Quilt Market Houston – A Newbie’s Perspective

Houston’s International Quilt Market didn’t indicate any sort of economic recession to me. These people have a passion and they take it seriously. There are some wonderful men at Quilt Market (if you’ve never met the big wigs over at Clover tools, run their direction as fast as you can – they are funny, generous true gentlemen!). But overall, the estrogen was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Husbands lined the walls, held the bags, and stood aside while female shop owners and designers worked the floor. Fabulous!


In Amy Bradley’s booth.

They even have little green ribbons for those of us who were venturing there for the first time. Other newbies stopped me to ask where I got my ribbon. You see, at Market, it’s all about what you’re getting: contacts, friends, food, fun, but most importantly…inspiration. And I’m not even a quilter!


Izzy & Ivy Designs won best new booth or something like that (an official award; not a made up one like mine!).

I came upon Quilt Market almost by accident: hubby transferred to Houston and my good friend Benay, of Beany Boy Quilts, wanted me to help her design and layout a quilt book. We’ve been in Houston about 14 weeks and – true to her word – Benay came down to visit me and we headed out for downtown. The rows upon rows of interesting fabrics and quilts were mind boggling. I don’t quilt, you see, but any girl with graphic sensibilities can appreciate a good quilt design. You could immediately tell which pattern and fabric designers stood out from the crowd because their booths were crowded. There were so many fun exhibitors who actively passed out fliers, smiled and said hello, inviting you into their booths. In contrast, there were quite a few exhibitors who just sat in their booth looking unfriendly and not even saying a word. I noticed a trend: those with traditional patchwork and passé designs were the ones looking uninviting. The best exhibitors had not only fresh, fun quilt designs but they also included other projects: animals, backpacks, books, you name it! Their creativity wasn’t limited to quilt design. And it showed. They were genuinely creative people.


L to R: Benay Derr, Amy Bradley, Lizabeth Rolfson


Amy’s quilt design for baby – great idea!

The sweetest and kindest exhibitor has to go to Amy Bradley and her daughter and mother. What a fun crew! They are the kind of people you just know you love instantly. And her work…well, she was a graphic designer first (I’m not biased or anything) and it shows.


Mary Cowan, right, of Mary’s Cottage Quilts

Another trend I noticed was that the freshest designs of the lot were not from good old Moda or Windham Fabrics but from independent start ups – most coming out of Utah. Riley Blake was a huge hit – what a great setup out of Alpine, Utah – and Mary Cowan of Mary’s Cottage Quilts in Sandy, Utah. Another Utah favorite was Abbey Lane Quilts: Marcea Owen and Janice Liljenquist were so friendly and patient with us as we had to touch every. single. thing. My favorite fresh designs outside of Utah were from The Noble Wife. Designer, Jacquelynne Steves and her stalwart husband showed that all of the hotbed of fabric designs is not exclusive to Utah as they hail from Woodstown, New Jersey.

My all-time favorite booth of the show, however, has to go to Melanie Hurlston of Melly & Me. This group from Australia and their lovely accents were not the only thing that attracted me to their booth. I was hooked from the Friday night Sampler Spree and sought them out Saturday to get another hit from their hip wares. The books – all designed and produced by themselves (including the photography!) – were a breath of fresh air. They exuded confidence in their own designs and it just plain didn’t look like everybody else’s version of the latest trends. They were fantastically independent and I cannot toot their horn enough. I will be seeking them out for personal inspiration, graphically speaking, and I don’t even quilt! They totally were the Homecoming Queen of Quilt Market in my book!

Speaking of graphic inspiration, the award for best overall graphic sensibilities in quilting design would have to go to Patrick Lose of Patrick Lose Studios. I had the chance to chat with him and it’s no wonder – he used to teach Graphic Design at a design college in Des Moines, Iowa. Now that’s so close to home, it gave me goose bumps (I’m still a little midwestern home-sick!).


Lizzie B’s groovy peace quilted rug.

Other standouts: Lizzie B Cre8tive – she would have to be runner up for Quilt Market Homecoming Queen – great rugs and all around design. Very eye catching! I also liked Cloud 9 Fabrics, organic and super soft fabrics.

The Miss Congeniality award goes to Laura and Lynnette of Beach Garden Quilts in Seattle. They were wonderfully friendly – like instant best friends – and helped us feel at ease. They have some innovative quilted looking floor mat designs – be sure to check them out.


A quilt in the display section…name anyone?

The only thing left is to recuperate. But I don’t have time. I’ve been so inspired, I have all sorts of graphic design inspiration to work out.

p.s. You can look at all of my Houston Quilt Market pictures at my flickr account.

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