event offering every kind of “anything” that has to do with fabric, the manipulation of fabric and all things in-between. There are even “crossover crafts” such as rubber stamping, paper crafts, scrap booking, dyeing and more. I have been to the Festival part of the event many times since I live fairly close by and it is open to the public. I have had the opportunity to take classes and attend lectures from many of the top teachers and designers in the field of quilting, silk ribbon embroidery, mixed media, embellishment, etc. However, the Houston Quilt Market is a bit different from the Quilt Festival event which follows it. Market is a professional trade show open to credentialed attendees only. This was my first time to attend Market and what a time I had. As a media representative of CQMagOnline, I was quite honored to be able to attend and soak up all my senses would allow. It didn’t take long to have sensory overload, but I relished every minute. Barbara, Allie and I ventured off in many different directions to make sure we covered every aspect of the event for our readers and we will be writing many interesting and diverse articles for you throughout the year. Here is a shot of Barbara and Allie strolling to meet me after a long day at Market.

The Quilt Market offers an extraordinary opportunity to meet and attend lectures and short classes from many of today’s favorite artists in the quilting and home sewing world. Here is Lesley Riley, for example, a fiber and mixed media artist and teacher. You might know her from Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine.

photo courtesy of Kim Coffman

It is an opportunity for artists to show you new techniques, books, fabrics, tools; “the latest and greatest of everything”, that they will be offering to the public. In other words, a time for them to tickle your fancy and thoroughly entice you. They tell you to be prepared because there is a lot of territory to cover under one roof and they are quite serious. They have a saying at Market "fashion stops at the knees!" In other words, wear comfortable, supportive shoes to keep a spring in your step. Besides the classes and lectures that are offered, there are special exhibits and hundreds of exhibitor booths. The following photos show about half the distance on the second floor as I am going to an early morning Festival class, how busy the halls were during Market classes and the lunch line on Market class day.

During Market and Festival they have special exhibits in which more than 2,000 quilts, dolls, pieces of fabric and wearable art are on display to give one enjoyment and inspiration. They are sponsored by great companies and industry leaders, who contribute financially and even provide sewing machines for classes. It is a great time for anyone who is thinking about purchasing that certain machine or tool, to talk to representatives, see the work of others using that particular machine or tool, and have time to actually use it. What is especially nice is that the range provided at Market and Festival classes, lectures, exhibits and exhibitors, is from novice/beginner all the way to extremely advanced/professional. There is definitely something for everyone.

Another impressive thing to me is how organized and prepared they are at the George R. Brown Convention Center for this event; everything from supplies to security and first aid. They have a supply store on site in case you forget anything you need for classes you are taking and you can even rent those hard-to-pack items such as rotary mats and rulers. They have departments and booths in the office/education area upstairs to help with class enrollment and questions of any kind. The Press Room was a delight.

Here you had time to sit, have a beverage, read, organize your thoughts, get any additional information you needed and rest your tired feet. This picture shows Allie and Barbara organizing their priorities for a long day of perusing exhibits and attending lectures. Bob Ruggiero, Director of Publications and Public Information was an excellent host for all the media representatives and kept things running smoothly. Sorry the photo is a bit fuzzy; Bob was always on the move!


There is valet parking and there are shuttle buses from official Festival host hotels to help attendees. It is just amazing how at home and safe they make you feel at the George R. Brown during these events. There are even people on hand to give massages from head to toe to help make your days more relaxing and enjoyable after a long day on your feet.

After Market, I returned to attend Festival and some personal classes of interest. There is just so much to learn, the world of quilting and home sewing is changing all the time and what fun it is to explore!

One more item of note, Karey Bresenhan, founder and director of this 34th edition of the show noted: “….I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of younger faces roaming the vendor and exhibit aisles. I think the 20-and-30 somethings are beginning to explore their artistic sides through quilting, fabric, embellishment and related home décor projects”. I personally am so happy to see this trend, I want to see all these wonderful treasures and techniques passed down from generation to generation.

Festival floor with booths, photo courtesy of Kim Coffman

Artemis Hannah Silk Ribbon class, photo courtesy of Kim Coffman

Connie’s (the Fibergoddess and Diva Cord Maker inventor) booth with Barbara Blankenship

Class with Shiva Paintsticks

Piles of lace

Viewing quilts, photo courtesy of Kim Coffman

Quilt of Belonging

Many of us who love the crazy quilting world love to jump in to those special projects where each of us creates a part of the whole. In other words, we each create a block and then they are all brought together to make a quilt, wall hanging, journal, or other piece of endearing “art from the heart”. The Quilt of Belonging is such a piece. This was on display at the Houston Quilt Show and to be honest it absolutely took your breath away.  The entire piece measures 10 feet, 6 inches high and 120 feet long. Different artists participated to make handmade textile art blocks representing every nationality on the planet and native Aboriginal group found in Canada. The initiating artist was Esther Bryan and she continues to direct the project.

photo courtesy of Kim Coffman

The Houston International Quilt Festival was proud to be the quilt’s first U.S. venue. There were special challenges faced in order to get the quilt shown as it was meant to be with its own unique hanging system, but Vicki Mangum and her special exhibits team., were able to handle those with ease so that HIFQF attendees could view the quilt as one glorious piece of textile art.  For more information on this spectacular quilt, visit Photos in this article marked as such, are courtesy of Kim Coffman, well known in Houston , and they were provided to us courtesy of Bob Ruggiero, Director of the Publications and Public Information for the International Quilt Market and Festival. All others taken by Julie O. Yonge, Staff Writer, CQMagOnline.

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