Friday, 21 August 2009

Festival of Quilts

What a day I had yesterday, bloggers! If you've been reading my blog for a while, well a whole year (thank you very much indeed!), you may recall that last August I went up to the Birmingham NEC to the "International Festival of Quilts". A marvellous affair it was too. So, I thought I'd better go again this year!

Yesterday was the first day of the festival which is on until (including) Sunday. Upon arrival, it was looking very busy...

The major sewing machine companies all have their own stands where they want to flog you their wares but also run classes to teach you lots of clever stitchy skills. Scary looking machines, those ones!

Now I have to confess that initially I bypassed the quilt displays and headed straight for the shopping! There is row upon row of stalls selling all manner of sewing related items, be they sewing machines, gadgets, fabric; you name it, it's there! One of my first stops was at the Selvedge stand, I took this one for you, Vanessa. Selvedge, if you do not know, is a posh and trendy textiles art magazine here in the UK. They promote the best craftspeople and also sell the fruits of their productivity, some of which they had upon display.

The Festival of Quilts is not just about quilting, you know. Many other crafts are also represented, in the form of information about them and courses to go on along with stands displaying their skills. I loved this one about rag rugging.

Lesley, this stall was calling to you! Ribbons galore and the more you bought, the cheaper they became! This sort of shopping I like! (They have a website at

I am always eager to visit the Cotton Patch stand and this year, it was bigger than ever, two glorious, gigantic corner stands, one full of fabrics, the other full of haberdashery and notions. Aaaarrrggghhh! Where to start?! The stalls always look lovely too, with many patchwork quilts, bags and cushions which they have made on display. Inspiration indeed.

Kaffe was there to sign copies of his new book but seemed more interested in his knitting! The lady in turquoise is doing her best to attract his attention!

Amy Butler was also there (though not at this precise moment) and her table looked lovely; she always brings lots of pretty things made from her patterns in her own fabrics. Drooool...

The choice of fabrics was very good. I know you lucky lot in America are fortunately spoiled with your fabulous fabric stores but this is a lot of fabric in one place for the UK which is a bit behind in that respect.

Of course, I didn't only shop. I mean, there was only so much I could carry! But seriously, I did take a good amount of time also to wander and admire the many stunning quilts on display. The skill involved in these is utterly awe inspiring. Even if they're not always your "cup of tea" design/style wise, you can appreciate the dedication and skill that has gone into making them.

Actually, this one was on the Cotton Patch stall, who tend to make Kaffe Fasset quilts which are very much my cup of tea!

Onto the displays of the competitors. Some were quite traditional...

Or they featured... Dr Who, of course!

Some were heavily appliqued as well as quilted. I thought this one was lovely.

This was a prize winner. Golly, I cannot begin to think how many hours that must have taken.

Detail of some stunning poppies...

This one was not quilted on top but the patchworking was lovely, such gorgeous colours.

Ah, but this one was my favourite, because here, the maker had done what I've been hankering after doing for a while, which is to use sections of vintage embroidered cloths in a patchwork quilt. It was also based on tea and cakes, what could be better!

Did you buy anything, I hear you cry? The short answer to that can only be yes! There are many book stalls at the festival which are fantastic because they only sell artsy crafty books. Heaven. I decided it was time I started to quilt in earnest. The Selvedge mags were a good offer at £5 for a back copy (usually £8.50). The books were purchased from "Sew Good Books"' stall.

I also tracked down some of those elusive notions which are usually so hard to find... (Mainly from The Cotton Patch.)

A few unusual buttons, including some Christmas ones. Did someone mention Christmas? Oh no!

And of course, a bit of fabric...

Well, it is my main fabric buying opportunity of the year!

Pretty flannelettes to make seriously funky owls! These were purchased from "The Little Lavender Patch". They are based in East Kent.

Gorgeous reproduction 1930's cottons, my favourite fabrics at the moment. Purchased from the wide selection at Sew and So's stall, they are based in Bungay, Suffolk. Some were from American Quilt Store.

More retro fabric, a new range. These were purchased from Creative Quilting based in East Molesey, Surrey.

