Thursday, 24 June 2010

Didn't We Have a Lovely Time

...the day we went to London. Well hello again, bloggers, readers, comrades! I've been away from this little blog far longer than intended but I have been having such a busy time recently. It does mean I have oodles to share with you, though.

Last week, my sister and partner-in-craftiness came to stay as we had some hotly anticipated events going on on Friday.

Off into London we went. We are so lucky to live about 30-45 minutes from the attractions of the capital, depending on where you want to go. Before we went off to the V&A, we made a little pilgrimage to Liberty as I had been just the previous week and seen that the quilts which had been hung up in the shop as part of their quilt exhibition, had been taken down and were available for up close fondling, ogling and errm, purchase. If you're loaded that is.

You may remember that I fell deeeeply in lurrrrve with this one, an original 1930's quilt in the Dresden plate pattern which is one of my faves.

Imagine my joy at getting up close and personal with it then. For me, it's the fabrics I love. I just love looking at them and we spent some time admiring the quilt, having laid it out flat on one of the cutting tables.

The original price of the quilt was £1100. Eeeeek!!!

It's now in the sale and is a mere £836.

What I wouldn't give for that quilt but sadly, though I really feel like being rash and making it my own I know there is no way I can justify expenditure of that sort. Maybe if they reduce it by about 90% I can buy it?! For now, I just hope nobody else buys it so I can keep going in and fondling it.

In recent weeks, I had been indulging in a little Liberty love patchwork of my own, sewing hexagons wherever I went. I love doing hexys as they are the ultimate portable project.

I couldn't see myself making a whole quilt though, so it is just - yet another - cushion, tied again with vintage perle cottons, my current favourite way of quilting.

Liberty has a sale on at the moment and some good fabric buys, with metres of fabric being £11.95 instead of £19.95 and some nice older designs available too. Off you go then!

On then to the V&A. I love the V&A, it's just so fabulous, those Victorians knew how to do things in style, that's for sure.

In the entrance foyer, if you look upwards, you are likely to gasp sharply at the amazing Murano chandelier.

First, we bought tickets and went to the Grace Kelly exhibition. No photographs are allowed in the exhibition but this case was outside it so I was able to photograph it. Beautiful dress, don't you think?

Beside each exhibited outfit, there was a board telling you about it and a photo showing the Princess actually wearing the outfit. The exhibition was split into themes: Grace Kelly as an actress, as a bride, as a Princess and so on. There were beautiful dresses, many of them very understated actually, as was Grace's style. They didn't always look that amazing on the mannequin but there were two film reels being shown of footage of Grace in her films, her wedding and at various other events and that is what really made the exhibition come alive.

I treated myself to the book which accompanies the exhibition, I know I will enjoy looking at it for many years to come and it will remind me of attending the exhibition.

Ah yes, she was certainly stylish...

Such a beautiful dress...

I have never seen a wedding dress which looks so perfect so many years later. It's a dress which will never date.

This dress was made to a simple McCalls' pattern. Grace was unpretentious about her clothing and where it came from, and wore her favourite outfits many times.

I loved the exhibition, cannot recommend enough that if you think it is your sort of thing, you go along. It is only £6 to get in and I must say, I enjoyed it far more than the Quilts exhibition.

As if that was not enough (on top of the tea and cakes we had in the cafe), we were fortunate enough to have tickets to attend a lecture in the evening with our hero, Kaffe Fassett. It meant missing the England match but hey, I don't think we missed much!

Kaffe was a great speaker, I was so relieved as when we met him at the International Festival of Quilts a few years ago, he was disappointingly tight lipped. He spoke with humour and intellect about the projects he has designed and made, and showed many slides of them and the things which inspired him.

Afterwards, we were able to look at one of the quilts Kaffe designed. There was quite a crowd, I can tell you!

The quilt was in very pretty muted shades, Kaffe is perhaps more well known for his full-on brights, and it is made from many very small pieces. While Kaffe designs, he does not sew and the quilt tops are pieced by Liza Prior Lucy who is often featured in Kaffe's books.

We all went into the silver gallery and Kaffe was available to sign books (and we were all able to drink wine, whey hey!). Liza Prior Lucy is next to Kaffe, who seems to be chatting to a lady who looks like a fortune teller!

