Egyptian quilt.

Some 15,000 quilting enthusiasts are coming to central Iowa for this week’s International Quilt Show and Contest.

The show’s executive director, Bonnie Browning of the American Quilter’s Society, says she’s expecting participants from at least 40 states and five countries for the exhibition which opened this morning  at 9.

“This isn’t just a quilt show like you think of grandma’s quilts,” Browning says. “This is really an art show. If anyone likes to see wall art of any kind, this is just a different medium. We use fabric as our medium.”

 The show will include displays of more than a thousand quilts and some 300 vendor booths.

It will also feature a collection of about a hundred highly-detailed Egyptian quilts, all hand-sewn mostly by men.

Egyptian quilt.

“They made these pieces to go on the inside of ceremonial tents that they used for weddings and funerals,” Browning says.

 “In today’s world, someone else has taken their designs and printed them on cloth, so a lot of their business, where they used to sell them for those ceremonial tents is now gone, so they’re seeking other markets.”

Some of the quilts are for sale. “They run in the range of $250 for a small piece and I believe the most expensive one is about $1500,” she says.

“What you have to realize is that $1500 quilt probably took them six months to make.”

The quilt show runs today through Saturday at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Learn more at: