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NW Quilting Expo - Bigger and better than ever

The northwest's largest quilt expo runs through this Saturday at Portland Expo Center

These are a few of the 2015 quilts that won top honors at last years NW Quilting Expo. Attendees of the show will be amazed by the quality of all the quilts. 2015 Best in Show: 'Hard Times' by Lynn CzabanThe Northwest Quilting Expo is back for a 16th edition, and it’s bigger and better than ever – again. If that seems like a recurring theme — the expo growing in scope and popularity every single year — that’s probably because it is. This year’s iteration of the Expo will display nearly 700 quilts in total, includes 14 total special and guild exhibits, a large handful of featured instructors and hands-on classes, make and take opportunities, and of course 12 juried quilt categories among other attractions.

2015 Founders' Choice: 'Horse' by Judith PhelpsFrom Sept. 22-24 the Northwest’s best quilters will once again flock to the Portland Expo Center to view breath-taking quilts from some of the nation’s top talents. The quilt art on display promises to stun, and the number and variety of classes is vaster than it’s ever been in the show’s 16-year history.

The NW Quilting Expo was created by The Pine Needle owner Geri Grasvik, A Common Thread owner Laura Dickson as well as long-time quilter Shellie O’Donnell with the intention of providing an arena for the area’s top talent to share their works and knowledge with one another. It’s since grown into the largest quilting expo in the entire northwest, attracting big-name quilters from all over while inspiring the industry’s best to continue to push the boundaries of quilting.

2015 Intermediate Quilt, Third Place: 'Jellyfish Hexie Quilt' by Gail Weiss“There’s so much talent and the Northwest really is a hub for quilting,” Grasvik says. “There’s an immense amount of talent, and I still believe that a great deal of the quilting momentum comes from the Northwest. I think we inspire a lot of what happens in the rest of the country. When we started the Expo we wanted it to be something we were proud of, but we had no idea that it would grow to be something this big.”

One unique twist at this year’s NW Quilting Expo is WestSide Modern Quilt Club’s featured exhibit “Tribal Winds, A Northwest Native American Exploration,” which has turned into a theme of sorts for the entire event. Approximately 30 pieces dedicated to Northwest Native Americans with different meanings and backstories will be on display, and will be joined by a similar exhibit in the form of Oregon Historical Society’s “Oregon is Indian Country.” There, Expo-goers can gain an appreciation for the area’s rich Native American history while gazing at many Native American-inspired works.

And while sure to be one of this year’s largest attractions, the two featured exhibits are just a couple of examples of what will be on display during the Expo, which is open from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday. Exhibits from well-known quilters 2015 Intermediate Quilt, First Place: 'The A-MAZE-ing State Game' by Flora JoyLaurie Shifrin, Lisa Jenni, Helen Remnick, Joyce Becker, Colleen Wise and Leotie Richards are just a few of the exciting attractions this year.

The Expo is also carefully set up so that interested participants can partake in a wide variety of lectures and hands-on classes in the morning while still managing to view the large array of quilts in the afternoon. Cost is $10 per day or $27 for a three-day pass, which is a bargain considering the quality of the 14 special exhibits and massive guild projects that will be on display.

2015 Small Quilt, First Place: 'Tree of Life' by Cathy Erickson And with so many quilts to see it will be easy to work up an appetite — a problem that’s easily solved by multiple local food trucks that will be on hand Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Expo attendees will also get the chance to marvel at some of the best works quilting has to offer while meeting some of the industry’s most high-profile quilters. Rising stars like Coleen Barnhart and Michael McCormick will be in attendance, as will “Pieces of Portland” authors Marie Deatherage and Joyce Brekke among many other notable names.

“It’s always improving in some way,” O’Donnell says. “We have vendors coming from all over the country, and quilts are getting entered from all over the world.”

“It’s a great opportunity to meet some of the celebrities in our industry,” Grasvik says.

Grasvik says one thing that sets this year’s iteration apart from previous Expos is the converging of two quilting worlds — modern quilting and traditional quilting. For years Portland has been a hotbed for new and inventive quilters in addition to proven traditional professionals. Recently, however, those two movements are beginning to combine as evidenced by many of the quilts on display at the NW Quilting Expo.

One of several special exhibits at the NW Quilting Expo this year is from the WestSide Modern Quilt Club. They will debut 'Tribal Winds, A Northwest Native American Exploration' for the first time at the show. Geri Grasvik from the club says they created 30 Native American-inspired quilts for the exhibit.“Here’s the modern movement and it’s fresh and young and new, and here’s the traditional over here. These two worlds are beginning to come together,” Grasvik says. “The traditional girl is getting into more modern quilting and the modern girl is doing a lot more of the traditional quilting. We’re moving toward blending those two styles and the results are incredible.”

O’Donnell says the Expo is excited to display the cutting edge quilting developments, along with everything else the longstanding event has to offer.

“I think all three of us (O’Donnell, Grasvik and Dickson) are proud of how far this event has come and how cherished it is among the quilting community,” she says.

“We’re proud of how hard we’ve worked to survive many challenges through the years and continue to grow the show,” Grasvik says.


WHEN: Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 22-24. 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Portland Expo Center

FEATURED EXHIBITS: Fourteen in total, including debut of WestSide Modern Quilt Club’s “Tribal Winds, A Northwest Native American Exploration”

FOOD: Multiple local food carts will be on hand in addition to food sold by the Portland Expo Center.