A bit of Kaffe and Amy. Purchased from Dungarees and Daisies.

Flowery stuff. (The three fabrics on the right were also from Dungarees and Daisies, link above, from the remnant bin at £1 per FQ.)

Errrm, more flowery stuff. The first six fabrics (counting from the left) came as a set, six FQs for £6.90 from a shop called Crafts and Quilts which is based in Southport. The last 2 flowery fabrics were £1 remnants from the Little Lavender Patch (link above).

Some beautiful American feedsack pieces. (I was told that these were used to make chicken feed sacks around the Depression era. The ladies would then use them to make quilts and clothes. Anybody out there with more info, please do feel free to impart it my way.)

Of course, I didn't forget the boys, so selfless... (This was from Sew and So's stall, link above.)

The best bit was getting home last night, flopping down on the rug in the sitting room and unpacking my trolley bag all around me and having a good play with my goodies. Mr HH wryly remarked that this book was clearly written with me in mind...

Cheeky! Happy weekend, everyone. Sorry this post is a bit lacking in details/links and all that jazz but I have a serious matter to attend to, I'm off to retrieve my Munchkin!


  1. Hi Hen!!

    Looks like a FANTASTIC day!!! And what goodies you bought, Kaffe is a total inspiration and of course is Amy!! If you like Amy.. visit my blog for my latest post

    Take Care,

  2. It looks like you had a wonderful day - and bought some amazing fabric!

    Pomona x

  3. Looks like you had a fabby day. I Love the piece material with the engines. I have most of Kaffe Fassetts books tapestry and quilting, I can understand why he loves colour!
    I'm looking forward to the Creative Stitches & Hobbycrafts Show 24 - 27 September Exeter, I am hopeing to be able to go as a helper with my friend who has a stall, do you think you will be able to make that one?

  4. Hi Hen,

    What an amazing day out!

    As always you have found some amazing fabrics!

    A have just commented on another bloggers post about this festival, and she has been the last few years too.

    I had never heard about it until the pair of you posted about it!

    It really does look like a great day out :-)

    Can't wait to see what you make out of those wonderful fabrics

    Rose XXX

  5. I am sick with jealousy!!! I love the tea and cakes quilt, especially the battenburg squares, they're really clever.

    Mel xxx

  6. What a fun time you had!!! :-)

    HAHA I have to laugh at the Dr. Who quilt!! HAHA
    And whats most funny is I LOVE IT & WANT ONE... LOL!!! :-)

  7. Oh I would have a serious overdraft problem if I were to visit that show! You have some lovely stuff, bet you can't wait to play with it all?

  8. Oh my goodness, serious fabric envy going on here! What a lovely stash you came home with - green eyes, me?

  9. Well, I think you were VERY restrained. What a wonderful day you spent - I couldn;t get to this so many thanks for giving me a peep. Wonderful Kaffe F fabrics. Luscious!

  10. What a day you had, lots of lovely fabrics.
    I was very excited to spot the same basket I have just bought for my utility room shelves on the AB stand!

  11. You've really whet my appetite for the show, I'm off there tomorrow

  12. aw------ can you feel my pulse------- thank you for letting us have a glimpse----- we in Ireland have even less chances to see (not to talk about purchasing) nice fabrics---- material obsession is the diagnosis for my racing heartbeat.

  13. Wow!That tree-quilt is amazing!
    Hen, I'm really shocked at seeing how many fabrics you bought this time! Where is Adele?!
    Have a fab weekend!

  14. wow, I would love to see all those fabrics, especially the Any Butler, although not sure I could ever bear to cut into them!

  15. Feedsacks were used a lot during World War II. They were used to make clothes. Mainly dresses for the ladies and young girls. The patterns on a lot of the feedbags were very beautiful. It has become a hobby with some in trying to find patterns, etc. that were used in these feed sack fashions. Nothing went to waste during this time and I give homemakers so much credit using everything to its advantage when there was such a shortage of goods. Nice pictures and nice quilts!
    Patti S.

