Thoughts about Houston

Hurricane Harvey may have come and gone (and come back again as a tropical storm), but its effects on the Gulf Coast will be felt for years to come. Like many of my colleagues in the quilt industry, I feel a bit more invested in the area’s recovery than normal because of Houston’s role as the home of Quilts, Inc., the parent company behind International Quilt Festival and International Quilt Market.

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Gigi and me, just two quilt editors goofing off in Robert Kaufman Fabrics’ photo booth during Quilt Market 2013 in Houston

I’ve been to Houston for Fall International Quilt Market, the trade show component, a few times. As business trips go, it’s pretty awesome. First of all, you have the beautiful booths on the convention floor displaying new fabric collections, threads, glittering machines, and all sorts of gadgets.

In a neighboring hall, you find the quilt exhibits, including the World of Beauty competition quilts surrounded by many special exhibits of art quilts, modern quilts, historic quilts and so on. It’s literally eye-candy for days. If you ever go to Fall Quilt Festival immediately after Market, make sure to spend a good portion of your time taking in the quilt exhibits. You will never find a better source of quilt inspiration than that.

Aside from the meetings and the business side of things, Market is just fun. The people are great, and the after-hours gatherings, while never seeming to get wildly out-of-hand (we are talking about quilters here, after all) are sociable and full of energy and provide the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I look forward to going back someday.

The good news for the quilt industry is that plans for this year’s International Quilt Market and Festival are progressing as usual. Quilts, Inc., founder and CEO Karey Bresenhan posted the following on the Quilts, Inc., website:

We would like to thank all who have sent messages of support to us in response to the devastating flooding taking place in our home city of Houston. We are happy to report that all of our staff is safe, and that our office did not suffer any damages.

Many others have not been so lucky, and we ask that you keep Houston and all areas that have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey in your thoughts, and, if possible, consider making a contribution toward organizations involved in the ongoing relief efforts.

We have also heard from many people asking whether they should cancel their plans to attend this year’s International Quilt Market and/or International Quilt Festival in Houston. We want to assure you that there is no reason to cancel any travel plans, as both shows are still scheduled to go on.

The shows are still two months away, and we have full confidence that our city will bounce back quickly, as it has always done. Also, neither the George R. Brown Convention Center nor the Downtown Houston hotels were damaged in the flooding.

At this time, our office remains closed, and will until it is safe for our staff to return to work. We will post an announcement to our website and social media when the office reopens. In the meantime, we ask that you be patient in receiving a response to any calls or emails.

Thank you!
Karey Bresenhan
Founder and CEO
Quilts, Inc.

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the view from my window of downtown Houston, October 2014

But in the meantime, Houston has an enormous job of recovery ahead. For now, all disaster relief organizations are stressing that what they need more than anything is cash donations.

This is the point during a disaster at which we quilters usually want to help by organizing quilt drives to donate to victims. In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Quilts, Inc., sponsored the Quilters Comfort America campaign to get quilts into the hands of people who had lost everything. It’s no surprise that quilters responded in such force that within a couple of weeks, Quilts, Inc., said they couldn’t accept anymore quilts.

So far, Quilts, Inc. has not said anything about quilts for Hurricane Harvey victims. I assure you that if they do, we’ll spread the word. And then quilters will do what quilters do best, which is create tangible hugs out of fabric and batting to let people know that they are not alone.

About Mary Kate Karr-Petras

Mary Kate is an associate editor at McCall's Quilting and McCall's Quick Quilts. If you ask her what type of quilter she considers herself, she'll answer, "Slow." Favorite techniques include hand quilting, both traditional and big stitch, but she also loves her walking foot and keeps meaning to get better acquainted with her open-toe embroidery foot.
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2 Responses to Thoughts about Houston

  1. Ruth Gawlikoski says:

    And many of us have relatives in the Houston area. I guess the best we can do is pray a lot.

  2. Dana Gaffney says:

    Some of the animal rescues in and around Houston have asked for small quilts to line the bottom of crates, something soft and comforting. I’m spending my weekend sewing as fast as possible.

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