Monday, November 20, 2017

International Quilt Festival 2017

Dennis and I attended the "Oshkosh of Quilting," aka International Quilt Festival, on Friday and Saturday, November 3-4, 2017. We wore our Quilts of Compassion gear, since we considered it part of the gift from the ministry that we were able to attend. So many industry partners assisted the Disaster Response TEAM deployment this year! We had donations collected by Art Gallery Fabrics, APQS, and Missouri Star Quilting Company. We had fabric donations from Connecting Threads, a regular supporter of Quilts of Compassion. We had batting donations from Hobbs Batting (more on that later), and many more people and quilt shops and companies that I wasn't personally connected see Janice's posts (linked here as available) for even more awesomeness from the industry!

First of all, if you came here for a quilt show of the magnificent collection we saw, you will be sadly disappointed. I took almost no pictures at the show. I was too busy drooling. I had just snapped this picture of my friend Connie Griner's wonderful quilt "Wrinkly, Irony" when she walked up and hugged my neck! Connie and I have become virtual friends first but now we are REAL LIFE friends.

Connie Griner, Wrinkly, Irony

 There were too many exhibits to name, but one of my favorites to see in person was the Van Gogh exhibit from the Cherrywood Fabrics Challenge last year. They announced their new challenge for 2018--PRINCE! So much purple. How many raspberry berets do you think we'll see?

Oblivious was my favorite.

And this GIGANTIC quilt of the fifty states! Too big for any space at my house. Just spectacular.

D & I grabbed lunch in the cafeteria upstairs in the convention center on Friday, and this fortune was in my cookie. NOT COOL, universe...NOT COOL.

Let me talk about the VENDOR side of Festival for just a minute. Here's one awesome view from upstairs looking out over just a few rows of the vendor space.

There were about twenty rows of vendors the length of the convention center, packed in like cord wood, as we like to say in the south. We laughed at the difference between the "museum" like volumes in the quilt show side of things, and the Wall Street trading floor volumes on the vendor side! Man, was it loud. And colorful. And AWESOME.

I really wasn't on much of a "shopping spree," mainly because I knew the following week's mission would take up all the available space in the van. But there were a few things I knew I needed. The first was happening upon Doohickey Designs' booth and meeting Shari, the amazing Binding Babies creator. I've wanted Gingersnap and Gumdrop Binding Babies ever since I knew that there was such as a thing as a Binding Baby! In fact, I'd asked young Gingersnap to get me one for my birthday (she's five years old, you know) and at my party, eating cake, she exclaimed, "OH, NO, GRAMS...I forgot about your Binding Baby!" After assuring her that I really didn't expect my 5yo granddaughter to order online, I promised her that I'd get one for myself soon. TA DA!

I mostly ignored the fortune. These two beauties are my Gingersnap and Gumdrop Binding Babies.

The only other shopping I managed to do for myself was picking up a Moda Bella white jelly roll (in case I needed it to make hexies on the trip home), and replacing all the Primitive Gatherings navy blue Liberty Gatherings fabrics that I've sewn up for #bluerkblocks and wanted so I can make more.

Friday Dennis wore his Oshkosh tshirt, but his QOC name tag. There were a few famous quilting men walking around (Rob Appell was one I saw), but this little painted closet door made us chuckle.

Saturday, we had a great time talking with vendor/partners about the Quilts of Compassion mission. Steph, the director of sales and marketing for Hobbs Batting, has been another of those Instagram friends that I couldn't wait to meet in real life. Don't you love it when you meet someone from social media that is exactly the same in person as you imagined? Steph is awesome. As we shared about our mission and purpose in east Texas (she already knew nearly everything from IG, because I am mostly transparent, in case you didn't know that), she made sure we left the convention center with two cases of Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 queen sized battings (about $300 value) to make more QOC quilts when we got home. So precious!

Steph from Hobbs Batting
Another company whose generosity is unmatched was Martelli Enterprises. Valarie spent a long time talking with us about charity quilting, both ours and hers, support of law enforcement, frustration with the VA (ha!), and the power of their wonderful ergonomic cutters and tables. When we were ready to walk away, she handed us a bag full of cutters, blades, and even an awesome ruler...and told us just to "let her know" when we needed more. What a sweetheart!

We were also trying to finish up a few "last minute" items for the rest of the team as they traveled Sunday and Monday, including picking up some quilts that were in Houston for the deployment. Like the rest of Texas, Houston is large...and Erica is a longarm quilter on the north side of town that made the special effort to meet us Saturday evening in front of the convention center and drop off ten quilts that she'd collected for our delivery. It was great timing, since I started giving them away immediately on Sunday as we arrived at the staging area!

Erica met us just before we left Houston on Saturday night.
Many more highlights of the Festival adventure...I don't know if you heard, but there was some kind of sports team that won some big prize just before we arrived in Houston. It was hilarious and amazing to have a World Series parade honoring the Houston Astros right in the middle of downtown Houston while we were IN downtown Houston! So much orange--and such an encouraging event for a very downtrodden community still hurting and recovering from the flooding.

I heard a few people say that Festival was smaller than previous years, but I absolutely adored it. I am grateful that our mission to east Texas coincided with International Quilt Festival. There were several other quilting charities there with booths and opportunities to learn about their missions and ministries. One thing is for certain...the entire Festival was "Houston Strong" this year!

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