International Quilt Festival

I left town last Friday to attend the International Quilt Festival in Houston. No I don’t quilt but that doesn’t prevent me from admiring the artistry. I don’t know how many of you know about modern day quilt making but little of the work from today’s artisans resembles the scrap quilts of our foremothers. I love quilt shows, I get a real boost from the color therapy. I’ve gotten some ideas of projects I’d like to work on too. Of course I took tons of pictures of quilts, dolls, clothes and people. Here are some ladies who were stylin’. In some cases with details of their garments I found interesting.

By the way, I was beyond pleased with my models. It seems most people don’t like for you to take their pictures. All of these ladies were happy to pose for me. Okay, the lady off to the right, immediately above, wondered for a moment if I intended to make her an example of bad fashion since I mentioned I had a fashion website. Her shoes were the best. The stylin’ couple above had it down pat. What you can’t see if that even her hose was perfect (back seam, enforced heel). MIL said they looked too old fashioned. Heh.

My hands down favorite garment (some kind of contest, pardon my ignorance) was made by Tracy Anna Bader. Below is a coat she made; I thought it was great (!) but judging from the reaction of others around me, they thought I was nuts but whatever. My mother in law wasn’t too keen on it either. I’m just glad the judges thought it had some merit otherwise I wouldn’t have seen it to appreciate it. Here’s a close up of the detail. Yes, the polar fleece coat is “embroidered” in polar fleece. There’s insets too.

The concept of insets on polar fleece isn’t new. A few months after I published my book, the magazine Sew News published an article that was a copy of a chapter from my book -from content to the artwork!– substituting polar fleece for leather but otherwise it was the same. Anyway, that’s how I know this idea has been done before, not that something has to have an original technique to be meritorious.

Another outfit that also won a prize that I liked is the one below. There’s three shots of it. Check out the back of it. I was glad to see no coffin clothes here.

Here’s another garment that won, with two views showing details.

The range of quilts was beyond description. Some I post for outstanding reasons, the rest are in my online photo album. This one below measured 10″x10″. Ten Inches! It was made by George Sicilliano of 4,129 pieces. Really. The photo off to the right shows the piecing in greater detail.

Here’s another one of special mention by Marie Karickhoff, also tiny. Those little blocks you see (961 of them) are 1/8″ square. One-eighth!

There was one quilt of which the backside was just as beautiful as the front.

There were more than quilts, dolls and clothes too. Here’s a photo of an enormous shirt, the making of which was sponsored by Rowenta in support of breast cancer.

Among quilting patterns (there were lots of vendors of fabrics, gadgets and patterns), Bigfork Bay Cotton Company was a favorite. I like the new trend in quilt design that uses black as an underlay (sample).

Stuff I bought:

  • A CD of quilt photos. These were the quilts you weren’t allowed to photograph. Frankly, I have no problem buying the images ($15). I just want to enjoy the pictures (color therapy) and I’m happy to support the artisans.
  • A rag rug frame and booklet. Snicker all you like. Here’s a site that has the booklet and frames (not the manufacturer who I bought it from). The vendor was quite charming, did a great demonstration too. I’ve been wanting to make rag rugs from old jeans. I also have a 33 gallon plastic bag full of silk scraps I’ve been wanting to make into a rug.
  • I bought a four panel series with pattern and fabric complete. Tools of the trade, they’re a thimble, scissors, spool of thread and an iron. I thought if I could manage to fuse those together (the dumb bunny series for those who don’t yet quilt), they’d make great office art. I think I will stitch them down tho with a buttonhole stitch even if it’s only over raw edges. Thank goodness the standards of quilting have evolved to permit such lackadaisical construction. Yeah me! I can quilt too!
  • Lastly, I bought a vintage apron book (The Apron Book) that was being sold by the American Sewing Guild. The lady in the booth actually recognized me. How flattering.

Summary: don’t forget to see the quilt photos in my album.

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  1. Lauren says:

    Kathleen – thanks for posting the pics! I live in Houston and was unable to make it to the show – will definitely make more of an effort to clear my schedule next year. And I LOVE that polar fleece coat – it would have fit right in to the American Craft Council show I visited in San Francisco in August. Artwear hasn’t really made it to Texas yet.

  2. Lisa B. in Portland says:

    I love that girl’s pink suit! Not the color, but the details.
    I love the polar fleece coat, but I wouldn’t wear that one, but I like that it’s so detailed and colorful. The black jacket is beautiful.
    Well, I like all your other photos.
    My grandma has tons of photos from little local quilt shows she’s been to over the years. Some of them are so beautiful and complicated.

  3. Marie-Christine says:

    I shudder to think of a silk rag rug – it won’t hold up a week, unless it’s in a spot where nobody will ever step, in which case you may just as well put it on the wall, no? You could just make a quick quilt to toss on the sofa instead.

