Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Intl Quilt Festival (IQF), Houston Day One

International Quilt Fest, Day One

I arrived in Houston, excited and ready to go. My plane was late, and I missed most of the sampler, but I didn’t care. I was at the QUILT FESTIVAL! I got the lay of the land, and I have to say: I’ve been to a number of conferences, and I’d gone to Chicago earlier this year. I wasn’t expecting anything to wow me. Chalk it up to being a cynical NYer, where the unusual is normal. Let me say it now: WOWEEE! I couldn’t get a picture of the floor, because the flash would have bounced off the glass, but this was simply unbelievable. Somewhere on this blog, I’ll post some tips I learned the hard way, (or sometimes the easy way), or from other attendees.

I will say this. To a person, the people I met were friendly and courteous. The Houstonians, who had to deal with a World Series on top of Quilt Fest, on top of Hurricane Katrina, were always helpful and not one was anything less than welcoming. The people I met, even those I hit with my big bags, smiled, and were understanding. Now don’t get me wrong. With that many people, some folks were bound to be a little short, particularly those in that Bernina bag line. For the most part, everyone was caught up in the excitement. One of the first persons I met was Joan, from Lake Charles, LA. Despite some damage to her home, and her son losing most of his possessions, Joan was able to smile and laugh, happy to be in Houston. She’d been to Houston six times, and her roommates were actually people that she’d met from all over the country. She gave me the date for next year’s Hilton reservations: November 12, 2005, 9:30 a.m. I saw her several times that afternoon.

My first event was a lecture by Lesley Riley, Making Time for Making Quilts. Her expertise is in image transfer. She must be an expert at making time. Lesley has SIX KIDS. I enjoyed this session. Because they were simple and practical, her tips made sense, and I’ll try to implement some of them when I get home. Sorry, but sharing them would infringe on her intellectual property rights. You can find some of them in her articles in Quilting Arts. Her website is

By the time Teresa and Carol arrived, I had scouted out the places they needed to go to get registered and such, as well as gotten the lay of the land. The exhibit hall opened at 5 p.m. giving us a little breather. I wanted to do a quick quilt tour and then some serious window shopping in preparation for my spending spree, but when I saw that I couldn’t get close to the $10,000 best of show quilt, I went to Plan B. I started with the vendors that I knew: Djema Imports (in conjunction with Cultured Expressions), Batik Timbal, and African Folklore Embroidery. From there I made a note of any booth I passed that I wanted to return to, and collected lots of literature. I was intrigued by the many bright yellow Bernina bags I saw, and wondered how to get one. Teresa was not as restrained, and did quite a bit of shopping as well. Because of the restrictions, I did not take any photos of vendors booths…they’re very touchy, and rightfully so. It was a rare event that you found a vendor who sold something exclusively. We had another reason to be happy. Having taken a hand-dyeing workshop with a fellow guild member, artist Patricia Montgomery, we weren’t going to buy a ton of hand-dyes. In fact I had said that I wasn’t going to purchase any fabric at all, but I softened that by saying that I’d only buy exceptionally beautiful fabric. I kept my bargain, for tonight at least.

What can I say? With nearly 600 vendors, we lost our minds! We didn’t even get through the entire vendor court this evening. We did, however, make one goal: to speak with every African American person we saw, and let them know we were part of a Yahoo! group that was meeting on Friday at 1 p.m. This evening, we probably saw 20 people or so.

If I wasn’t so tired (nearly 40 straight hours awake, with only a plane nap in between), I would go through the few things that I purchased this evening. We crashed at Teresa’s sister’s beautiful home, 15 minutes from the GRB (George R, Brown Convention Center). I can’t wait for tomorrow. The photo below is Teresa & Carol.

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