  16. What a lovely lovely post xxxx

  17. Really love the retro florals, they are so girly. I haven't seen anything like some of those, not in years.

  18. Oh Hen, your fabric selections are deliciously dream-inspiring! And I was just visiting Vanessa and the coasters you made from the Kaffe Big Blooms fabric and the pretty apron....just beyond gorgeous! You are awesome! Oh, and one other thing...that Kaffe Fassett Diamond breathtaking is must have been mesmerizing to see in person. Thanks for showing it on your blog.

  19. I am Drooling over your fabric. I bought a tiny piece of Kaffe Fassett today and I need more.

  20. Hello Hen,

    How I wish that I could have been right at your elbow at this show. And since I was not, how grand of you to post so many photos and such great commentary.

    We just don't have anything like these shows over here in the States (or at least in my New York version of the States.)

    Kaffe Fassett is a delight. I am lucky to have have several opportunities to chat with him. Great to know that there is yet another book due. His color sense has been so influential over the past decades.

    If I could have been at that show, I would surely have visited with with all the sewing machine folks, too. There is nothing like having the opportunity to see what can be done in an optimum environment with each and every machine.

    Rattling on a bit here.

    Let me thank you again for sharing your visit with us.


  21. oh I do love Amy butler fabrics but you have such a lovely new stash of fabric you lucky girl!
    was almost hyperventilating at the ribbon stall! definately got to go there next year !
    enjoy your trip for munchkin retrieval! luckily its a gorgeous day for you today you must have brought the weather with you :-)
    Lesley x

  22. Oh wow it looks like a terrific day.

  23. I love going to our Creativ Festival in Toronto, which is almost the same as the event you just attended. So much inspiration and enabling! I'm hoping to get to the fall one as Kaffe Fassett is going to be there.
    I believe feedsack fabrics were used to line the inside of feed sacks, and indeed many people used the fabric for quilts and dresses etc.
    Enjoy your purchases!

  24. Yes, we are spoiled in America when it comes to fabric shops! Also, in my area (Tennessee), we have lots of quilt shows. It's a great opportunity to see what's new in the quilt world and also buy from all the dealers. Looks like you had a wonderful day and came home with lots of "future projects"! I love all the new fabrics in the bright colors and patterns.

    Thanks for the tour!

    P.S. I noticed you bought one of Anna Maria Horner's dress patterns. She lives just a few miles from me in Franklin, Tennessee. She has some nice designs and beautiful, fun fabrics.

  25. Sounds (and looks) like you had a brilliant day.

    Sue xx

  26. Hello Hen,
    What a great time it seems you had and you bought some lovely things.
    I recently discovered your gorgeous blog and have read right back through to the very first entry! How I envy your fabulous den (loved the history of a den story) and your fantastic crafty skills. Your cottage and home are just dreamy!
    Would it be okay if I included a link to Henhouse on my side bar of "Most gorgeous blogs"?
    Please visit if you have a chance at
    It has recently had a make-over!

    I look forward to hearing from you and reading much, much more!


  27. What a lovely festival to visit, I'll have to bare that in mind for next year some of the fabrics you brought had me drooling! I can't wait to see what you make with them.

    Victoria xx

  28. am so envious of your wonderful day out........why didnt i go!....lovely material.

  29. Love your choice of fabrics, especially the flowery.
    Bet you peeked into the bag over and over on your way home.
    What a great post, thank you for taking me on the trip. Now I have the urge to go buy fabric.

    PS The apron you sent Vanessa is gorgeous!

  30. Hi Hen
    What a great day out! I can't wait to get some spare time back again to go out and about to various events, I am missing it!
    I really love the fabrics which you have bought especially the 1930's style ones. I can't wait to see what you are going to make with them.
    Hope you are having a good weekend.
    Isabelle x

  31. oh wow -I want to go I want to go! My friend did mention this in passing to me once...maybe next year?! The material looks fabulous!!! xxx PS Wicked apron you made and sent to Vanessa by the way - most envious!

