Logo 2009 International Quilt Festival - Chicago

reported by Diana Hunt

Scrapbag Quilters from Lake Summerset, in Northern Illinois, organized a bus trip to Rosemont, near Chicago, to attend the International Quilt Festival on April 17, 2009. Bus trips are such fun -- no worry about driving and parking, lots of friends to share interests and purchases, food, games and prizes, even a potty on board for when we get stuck in traffic. A massive and time-consuming traffic jam within site of the Convention complex was maddening. Luckily, Vicki Robbel, the trip organizer, had provided bottles of water, plus a delicious bagel, and candy to see us through.



Vicki also provided us with a 20% off coupon and a free quilt pattern from Sew Unique Creations, a quilt shop in Joliet. Nice of them to send coupons for the bus load. The shop also has online purchasing. www.sewuniquecreations.com

Spring is just emerging in this northern clime and I enjoyed the planter bed of tulips just outside the convention center. Inside the doors, one forgets about weather but plenty of flowers are reproduced in fabric to brighten the decor. In fact, one of the themed exhibits was "Celebrate Spring". Lots of flower quilts from their show in 2008.

Having themed exhibits helps to keep the audience from being overwhelmed at the sheer number of entries and provides some organization that helped me to keep track of what I'd seen. With more than 20 themed exhibits, it was easy to get lost in a sea of fabric. Not that that's a bad thing. Unfortunately, I didn't purchase the show guide until the end of the day, and I see I missed a couple of exhibits.

Some of the exhibits were posted for no photography. Some allowed pictures.The pictures here were permitted. For pictures of booths or people, I asked permission first, and sometimes got the booth owner to pose in front of their sign. We need to make copyright protection a theme in our guild meetings and newsletters and respect the artists' desire to protect their designs and livlihood. A lot of the quilts on exhibit may be seen in the IQF's website at www.quilts.com.


As I was photographing one quilt, a voice behind me said, "If you want, you could get the artist to pose with this quilt. She's right here." The proud friend introduced me to Nancy Kimpel from Ocomomowoc, Wisconsin and she posed in front of her quilt, saying her town name five times fast. Her quilt is Canyonlands V: Meditation.




Overall, the quilts on exhibit seemed to have less "bling" than last year. Yes, there were metallic paints and threads, with glittery fabrics and beads, but way less on the quilts and way less quilts that stressed embellishment. It seemed to me that the emphasis this year was on mixing techniques and fabrics.

There was lots of painting on fabric, both before and after quilt construction. The Back Burner by Gail Hunt is a Canadian example of this. Make a quilt block then paint a design over it. The painted swirls became the burners.

Another trend this year was using quilting to bunch up the fabric to carry out the theme. The closeup of a portion of the quilt, Glacial Ice Cave by Phillida Hargreaves from Canada, shows some of the quilting for structure.



A Belgian entry from Lutzard Gerber-Billiau used tall thin rectangles, all quilted and finished, but put together side by side on a top and bottom pole. The bottoms of the rectangles had been mounted reversed so each panel had a twist in the center. As you walked by the quilt, the colors seemed to move. I was so intrigued by the structure that I almost missed the fact that all the flowers had computer printed eyes for centers. Thanks to another viewer for pointing it out.

I enjoyed the entry named Bountiful from Carol Taylor from New York very much. The background was pieced rectangles of soft yellows, grays and whites. The design was created with organza in several colors, cut in leaf shapes and satin-stitched over the background. Berries of velveteen were added and the quilting formed the structure of the leaf veins. You could see through some of the leaves to other leaves or to the background. Very lovely.



Quite a few quilts used computer printed fabric. Trinity by Kathy Wylie from Canada showed a color wheel as we see on a computer color picker. The text on the accompanying sign said that two-inch hexagons that made the whole work were computer printed onto cotton and pieced to make the computer's color wheel.


The sign on Dahlia said that Barbara McKie from Connecticut used computer printing, but you could not tell exactly where it was. The dahlia just leaped off the quilt with realistic clarity and dimension. Water spots on the petals could have been computer printed or might be salt on the dye? How perfect that we couldn't tell. The shibori dyed background jarred my eye back, away from the lovely flower.



RibbonBlueAnother part of the exhibits that I enjoyed were the ribbons themselves. Someone meticulously folded satin ribbon into flower shapes. Melinda Bula from El Dorado, CA took the show's grand prize and the ribbon was worth its own picture!



Melinda's winning quilt was hung in a roped off area with a chair, vase of flowers, and stand for the sign. Knowing Melinda's work, I found a "white gloved lady" -- few and too far between -- to display the back of the quilt.




Melinda uses a dark background and colored bobbin thread so that all the quilting on the flowers in the front makes a complete work of art on the back. Why in the world didn't the IQF hang this work so the back was visible to all?

On to the wonderful world of the vendor booths.

More than 80 vendors took up two-thirds of the convention center floor space. What a mad house! Attendance at the show seemed nearly double from last year, so it was harder to go from booth to booth. You had to adopt a zen attitude and allow the crowd's flow to move you along. Zen, until some pattern or product called out to my wallet to be bought.

As Scrapbag Quilter Lydia Johnson had said on the bus, "We're here to stimulate the stimulus." Many vendors said "What recession? I'm sold out of product X already!" I guess everyone felt it was their American duty to spend. It's good being patriotic.


All the big companies for sewing machines and long-arm quilters were there. You could marvel over top of the line embroidery sewing machines, watch the machines do amazing things unaided, or try your hand at long-arm quilting.


