Saturday, 21 August 2010

Fabby Festival of Quilts

So Thursday dawned and just about recovered from V at G, it was time for my next adventure. Off I set by train to this much anticipated once yearly event at the NEC in Birmingham, the Festival of Quilts. Yipeeeeeeee! I did try not to burst with repressed excitement!

Now first off, my apologies but I did not take my luverrly big camera with me that takes marvellous photos (especially indoors) because it is just so heavy and I knew that there might be errm, a bit of shopping to carry home. So the photos come courtesy of my little camera which is not so great, especially indoors in poor light but hey, some photos are better than none.

To give you an idea, here's a shot looking at the entire room, actually taken from the back, looking out over the food court area with the quilts and stalls beyond. The Festival this year was spread over not 2 but 3 halls and was simply dauntingly huge. We just about managed to get round all the retail stalls but I saw very few of the quilts. Next year, we've decided to go for a couple of days. What a chore!

Here's the area near the entrance where many many quilts are displayed.

Oh joy of joys, where the Quilts exhibition at the V&A disappointed by not having a single quilt by our modern day quilt hero Kaffe Fassett, here at the Festival, there was an entire section devoted to his quilts. Hooray!

Here is my partner in crime by one of the fabby quilts from Kaffe's last book, Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts.

Another eye-catching and very colourful beauty by Kaffe...

And another...

Moving onto the shops then, the Festival is quite simply a fabric lover's dream. There are also several stalls devoted entirely to craft books and as Adele and I are both book lovers, we could easily have spent a whole day just looking at books. The prices are no cheaper than the cover prices but the selection is like none you will see elsewhere.

I didn't take a huge amount of photos of the stalls, not least because it was very busy so trying to get a shot which didn't involve a handful of eager beaver shoppers was very difficult. There was also all that shopping to juggle whilst trying to hold the camera. One stall I wanted to show you was this, belonging to Kim Porter. If you have been to Liberty, you may have seen her fabric packs there. Kim is the founder of "Worn and Washed", she collects used fabrics and recycles them into pretty co-ordinated jelly rolls ready to be made into scrummy quilts. They have that lovely vintage look and the fabrics are nice and soft because they have previously been, you guessed it, worn and washed.

I bought one of her jelly rolls of flannelette fabrics which I hope will make a scrumptious cosy soft quilt for Winter.

I confess to not being a great lover of Selvedge magazine. Whilst it sometimes has articles which interest me and I do own a few copies, most of it is too arty for me and I also struggle to pay nearly £10 for a magazine! However, their stall always brings together the best of what has appeared in the past year in the magazines and is both interesting and attractive.

This year, they had many mini quilts on display which are always impressive because of the tiny pieces. We thought these dinky patchwork quilts were particularly cute!

This stall was home to a super collection of vintage and antique quilts from America. There was also a tempting selection of vintage feedsacks but I was very restrained and came away empty handed. It was great to talk to Mary however, she has a collection of about 300 quilts and is very knowledgeable. She had a beautiful wedding ring quilt for sale from the 1940's; she knew the lady who had made it, who was 102 years old at the time of selling it! She had made over 100 quilts in her lifetime.

As well as selling fabrics and quilting notions, many stalls showcased quilt designs and kits that they had for sale, and the back walls were adorned with the pretty and inspiring quilts.

This lovely kaleidoscope quilt caught my eye, which was displayed on the end of the stall of Kaleidoscope Books.

Last but not least, probably my favourite stall is that of The Cotton Patch. They have a shop in Birmingham and I generally buy my batting and quilting notions from their online shop. Their stall gets bigger every year and always looks fantastic. They had sections devoted to the work of Kaffe Fassett (who was there signing books).

They also stock some of the modern quilting fabrics by the likes of Tanya Whelan and Heather Bailey. I particularly love their displays of made-up goods, the cushions, bags, chairs and quilts.

Not a great shot but a very pretty quilt.

