The Art of the Quilt at the 2018 International Quilt Festival - Texasliving

“Arabian Nights” (62″ x 62″) by Jacqueline de Jonge; quilted by Lynda Jackson.

The Art of the Quilt at the 2018 International Quilt Festival

Written by: Kimberly A. Suta | Photos Courtesy of: International Quilt Festival

When you think of quilts, you may still recall idyllic memories of your grandmother, or even great grandmother, quilting in her rocking chair on the porch. However, the International Quilt Festival in Houston is proof that quilting is not just a thing of the past.

In fact, Houston is home to the largest quilt festival in America. This year, the 2018 International Quilt Festival, which began in 1975, will be showcasing more than 1,700 magnificent quilts and textile artworks. Additionally, shoppers will have almost 1,000 booths to peruse, each selling a variety of unique quilts, patterns, books, crafts, notions, machines, and sewing supplies.

“The Beauty Shop” (33″ x 40″) by Hollis Chatelain.

For the quilting aficionado, this is a dream come true. The festival also offers hundreds of lectures, special events, and even classes, which span the gamut. For example, one class teaches you a method for creating art quilts using unique circles of silk, while another teaches you how to apply painted details. From roaring tigers to Santa pooches, there is no limit to the kinds of quilts you can learn to make this year, whether you are a pro, novice, art lover, young, or older.

“We are seeing a little influx of the younger generation quilting, but typically the age range is 55-65,” said Bob Ruggiero, Vice President of Communications. Ruggiero also explained that modern quilts, known as art quilts, are the ones which will be displayed for viewing at the festival.

These quilts are typically meant to be hung on a wall as a piece of artwork, because that is what they are. They often look like paintings as opposed to the traditional geometric patterns and shapes you might expect. “We’re seeing a trend of pictorial quilts. They look like a person, an animal, a naturescape, a fabric photograph. There’s a big increase in these both at the show and in the contests,” Bob said.

Although the largest quilt festival in the world takes place in Japan, the International Festival will be enjoyed by a whopping 55,000 people this year throughout the four-and-a-half-day event.

Quilts may not be forgotten, but it seems the utilitarian purpose of quilts is on its way out. Although, Ruggiero pointed out that people still make quilts for friends to put on their beds, art quilts are what people come to see, and they can have a dramatic impact on the viewers.

“Adoration” (17″ x 21″) by Lorraine Turner.
hoto Courtesy of: Brian James.

“The most surprising thing I see is when people who might have been dragged there by someone walks away just not believing what they’re looking at, something made with just fabric and thread,” Bob said.

Sometimes the quilts make statements too. After 9/11, over 300 quilters sent in quilts as an homage to that unforgettable day for that year’s festival, which took place only six weeks later. “Some quilts had the twin towers on fire, one had a picture of Osama Bin Laden on it with stitched-in green army men attacking him. It struck me emotionally. People were just stunned and crying when they saw all these quilts. We had to keep replenishing the tissue boxes,” Bob shared. When you realize a quilt can take upwards of two or three years to make, it is even more of a statement.

If you are looking to be pleasantly surprised by some unbelievably beautiful art quilts this year, make sure to get your tickets. Classes are selling out fast! Find out more at: