International Quilt Festival

OMG, OMG, OMG.  Sensory overload does not even begin to describe what it’s been like to come to Houston for the International Quilt Festival.


Anyway, in case you missed it, I packed up the wife and kids and headed to Houston last weekend, to come to the International Quilt Festival. There were a couple of reasons for coming to Houston:

1.  Every quilter, apparently, needs to come to the International Quilt Festival at least once in their life.  I’m not sure if it’s a right of passage, or a shopping opportunity that can’t be missed, or just for the chance to see the amazing quilts, but I’ve picked up on a trend that it’s a 0/1 thing — quilters who have / have not been to the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  My wife was a 0 — she had not.  I needed to fix that.

2.  My wife has two (2!) quilts in the Tactile Architecture exhibit.  And I gotta say — they were stunning.  Hers are wonderful quilts, and they looked so at home in the collection with all of the other truly stunning beauties.

3.  Since IBOL I in 2009, I had wanted to properly thank Karey Bresenhan and the crew at both and the International Quilt Festival, for their support to IBOL.  I will not soon forget the email I got from her, out of the blue, asking me how she could help support and promote IBOL.  Of course, going to Houston during the quilt festival, to thank the lady who runs the quilt fest, is a little like walking out onto the field during the Superbowl to thank Drew Brees for something.

4.  Marge has challenged me to make and hand out IBOL cards while at the Festival, not only as a means to say thanks to IBOL supporters I’d see there but to also drum up some business for a possible IBOL III (or, as I like to call it, IBOL 3D).

How’d we do, and what was it like?  Well……

We did make it to the Festival, though we did not go to the week of Market the week prior.  Apparently, that’s a whole other thing — I’m not even sure what makes one go to Market, other than having something to buy or sell or trade or something.  There’s no “Quilting with the IBOL Guy” book about to be released, no special IBOL ACU-pattered fabric about to roll out, so we stuck to the quilts and the show and the vendors and the food.

And I gotta say — if you’ve been to a big show, you’ve been to a big show.  I’m a car guy, and a computer guy to boot.  I’ve been to the big car shows, and the big computer shows.  Ye, there’s pretty much a formula for how they work.  Houston, more or less, follows it.

Buuuuuuut….. it is a little bit different.  It’s certainly nicer.  And smells prettier.  And has more women’s restrooms than one can shake a stick at.  And Holy Toledo — the men’s restrooms.  Did I mention them?  Many of them, of course, get re-flagged for duty as Women’s Restrooms, but those that don’t:  1) stay incredible clean, because 2) there’s nobody in them.

Anyway, the convention center gets carved up into three giant sections — the main exhibit hall, where the quilts and stuff are displayed; the middle section, for the vendors and the money vacuum, and then a food court area.  It is big enough that I considered driving to lunch one day, or hailing a cab.  It’s big enough that I wanted to hook a rope between me and my kids when we headed to lunch, for fear that I might lose them on the adventure of getting there.  It’s a giant convention center, and every inch of it is used.

There were some things that we did that I just loved.  Like seeing Kristin’s quilts.  Look — I’ll be honest.  I think my wife has some amazing talent.  I love, love, love the stuff the makes.  I think it’s just awesome.  Yes, I am totally biased, and yes, I do think I get to lead the most awesome life, being married to what I consider to be a total quilting rock star.  But to come around the corner and see hanging, between, in, around and near all of these other totally awesome quilts, two very special ones made by my wife — well, that just made my year.  That alone made going to Houston worth the trip.

That’s not to say that the quilts themselves weren’t awesome.  Oh, they certainly were.  There were some amazing ones, and some true stunner.  Granted, not everything caught my eye equally — I’m a Chevy guy, so I don’t always understand Fords — but there were more than enough beautiful ones to keep even me and the boy entertained.  I’ll try to post some to the IBOL Facebook page or something – I fell in love with a lot of the historic ones that were from private collections.

And before I forget, yes, we did meet and talk with Karey for a while one afternoon.  And yes, she is, in fact, the nicest person on the planet, after my wife and my mother.  A small part of me really could not see her making time in her day, during the festival itself, just to stop everything and talk IBOL with little ol’ me.  But she did.  I rewarded her with cute kids to look at, and an entertaining wife who could jump in at the right moment if I failed.  She wanted to know if there’d be an IBOL III, and what she and the crew could do to support it.  Nothing like being put on the spot.  I told her that I guess I needed to get serious about it.