Amy Butler was also on the stand promoting and signing copies of her new book. Adele and I were lucky enough to attend a talk by her at the Festival two years ago and she really is just the loveliest person. We chatted about cats as usual, Amy has 4, and I usually end up showing her photos of mine on my 'phone!

Finally, and most excitingly, we proceeded to a stall for Adele to pick up two quilts she had made herself. The stall belongs to a shop in Whitchurch where Adele had taken two quilts a while ago to be long-arm quilted. Here she is seeing her quilts again for the first time in a while as she picks them up at the Festival, now all freshly quilted!

She was justifiably really pleased with them.

Oh what a marvellous day, pretty much a quilter's idea of heaven! Quite a few goodies came home, it has to be said. I was thrilled to get a copy of Kaffe's new book, Quilts en Provence, and was given Quilt Road for free as we spent over £40 on books on the Cotton Patch stall. I also bought a few fat quarters of his fabric, had to be restrained there as the selection was huge, and also a few sets of strips of his fabric. At only £1.20 each they will be perfect for log cabins or string quilts.

Amy's book was simply too beautiful not to buy and here it is along with a couple of larger pieces of fabric I bought, one for dress making and the other, a patchwork style to make perhaps a pretty tablecloth.

Then there is the "worn and washed" fabric bundle along with some newly available fabrics I had been looking forward to getting my hands on. These came from the stall of The Quilt Room in Dorking who had a fantastic selection of fabrics. I bought a couple of charm packs of the new Moda collections, Dream On and Bliss, and also a jelly roll of the new Oliver + S fabrics.

I am now simply bursting with inspiration, there are so many things I have in mind to make and so many fabrics to make them with! There are simply not enough hours in the day. I had to spend most of Friday having yet another sort out in my Den to try to make room for this latest influx! However, there has been a little chilling out, too, with a spot of patchworking and quilting of my own.


  1. Looks like you had a fantastic day, those quilts are beautiful, I would love to have a go at quilting once I get my sewing machine up and running.
    Jacey x

  2. dear hen, I like your work to go and see places that you share with us as wonderful as far as I have taken to the people there are also many thanks..

  3. Oh Hen, how lucky are you! That looked like a fab day out and those quilts are wonderful, love the pretty girly pink ones. Looking forward to seeing some of your own work. Enjoy the rest of the weekend

    All things nice...

  4. What a colourful blog, and so much lovely Kaffe Fassett eye candy to feast my eyes on. The quilt show looks great, wish I'd been there.

  5. Looks like you had the most wonderful time.
    Jule xxxxxxxx

  6. Hen! I love reading your blog and today I'm excited as you have a photo of my quilt on it.. well part of it anyway. It's on the left above the beautiful armchair upholstered in Kaffe fabric. I called it sherbet as it's frothy and sweet :) It's in the Quilts en Provence book you bought, hope you like it.


  7. Hen, you are a marvelous reporter! Your photos are just fine, and this entire post really does show that the quilt show was truly a very big event.

    Many thanks!

  8. So much eye candy in one post..gorgeous! You're going to be a busy bee with all that new fabric and inspiration from the exhibition.

    Bellaboo :o)

  9. Glad you had a nice day out, I couldn't make it up to the NEC this year so yours are the first pictures I have seen, thank you!
    Have fun with all your purchases
    take care
    Sarah x

  10. I went on Friday and had a great day too but looking at your pictures I realise I must have missed several things, there was just So much to see! A two day extravaganza sounds like a good plan!

  11. What a super post. I went on Friday and obviously missed some of the things you saw, but like you I loved Kaffe's section (although I didn't see the man himself this year). Adele's quilts look gorgeous too.

  12. I thiunk you did so well in 1 day - I was there for 3 and still couldn't make up my mind what to buy! - i loved the washed and worn fabrics too

  13. I love those quilts. Also, the photos are amazing. Thank you for posting such wonderful post.


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