Houston Quilt Festival 2014 -Part 1


My senses are still spinning from one of the best Festivals I have ever attended. I have been going since 2000 and I know this is one I will remember as a highlight year.

What can I say? Karey Bresenhan and Quilts, Inc. really pulled out all of the stops and presented some of the best special exhibits in the show’s history. I am sure you have already seen so many images of the Ruby Jubilee quilts and WOW, I mean– WOW!

Even to this hardcore quit show attendee who is used to seeing impressive displays had goose bumps on goose bumps when my eyes fell upon this display. I was awe struck and for once, speechless.

The exhibit was truly magical and it literally took my breath away.






There were many magical moments at the show this year. What I found REALLY encouraging was the amount of foot traffic in the quilt display areas. Believe it or not, at many of the Houston shows you could hear a pin drop amongst the quilts. While at the Vendor area of the show, one can hardly move forward down an aisle.

This year, I loved seeing so many people actually looking at all of the quilts and exhibits. It made my heart sing.

This little guy was too much and I wanted to take him home. I think many did as they watched him trot alongside his quilter companion with his knight “jockey” bouncing up and down in the saddle in rhythm with his stride. Poor thing, I think he was a little put out with having to stop every few steps and pose…AGAIN. It truly was hilarious to watch that knight bouncing in the saddle as he walked.



The IQA judged show quilts were really good this year although my armchair judging was not in step with the front row (big winner) quilts. But that is the way it goes because judging is subjective and no combination of three judges is going to come up with the same results which keeps it all interesting and also keeps many of us on our toes.

I want the bar raised and I want to be challenged by what others do. I wish some of the people I heard comment could open their minds to the same experience.

In other words, I am not interested in the show quilts being average so my ego is comforted and feels stroked (an empty stroke is more like it). I want the best each and every time. Bring it on, I can handle my work being inferior and grow from the experience.



“Vivaldi by Moonlight” Sandra Leichner

IQA World of Beauty Judged Show:  Merit Quilting Machine–First Place


I felt I got lucky in my category–really lucky. I will do another post on the judged quilts in more detail and some pictures later.

The picture above is my quilt hanging in the show prior to the BLUE RIBBON being pinned on. Yep, first place! Those dragonflies really sparkled under the lights which is what I wanted–cool!



“Renaissance” by Zena Thorpe

IQA World of Beauty Judged Show:  Innovative AppliqueHand applique and hand quilting


The Special Exhibits were just phenomenal. I kept wondering to myself if there were any quilts left out in the wide world of this caliber to show next year. I think we all know that Festival always has a way of introducing us to more eye candy we had no idea existed.

I am always inspired by many of the quilts I see even if the genre is not my thing. A different use of a technique, color, composition, ……

I am really into the Australian style and the exhibit, “The Best of Australian Traditional Quilting” which included the quilts of Di Ford, Michelle Yeo and Carolyn Konig and sponsored by Quiltmania were my favorites. I want to create a mixed applique quilt in this style. Time is a problem but I can dream.



The other Treasure of an exhibit was the “Tristan Boutis” quilt sponsored by Bohin. Such an amazing project and story.So inspiring for me on a creative level and played perfectly to my love of history.




Shopping and all of my finds is also one for another post to itself. However, let me give you an indication of the jungle-like atmosphere and sheer determination it took to navigate the aisles and vendor area….


Could YOU walk through this?

 Throw in way to many scooters and bad scooter drivers (I swear they must drink before they get on and drive those things) and those “$%#$@!” new Costco walkers that are huge and include a seat and you have the MOST FRUSTRATING shopping experience known to man. Maybe that is why the quilt exhibits had so much more traffic? Everyone wanted to get away from the chaos that was the vendor area.

Oh and a friend witnessed a large stroller that did not include a baby. It was a deceptive trick to replace the rolling carts that are no longer allowed (for very good reason). They used the LARGE stroller for storing and carrying their purchases. You do get very bad behavior mixed in with most just wanting to enjoy themselves.

