Hello readers. It's been too long and I have so much to catch up on here. So let's not waste time. Today, I don't need to do much talking (that'll make a change), it's all about the photos.
So it's several weeks now, in fact probably a month, since my annual pilgrimage to the fabulous Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. This year was memorable for meeting up with my bloggy pal, Kate, again and also this year, the lovely Pat from Instagram. How marvellous to be able to connect with these like minded folk.
So, off I set, obligatory patchworky bags at the ready.
I drove this year as we were carrying on after the festival and going on our week long jaunt to the Peak District. There were upsides to this, of course. No need to worry about having to get all my shopping in my suitcases and lugging it on the train! It was an early start in lovely sunshine, and with Chris Evans and Ken Bruce on the radio for company, I enjoyed the trip, feeling those butterflies of excitement.
If you have never been to the Festival, it's probably hard to imagine the scale of it. It's truly huge (maybe not to my American friends) and takes over three halls in the NEC. There's a massive area for the display of quilts, a lot are competition entries of all levels but there are also displays from museums, authors and so on.
As you can see, there is a lot of space around the exhibits (it doesn't feel so spacious when rammed with people!) and the quilts vary from tiny to huge. Spot that one in the corner?
It is this beautiful hand-pieced quilt made from thousands of tiny pieces. It is actually made in two pieces and they are displayed on either side of the corner.
I appreciate that a static photo on a blog won't convey the true size of the piece so to give you an idea of just how tiny each piece was, here's my finger nail!
Wow! There's a huge area for the display of competition quilts in grouped categories. Having purchased the catalogue to be able to read about each quilt and its maker, I actually couldn't track some of them down as the numbers didn't seem to run in sequence. You can see, below, the scale of the exhibition.
So many quilts caught my eye but here's just a few to inspire.
Loved this one. It was made up of many many of these little squares operating almost as a diary. It was fun to read the entries.
My clever mate Kate, had three quilts in the exhibition this year. I managed to track one down, "Swirl", based on Eighteenth Century buttons seen at Waddesdon Manor and alabaster carvings in the British Museum. Kate is clever with bold colours, interesting shapes and fab hand quilting which unfortunately, you can't appreciate well enough from this photo.
This one caught my eye, a shrine to Tana Lawn fabric: Liberty of London and its infamous black and white timber framed building on Regent Street, of course.
(At the time, I didn't think to note down all the quilters, so my apologies for not adding names, there are so many of them in the catalogue that there's no way I'd track them down now. Do feel free to add them in the comments should you recognise any of the work.)
The exhibition is not just about hanging wall quilts. I always find the section for "quilt creations" interesting. Here is the "Princess and the Pea" by Sue Trevor, it had many cute little quilts and a giant felted pea in between!
Here's a favourite, "The Mouse and the Cuckoo Clock" by Sally Snushall.
The winner was this one, "The Quilted Coracle". You can't appreciate the detail from this photo but oh my, it must have taken its maker, Linzi Upton, all year to make! (This exhibit is life sized.)
There's much shopping to be done at the Festival, of course, which usually takes up a large part of day one for me.
This year, I'd just been commissioned to make a quilt (I will be showing you that soon), so I had a good excuse to shop. It was great actually, as it really gave me a purpose. I was much more restrained this year!
There were some splendid ribbons on this stall from France. I could have gone crazy (I just bought two pieces), but it was pretty pricey.
This stall, also from France, had some absolutely fabulous printed fabric panels, bearing vintage fashion plates. A few of those went in the bag for an (as yet) undecided project.
Hmm, the stash was growing...
Finally, I wanted to show you one of the special exhibits which was something new to me, the work of a lady named Mandy Pattullo, entitled "Thread and Thrift". The guide tells me that Mandy "treasures the old and worn" (sounds like a lady after my own heart). Don't you just need a patchwork skirt like this?
"She refashions, recycles and reuses very old and often disintegrating quilts into new patchworks."
"Her work relates to the thrift and "make do and mend" culture of past times, in particular utility patchworks and quilts..."
"The viewer is forced to re-examine fabrics that have become flawed through wear and tear, to find in them a new beauty."
Oh I do!
Pat and I also bumped into the marvellous Julie Arkell, of whose work I am a great fan (if you are a long-term reader of this here blog you will know that, of course)and have enjoyed several of her courses. As usual, Julie looked fabulous but it was her bag that really caught my eye!
As always, the festival did not fail to delight and inspire. How long is my "to make" list now?!
(P.S. I couldn't bear to lug my giant and heavy camera round with me this year, lots of fabric to carry after all, so opted for some simple 'phone snaps, which I know are not brilliant, but I hope they are good enough.)