As usual, my November column covers some aspect of the Houston International Quilt Festival.

Since 1985 I’ve attended this Festival every year except two. I (and a friend) arrived in Houston on Wednesday afternoon in time for the “Sneak Peek.” The show is open to all who are pre-registered. We “special” people get into the show from 5 to 7 p.m., and then the doors are open to regular ticket holders for the remainder of the evening.

At this point, my friend and I split up. She headed for the quilts and I headed for the vendors. There are some vendors I like to visit ASAP in order to have the best selection.

For the past two years the George Brown Convention Center has undergone extensive renovations, as well as the street in front of the GBCC.

One of the results of this renovation is shorter rows of vendors. So there are the same number of rows — this year 23 rows — but since the rows are shorter, I’m thinking there have been fewer vendors over the past several years.

One reason I’ve heard from the vendors themselves is that the cost of a booth has increased to the point it’s cost prohibitive.

Another reason is that in the spring there is a big show put on by Quilts, Inc. (the producer of the Houston Festival) in Chicago.

I’ve missed some of the regular vendors ... Nancy’s Notions, Skydyes, and several vendors selling pantographs to name a few. On the other hand, there are always new vendors that are selling interesting items at the quilt show.

I signed up for two luncheons and two classes this year. One class was with Ricky Tims. He’s been attending and teaching at the show for years but this was the first year I signed up for a class with him.

This class was a lecture and demonstration class. It was interesting to hear how Ricky began his quilting career from his humble beginnings to how he designs and quilts now.

I picked up a couple nuggets of information I plan to use in my quilting projects.

My other class was a hands-on long-arm quilting class learning to use the specialty rulers and templates that are all the rage now. I learned some new techniques at this class also and, of course, purchased some of these rulers for future projects.

I feel my money for a class is well spent if I learn something new from it. Everyone has their own system for choosing a class.

My criteria was to learn what is being taught. Other quilters choose a class because of who is teaching it. I confess that I’ve enrolled in a class because Georgia Bonesteel was teaching it. I also enrolled in a class with Joen Wolfram because I loved the quilts she makes. Georgia is a wonderful teacher, Joen not so much.

Some years I’ve enrolled in a class that was a complete disappointment. I try not to have expectations about a class before I take it because I usually learn something I can take back to my quilting studio for future projects.

If you’re thinking about upgrading your sewing machine, the festival is the place to do it.

All the sewing machines that are used in the classrooms are put on sale and on Sunday you can pick up a slightly used machine for as much as half off.

I brought home a new Husqvarna Topaz this year. Now I have to learn all the bells and whistles of my new machine.

Nancy C. JUDD is a Herald correspondent.

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