Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Sewing Heaven

On Thursday, I travelled to Birmingham to meet up with my sister Adele as we were attending the International Festival of Quilts at the NEC the following day.  We spent the afternoon and evening chatting relentlessly and eating and drinking, ie. it was great!  We were very excited at the prospect of a whole day indulging in fabrics and sewing.  

We were booked to attend a talk by Amy Butler on her inspirations at 9:30am so we eagerly set off on a morning which felt decidedly autumnal.  For anyone who doesn't know who Amy Butler is, she is an American designer of fabrics and sewing patterns and has also written some books, several containing sewing projects and one which is largely design inspirational (Midwest Modern).  I love them all!  If you fancy, have a look at her website.  We were really pleased to note that Amy herself was taking our tickets on the door and welcoming us in.  What a nice (and unexpected) touch.  We were a small group of 70 attending her talk and she made us feel instantly at ease.  Even better, on our chairs, a goody pack was waiting!  It contained a couple of quilt patterns, some gift cards (which she designs for K & Co),  a couple of booklets full of photos of her designs and projects (drool!) and a cute little postcard bearing more of her designs.  

There was a page devoted to her new collection "Daisy Chain" which she says is coming out in a few weeks:

Her talk encompassed most of her life, from her studies in fashion and design to the jobs she has held, the homes (and gardens) she has lived in and the people close to her, (including her 3 cats), to her modern day business.  She also covered the places she has visited which inspire her (several National Trust gardens in England, Mexico etc).  There was a slideshow to accompany her talk which was great, such gorgeous photographs (her husband is also her photographer, handy).  We were able to ask her questions throughout the talk.

Afterwards, Amy showed us some fabric samples she had brought along, particularly from her most recent home decorator range, August Fields.

She had also brought some samples with her of items made up in her fabrics; cushions, bags, quilts and a dress. She was an absolutely lovely person, so natural and happy to chat and answer people's questions. She really restored our faith that there are still such warm and friendly people out there (along with all us bloggers, of course).  The hour and a half talk was over all too soon and we eagerly made our way to the main hall for the festival (ie. shopping).

We headed for the Cotton Patch's stall(s), (I have previously purchased quilting supplies from them via the 'net), not least because Amy Butler was going to be spending the day there to sign books, along with Kaffe Fassett of whom we are also fans.   The stalls were chock full of marvellous Rowan fabrics, loads designed by Kaffe and quite a lot designed by Amy, along with just about every sewing/quilting notion you can think of.  

The stall was also decorated with stunning quilts.

There was a display of bags made up in Amy's fabrics and using her sewing patterns:

We snapped up a few "essential" items and Adele purchased Kaffe's new book, Country Garden Quilts, which he signed for her.  Sorry Kaffe, but you weren't very chatty, cheer up mate!

I think it's fair to say, it's unlikely either of us shall actually ever make one of these quilts but the book has gorgeous pictures to look at (know this feeling?)  The quilts were photographed in the gardens of Great Dixter which we had visited a few months earlier:

I realise I've diverged a bit here(!) but it did give me a chance to share these photos which were taken in my pre-blogging days, back in May.

I also bought Amy Butler's new book, "Little Stitches" which is full of sewing projects for babies aged up to 12 months. My friends with babies could be doing quite well over the coming months.  Amy was kind enough to sign this for me and we had a nice chat (take note, Kaffe).

I showed her my bag made with her fabric and a photo of Charlie-Boy on "his" flump (the wonders of the iphone).  The "flump" which Charlie has claimed is made with Amy's Belle fabric and from her "Gumdrop Pillows" pattern. She loved it and then wanted to see photos of our other furry friends and even thanked me for sharing the photos with her.  

We asked her if she was tired from her travels and what has been a hectic week or so since she arrived in England (she's been doing lots of book signings and talks) but she said she didn't feel tired meeting us all and that it was actually the part of her job she loves most.  She is just so refreshingly lovely!

There were loads of other stalls selling all sorts of goodies:  rows and rows of fat quarters; stacks of natural cotton batting; amazing sewing machines (got a spare £3,500 anyone?); crafting books galore.  I bought 3 books which should keep me out of mischief for a few months.

It's often quite frustrating trying to track down craft books so I was a bit like a "child in a sweetie shop" having them all there together.  I picked up one of the stall's business cards which has their web address: www.thehomeworkshop.co.uk.  Might be handy... 

There was a plethora of stalls selling fabric, in particular fat quarters.  It's all too easy to get a bit carried away with these?  I got quite a few to make preserve pot lids, ones with oranges, strawberries and tomatoes etc on them (as these are for presents, these therefore don't count?) I figure the opportunity to add to one's stash in this way doesn't present itself very often.  I'm sure my fellow fabric stashers agree...

I found some great buttons at the, wait for it, "Ooh-Aah Button Lady Stall" (true!)

We also looked at all the quilts on display. There are obviously a lot of very talented (and very patient) people out there. The photographs don't do them justice...

I love this one which uses lots of delicious Rowan fruits, vegetables and flowers fabrics.

It was a fab day, I'll definitely be going again next year and in the meantime, I've got lots of goodies to keep me going...


  1. OmG...It must be really how in heaven :o)
    What a beautiful day you have spent...I wish I could visit it too...
    You have a wonderful blog!
    Many lovely greetings from germany,Patricia

  2. Hi Hen,
    Thanks so much for visiting. I've been looking through your lovely blog and there's too much to mention! I'm putting you on my sidebar right now (if thats ok) so I can keep up with you!
    I'm so envious of anyone who is a 'proper' sewer and think your bags are lovely and oh! all that carltonware....green, green, green with envy. You have some pieces I would love to get my hands on. Do you have any hydrangea? I have one piece, a bowl that I love but it's so rare (and expensive!)
    Deb x

  3. Wow, so much preetinness in this post!
    I so need to lear how to sew...
    That will be, my New Years resolution for next year!
    I copyed the names of the books that you have purchased... they are so preety!
    For sure they will give me motivation to wanting to learn how to sew!
    By the way... Tkanks for stopping by!
    And I must to say that your 6 year old step-son... he is so C.U.T.E.!
    Kisses Kisses
    Debbie Moss

  4. You lucky lady, getting to see Amy Butler speak! That goody bag looks fantastic too! I have one of those books you purchased, but I like the cover of the Sew Pretty Homestyle book too, so thanks for the tip.

  5. I would have loved to meet Amy Butler..I adore her fabrics! I have loads here and not enough time in the day to sit down and create with them! I love the scrapbook papers too, which use her designs..gorgeous!!

  6. After having you as a Flickr contact for so long, it's only just now that I've found my way onto your lovely blog! What a wonderful time you look to have had at the Amy Butler event - I am so envious.

    The Sew & Stow book is on my Amazon wishlist - is it worth buying?

  7. I'm so happy to have found your blog—your photos and writing are a delight to see and read! Great captures of your day at the festival and meeting Amy. She's the real deal, that's for sure :o) I hope to get to attend her slide presentation someday (yummy goody bags) I've been to a couple of her book signings and there's always a happy crowd of us fans in standing in line!

    Your sewing projects are fun to see. Have you been sewing for a long time? Love the embroidered yoyo flowerettes in your flickr set. Really fun!


  8. Thank you for sharing your beautiful day. Your blog is lovely. I feel like I was "almost" there with your clear description........

  9. I think you may have had my dream day. Thanks for the fab write-up.


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