Quilt Festival Chicago - Special Exhibits


More to be added closer to the show dates!

A Celebration of Color


Whatever your style…quilt colorfully! This new judged competition and exhibit is open to quilters working in any style who like to play with color and design to create a vibrant work! A $5,000 Best of Show Award and three $1,000 prizes each in Traditional, Modern, and Art categories will be awarded. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

Beauty in Pieces: Scrap Quilts for the
21st Century

Juried by Mary Fons and Rhianna Griffin


When there’s an abundance of fabric in the world, the scrap quilt beckons. Surprising combinations, refreshed perspectives, riots of color, and attendant pattern adaptations mean scrap quilts are always one of a kind. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

Traditional Midwest and Canadian Quilts
Sponsored by Sew Steady


An exhibit of traditional-style quilts by artists from the midwest states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and the provinces of Manitoba and Ontario in Canada. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

Mod Squad Quilts
Sponsored by Janome


An exhibit of Modern-style quilts by artists from the midwest states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and the provinces of Manitoba and Ontario in Canada. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

Natural Born Quilters


Frieda Anderson, Emily Parson, and Laura Wasilowski are all Chicagoland artists inspired by the beauty of the midwest. Frieda is fascinated by leaves everyday on her walks in the woods near her home. Emily creates giant flowers that portray the happiness of nature. And Laura’s wit and enthusiasm come through in her whimsical landscapes. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

Northwood Awakening


Northwood Awakening is a 25-foot wide Photofiber landscape art work that combines photography and quilting. It represents the renewal of flora in Michigan’s northwood forests as they awaken from winter hibernation and explode as trees, flowers, and plants engage the season of renewal. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

Stitched Together

Co-curated by Pat Kroth and Cynthia Wenslow


Members of the Studio Art Quilt Associates Illinois/Wisconsin region created these contemporary art quilts which explore the theme of “togetherness.” Techniques here include surface design, machine and hand stitching, and embellishment. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

The Hexagon Revolution
Sponsored by Paper Pieces


Quilters have long used hexagons in quiltmaking. Works in this exhibit are based on the book by Katja Marek, The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece and/or The New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt-Along. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

Intentional Improvisation


The artists of the Professonal Art Quilt Alliance (PAQA) were challenged to depart from their familiar ways of working to discover new ideas, themes, and techniques. Members were encouraged to start with one design idea and let it evolve. This method of working is called Intentional Improvisation. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

Trip Around the World in Folk Art Stitches
Sponsored by Akonye Kena


Mankind has an innate urge to create. Evidence for this exists wherever we might go in the world. Each embroidery piece here is inspired by the folk art of different people from different countries and combined into small quilts. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

A Walk in the Park


Quilt artist Jill Kerttula was chosen as the Artist in Residence for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During her time there, she shot hundreds of photos, took many walks, and spent hours in nature. The pieces here were inspired by her stay, and integrate digital imagery with different quilting techniques to create a hybrid fiber art. This exhibit makes its Festival debut in Chicago.

Quilts: A World of Beauty

Presented by the International Quilt Association


See winners and finalists from this annual judged show of the International Quilt Association. Last year, more than $96,000 in cash, non-purchase prizes were awarded in 20+ categories. This is where artists from around the world send their best work to compete.

Christmas Quilts, Christmas Memories


The book Christmas Quilts, Christmas Memories (edited by Karey Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant) features heartwarming, often poignant, memories of Christmases past by well-known quilters, teachers, and others in the quilt world, along with 50 gorgeous antique red and green quilts from the famed International Quilt Festival collection. See the quilts in this exhibit, where the book will be available for purchase.

Fly Me to the Moon

Sponsored by Moda

Curated by Susanne M. Jones


An exuberant exhibit of dolls highlighting the amazing artistry of cloth dollmakers from around the world. You'll see a wonderful variety of over 150 creations that are realistic, humorous, and fanciful.

In Full Bloom 2016


Magnificent flowers have always motivated and inspired artists and gardeners. This juried exhibit celebrates the tradition of floral quiltmaking. It is in memory of Helen Pearce O’Bryant, mother of Quilts, Inc. Executive Vice President Nancy O’Bryant. Look for the Ina Stentiford Memorial Award-winning quilt.

In the American Tradition: Appliquéd

& In the American Tradition: Pieced

Pieced exhibit sponsored by Magic Clip


This annual exhibit features recently made quilts and is a beautiful showcase for contemporary artists influenced by traditional designs and patterns. All are based on a documented 20th century or earlier American design or pattern.

Inspired by Color: Art Quilts by Kathy York


A collection of art quilts made with hand-dyed and batik fabrics made in the artist’s home studio, exploring shape, design, and storytelling.


Kona Color of the Year


These mini quilts feature a curated selection of Kona Cotton with an emphasis on the 2016 color of the year, “Highlight.”

SAQA: Tranquility

Sponsored by Innova


Tranquility is a quality or state of being, possessing the concepts of quiet, peacefulness, calmness, or serenity. Quilts here celebrate that gentle melding of thoughts and consciousness that many seek on the path of personal enlightenment.

SAQA: Turmoil

Sponsored by Innova


Turmoil is a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty. It can be personal and internal, societal, or natural. This exhibition features work that depicts chaos, discord, imbalance, and tumult. Artists were challenged to explore the meaning of turmoil in their own lives.

Hands All Around 2016


Artists around the world incorporate influences from their own cultures into their designs and techniques. This prestigious, long-running international showcase includes recent quilts by talented international artists.

Landscape Impressions


The inspiration for these works is the landscape of the United States. The primary technique used here is reminiscent of the pointillism of the Neo-Impressionist painters. Where they used dots of paint, the quilting technique uses tiny bits of colorful fabrics, which make the landscapes come to life.


Presented by Dinner at Eight Artists

Co-curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison


Quilts that celebrate the concept and construction of patterns. There are patterns that occur naturally, and those that can be created; patterns that are sequenced, and those that create a strong visual image. There are patterns all around us.

Primitive/Folk Art Style Quilts


The best primitive quilts featuring all styles and techniques from hand-pieced to machine made. Two categories are showcased: quilts created from original designs, and those from a published pattern.

Twenty Years of Dear Jane ®

Curated by Brenda Papadakis


Dear Jane was introduced in 1996, along with an exhibit of quilts made from classes in Indiana. Twenty years later, with almost 130,000 copies sold, people in over 35 countries are still enjoying their Jane Journey. The works here celebrate the common bond of friendships formed and quilts made.

Viewpoints 9: Constants and Variables

Curated by Martha Wolfe


This collection from the blog-based fiber art group, challenged members to respond to a physical variable in their work within a constant personal theme of their choosing.

The Learning Spot

Quilters often master a favorite technique and then expand their knowledge by learning new ones. This area hopes to contribute to that practice. Get introduced to one of today’s more popular handwork techniques, paper piecing (Hexes), with examples and how-to's.