From November 8 - 11, 2017, the International Quilt Festival was held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. I spent three full days at the convention, and I have to say my eyes were well and truly opened to the vast world of quilting.
I was delighted to talk with the ladies at the SAQA exhibit, and signed up for a membership. They assured me my work qualifies as an art quilt under SAQA's guidelines, despite my not currently using any stitching. I was asked why I didn't have a piece hanging in the exhibit, and I had to admit I didn't even know about the show until I met Ellen Lindner back in September.
I also attended a lecture given by Martha Sielman, the SAQA Executive Director, on the top 10 trends in art quilts. Martha sees thousands upon thousands of art quilts, and it was thoroughly enlightening to get her take on what's currently popular in the art quilting world. Many of the quilts in her lecture were on display at the SAQA exhibit on the showroom floor, so we were able to examine them first-hand after the talk.
Last but absolutely not least, I finally figured out what exactly a longarm sewing machine is. There were maybe a dozen vendors at the festival who all had longarms on display, many of which were open to the public for testing. I have to say...I totally fell in love after just five minutes of stitching on one of those machines. I went back all three days we were there to get my hands on those longarms.
I had previously taken a class on free-motion stitching a few months ago, and it is something I've experimented with minimally in my own work. My difficulty has always been keeping the length of my stitches consistent. Thanks to stitch moderation technology on longarm machines, however, that's no longer a problem. The sewing machine controls how fast the needle goes based on how quickly I move the entire machine. It's ingenious, and not something I even knew was possible before this festival. There will absolutely be a longarm sewing machine in my future and I cannot wait to explore this whole new dimension for my artwork.