Trends materialize at Houston’s international quilt market

“Fireworks Quilt” by Tara Faughnan of Oakland, Calif., is a study on broken lines and the interaction of spaces where the quilt blocks come together. Machine-pieced and quilted, it measures 50 inches square and is part of the Modern Quilt Guild Showcase 2013, recently displayed in Houston.

Jo Dixey of Helensville, New Zealand, created “Watching” to convey the idea of Big Brother watching our every move. Dixey says she designed this quilt to be “slightly menacing just as the thought of Big Brother is slightly unnerving.”

Bold chevron patterns — with floral fabrics, in this instance — were prevalent on the exhibitors’ floor at Internatonal Quilt Market in Houston. This example was designed by Adorn It, a company from Hyde Park, Utah.

Could anyone have more expressive eyes than actor Jack Nicholson, asks Sandy Curran of Newport News, Va. Much of her work, such as this quilt titled “Jack,” concentrates on the emotion and expression in eyes, both human and animal.  “If the eyes are alive, the work is a success,” Curran says.

Owls still dominate as a favored motif in many fabric lines and samples of quilts, purses, potholders, pillows and baby bibs.

I was a material witness in Texas a few days ago, and it won’t take much for me to offer testimony about what I saw.

For the third time in the past six years, I was excited to attend events sponsored by the International Quilt Association in Houston.

This time, I entered the George R. Brown Convention Center for the annual fall Quilt Market, a professional trade show. Industry vendors unveiled their newest fabric lines and hawked their latest products to retailers.

Among the hundreds of vendor booths, youthful fabric and pattern designers continued to influence quilters and crafters with modern lines and edgy styles. Bold chevron patterns punctuated quilts, pillows, table runners and handbags.

Decorative hand stitching gave machine-embroidered designs a fair share of competition.

At Sue Spargo’s booth, I learned that her book on “Creative Stitches” has been so popular, she’s waiting to restock with a second printing. In it, this contemporary folk artist, who works with wool, shows through clear illustrations and photos “how to create vivid, lively textures using 50 of my favorite stitches.”

One company attempted to re-introduce dresser scarves into home décor, touting fun and fast patterns of wool and velvet appliqué with simple embroidery and ruffled edges.

Woodland-inspired prints introduced some clever, whimsical foxes, but owls still dominated in fabric lines and samples of shaped purses, pot- holders, pillows and baby bibs.

Retro Pepsi patterns captured the spirit of the 1980s, and Angry Birds partnered with Star Wars to launch a version of the online game into a space fantasy setting, both by Camelot Fabrics.

Never fear, traditional quilts had not disappeared from the 2013 market floor. But a couple of new twists came into play.

Hexagons, now called “hexies,” have been streamlined. They can be sewn without “Y” seams and stitched quickly by machine rather than by hand.

Amish quilts are getting a makeover, as well, with a book titled “Amish Quilts — The Tradition Continues” (C&T Publishing). Twenty-one projects will appeal to both traditional and modern quilters. Edited by Lynn Koolish, the patterns are meant to show off bold geometrics in solid-colored fabrics.

Besides the vendor booths, 33 special quilt exhibits were displayed on the opposite side of the giant convention hall.

Before long, during this three-day stint, the images conveyed by my eyes to my brain threatened to overwhelm the senses. Feverish note-taking and periodic breaks to assimilate (and revive my aching feet) saved me.

This is a sampling of what materialized at Quilt Market, but it barely uncovers the delightful finds I made, the people I met and the quilts I admired. Watch this page for future reports.

Email Sherida.Warner


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