The only disappointment in the whole event was that having been told by Kaffe's partner, Brandon Mably, who gave a little introductory speech, that Kaffe loved the questions and answers session at the end of the lecture, the V&A employee in charge of proceedings only allowed about 5 questions which must have taken a max of 10 minutes before we were hustled out. We wanted to look at another of the quilts that Kaffe had brought along and we spotted a lady with it, half hanging out of a carrier bag, out in the silver gallery afterwards where the book signing was taking place. We asked to see it but she quite rudely obviously couldn't be bothered to get it out and let us see it. She had a V&A pass on (whether she was a visitor or employee I don't know) but while Kaffe and his merry band seemed in no rush to go anywhere, it seemed the V&A staff couldn't wait to round the whole thing off. At £18 per ticket, we were not impressed. All in all though, it was extremely enjoyable.

I have quite a few of Kaffe's books already, these being his two most recent ones...

I must confess that I have not made any of Kaffe's quilts yet, a situation I really must remedy. The new book, Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts, is not my favourite though it does have some lovely looking projects. Many of them, although being made from simple shapes as the title suggests, are made up from literally thousands of pieces!

Kaffe has deliberately had the quilts photographed in rather industrial (dare I say, "non pretty pretty") surroundings, all within a few miles of his Hampstead home.

The quilts are stunning and I admire him for doing something different but I'm afraid I am more of a pretty, pretty girl!

I do love the sections of the book in between the quilt patterns, which show you Kaffe's inspirations in designing the quilt. This sort of thing has really made me look closely at so many details I see when I am out and about.

On that note, being such a beautiful day, I happened to wash my own patchwork quilt for the first time today and it is now drying nicely outside. It's the first time I've taken a shot of it in all its full glory as I completed it just before Christmas in the dead of Winter last year.

I DO pretty!

This is a simple squares quilt like the gypsy quilt in Material Obsession. As I said, quilting for me is all about the fabrics really and I wanted to do a simple quilt which would contain all my favourite fabrics, vintage, retro, Liberty, embroidered cloths and so on, so that as I continue to use them up in the course of my crafty making, I'll always have at least a little piece of them in this quilt.

Whilst in the garden, I took the opportunity to cut some more stunning roses, so beautiful and plentiful this year.

Now I can enjoy them inside whilst I sew like a demon in preparation for the first ever Vintage and Handmade Textiles Fair taking place very soon on 3 July. I do hope many of you are making plans to join us for what promises to be a spectacular day...

(In the background is my newly found car boot sale embroidered cloth. Just stunning!)


  1. Hey Hen, how lovely to share such a wonderful outing in London with your sister.
    Gorgeous quilts all of them, each so different and unique in their own way.
    The Grace Kelly exhibiton sounds very interesting. She certainly was a classy and stylish lady and the dress you photographed is stunning.
    Looks like you are having some lovely weather over there, hope it holds out for the weekend.

  2. Your London day must have been fabulous, with both Liberty's and the V&A on the agenda...and Kaffe Fassett, too. Wow!

    It must be twenty some years since I last had the opportunity to see KF, and yet I do still remember what an engaging speaker he was. First instance was a slide talk he gave at The Fashion Institute of Technology, followed by a very long q and a session.

    The other instance was an evening he came to a neighborhood yarn shop. Again, it was a very small space, and he stayed a very long time. What an influence he has had!

    Your quilting is beautiful. Your fabric choices are sublime. I envy you being able to experience the fabric sale at Liberty.


  3. ooo i'm off to the Grace Kelly exhibition on sat with my mum after a morning of choc making!! so excited!!

  4. Oooooooh you lucky thing you! A Grace Kelly Exhibition wow! To think in my teenage years I spent every Saturday morning at the V&A, they never had exhibtions like that!
    Have you seen the "postcard quilt" in the KF Road Quilt book - I'm going to have a go at that one.
    Julie xxxxxx

  5. Hen, thanks for sharing your day out! I so love sneaking a peek at all the events happening in London!;)
    Just wanted to say your quilt is fabulous!!! I want so bad to make one too, even if I NEVER tried before! I checked your post where you explained how to... :( wish me luck!

