A Great Day at the Houston International Quilt Festival

"So Much Thread"--Anything that a quilter needs or is willing to spend some money on can be found at the Houston International Quilt Festival.

This morning’s air was crisp and clean and the outside temperature was 39 degrees when I got up to let Annie out for the first time.  The rest of the day didn’t disappoint with a cool tinge cutting any heat that the sun might try to make.

A close-up of one of my favorites

It was just the kind of day to head back into town to the George R. Brown Convention Center to take in the Houston International Quilt Festival, which every fall brings quilts and quilters from all over the country and parts of the rest of the world into the Bayou City.

Another close-up, another favorite, of course

My machines still sit idle on the tables right behind where I’m sitting now.  It seems like since I moved into my own home, other household tasks or the lawn and garden pull me towards them rather than any fabric project.  However, perhaps all the designs and colors of the quilts I saw today will get me inspired.  This year, more than the last few, more of the quilts seemed to be of the traditional type rather than the “artsy” ones, though there certainly were enough of both to check out before the legs started to get weary and the stomach grumbled for lunch.

Susan Schamber explains about her Best of Show quilt, "Mystique".

By getting there when the doors were just opening, I got to see the Best of Show winner, Sharon Schamber, showing and telling about her amazing quilt.  Then after winding through more rows of quilts, I was lucky enough to stumble up textile and quilt designer, Kaffe Fassett, giving a walk-through discussion of an exhibition of some of his pieces which were on display.

Kaffe Fassett gathers a large group of eager listeners.

It’s overwhelming to try to see all of the multitude of quilts, wall-hangings, and other decorative pieces.  Even though there were many people viewing all the exhibited works, the side of the center with the vendors was even busier; however, my large “stash” of fabrics is a reminder that I don’t need to spend money on more material or gadgets until I make a dent in what I already have.

I did, though, snap a lot of photos, especially of quilts that caught my eye.  Perhaps, they’ll help keep the inspiration bug biting for awhile.

Preview Night at the Houston International Quilt Festival

An exhibit of "tree" quilts from Germany at the Houston International Quilt Festival

An exhibit of "tree" quilts from Germany at the Houston International Quilt Festival

Today was a crazy day, but I had already made plans to go to Preview Night at the Houston International Quilt Festival with my niece, and my sister, who is in town this week especially to attend the event.  I hadn’t been for two years, and it felt like it was time to go again.   I’m hoping to get some new ideas and new inspiration.

A close-up of applique work and quilting on one of my favorites of the show.

A close-up of applique work and quilting on one of my favorites of the show.

The fact is all three of us didn’t have much stamina tonight and about an hour browsing through the main quilt exhibit area and a run through a couple of rows of the merchants’ booths was enough.  All three of us complained that our “dogs were barking” after walking around on the hard floors of the George R. Brown Convention Center.

A quilt from the exhibit from Russia.

A quilt from the exhibit from Russia.

It’s really a great show, especially for first-timers, and there are people who come from everywhere.  There were lots of quilts from Japan and other countries.  This year there was even a special section of quilts from Russia.

Because Preview Night only lasts three hours, when I bought my ticket, I got a free one for another day.  I hope I can go back, but the rest of this week probably will probably prove to be no less hectic than the first three days, so if I have the time, I’ll try to go back.  The show runs through Sunday, October 18th.

That Little Red Sewing Machine and Women on Tractors

(The following post is from a few months back, but it hasn’t gotten much mileage, and it’s one of my favorites. Now that people are writing and reading more about equality, I thought I’d re-post it.)

The Center Pinwheel for One of the Stars

The Center Pinwheel for One of the Stars

I’m piecing together another quilt.

Sometimes when I’m working on a quilt, I wonder how many other guys out there might be doing the same thing. I doubt very many. I’ve met a few others at quilt shows and guild meetings, but I’d say for every 300 women who quilt, there might be 1 guy who does it, maybe fewer. There are several out there, though, who make a living as quilters and quilt artists.

When I first started quilting eight years ago, I felt somewhat awkward going to fabric stores, but that didn’t last very long. Because I was so intent on getting what I wanted, I soon got over feeling out of place in a quilt store, where the only other guy was some husband standing near the door, ready to bolt when his wife had finished checking out at the cashier. The good thing about being a guy quilter is that everyone who works in the fabric store gets to know you very quickly. I say “the good thing” and mostly it is good because the large majority of the women quilters and those who work at quilt stores are really curious about what I’m working on, and, of course, want to make suggestions. There are a few, though, that give me the impression that I’ve invaded their space; these are certainly the minority. I suppose they are like some firefighters or macho truck drivers who don’t think a woman should be a part of their professions.

