Six reasons to attend this weekend’s International Quilt Festival in Houston

Think quilts are boring?

“Million to One” and “Samuelsaurus Rex” by Susan Carlson, on display at the 2016 Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Think again, arts lovers.

Unless you’ve attended a show like this weekend’s Houston International Quilt Festival, you probably haven’t seen what modern day quilt makers can do with fabric and thread.

This weekend, hundreds of the most amazing quilts you’ve ever seen will be on display at Houston’s quilt show, one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the world. I attended for the first time last year and was blown away by the pieces on display. We met quilters from all over the world who were creating some seriously jaw-dropping pieces of art.

“Crocodylus Smylus” by Susan Carlson was one of the biggest hits at last year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Just in case you need an excuse to head to Houston this weekend for the festival, here are six of them:

1) Quilts are amazing. No really. Quilts. Are. Amazing. If you think you have a notion of what a quilt is, this show will redefine whatever that definition is.

“Lone Star Explores Space” by Peter Hayward  Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

2) Quilts are modern art. Modern and contemporary quilts were what hooked me on quilts in the first place, and although this is a show that encompasses many different quilting styles, you’ll find plenty of pieces that belong in the Houston Museum of Fine Art.

“Polychromatic Predilection” by Judy Coates Perez will be on display at this year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Contributed by the Houston Quilt Festival.

3) Quilts are old. For as long as America has been a country, Americans have been sewing together scrapes of fabric to make quilts. Quilt historians will tell you that you can learn a lot about the country through these pieces of folk art, and the Houston quilt show always has a historical exhibit. This year, one of them is called “Quilts 1650-1850: From ‘Broderie’ to ‘Broderie Perse’.” Last year, we saw giant quilts from the 1800s that made you wonder how people sewed such large pieces by hand.

“I Am the Face of Rescue” by Michelle Jackson Contributed by the Houston Quilt Festival.

4) Quilts are activism. Every quilt show I’ve ever been to has at least one shocker. I’ve seen quilts that say “(Expletive) cancer” and another that was an American flag made out of guns. This year, the Houston Quilt Festival will feature Jeanne Hewell-Chambers’ THE 70,273 PROJECT, which refers to the number of disabled people killed by the Nazi regime.

’Murica” by Kristin La Flamme. This quilt stood out at last year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

5) Support Houston after Harvey. Even with the Astros in the World Series, it’s been a tough year for Houston, but that won’t stop thousands of people from around the world from attending this quilt show and spending money in a city that could use the bump in tourism.

Hillary Bas made this quilt that will be on display at the 2017 Houston Quilt Festival. Contributed by the Houston Quilt Festival.

6) Find other fabric arts nerds. Maybe you like to knit or crochet or sew baby clothes. Maybe you’re into batik or tie dye. The market area of the Houston Quilt Festival abounds with fabric and craft vendors, as well as people who specialize in vintage fabrics and quilts, and it’s fun to stroll through the aisles to find the new ways that people are making cool stuff from fabric and thread.

Can’t make it to Houston this weekend? The folks who put on the quilt show also run the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, which is open year round. They rotate the quilts on display several times a year, and every time I’ve been, I find quilts so stunning them stop me in my tracks.

“Twelve Dozen” by Timna Tarr was a highlight of last year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

“The Pearl Hunter” by Elizabeth Budd was featured at the 2016 Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

 

 


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