Chicago - Special Exhibits

A Celebration of Color

Sponsored by Aurifil Threads

Whatever your style…quilt colorfully! This annual judged competition is open to quilters working in any style, and who like to play with color 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 is making its Festival debut in Chicago.

Traditional Midwest and Canadian Quilts

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

Quilts for Scrap Lovers

Organized by Judy Gauthier

This exhibit showcases scrap quilts that use blocks and designs from Gauthier's two books, Quilts for Scrap Lovers  and Rainbow Quilts for Scrap Lovers. There is an emphasis here on using scraps that are normally considered difficult for quilts, and design elements must incorporate multiple lines of fabric and demonstrate interesting ways of grouping. This exhibit is making its Festival debut in Chicago.

HERstory – A Celebration of Strong Women


Curated by Susanne M. Jones

You studied history. Come and view HERstory. Quilts in this exhibit celebrate the amazing things that women have accomplished since receiving the right to vote. Artists from eight countries created tributes to both well-known women and those who worked behind the scenes.

Quilts: A World of Beauty

Presented by the International Quilt Association
Sponsored by Riley Blake

See winners and finalists from the 2017 annual judged show of members of the International Quilt Association. More than $96,000 in cash, non-purchase prizes were awarded in 20+ categories. This is where artists from around the world send in their best work to compete.

SAQA: Textile Posters

Sponsored by Innova

The history of the poster as art started towards the end of the 19th century, when Jules Cheret created posters as a recognizable form of public announcement. They were plastered on public walls throughout Europe for promotion or propaganda, and these quilts take that concept further.

SAQA: Masterworks: Abstract and Geometric

Sponsored by Innova

This is an invitational exhibit featuring one work from each of the 29 artists featured in the new book Art Quilts International: Abstract & Geometric by Martha Sielman. They represent a range of styles across the abstract art spectrum.

Creative Stitching

Sponsored by WonderFil Specialty Threads

This exhibit shows the captivating journey of Sue Spargo’s artistic evolution. Through her innovative touch and originality, her work features stunning detail, lavish texture, and bold dimensions. Viewers will be inspired by the unparalleled craftsmanship and imaginative stitching.


I Am An Artisan Challenge

Kaffe Fassett is the undisputed genius of color. Now, his decades of experience from his work in painting, knitting, needle arts, and patchwork come together in his newest collection of fabrics called Artisan. This special exhibit features 12 juried quilts showcasing the new line.


In the American Tradition—Appliquéd

In the American Tradition—Pieced

Sponsored by Janome

Contemporary quiltmakers often look to the art form’s rich tradition for inspiration in their own works. This exhibit features recently-made quilts that harken back to that time with traditional blocks, styles, and techniques as their design source.


In Full Bloom

Sponsored by Sew Batik

Just as quilters create beautiful pieces of art with fabric, florists and gardeners cultivate works of beauty from the soil. This exhibit combines the two with wonderful flower-themed quilts from across the spectrum in all their color and splendor.


Rising Stars: Sarah Ann Smith and Karlyn Bue Lohrenz

This new, ongoing exhibit features notable artists whose work has developed and shown growth over time. Here, get introduced (or re-introduced) to the works of Smith and Lohrenz.


My Wearable Art Journey . . . So Far

Gilbert Muniz reflects on a decade’s worth of wearable art designs that blur the line between fashion
and craft.


Viewpoints 9: Word

Curated by Martha Wolfe

This fiber art group shares inspirations and works of members online. What emerges is a narrative with each artist’s perspective and a glimpse of their creative process. This exhibit is an intimate translation of feelings and fascinations transcending language, distance, and culture.


Hands All Around 2017

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.


Tactile Architecture™

Buildings have always inspired quiltmakers. In the 19th century, American quilters developed such classic architectural patterns as Log Cabin, Schoolhouse, and Brick Wall. This annual exhibit challenges quiltmakers to create works based on architectural themes and inspirations.


Personal Iconography: Graffiti on Cloth

Presented by Dinner at Eight Artists

Co-curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison

This exhibit represents the artists’ interpretation of “Graffiti on Cloth.” From the organizers: “An artistic expression based on personal style. An underlying social message. A story that is told through lines, shapes and imagery. A graphic landscape that conveys a story. A mark, an object, an idea.”


Stars All Around

This exhibit spotlights the many star designs featured in antique and vintage quilts, including eight-
pointed, four-pointed, and other variations. Designs can vary in appearance depending upon the perspective of the viewer and type of fabrics used to create it. The quilts included are from the collection
of Cindy’s Antique Quilts.


The Learning Spot

Cherished and well-loved family quilts are often in need of a little repair work. This exhibit illustrates some of the ways you can preserve your family’s treasured quilts.


Found and Stitched

As an artist, Pat Kroth has worked in a variety of media, including painting, printmaking, and photography. She is drawn to cast-off, remnant, and forgotten materials, and collects and incorporates fabric and found objects with interesting texture, color, and personal significance into her fiber artworks.



The 2018 PAQA challenge was to interpret the idea of illumination in an art quilt. This could be an actual representation of light, an abstract concept of enlightenment, highlighting a social issue, or an illuminating idea upon which to expand.  Artists were encouraged to use their imaginations and help shed a new and different light on PAQA art quilts.


Coming Soon!

This area offers you a glimpse at some of the exhibits that will be on display at this year’s International Quilt Festival in Houston. We invite you to consider entering your work in one (or many!) of our exhibit calls for entry. Featured in “Coming Soon” is Badlands, which we hope will pique your interest in our new “Landscape Quilts” exhibit. We are also currently hosting a call for the “Primitive Quilts” exhibit.