  6. Hen... it looked like you had a wonderful time on your trip! I so enjoyed the photos you shared with us! And I too am a fan of the 20's & 30's era quilts/fabrics! One local quilt store always had a great selection of reproduction fabrics and I have quite the stash! One day I will make a fabulous quilt with it! What a wonderful job on your quilt, it's beautiful!

  7. Wow! The Grace Kelly Exibition looks amazing!

    Your quilt is beautiful, such hard work xx

  8. Lovely post Hen - I thoroughly enjoyed my virtual trip to London!

    Never mind Liberty & the V&A when we have the V&H coming up! ;-)


  9. great post building up to my first piece of patchwork which is inspired by the kaffe book quilts in the sun....nothing if not ambitious....just need to accumulate more fabric

  10. Thanks Hen for sharing your outing with us. Beautifully done as usual. For some of us Northern girls, your outings are the only way we get to see these things ;)

  11. What a fabulously interesting post - thank you so much for sharing your day with us. Your quilt is beautiful, dare I say I like it more than the muted toned Kaffe ones - I agree with you that it is the fabrics that make it sing.

  12. oh I so love living in the country...BUT...!!!

  13. Isabelle (from France)24 June 2010 at 16:33

    Bonjour! You are absolutely right about Grace Kelly's wedding dress! I think it is the most gorgeous ever! I used to admire it as a little girl and I ended up wearing a lace top on my wedding day, as a modest hommage to the stunning princess.
    Enjoy your fabric!

  14. oh my word, now I want to go the exhibition even more so! Thank you so much for sharing your day. oohhh and wow, that' is some quilt.

  15. I loved reading about your trip and seeing all the gorgeous quilts,but yours is just as lovely...I think so anyway!
    Grace Kelly was my favourite film star,so elegant and beautiful...and those dresses...WoW!

    Bellaboo ;0)

  16. Hello! I love all the photos from the V&A; one day, when I finally make it to England, I hope to spend a day there.

    It's interesting to see the chandelier's a Chihuly, he's from Washington state where we lived for a number of years & hope to retire...we've lived in different states & have seen his work all across the's funny to think that I can see him in England too!

    You can see some of the photos I took of his work on my flickr.


  17. Such beautiful quilts I'm in a daydream looking at them! Kaffe Fassett has been an inspiration for me for many years. I bought his knitting book and still refer to it for colour inspiration, he's a genius! It's a shame the staff at the V&A were in a hurry but you met the man himself! The Grace Kelly exhibition looks stunning too, she really was so very beautiful wasn't she? A real princess.xx

  18. I've really enjoyed reading your post, especially about Kaffe Fassett who is a genius in colourwork. I particularly like his book about mosaics - is there nothing that man can't do? I also love your own patchwork too, the colours are really bright and cheerful - I wish I could sew as good as that!

  19. Enjoyable post Hen, looking forward to the V&HM textile fair next weekend.. my little car will be stuffed with goodies after 2 recent trips to France. Thank you for your blog comment too! xxx

  20. This is where I show my age, but I remember seeing Grace Kelly's wedding on TV when I was a very small child (just looked up the date, I was 4)! My daughter has plans for us to visit the exhibition - can't wait after reading your comments

  21. A lovely post Hen - I do love reading them!!!

    I was at the V&A and Liberty yesterday. I went to see the Quilts Exhibition, purchased a couple of goodies from the shop and then made my way to Regent Street to Liberty.

    I must say I did spend a long time choosing the fabrics to buy - from the fabulous reduction section of course. I will post about them at the weekend. I also got some vintage buttons.

    I was meeting Matthew for lunch so had an hour to look around the rest of Liberty. I went to the vintage dress section, saw a beautiful dress which also had a beautiful price tag!!!! and then went to the book signing that was taking place.

  22. Thanks for the info on the Grace Kelly exhibition. I think it sounds like one I should visit!!

    I know what you mean about Kaffe's work, I adore it, but it is rather masculine and I don't really do dark colours. I do pretty too ;-)

  23. Martha in Kansas (US)24 June 2010 at 19:51

    How I wish I were just a few thousand miles closer to the V&A! The Grace Kelly exhibit looks fabulous.