This year I was actively bidding on the IQA auction quilts. Many do not know the names of highly valuable quilters and it is a great strategic advantage to me in auctions. Trendy quilters get the most attention and high dollar bids (who is hot that year), but I know the works that will be quite valuable down the road after the trendy are forgotten and the price paid is a loss, unless you really like it and then the point is moot. You could almost hear my evil laugh, “wha ha ha ha” as I could pick up some high level work without the “trendy” price tag.



I was REALLY lucky to get this piece by Ruth Bloomfield. She is an Australian Quilter who is not only a fabulous artist, but a wonderful person too! I am proud to know her and on cloud nine I got this quilt. It was a fight in the end and I admit, I was sweating on the inside as I had to pounce in the last ten seconds to pull off the win. The picture is all wonky, believe me, this quilt is perfectly square and perfectly beautiful.

I did manage a day and a half at market and was able to accomplish many of the goals I had set out to do. I talked with Weeks Dye Works and Gentle Arts threads and I am excited to start working more with these threads that are difficult for me to get access to. There are some patterns down the road I really really needed these for to include in the thread kits. I also ordered some more Dovos and talked to the Australian distributor about the needles I love and can not get in the states. I can get them now!

From Riley Blake’s booth:

I love red and pink and cute pillows. I have really been dismayed that my little “pink” girl is all grown up and a senior in high school now. I really loved sewing little girly girl things.








I was also lusting after this sewing table to be a large portable table for machine quilting on my domestic machine. Check out the rug, wouldn’t this be cool for a sewing room? oops, I guess I should say…. “stew-dee-oh“.




So here is a Margarita toast to Karey, Nancy and all of the crew at Quilts, Inc. for putting on a SPECTACULAR show this year. Karey, congratulations on your Ruby Jubilee and sharing it in such a momentous way with all of us quilters and quilt lovers.


I hope this first part, the overall experience, of Houston Festival 2014 gives you a taste of what an experience it was to be there.

Now the hard part is coming home and all the orders placed in my absence that need shipping. Yikes! They are on their way.


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About Sandra

I am an Author, Designer, Illustrator and a major international award winning quilt artisan. I love working with fabrics and threads and they have become my medium of choice.

20 thoughts on “Houston Quilt Festival 2014 -Part 1

  1. I think we should all be on carts – maybe we could start a competition in that way – who could carry the most, best left turn, best right turn.
    How many can you run over in one day? NASCAR – Quilter’s Edition.
    We could have fights and confetti.
    I have still not recovered from it all.
    I would order something, but I think I am broke. broken. brokerrer. brokest. Broke Down.

  2. Sandra:

    Congrats on you ribbon. What a thrill for you and all of us, your fans. It would be wonderful to see this quilt in person someday. I am sure photos don’t do it justice.

  3. Thank you, thank you for this first installment, can’wait for the second one,

    More important, CONGRATULATIONS. With all the amazing competition you must have been on cloud 9. Would love to see this quilt up close to fully appreciate your beautiful design and quilting. Well done

  4. I agree with all you said about the show, the vendors, the people shopping, etc. Once I saw an empty cart blocking the aisle. I almost got in it and rode away. Maybe next year I can do that. And I personally witnessed the empty, large stroller with no baby/child. How do you stop it. I have finally quit stumbling over the pull carts only to find they have been replaced by the others.

    This was truly one of the better shows for Quilts, Inc. I’ve been attending since the early 70’s or whenever they started. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.

  5. OMG Tammy, The visual on that had me laughing in hysterics. Maybe I should pass this suggestions(s) on in a Board meeting??? ROFLOL

  6. I can envision everyone on a cart as Tammy suggested. It would be the first Bumper Cart International Quilt Festival in history! Talk about a Quilt Challenge!
    However, I, on the other hand thought there were fewer scooter/carts this year. There were more of the walkers/seat carts out there.
    So many beautiful quilts displayed, and lots of lovely exhibits.
    Back to reality. Back to finishing my hummingbird block. Appliqueing on the last flower and finishing the embellishments.

