The Marquee Should Have Read: Welcome Back

Welcome Quilt Festival Houston 2013It’s such a good thing that I don’t go to Houston, Texas for the International Quilt Festival every year.  No, seriously, if I made the pilgrimage annually, I’d be in a constant state of quilting induced poverty.

As it is, I’ve certainly gone over my quilting budget for this fiscal year, and it’s highly likely that I’ve depleted my quilting fund for the next few years… yeah, that’s very probable.  It’s the last day of the festival that gets me.  The day when the vendors give fairly deep discounts so they won’t have to pack up the remaining stock and schlep it back to home base, wherever that might be (and there were all those shiny long arm machines singing a siren song).  Lucky for me I have a large stash and plenty of supplies.

vendorhallaThe photo above is just a small portion of the vendor hall, and it truly is a quilters paradise.  Does the floor look empty to you?  Good reason for that.  The photo was taken before the opening bell.  Try to imagine this with 60-odd thousand quilters in here over a four day period.

Crazy and awesome all at the same time.

It’s the perfect opportunity to stock up on all of the necessary notions, and believe me, you can find it all here: a rainbow of threads, machine and hand sewing needles for every occasion, and rulers, and gadgets, and patterns, and fabric of course.  Fabric pre-cut in fat quarters, half yards, and full yards.  Fabric on the bolt.  New fabric, hard to find fabric, hand dyed fabric.  Cottons, wools, and silks.  Classes and lectures on nearly any quilting technique that you ever wanted to learn.  Conversations being held in English with accents from assorted countries, French, Spanish, Japanese, and a few that I had an inkling about, but couldn’t identify for sure.

There was an ooh-shiny-pogoing-up-and-down-on-the-tips-of-my-toes moment every time I turned my head.  It’s nearly impossible not to return home inspired and ready to quilt… and slickly separated from your money.

But it’s worth every penny spent.


Houston, Texas Sunrise Quilt Festival 2013It was such a treat to be back in a city again.  All the people, the traffic, the noise, the restaurants, and don’t even forget the posh hotels.

Waking up early in the morning humming with the anticipation of goodies not yet seen.  Entire days filled with nothing that wasn’t quilt related.  I ate, drank, talked, slept, and breathed all things quilty.

Adult beverages and a pizza party in the hotel room in the evening because no one had any energy remaining to decide on where to eat.  For dessert?  Tumbling out each others spoils of the day so we could admire, and covet, and discuss.

I’d also like to mention that it’s some kind of treat when you wake up the next morning to the smell of leftover pizza – even though after my sister-in-law and her daughter-in-law had toddled back to their own room, I stashed all the detritus in the closet and shut the door tightly.

I’d like to send out a special note of appreciation to one who shall not be named, but whose name rhymes with Donnell, who put up with all the 50s, 60s, and other assorted classic vinyl music on the road to Houston, and who never complained once while Gracie and I sang along at the top of our not-so-tuneful lungs.  I sure hope that she’s still speaking to me.  I think she deserves a road trip name.

Did I forget anything?  Maybe a little something about the juried quilt show itself?  I won’t even try to describe the caliber of artistry there, but I will leave you with some images.  Have some fun trying to puzzle out what kind of quilting interests me.  There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to what caught my eye – as you’ll see, I was all over the board.

PicMonkey Collage1bonesPicMonkey Collage2

Block Forty-Nine: An Arc

An Arc Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceAn Arc: Bending Towards Justice, signals the end of Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  Barbara Brackman, quilt and textile historian, has generously given us a block a week for forty-nine weeks, accompanied by short history lessons focusing on women’s suffrage around the world.

Admittedly, the subject is one that fires my interest, and although women are enfranchised in many countries, voting isn’t the end of story.  We still have a long road ahead of us before we can say that we are truly on an equal footing with men, not only in the workplace, but in our daily lives.  This last bit is what helped me finish the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project in a way that I’d not imagined.

Grandmother's Choice Barbara BrackmanDuring the course of the project, I’d been busily planning the layout of my quilt, tweaking the overall concept until I was well satisfied with the design, or so I thought.  Additional fabrics were selected for the setting squares, my math was double-checked, and I settled in to begin the final step of making a quilt top.  As I progressed, my excitement faded, the quilt was not making me happy.

I tried different fabrics and values in the setting squares, but still, no happiness was forthcoming.  I persevered, sure that I had hit some kind of wall in the design process and it would work itself out by the time I was ready to add the borders.  I kept laboring on it until at last – huzzah! – the field was finished, and there it hung on the design wall.  What was my reaction?  I turned my back on it and walked away.  The quilt top was flat, bland, and uninteresting.  Boring.  Time to work out the problem without the disappointment of the unfinished quilt top staring back at me.

Capital T Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice I continued to check in on the Grandmother’s Choice Flickr group from time to time, watching as the completed quilt tops came trickling into the group photo pool.  I missed the camaraderie of our Saturday morning group.  Together, we had worked through the challenges occasionally thrown our way, applauded each other’s successes, commiserated and made gentle suggestions when we failed.

One day, I was musing and drifting, thinking about all the women we had learned about over the course of the last year, when the proverbial light bulb finally winked on.  We didn’t win the right to vote through the work of any single woman, but through the execution of the battle plans of many women working shoulder-to-shoulder to achieve a single goal.

Girl's Joy Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceThere was a large problem with my quilt, but the solution was simple – scratch the setting squares – all of that extra fabric simply made them shine out as individuals.  The blocks in my quilt needed to be set together, shoulder-to-shoulder so to speak.  You know what happened next… all of the sewing needed to be undone.

My trusty seam ripper and I became the best of friends for a time, but this has allowed me to become reacquainted with some of my favorite blocks.  Many of the instructions that Barbara gave us have found a permanent home in my pattern book to be used another day, in another quilt.

My version of the “Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights” quilt project finishes at approximately 68″ x 79″ – or 172.7cm x 200.6cm.