  32. What gorgeousness Hen, you lucky, lucky thing you :)

    looking at those wonderful quilts does rather make me a little nervous, a little shabby chic store near me has decided to sell some of my handmade pretties and one of the items they would like me to make is yes you guessed it, a patchwork quilt. Luckily only childsized though daunting all the same, though i so enjoyed making the one on my header that i know Ishall have fun making it :)


  33. I'm totally amazed by the heavily appliqued woodsy quilt, with the mushrooms and leaves and whatnot... that is totally awe-inducing!!! As is the one below it, with the side portrait of the woman. My jaw just hit the floor with them both!

  34. Hi Hen,
    what a fabulous whopper of a post, so jam packed with loveliness, I don't know where to start! First things first, the Sophie Digard scarves! I saw that photo, and thought, gosh that was fab of Hen to take that photo, then I saw you took it with me in mind! Aren't you the most lovely of lovely blogger pals, thank you for that.
    What a GORGEOUS stash. Actually, I'm thinking I've just got to be a pushy commenter here, and ask for links to where you bought things, not that I'd be able to buy all that lot, but a choice few would be lovely. Especially those reproduction retro fabrics, which are delicious! Please pleeeeese Hen, links?!
    I have some feedsack fabrics, bought from Purl Soho, and Donna Flower, and I love them. So wonderful that something functional should also be so beautiful. Why do I have a fabric stash? I ask myself that question all the time, and haven't got an answer.
    And those rag rugs! Fab! End of September I'm going on a rag rug making course, I've wanted to learn for a few years, but stopped myself, thinking that I couldn't take up another hobby, which involved accumulating stuff. Well, I've given into that now, and am just letting myself go with the flow!
    Hen you give us such quality posts, thank you so much. I'll be returning to this one a few times, it's full of such scrumptiousness.
    Think I've said everything I was thinking as I was reading this post!
    Love Vanessa xxx (do you mind if i knit)

  35. Wish I had your bank balance as I could also do serious damage at a show like that. Sadly have to just avoid looking and make do with charity shops. There are too many beautiful fabrics out there.


  36. Smelling salts please! I have just come around from a faint that I fell into 3 days ago when I first read this post! Wowzers Trousers Hen! What a mega day, quilts, fabric, inspiration, sewing machines, buttons, selvedge etc. etc, etc. I have now re -read this three times and I am still just as excited as I was first time! What a day, Brilliant! :D Sarah x

  37. Thank you very, very much to share with us your visit in this so amazing quilts exposition.
    I am so fan of Kaffe Fassett. In last March he was present in France at Nantes to the Quiltmania show. He stayed sit on a chair with his wonderful quilts and ....he knitted a lot too :-))!!
    I am not patient to see his new book and fabrics !
    Amy Buttler is one of my favorite too. I am a children minder and I bought recently her book about baby things. A nice choice to sew !

  38. looks like you had a ball!

  39. Great post re the quilt festival and I notice from a couple of posts back that you are a Vernon Ward fan. Me too - but only if I can get them in the original frames and less than £3!Yours is lovely. Some people seem to try to update the frames and they don't work as well then...

  40. I've heard my grandmother talk about wearing dresses and pinafors her mother made her from cotton flour sacks during the depression. She said "honey there was no money! we had to barter doctor services with chickens and eggs!" she's a riot! her folks were very poor share-croppers and to this day, you can open my grandmothers chest freezer and it is up to the brim with food. she's STILL afraid they'll run out of things to eat. bless her heart....

  41. Thanks for sharing your goodies! I love that modern floral rag rug...I want it!

  42. Wow! I had no idea that such riches were to be found at the quilt show! Must go next time:)
    Lesley X

  43. Wow! Looks like you had a lovely and very busy time - thanks for stopping by our stand!

    I've just posted some photos of Amy (hope you did get to say hi as she is very approachable!), Kaffe (he'd put his knitting down at this point), Marti and Sandy.
    As for product - you found some joyous choices. Love your blog!

    Liz at The Cotton Patch

    to see the photos you can visit

  44. Lovely Blog!!!

    I like hens too!!

  45. So much inspirational retro fabric included in your blog! love it


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