Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Sunday was my birthday (#42!). On a bit of a whim, I decided to go to the International Quilt Festival at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. (People who live in or near Chicago may have the same Rosemont associations that I have: it's a mob town, it has lots of strip clubs because of its proximity to O'Hare Airport [I'm not sure why stripping and big airports seem to go together, but it was the same way in Denver, where I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s....].)

I've been wanting to go to a big sewing or quilting expo for a couple of years, but the timing has always been bad--either Elliot had two baseball games in a single weekend, or my boss needed me to attend meetings for her on the days when a convention was in town. I found out about this one just a couple of days before it happened, so there was no opportunity to worry about whether I'd be disappointed at the last minute.

Cut to the chase: I had so much fun! I was there for about five hours, totally on my own (though I found myself wishing that my sister-in-law Carrie was with me--I think she would have had fun looking at the amazing art quilts, especially the nature-themed ones). I loved the quilts--even though I'm not a great (or disciplined) quilter--and I got ideas for new quilts to work on. I'd be lying, though, if I said that the exhibits (which were *totally fabulous*) were the high point of my trip. It was definitely, definitely the shopping I enjoyed most. There were vendors selling everything from the divine (Burmese silks, vintage Czech glass buttons, sewing patterns from the 1890s on) to the tacky (Poo Pourri toilet deodorizer, rhinestone studded reading glasses, lots of American flag-themed quilt patterns) to the intriguingly technical (YLI fusible thread [which I bought], $7000 long arm quilting machines, environmentally friendly batting made of corn).

My favorite booth by far was Color in Stitches, where I bought cloth-covered buttons by Lilac Bow Yoke. It took me forever to decide which sets of buttons I wanted to go home with; not surprisingly, I bought too much. At other booths I bought a grab bag of vintage cloth, fat quarters of Judie Rothermel's Art Deco series, plus some fat quarters of Japanese cottons and smaller bits of cotton kimonos.

The selection of vintage (and antique) patterns at one vendor's booth (and I'm blanking on the vendor's name) was amazing. I came away with one for me , and one for Astrid (I can't get the photo to load, but it's an early 60s pair of clam diggers and a "shallow necked sleeveless over top with patch pockets"--the kind of thing I might be able to adapt to make it reversible. I will do almost anything to avoid having to make facings....I hate wearing clothes with facings, so it seems like useless work....)

Perhaps my favorite moment of the day--the one that made me feel like I'm part of a real, not just virtual, community of sewers--was when a 20-something young woman said, "Hey, Mom!", and at least five women answered "What?" Only one of them was *her* mom, but they were all mothers of daughters. Everyone was laughing, and then I heard an older voice call out, "You should hear what would've happened if she'd said, 'Hey, Grandma!' We outnumber all you moms!" I thought about the summer playclothes I was dreaming up for Astrid at that very moment, and I felt close to all those mothers and grandmothers in a way that I usually don't, because I don't usually get to talk with them.

Speaking of mothers who sew with and for their kids, today I received my very own copy of Amanda Blake Soule's new book, The Creative Family. Thanks, Carrie and Tony! I can't wait to read it.


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Anonymous said...

I'm so curious about the fusible thread. Tell me what you use it for. I tried that corn-based batting and really hated it. It melts under an iron. It didn't ruin my quilt, but it was pretty scary to think it might.

I'm glad you like the book--lots of good projects.

Happy Birthday!