While in Houston, Kristin and I also had the chance to meet Alex Anderson.  She is, apparently, the one who lures just about everyone into quilting.  She’s big enough in the quilting world that even I recognized her on sight.  Books, TV, a podcast — she’s even on Facebook, actively.  She was holding court in their area, but seemingly stopped everything to come and talk story with Kristin and Tonya and the kids and I, about IBOL.  Yes, Marge — I even slipped her an IBOL card.  I guess I’ll follow up with her, too, about IBOL III.

IBOL III.  I keep saying that, don’t I?  I guess I really do need to find a way to make that happen.  Ramadan 2011 will be around August (here) — I say “around” because it’s tied to the sighting of the new moon, and while people can predict when that will happen, well, it’s not spotted until it’s actually spotted. Ramadan would be a very appropriate time to do one last IBOL.  It’d need to be different — I won’t be hanging out in Northern Iraq, but will be in Baghdad.  And there won’t be gobs and gobs of US Forces this time.  What I am saying is, I may need to actually talk to the US Army and / or the US Government about this, and go semi-legit or something.

Don’t hold your breath.  Don’t rush out and buy new fabric, in anticipation of doing some stash-busting.  Don’t…. do anything.  There are a million miles that separate a good idea from a good plan.  Happy Zombie, if you want to start in on an IBOL 3D logo — have at it.  But the rest of you — hang in there, be patient.


14 Responses to “International Quilt Festival”

  1. IBOL Guy Says:

    I guess I should add a PS. We had a spiffy new iPhone with us, and one of the neat things we used it for was food. Specifically, we used Foursquare for ideas on where to eat and what to get — and it was awesome. Saturday night was the Goode Co. for BBQ, and the Foursquare recommendations were worth their weight in gold.

    • Alicia Says:

      Thanks for your adventures in Houston. Sounds like a great time. I’m a native Houstonian, born and breed, and I can say Goode and Co bbq is the best; I always make a stop when I go back home.

  2. Fitzy Says:

    I’m proud to be an IBOL follower & friend. You rock.

  3. Shirley Hammar Says:

    How special Karey was able to spend time you and the fam…Congratulations on another very successful IBOL. This networking opportunity will make IBOL III monumental.

  4. Marge Gordon Says:

    So how many cards did you hand out, and where are all the photos? Don’t tell me ladies weren’t lining up to have their photo taken with you! Glad you had a good time and can’t wait to hear more.

  5. jennifer Says:

    i tried and tried to find you yesterday at the show. i was there from 9:15, just barely inside a door but still cold, til 6:30pm… but no chance meeting with you. i’m glad you all had a wonderful time at the show and maybe one day we’ll have to chance to say “hi” in person.

    and yes, goode company makes great BBQ.

  6. stephanie allgood Says:

    Sounds like a fun and crazy time! I”l be on the lookout for the next round, and I know I can round up a few others too!

  7. Nancy Anne Says:

    Glad to hear you had a great IQF experience. Maybe someday I’ll get there myself. I’ll be waiting (im)patiently for word of IBOL 3D. Stay safe in Bagdhad!

  8. Orwell Says:

    Jennifer — my bad; I kidnapped him and the kids and took them down to the Space Center Houston, where no one recognized him. But he and the kids had fun anyway! Sorry it turns out that I kept him from his flock.

    IBOLGuy: isn’t buying fabric for IBOL kind of against the point? Besides, any quilter has five other reasons to buy fabric, so they’ll keep helping the economy recover. 🙂


  9. Ann Pugh Says:

    Sent three boxes to each of the first two great IBOL adventures. I expect I can do it again. Do give us as much notice as possible so we can get even more people involved. Thank you for all you do…you do make a difference in this crazy world!

    Ann In Las Vegas NV

  10. Mary ann Says:

    Oh my what fun! You’re enthusiasm for it all rocks. Tell the US Govt’ you’re following is huge and knows how to mobilize too!

  11. Maryann McEvoy Says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed Houston! I was in awe when I went a few years ago. We have such talented people in the Quilt World.
    Let us know if IBOL 3D develops. The staff in my post office were trying to figure out what IBOL meant, finally one of them asked me. They loved the idea. I do too, Keep up the good work.

  12. My own quilt life « Iraqi Bundles of Love Says:

    […] IBOL.  Kristin and I had had the good fortune of being introduced to Alex Andersen when we were at the International Quilt Festival last year, and she put me in touch with the Quilt Life […]

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