IQF08 Logo 2008 International Quilt Festival - Chicago

The Scrap Bag Quilters in Lake Summerset, Illinois, organized a bus trip to the Chicago International Quilt Festival on April 11. I'd had such fun on ASG-Sacramento bus trips when I lived in California that I signed up. Fifty-five ladies filled the bus for the trip to Rosemont, just outside of Chicago. A perfect chance for me to get to know quilters in my new area, leave the driving to a professional, and see quilts in Chicago.

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Similar to Sacramento bus trips, we played bingo for prizes, but actually I was more interested in talking with my seat mate. Eunice turned out to be the wife of someone my husband had worked with in the late 60's. She and her husband still have race cars and live south of where Gary and I live now. Yay! Reconnect with a car guy for Gary and a quilter for me. Yet another episode of small world. And the episodes continued at the show.

We were turned loose at the Quilt Festival, free to roam until 6:30 pm. I wondered whatever I'd do for the whole long day, figuring I could see it all in three or four hours as I had at the Pacific International Quilt Show in Pleasanton, CA, in past years. Wrong. The Chicago Festival is easily twice that size.

The show quilts were entered in themes and from several quilting organizations. The architectural exhibit, A Sense of Place, displayed quilts depicting places and buildings. Eunice and I had been talking about using TyVek, the construction house wrap, for sewing and sure enough, one of the building quilts had used TyVek. Seemed appropriate for an architecture quilt! The Studio Art Quilt Association (SAQA) had a big display of fabulous art pieces. The Spring theme showed lots of flowers and bright colors. Another theme area showed art quilts in 17 x 22 inch size, all from an Internet art journal group. There must have been 150 such quilts entered, each with a sign describing the artist's personal journey. I ran out of time and did not see the small quilts in 4 x 6 postcard size. Hoffman had a fabric challenge with lots of entries. It is always interesting to me to see how the same fabric can be used by different quilters.

Melinda Bula from El Dorado Hills, CA had several entries. One of her signature big raw edge applique flowers on a black background was displayed so you could see the back. The stitching on the front was done with colored thread in the bobbin also, so that a full thread flower emerged on the black backing. Stunning.

The work from Japan always amazes me. One quilt was tiny log cabin blocks in typical taupe and dark shades. When I tried to see the sign with the artist's name, I realized I was looking at the back! The front was even more elaborate. Maybe one thing that appealed to me about the quilt was the lack of "bling". So many other quilts were over the top with beads, feathers, stitching, glitter, paint, stitching with glitter, metallic paint, and then an organza overlay to hold all the Angelina fiber and more stitching. I think we're about ready for a less-is-better movement.

There were two booths from the Netherlands, several from Japan, Canada, plus from all over the US.




I enjoyed one vendor booth with lots of dichroic glass for jewelry and buttons. She had nicely displayed her large glass buttons on cards with watercoloring. I discovered that Nancy Geddes was from Orangevale, CA! She normally displays her art at the Crocker Art Museum in my former hometown of Sacramento.

Glass Buttons

Another booth had a familiar face: Marsha McClintock from Saf-T-Pockets in Oregon. I took a class from her at the last ASG National Conference on embellishing fabric. Excellent class. The July 2008 ASG Conference will be right here in Rosemont, at the Hyatt, coincidentally.

The next familiar face was in the Bernina booth. Alex Anderson was signing her latest book for people.

What delighted me was seeing quilts that I had just read about in Quilting Arts Magazine from Interweave Press. This magazine is great for anyone interested in new techniques with fabric, wearable art, quilts, or accessories. Not only were some of the featured quilts there, but the publisher had a big booth with tables for some of the artists to work and give mini-demos to show-goers. There were lots of free samples of their work and time to just talk to the artists. The crowds were off somewhere else both times I visited the artists. How nice. I watched a quick demo of mixing fabric paint on shaving cream to marble fabric. Julaine Lofquist-Birch is from Rockford, the big city near my new abode. Julaine's business card was a sample of marbled paper with her info on the back. Good idea!

I also found Interweave's newest magazine-book on redecorating or remodeling your "studio", Studios - a Spa for the Creative Soul. And me with a refinished basement to turn into a studio.

Then I found the popular booth. A handsome young man was giving a demo on the "Original Garden Towel - the World's Most Absorbent Material." You've probably seen this on TV. You wipe up incredible amounts of liquid with this absorbent rayon felt. OK. I'm a sucker for a pretty face and handed him my $20. It will be for Gary to wipe cars, right? Or sucking moisture out of fabric. I can't believe the number of ladies that stopped me later to ask what the big rolls were. And the cute guy wasn't even stitching on this stuff. Go figure.

AppliqueBuffetA fun marketing idea was a label for little bundles of hand-dyed fabric. The label said "Dye-It Treats --sugar free, fat free" and they looked delicious. These booth vendors have us pegged. Another booth had a tray of pre-stitched, iron-on applique's with a sign saying "Applique Buffet - Take a plate". There were plastic plates so you could load one up with tasty appliques.

Another product new to me is called Applique Fiber. For only $6, I got two yards of a white interfacing-like fabric. You draw your designs right on it, cut them out and use them to fold back the edges of applique pieces. After you stitch the applique, you moisten the whole work and the Applique Fiber will soften up and puff up just a bit, giving your work a trapunto look. That will be fun to try. It was a nice demo by Judy Rohret from When Quilts Fly in Iowa.
One of my favorite booths was the Cherrywood Fabrics booth. They had a nice display of their hand-dyed fabric swatches, plus several projects made with sueded cotton and even corduroy. Now I'm sorry I didn't buy a bundle of sueded cotton in graduated colors. The jacket with a chevron of olive-y greens was beautiful. Nice website, too.

Speaking of jackets, part of the delight of such a show is seeing what people are wearing. Several ladies had on fabric jackets where the sleeves were knit. One said her knitting used strips of fabric a quarter-inch in width plus a knubby yarn that had some sheen. Interesting effect.

Booth after booth showed the long arm quilting machines or deep-throated machines. Examples of elaborate quilting feathers, cables, circles, stars, flowers were all around. You could try out every brand machine known to woman. I tried out several. And then there are booths with tools to support long-arm quilting. Off-the-Edge Quilting Supplies has neon-colored plastic rulers to use with a long arm machine to make perfect circles or feathers. The "hopping foot" travels around the ruler and the guides on the ruler help your feathers to line up. I don't have a long-arm machine but wanted one of the rulers just for the hot neon-pink or neon-orange colors.

QuiltPounceQuilt stitches were on my mind when I found the booth selling and demonstrating the Quilt Pounce with the Ultimate Quilt Powder for marking quilt designs. Sort of shaped like a school blackboard eraser, the pouncer dabs magic white powder on your quilt top through a stencil. After quilting, you simply press an iron to the quilt top and the white powder disappears. Magic. I couldn't resist.

I turned a milestone age in early March and my monumental birthday was largely ignored by my husband. What was he thinking? So when I found a booth to custom fit a thimble, I decided to treat myself. Virginia from Thimbles Plus tried several beautiful thimbles on my fat finger and we settled on one that was incredibly comfortable. Now I can't believe I've been putting up with round tin thimbles or those little sticky pads. I said I'd take it. Then I asked how much. $80 for a silver thimble.
I'll stick Gary with the bill.

Thanks for reading! --Diana

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