In thinking about this tonight, I remembered how lucky I am to have had the parents I had, and unusually amazing, for the humble, Republican-voting people that they were–to give me (well, “Santa gave me”) the Christmas gifts I asked for back in those Eisenhower years–whether it was a tool set or a baking set, an electric train or that little red metal sewing machine (or even the child’s set of China that I still have in its original box)–they never said, “No, you can’t ask for that, because it’s a girl’s toy.” I wonder how many boys’ parents have said that because they didn’t think some toy was “gender appropriate”.

But my parents were part of that group of neighbors and hometown people scratching out a living on quarter-section farms and small town businesses–people that didn’t judge the farmwife who got out on the tractor to plow the fields or on the combine to harvest the wheat because “that is man’s work”. To them, the work just needed to get done, and whoever did it, it didn’t matter.

I don’t know–economic hard times might not be such a bad thing; if some people had to work harder, maybe they’d have less time to be judgmental about other people’s lives.

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You can see one of my quilts here.

Annie Says “So Long” But Not “Goodbye” to a Friend

"A Walk in the Park with Annie"

"A Walk in the Park with Annie"

One of our friends, Asako, is leaving today to go back to her country, Japan. Asako has been in Houston for four years, and during that time I got Annie, so they have known each other since Annie was just about three months old and weighed about a pound and a half. Annie really loves Asako and goes crazy whenever she sees her. Fortunately, we were able to spend a nice day at Memorial Park before Asako went back.

Asako and her husband have been the only ones whom Annie has ever stayed with when I have been out of town, so we are definitely going to miss them.

I wanted Asako to have something to take back with her, so I made this little wall-hanging quilt (15″ x !5″), which I called “A Walk in the Park with Annie”. This one is a bit similar to the “Magnolia Trees” quilt that I made before, but it just “evolved’ moreso than that one. I just stitched pieces together, and then used the cutting wheel to help me create it. I machine-quilted around the figures and added my own rough embroidery to give a bit of dimension.

Closer Detail

Closer Detail

In the end, it’s sort of like those “Where’s Elmo” puzzles, but I think you can find Annie in there.

My first attempt at using the printable fabric sheets to make a label for the back was a failure, so I made a pocket label in which I put Annie’s picture.

It’s simple I know, but I enjoyed making it; maybe there will be an “Annie” series.

The Real Annie

The Real Annie

More Quilts

On a cool day,I sometimes pull this quilt from the stair railing for a snuggly nap on the couch.

On a cool day,I sometimes pull this quilt from the stair railing for a snuggly nap on the couch.

I thought I’d put in a couple more of my quilts. The “Flying Geese” is the only quilt that I actually use, except for the wall-hangings. I have another top of exactly the same pattern in greens that I’ve made and need to layer it and pin it together so that I can quilt it. I machine-quilted this one on my Brother 1500S. It was all straight lines, stitch-in-the-ditch, but now that I’ve used it for awhile, it has all fluffed up and feels just as good as a hand-quilted one.

I still love the look of this little purple basket quilt, which measures 23" X 30".  The design for this little quilt comes from Gai Perry's book, "Color from the Heart," one of my favorite quilting books, one which I have used and reused over the years.

I still love the look of this little purple basket quilt, which measures 23″ X 30″. The design for this little quilt comes from Gai Perry’s book, “Color from the Heart,” one of my favorite quilting books, one which I have used and reused over the years.

The smaller one (sorry about the definition of the photo) I made for a colleague for her to put up in her newly remodeled bathroom. It was a fun little quilt to do, all hand-quilted.

I’ve made some kind of quilt, mostly wall-hanging type, for quite a few of the people at work–all women. Most all of them would have trouble even threading a sewing machine. I guess even back in the day, city girls didn’t have much to do with Home Ec. 🙂

(This post was updated March 10, 2013.)

A Couple of My Quilts

Quilt on My Wall

Quilt on My Wall

Quilt I Made for my Sister-in-Law

Quilt I Made for my Sister-in-Law

Dog? Quilt? Dog? Quilt? Since I got Annie, my quilting has basically been on hiatus. Dropped pins and pieces of fabric on the floor just don’t work very well with a small puppy. Now that she is older, she doesn’t really bother with much except for her own toys and chewies, so I need to start back. Maybe the creative juices will reappear soon. The bright one hangs on the wall behind me in my computer slash music slash sewing room. I’ve always liked to work with the brigher greens and reds. The other was a gift for my sister-in-law’s birthday. She had given me some fat quarters for Christmas, and I rushed to get it done for her birthday in January, and I made it, mailed it, and she had it for her birthday. It’s a take on the Drunkard’s Path pattern. Actually the bright one is a bit smaller than the other–it’s about 22″X26″ and the other is around 30″x30″. Both of them are hand-quilted; I’m not bad when I get into the rhythm of it.  I think a quilt that is hand-quilted has a nicer feel to it, but a very light batting is really the only way to go!

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If you’re interested, here’s another of my quilts, my favorite, actually.