I enjoy seeing the garments on the show attendees. Many people were quite willing to tell you how they constructed a tulip vest or bright jacket. Marcia Hartnell from Northbrook, IL made her very colorful jacket. There were kitty cats peaking from the tops of the bargello rows. She also made her scarf/necklace.



In the middle of the vendor space was the very successful "Make It University", put on by Cloth, Paper, Scissors, a great magazine from Interweave Press. They also publish Quilting Arts magazine, one of my favorites. Their artists ran sessions where you could sit down and actually construct something with a fabulous technique. Many of the artists were around the sit-down area, and were demonstrating their favorite technique, so even if you didn't take a make-it class, there was plenty of opportunity to learn.

An upholstered wall separated the University from the booths. On the wall were Artist Trading Cards (ATC's), put up by show attendees. Anyone could add an ATC to the display. These are slightly larger than business cards, fabric or paper, and fully decorated. Yet another art exhibit of the IQF.



Many of the vendor booths had demonstrations of products or techniques. The PhotoEZ Silk Screen stencil booth had a demo of using their nylon mesh stencils with foam brush full of dye in shave cream. The stencil and dye were used on shiny satin fabric. The result was lovely and soft to the hand. www.photoezsilkscreen.com

Perfect Borders is a website application that lets you tell them the exact dimensions of your quilt's borders and pick out a quilt design. After paying a small fee, you could download a printable pattern of your chosen design that perfectly fits your borders. She had designs for single blocks, side borders, corners, top and bottom borders and all over designs.

Another cool technique was shown by samples. Penny Haren showed making a typical pin wheel block, but then appliqueing shapes over the pin wheel to make a much more complex design. See her book, Pieced Applique at www.pennyharen.com.


Mosaic Quilt Studio (www.mosaicquilt.com) sells Quilted Photo Express software for your PC that allows you to prepare a digital photo to be the subject of your quilt. The software will divide your photo into squares and block the color so you can remake your photo in fabric. Another option is to reduce the number of colors used in the photo and make outlines of each color pool. The software will give you the shapes to applique to reconstruct the photo, color by color. Remember the old "paint by number"? Yeah, like that but with fabric.

Another vendor for us geeks sells software to take a slice of a digital photo, duplicate it six or eight times, and swirl it into a kaleidoscope. A cute grandkid holding hands with himself around in an eight-pointed star. Kaleidoscope Kreator 3 helps you print onto paper for scrapbooking or onto fabric. www.kaleidoscopecollections.com.


Shibori Girl Studios (http://shiborigirl.wordpress.com) had a lovely array of hand-dyed ribbons of all sorts. In chit-chatting with her, I was told to go to www.joggles.com for information about making things with the ribbon. A fine website for videos and instructions on all kinds of crafts.

Shibori Girl

With thousands of show attendees from all over and vendors from many countries and all the states, who did I find at a lunch table? Mary Jo and Stephanie from Quilter's Haven in Rockford, IL. (http://www.quilterhaven.com). While they did not have a booth from their own store, they were working in the Handi Quilter long-arm machine booth. They have recently added the Handi Quilter line to their store. I had a pleasant chat about their impressions of the show and the industry.


I also chatted with another group who were from South Dakota. They were on a tour organized by the Prairie Coach Trailways Bus company. They rode the bus from South Dakota to Wisconsin, stopping at a couple of quilt shops, then a motel for the night. It took another three hours on the bus today to get to Rosemont for the IQF. Then they were off tomorrow for the drive back.

At one of the rest stops on the edge of the show floor, a woman in lavender was examining a purchase. It was a clip on magnifier and light made in purple plastic. Nice size. The light and magnifier would stay where you put them. She liked the color. She says she does counted cross-stitch and needs the good light. A lady sitting next to us, overheard our discussion and said she needed one of those, too. She went off to find it for herself.

I just couldn't resist a bundle of hand-dyed graduated color fat quarters at Starr Design Fabrics. As most quilters, I have tons of mediums, a fair stock of darks, but not many lights. So the bundle was lights in blues to greens to yellows. Such a nice young woman running the booth and all the way from California. www.starrfabrics.com


Another purchase was a set of note cards that had a named quilt block and a corresponding design on them. All the art work in this booth was gentle and very professional, plus reasonably priced. The website is a marvel of good design, too. www.bbdcreations.com

This article has gone on way too long and I haven't even mentioned all the beads and buttons. Lots of buttons this year. More types of fabric -- wools, flannel, and silks, as well as quilter cotton. Three booths of African fabric and panels.


Looking to make items to donate to Scrapbag Quilters Silent Auction in November, I found a booth showing a wallet that opens into a shopping bag. Jeanne Perrine, the author of W.O.W. Bags was there demonstrating her creations and signing her book. I bought it. She has a very liberal policy on copyright and will even provide you with labels if you want to make the bags to sell.


The booth she was in turned out to be a nearly local quilt store, Judy's Quilt 'n' Sew in Hampshire IL. www.judysquiltnsew.com


The return bus trip was livened by discussions of what each had found. Joanne Litke purchased one of the circular disks and instructions for the Japanese art of Kumihimo, or braiding, for making necklaces or just trim. The disk and book is pictured below. Kumihimo To Go is the vendor. www.accentbead.com


On the bus ride home, Joanne took out the disk and wound the bobbins with the thread. Lydia Johnson read the instructions, one at a time, for Joanne to follow. Amid much laughter, and after twenty minutes, we could see about an inch of braid. Go, Joanne!


A successful bus trip again this year. Thanks to Vicki Robbel for organizing the trip.


And thanks for reading!


©2009, Hunt-Kittner Crafts

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