Highlights from the Houston International Quilt Festival 2021

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Last week I attended the International Quilt Festival 2021 in Houston, Texas! It was so wonderful to be able to look at the quilts, shop, and take classes again. Safety measures were in place and every one who attended seemed more than willing to comply. I think quilty people were so happy to be together again – we would have followed any rules to do so!

Unlike Quilt Market, which is open to trade professionals only, Quilt Festival is open to the public. It’s the largest annual quilt show in the United States and anyone can attend, no matter their skill level. Keep up with Quilt Festival dates and locations at Quilts.com. The show is usually held near the end of October or the beginning of November.

The International Quilt Festival features a quilt show with special exhibits, lectures, workshops, and classes from world-renown teachers, and a huge showroom with hundreds of booths. There were so many sights to see that I’ll only be able to show you a handful. I will stick to my favorite parts!

On the Quilt Festival Show Floor

Everyone loves pictures of the booths and Festival floor. In some booths you can buy fabric, notions, quilting patterns, and sewing accessories. Some exhibitors allow you to test out new sewing machines and longarm quilting machines.

You can also buy craft items, antique quilts, unique works of textile art, ribbon, buttons, beads, and fabric painting products. There’s always so much excitement going on. This year there was a real urgency to shop! I was really glad that I qualified to enter the floor on Wednesday – preview night – because most of the good fabrics were picked over and gone by Saturday. All you have to do get the full show pass and enter on preview night is sign up for a class.

Friendly Portrait Quilts

I always love to see the pictorial quilts at the Houston Quilt Show, but this year they were especially good. The animal portraits were a special collection of Timna Tarr quilts, but there were exceptional human portraits too!

Tula Pink Homemade Challenge

Another one of my favorite collections was a Tula Pink Challenge. Quilters were asked to design and make a quilt with Tula Pink’s Homemade fabric and all of the quilts were gorgeous. The winner was the ‘Made with Love’ quilt with scissors and thread – I thought it deserved to win, too! These make the quilt that I made with Tula Pink’s Homemade fabric (Fat Quarter Fancy II) look so easy in comparison.

Learning to Dye Fabric

I took a bunch of classes during festival (mostly longarm quilting classes), the most memorable one was really just a quick demonstration of how to use Japanese Shibori dyeing techniques to dye a huge quilt back.

The demo that we watched from Cindy Lohbeck (of Dyehard’s Studio) was pretty quick, but my friend Heather and I were ‘dyeing’ to give it a try! We purchased kits from Cindy and went back to Heather’s house to attempt our own Shibori dyed quilt backs.

It was WAY messier than we had expected (for our first time to dye fabric), but our quilt backs turned out gorgeous. You can see that I must have not folded my fabric perfectly so the diamond pattern is irregular in one row – but I love it.

While they aren’t available online yet, Cindy promised that her wide back quilt fabric dying kits and online classes will be released soon.

I’m so happy that I was able to attend Quilt Festival 2021 and learn so much (and shop so much). Let’s hope that we are able to keep attending our beloved quilt shows and expos!

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