    Your impression of Kaffe Fasset is interesting. Glad to hear he's a good speaker. When he visited the local yarn shop here, he seemed to only want to speak with people who had bought his kits. The room was filled with very creative knitters he would not engage with. Is he shy? I wonder.

    Love your quilt. The colors are gorgeous! It's got me hankering to turn the vintage circles I found last year into...something. Perhaps hexes would preserve the most fabric. You are inspiring. (Love your garden too! Inspiring me to DO something with my too-sunny back yard.)

  24. A lovely outing with your sister. I went to the quilt exhibition today and Liberty. I met another blogger which was lovely. You have described the quilts beautifully, as you have the Grace Kelly exhibition. Did you see the 'old..ahem...vintage' hankies in the wooden embroidery hoops in Liberty? £150.00 I was stunned! One of the hankies looked like it had just been dragged out of someone's pocket and stuck in the hoop - it even had a rip in it! Goodness...I must be doing something wrong! :-)

  25. Gasp at the chandelier? Noooo, I gasped at your hexy cushion! I have so many projects on my to do list and a hexy quilt is on it somewhere, I even have an off cuts stash ready and waiting along with thousands of hexy templates I purchased on ebay. I think I'll have to jump the quilt up the list so I can get to it quicker. See, you never fail to influence me?!

    x x x x x

  26. Gasp at the chandelier? Noooo, I gasped at your hexy cushion! I have so many projects on my to do list and a hexy quilt is on it somewhere, I even have an off cuts stash ready and waiting along with thousands of hexy templates I purchased on ebay. I think I'll have to jump the quilt up the list so I can get to it quicker. See, you never fail to influence me?!

    x x x x x

  27. I love that dresden plate quilt, absolutely gorgeous, but I do wonder who sets the prices for these quilts. Do Liberty sell them and take a commission or are they commissioned by them for sale. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the long hours and the skills that go into making such a beautiful piece, but I also wonder who on earth can afford to buy them? Love your gorgeous quilt by the way, so many beautiful fabrics. Dev x

  28. Just found your blog. So cute! Grace Kelly was a beauty - I remember watching her funeral on TV. Looks like a great exhibition.
    Hope you have a nice weekend. Lisa

  29. Hi Hen, I've discovered your blog via the lovely Vanessa's.I saw your gorgeous daschund cushions and wondered if you'd mind if I use them as inspiration for myself for my own use. Your blog is lovely too, by the way!

  30. I went to hear Kaffe talk about 12 years ago in Exeter, it was really good. He talked about his trips to India & we had a slide show! We were lucky as the staff didn't want to rush off so we had chance to chat to him after....he was very nice :)
    Love your own quilt.....I started one years ago but never got around to finishing it. I'd like to make a small square one for my friend's new baby due in July. x

  31. I was at the talk on Friday evening and have to agree 100% about the V & A staff.. Shame really as I think the questions could have gone on for ages.. I have never been a great fan of his and went with a friend who most certainly is! He was incredibly inspiring and I left saying all I wanted to do was go home and sew.. which sadly didn't happen.
    Love your blog and fabulous goodies.. also very inspiring! Fiona

  32. The very first quilt I made was a Kaffe and I have been hooked on quilting ever since. I'm so envious that you were able to meet him in person. I agree with you though. His earlier works are the best. They resembled his paintings which I also covet. I've also done some of his needlepoint patterns. The cabbages look lovely on my wing back chair. Have you done any of the needlepoint?

  33. Thanks for sharing your trip to the V & A Museum. : ) The Grace Kelly exhibit sounds marvelous! And, I was quite interested in your Kaffe goodness too!

    Your quilt is all soft and lovely. Those ROSES?!?!?! They are to die for!!! How GORGEOUS!!!

  34. Oh my, I'm so glad that someone still does 'pretty' quilts. I try and try to like the 'arty' stuff, but your quilt is really to my true taste :)

  35. Grace's pink dress there is really quite lovely.

    But nearly $1700 for the quilt? Completely insane. Have they had a look on Ebay lately? Even the cream of the crop are only selling in the $300 range. (And where I live the super fancy ones rarely go for more than $100.)

  36. I must must get myself to the Grace Kelly exhibit.

    Victoria x


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