  7. It was a great festival and I loved every minute. Awesome quilts! I saw empty scooters blocking aisles, too. A friend & I discussed ways to deal with that situation: get on and drive it down a few booths or just turn it on and let it go; tip it over. And, I saw a couple of ladies with rolling bags even though they are clearly prohibited. Oh well: with 60,000 people attending, bound to be one or two!

    Still recovering, physically and financially! But it was worth it!

  8. Hi Sandra,
    You did a great job describing the chaos in the vendors’ aisles. I was there 3 years ago, not an anniversary or anything, and it was wonderful madness then.
    BTW, loved your article in Machine Quilting Unlimited.

  9. I LOVED the show. LOVED the Red and White quilts and want to make one myself. I luckily bought the 500 quilts book on Tuesday. It was great to see many of them hanging and revisit how much I loved them. I saw your quilt, and wished I could have been closer to it. It was fabulous! You give us something to aspire too.
    I didn’t have the issue with the carts/strollers you did. The strollers I saw had babies in them.
    Can hardly wait to see your Naturalist Notebook hanging in Houston.
    Next year?

  10. My friend and I made the trek to Houston three years ago and took every class we could. We are so starved for classes where we live. I rembered packing up in Houston to go on to Phillidalpha and New York and just wanting to get on the plane to come home. We were so tired and still in awe at the vendors and those beautiful quilts. Congratulations on your winning hilt, that must have been such a buzz. Please can we see more detail.

  11. Congratulations, Sandra on your win in Houston! It’s FABULOUS quilt! Since I was not able to make it to Houston this year, I look forward to seeing your next post of some of the quilts. I always love your viewpoints.

  12. Thanks Janet! It seemed kind of weird not seeing a “Janet Stone” quilt in the IQA show but I did see where you were scooping up some awards elsewhere. Congrats right back at you 😀

    See your smile and a quilt next year for 2015?

  13. Lorraine, it was a big buzz especially since I was up against some of the most dedicated domestic and longarm quilters. It was a “virgin” quilt, meaning no judge would know it was my quilt. Yes, yes, they cover the labels but we KNOW certain quilter’s quilts because they have an unmistakable style. The quilt won on its own merits and that is AWESOME to me becuase once again, I had the quilt show entry virgin experience. Who knew one could be a virgin again at this age? 😉

    I will post pictures, but Rachelle Denneny’s quilt was/is absolutely beautiful. She is from Australia and I love her death (Hi Rachelle) her quilt won Best of Australia and was also done on a domestic machine and it is bigger than mine. She was in my category as well. There were so many international “names” who compete on the technique of machine quilting so I am very humble to place as I did.

  14. Oh Beth I so agree! Red is my favorite color and I was in red and white quilt heaven. I want so badly to make a red and white quilt!!!!

  15. Thank you Eileen 🙂

    It was interesting to revisit my journey from the beginning to where I am currently. Writing and taking images for that article also made me realize I need to make a show stopper again. It has been awhile–a loooong while. Oh and my Mom gave me “a talking to” as well so Houston 2015 may be a very special year for you my blog followers. Many of you who have been with me from the blog’s beginning will understand what I mean by this and I will do my best to finish that Magnum Opus quilt that has been five years in the making so far.


    I am very superstitious and that would jinx it. OK???? pretty please? Just know you may be in for a treat if I can finish by deadline time.

    I do have to also get Naturalist’s Notebook done at the same time for you all. 🙂

  16. You know, I think Tammy is on to something here with the Festival Scooter NASCAR. I think it could take a huge frustration we all have and make it funny and reduce the frustration we feel towards those scooter drivers. Maybe throw in some Walker Gymnastics as well? 😉

    Tammy you have the funniest imagination I know, what comes to your twisted brain when you think, walker and gymnastics in the same sentence?

  17. Congrats on the well-deserved award at Festival…. your quilt is stunningly beautiful! Bravo! Many thanks for such a great blog and photos of the Quilt Festival experience. I always look forward to your after-quilt-show blogs. I must mention that there has been much “buzz” about your article in MQU…. many of my friends are discovering that wonderful magazine. 🙂

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