    I don’t think I’d personally wear that fleece coat either, way too ornate for me, but it’s really beautiful. And while I heartily approve of live-only clothes, I wonder what drives people to make the backside equivalent of the classic log-cabin-breastplate quilter’s vest. I’ve definitely committed sins of micro-design myself, beautiful in the detail but unwearable on the whole, it’s easy, you just need to forget to think on the global level. But quilters and weavers both are very prone to that approach, it’s really too bad that so much talent goes to waste.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I shudder to think of a silk rag rug – it won’t hold up a week, unless it’s in a spot where nobody will ever step

    :) :) …silk is ounce for ounce, the strongest natural fiber known to man. The only thing that really degrades silk is sunlight so I wouldn’t put it in the sunniest spot.

    While I love the coat, that doesn’t mean I’d wear it. I would if I had the personality to carry it off.

  5. connieb says:

    Glad you liked Sommersets outfit! She is meticulous, and dreams up some beautiful garments. Someday I am going to take my mother to the Houston show. I think next year should be my “someday”. have fun with the ragrug “stuff”. I am a great admirer of that craft- even have a wall hanging that has been half finished for way too long! I dunno about that polar fleece coat- polar fleece can look out, so soon. And the colours are so – there- in your face. Love your models!

  6. Noel Alvarez says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    thank you for posting the beautiful pictures from the quilt show – though quilting isn’t “my thing”, I can appreciate not only the artistry, but the “engineering” that must be committed and executed in order to create many of these quilted pieces.

    The folks you photographed seem so genuinely happy – I hope I’m like that when I’m their age -and I’m not that far off!

    ….and Tracy’s pink coat is amazing to look at – though I couldn’t carry off wearing it, I bet if it were scaled down to a children’s coat – it would be snapped up by the upscale boutiques in a second – at least in my neck of the woods. For a little girl’s coat, it is whimsical without being too craftsy… I just wish I had a little girl :)

  7. Leslie Wiberg says:


    I love quilt shows. I plan to attend the one in Houston “someday” myself. Quilters are fun people aren’t they. They have a unique outlook, maybe it comes from all of the color they work with. I love to quilt, but, the quilts in your pictures put me to shame.

    I really loved that 40’s (possibly) suit. Gorgeous details – maybe I will try to copy it! I just saw the unveiling of the Pink shirt at the ASDP conference in October. The Board members put it together in June. During the conference we cut up two yard pieces of that same fabric and packaged it with a pink ribbon. The packages were sold at Quilt Festival to raise funds for breast cancer research. I hope they sold all 400 packages.

    BTW, the jackets (all of them) are beautiful. I would wear the fleece one – at close to 52 years, I can get away with almost anything.

    You always post the best stuff.

  8. Bo Breda says:

    You’re right about felt with cut outs.
    When Dolce and Gabbana were first becoming well known they did a line of white felted wool coats with cut outs in a lacy pattern. Stunning. By the way, I agree with you, Tracy’s coat is a knockout! One of my students just completed showing a group of felted wool dresses with flowers on them for a Chinese Han culture design competition. Many roads to the same end.

  9. Summerset says:

    Found out via the grapevine that you’ve posted some photos of my garment, Midnight Garden! I’m glad that you liked it and enjoyed your trip to Houston. I love that pink 40’s suit and the little minks, too – great details.

  10. Tracy Anna says:

    Thank you so much for posting the photos of my “English Garden Romance” Coat… and all of the wonderful comments! I was so honored to be included as a new designer at the 2008 “Rendezvous” fashion show. Would love to meet you all at another event in the future… Kathleen, your website is fabulous… Everyone, keep up the beautiful work!

  11. Lilo Bowman says:

    Loved the photos from Houston. The gal in the boots is Sue Patten. An incredible quilter from Canada who’s quilts look like tapestries. Her boots were custom made with her quilting designs. She quilts in her studio in the woods boosted by gallons of coffee and head banger music. Check out her work sometime–it is amazing!

  12. Patty says:

    Thanks for posting the photos but not all of the winners got credit for their work. Please site all of the winners and give them credit for the hard work that they do. When are you going to post 2009 winners!?

  13. kathleen says:

    You’re right Patty, two are not cited. I don’t have their names, I wasn’t implying they didn’t work hard, no insult intended at all. But since you mention it, perhaps you could be helpful and supply the names I’m missing and correct my oversight? The only other alternative is to take down the photos entirely.

    I’m not posting 2009 winners for two reasons. One, this isn’t that kind of blog. I was a tourist, it was a one time thing. It was supposed to be fun. Two, I’ve learned my lesson and don’t need a repeat. The smaller the stakes, the bigger the fight. I have rarely gotten so much email on a post as this one. From the disgruntled who didn’t win, thought it was rigged to whatever.

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