Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A Quilt Extravaganza!

Hello again readers. Sorry for that unexpected break in transmission there. First Mr Virgin decided he didn't want the internet to work and then I had a date with my sister, oooooh, something for which we've been waiting a whole year. So I hot footed it onto one of Mr Virgin's trains, which thankfully was working better than the 'net, and made the pilgrimage to Birmingham, to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC. Hello sister!

In that photo, we're actually just leaving for home, late on Saturday. Do we look a tad jaded? A bit laden down? Having only attended the festival for a day in recent years, we had come to realise it just wasn't long enough. So this year, to do it justice, we decided we needed to go for...three days! Yipee!

It's nigh on impossible to take a decent photo to give you an idea of the scale of FofQ (Festival of Quilts). It occupies three halls in the vast NEC and is huuuuge. Get those comfy shoes on, girls!

There's an enormous area for displaying quilts right across the front of the hall, behind are all the stalls, to the right and along the back wall are the various cafes. There are also areas dotted around for the featured quilt displays (from visiting museums, for example). Predictably, not only did I come home with loads of fabric, but loads of photos so in today's post, we're concentrating on shopping. It's a hard life...

I'm not sure how many stalls there are exactly but there must be several hundred. What could be more exciting for me than Mary Koval's. Not only is she a lovely American lady, very knowledgable and very chatty, but she is an expert in antique and vintage quilts, so for me, her stand is a treat.

Simply beautiful.

Let me at the vintage fabrics! We noticed just how much your average fat quarter of modern quilting cotton has increased in price so at £5, the vintage fabrics seemed a good bet.

Also with a vintage feel, Kim Porter's stand, "Worn and Washed" is always a must-visit for us. We went back every day, some of the stall holders were beginning to feel like old friends! Kim makes up strip roll packs with pre-loved fabrics, generally with a stripey and floral theme. She has cottons, flannelettes and also a good selection of new Liberty fabrics. We adored the little dolly bed on her stand.

Sister fell deeply in love with Cupcake Cottons' stand with its impressive array of sludge!

Books, oh books. Both my sister and I are book-aholics so we are in heaven at FofQ. This is Kaleidoscope's stall absolutely groaning with purely quilting and craft books. This is only a fraction of their stand, too. There were probably about four book stands there, you could likely spend a day just flicking through and deciding which books to buy. You'll never find a selection like this elsewhere and they even had a lot of gorgeous Japanese books.

Indeed, most of the stalls were selling fabric and quilting supplies. As such, I always enjoy visiting Selvedge magazine's stand as it is a welcome break and always provides stunning eye candy from the likes of the wonderful artists Julie Arkell, Tamar Mogendorff and Sophie Digard.

Scrumptious, covetable, inspirational things...

You can also browse through their back issues and purchase them at 25% off which is a bonus. We had the pleasure of meeting this clever lady, Janet Clare, who has a very interesting take on free motion stitching and applique sometimes incorporating my most beloved vintage embroidered cloths.

Just loved her dolly bed ensemble and particularly that doggy keeping dolly's feet toasty!

Also very handy at the FofQ is the opportunity to purchase Liberty fabrics in the sensible quantities which we patchworkers need. Annoyingly, about a year ago, Liberty decided that in its London store, it would sell a minimum cut of half a metre of its fabric. This is £10 and often means you end up with far more fabric than you really want for a quilt project. As such, stands like this are a godsend, offering kits and bundles comprising many smaller pieces of Liberty fabric meaning you get the variety of prints in the ideal size for a good, affordable price. Wake up, Liberty!

Finally, who could forget to mention the Cotton Patch's stand which was predictably huge (in fact, it was several stands). As well as having Kaffe Fassett installed and the opportunity to purchase his new book, there were masses of quilting fabrics and lots of tempting notions. What they do which is great, is introduce you to all that is new in the world of patchwork and quilting. For me this year, it was a new presser foot which allows you to sew convex and concave edges together with ease (errm, apparently). The perfect partner for my "new foot" was Marti Mitchell's quilting templates. Honestly, these American folk are so charming they can talk me into buying all sorts! I am assuming this is Mr Marti who was delightful and happily allowed me to take a photo of his delightful patchwork tie and even modelled the template pack (which yes, of course I did buy!) I was so over-excited I took a very blurry photo, oops.

And the best bit? Getting back to your room each night, resting those aching feet and getting all your goodies out on the bed! I did move them before I went to sleep, honest.

Next up, quilts...


  1. Gosh, with all those beautiful stands and gorgeous fabrics, I think even I may have been persuaded to take up quilting. Lovely photos. Love your new header too by the way. M x

  2. Looks like a great event to attend!! Lots of drooling I would imagine!

    You and your sister are so alike!!

    Cant wait to see your makes with your new finds!


  3. Fantastic wasn't it! It was the first time we'd been but I think we definitely need longer next time too, as I see from your post there are a few stands I missed whilst I was dashing around! How could I miss Selvedge! Lovely to meet you and your sister there, Sally x

  4. Sounds like you had a fantastic time! Looks amazing!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  5. You had a fantastic time. Can't wait to see the next lot of quilts you make
    Julie xxxxxxx

  6. It looks a very busy event, glad you got to go for the three days, its nice to be surrounded with like minded people.

  7. I had a great time, too. And I bought the sewing machine I wanted after several lovely peaceful demos early on the first day so I could take time to decide. Definitely worth a visit.

  8. How on earth did you keep up your energy levels to tackle three days of it? Well done.

  9. You have visited a paradise,
    good your shopping

  10. I love big quilt events like that! Looks like it was a good one. So many goodies!

  11. You are very alike (my sister and I are too)
    What a fantastic show, so tempting.
    I like the tie - perhaps a good use for silk ties that have seen better days.
    Carol xx

  12. So much to see, and what a choice. Being indecisive, sadly this would be too much for me, but what fun. Like a child in a sweet shop. Really like the Liberty stand, Lovely that your have someone to share your love of quilting with.

  13. wow I'm worn out just looking! Looks like you had a great time, can't wait to see the quilts :) x

  14. I toyed with going this year and after seeing this post I'm quite glad I didn't as one day would not have been enough.Proper visit next year methinks- those books just need to be checked out properly.And saving up needs to happen- once the Alexandra Palace Show is over that is....now wondering if I should have gone for the two-day ticket for that event...

  15. I think I might drown in my own drool! HOW FAB of you to share so I can almost feel as if I were there myself. You are the best!

  16. What beautiful quilts! Thanks for sharing your day out with us.
    I like Janet Clare's stuff too. She's so talented.


  17. The Liberty selection was from Sunflower Fabrics.. you have a picture of my quilt there.. bottom right :)

  18. Ruth, it's a really nice quilt. It's a shame they didn't stock up well as my sister wanted to buy the kit and there were none left on the second day, grrr!


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