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Sewing, Quilt Expo Celebrates Fabric Arts

Photo by Amber Loutfi

Irving—The Original Sewing & Quilt Expo came to Irving Aug. 19–21, bringing opportunities to learn and shop, while marveling at pieces by talented quilters and sewers from around the nation.

Presented at the Irving Convention Center, the expo featured a variety of exhibitors, quilt galleries, daily classes and workshops, competitions, and auctions. Quilts and fabric creations spanned the halls.

“The event travels from city to city,” Mark Ingraham, director of the expo, said. “We celebrate quilt making, sewing, garment sewing, embroidery, and anything textile arts related. We bring the local community together to meet with nationally recognized educators, designers, and teachers who travel with us.

“Our main focus is education. There are over 150 hands-on classes, workshops, and seminars. We have over 100 machines for people to work on in our classrooms all weekend long.

“Sewing and quilt-making is at an all-time high. The number of sewing machines that manufacturers sold in the U.S. was bigger than any other year. People are interested in a high-quality hobby. You create a one-of-a kind item.”

Beth Rhodes, a past president of the Trinity Valley Quilters Guild,found the craft useful as a member of a military family.

“Every time I moved to a new place, I would find the local quilt guild,” Rhodes said. “It’s a good way to meet people from the area.

“We make over 3,000 quilts a year for [John Peter Smith] Hospital in Fort Worth. We do a lot for our community besides making beautiful quilts.My friends are who I’ve met through the quilt guild.”

Katheryn McNeilage attended the event and has sewn all her life.

“I’ve been wanting to come to this for years,” McNeilage said. “I love seeing all the creativity from everybody and all the new and different things coming out. It makes me excited to try something different.

“It’s endearing to be able to give somebody a gift that you’ve been able to make yourself.As we’ve had to quarantine so much, people tended to think toward loved ones we’ve lost. I think [quilting and sewing] has helped people be creative, have less boredom and reach out, even if not in person, to get involved.”

Sue Boyle noted there is often a story behind the impressive creation.

“I like quilts that when you read the stories, mean something to the person who made it,” Sue said. “They’re trying to speak to you through the quilt. [I’m] excited for more people to come and enjoy and experience the show.”

Arlina Hill, president of Sew Concept, was a vendor at the expo.

“Having an event like this means you’re supporting the area,” Hill said. “We get to make things for organizations such as the Battered Women’s Association or for hospitals. We get to give, and you get the love and joy in return.”

“[Sewing and quilting is] calming, and it’s a time to give. It’s the most loving industry, all about sharing, giving your knowledge to someone else and accepting theirs. We learn from each other.”

Marilyn Potter has been quilting since she was a young girl.

“My mom taught us to sew when we were young,” Potter said. “We would use blanket binding to put the squares together and flannel on the back, and we called those quilts. We’d give them as baby presents for our friends.

“I like to come to these shows to get new ideas and see the quilts other people are making to get inspiration. I like to shop at the vendors and see all the new materials and gadgets which make quilting easier.”

Julie Luoma with Off The Wall Quilts drove to the event from Florida.

“Texas is known for quilters,” Julie Luoma said. “They are willing to think outside the box.You won’t see [their quilts] anywhere else. It’s amazing what people can express with a needle and thread. It spans generations.”

Terrie Myers, Donna Bergman, and Tanya Stevens, are a few of the quilters who attended the event.

“It’s great to see some of the beautiful art they’ve done, and the simple things that I can do,” Myers said.“There really are no errors. Quilters usually aren’t critical of other’s work, because we all had to start somewhere.”

“I like to see the color combinations I wouldn’t normally choose,” Bergman said. “I find it relaxing.”

“You can be in your own little world and create,” Stevens said. “If you can sew in a straight line, you can quilt.”