I am still trying to wrap my head around all the overwhelming emotions, activities and experiences I had while at the Houston International Quilt Festival last week. I taught 2 full day classes and presented at 3 other events during the 5 days I was there. I’m exhausted this morning as I write this-in a Good Way! Fellow teachers told me “Sleep when you get home” and most of them taught even more classes.
Just to set the stage, the Houston Festival is the biggest quilt event in the world, with total attendance expected of 55-60,000 quilt/art/fiber enthusiasts. This is truly the world’s stage and I was invited to be a part of a select group of 111 teachers. Over 380 classes were offered along with 30 lectures. And, with 1100 vendor booths and over 1300 quilts, well you get the picture-it’s a Big Deal. No other quilt show comes close. So, I was a gnat on the world’s stage and happy to be there!
If you have any thought of ever attending Festival, you MUST-it’s an automatic entry onto your Bucket List. The Top Eleven Reasons Why You Must Attend Festival:
- The quality of the work in the show exceeds any other. Many pieces will just leave your mouth agape-the beauty, workmanship, artistry and emotion are The Best.
- The sheer size of the show: the George R. Brown Convention Center (“GRB”) is the size of a cruise ship (1.8 mil sq feet!) sitting at the south end of Houston’s downtown-and it’s filled with goodies of all kinds.
- Every teacher or class that you ever wanted to take in the fiber/quilting arena is there for the taking.
- Everyone is happy and friendly! I don’t know what it is, but everyone seems happy-attendees as well as employees.
- As a teacher, every need was attended to. The Education staff wants us to be successful and does all it can to help. I have never experienced such devotion from my sponsors. This is good for the teachers AND the students.
- The vendors-oh my!!! Half the show is vendors and they will tempt you at every turn with goodies that you won’t find in your home town-from shoes, jewelry and massage pillows to embellishments and scissors and notions and oh yeah-fabric galore!
- Inspiration. No matter your genre, you will be inspired.
- The venue itself is of such high quality-the half life of a piece of trash on the show floor is about 30 seconds-I’m not kidding. The restrooms are plentiful and constantly attended-safe and immaculate. The staff wants to help you. It’s truly a pleasure just to be there.
- Food. Houston is a foodie town and there are fabulous choices in every category. I didn’t have a chance to explore this time, but just two blocks away is the most incredible international deli/restaurant-the Phoenicia. It made it so easy to eat healthy.
- The people you’ll meet. Sit down among the wounded who have walked too much and you are likely to engage in lively conversation. Or, you will meet your Quilting Hero on the floor or in a booth.
- You will have way cooler fabrics and notions than any of your friends back home, giggle!
And yes, that is me and Hanspeter Ueltschi, the OWNER of Bernina who strolled into my classroom to chat! Apparently he does try to visit every Bernina classroom at Festival. You never know who you will run into.
On a personal level I loved teaching there. The students were enthusiastic and well prepared, eager to learn. At one point in my Table Topper class, every student was just visibly delighted to be quilting on her fabric. And I saw it “click” with many of my students in my Free Motion Quilting class.
After my Meet the Teachers talk, a group of unrelated listeners peppered me with questions about what I had spoken about (easy projects for beginning quilters). And the enthusiastic response to my talks in the Machine Quilter’s Forum and Friday Sampler way exceeded my expectations. It’s not about the kudos, it’s about the students getting excited about quilting and discovering that they can do it! It is such a joy to teach.
I will have several more posts on Festival as well as the Pacific International Quilt Festival that I attended the week before Houston so check back often!