Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Festival of Quilts

Hello again readers and thank you so much for the warm welcome back last week.  

Well, another year, another fabulous festival.  Back in August (it seems so long ago!) we headed up to Birmingham again, the boys went off to the Severn Valley Railway and I spent two glorious days immersed in all things quilty.  You really cannot do justice to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in one day so I always treat myself to a hotel and a couple of nights.

Howdy!  Here I am all ready to leave the hotel and hit those stands running.  Let me at it!

It's a little mini trek (fifteen minutes) through the NEC to get to the actual halls where the festival is held.  Luckily, adrenaline/euphoria gets you through pretty quickly whilst along the way you admire the ladies heading the same direction with their patchwork bags which are pretty much de rigeur.  Here's mine, empty and ready for action!

The first stand I invariably come to, I suppose because it's massive, it's more than one stand for a start, and it's pretty much at front central of the festival, is that of the The Cotton Patch.  They always have some sewing celebs on the stand signing their latest book or showcasing their latest range of fabrics and I had a natter with the delightful Amy Butler again.  A more pleasant and genuine lady you shall not meet.  I cooed over this bag she had designed, clever old stick, and bought the pattern and some fabrics and trims from her range to make it.  One day.  It is so very tempting at F0fQ, you end up being completely inspired and enthusiastic and before you know it, you have enough projects to keep you going for the year.  And beyond.

There was a new stall with oodles of Liberty Tana Lawn and other pretty lawn fabrics.  A feast for the senses, don't you think?

Let's look at some quilts, shall we, because it's not all about shopping, is it?  I suppose I am a bit of a traditionalist, what I want to see are classic patterns, 1930s will do nicely thank you, and if you can make them in real vintage fabrics of the period so much the better.  Pretty colour, yes please.  Liberty Tana Lawn, wouldn't say no.  Florals, most definitely.  I suppose that a lot of the quilts exhibited at the festival are not really my cup of tea, therefore.  It's not to say I cannot admire the handiwork but there's too much modern and too much grey and brown and too much free motion quilting for me.

Sorry, I shall step down from my soap box now!

Thus quilt had some cute details.  Anything with cats on is good in my eyes.

I did think this one was very clever and the maker had designed the pattern herself.  I think you can really sense the movement.  Impressive and nice to look at too, don't you think?  Personally I think I would find it hard to stick to so few colours (knowing me you know this too!) so I applaud this.

This was probably my favourite quilt.  Pretty fabrics and cotton reels, what more do you need?

Anyway, back to the shopping.  I had a very small list because I am not really a believer in a shopping list at the FofQ, you need to just go with the flow, but as it turns out, I had left it on the table in my Den.  Very useful.  No matter because I seemed to manage to fill those bags quite easily!  I always love getting back to our room at the end of the day and unpacking all my goodies onto the bed for a good gawp.  There seems to have been a bit of a pale and interesting theme this year.

Whilst perusing, I came across Jo Colwill's stand, Jo runs Cowslip Workshops in Cornwall.  In my last post, I showed you the cushions I had made from the patterns in Jo's book.  She had beautiful fabrics on her stall alongside samples she had made and I am going to make myself one of these little hare hangings one day.

Liked this quilt very much.  There's just something about little houses?

I always find the miniature quilts a little mind boggling.  I've even held up my tape measure so you can see just how small those pieces are.  Yikes!

There was a lovely display once more by the National Quilt Museum from York but as usual, no photography was allowed.  It focussed this year on paper pieced quilts, notably hexagons, with some very beautiful examples.  Even more fascinating almost, were the samples you were allowed to touch and turn over to see the old letters used as templates with their beautiful script writing on the reverse.  They still haven't listened to me, you still can't even purchase postcards of the quilts.  Anyway, here is another EPP quilt from elsewhere in the festival, so there!

Last but not least, don't you just love this quilt top?  This was hanging on the stand of Eternal Maker and if my memory serves me correctly, the pattern is by Elizabeth Hartman.  Foxy love!

It's true.  Even at the Festival of Quilts, awash with row after row of stands selling fat quarter after fat quarter of modern fabric, I managed to dig out some vintage barkcloth.



  1. I loved the cotton reel quilt too. Definitely my favourite. I always have such a lovely time at the festival of quilts :-)

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post with all of these beautiful quilts and fabrics.
    Hugs Olga from Germany

  3. There are some seriously lovely quilts in your photos. I am loving the pale theme as well in your fabrics. I have just bought the 1718 quilt book and am going to have a go at it, although I am not intending to use silk, wouldn't stay looking nice in my house long with my mucky lot. But I think a cotton version to put on the bed, would be just nice. I am debating whether or not to use new fabrics or, follow in the original maker's footsteps, and recycle old fabric. You are my inspiration for this project. Wish me luck :)

  4. Thanks for taking us to the Show - and I like your choice of quilts too! Love your bag - Liberty and doilies? just what I have been meddling with recently:)

  5. This is such a feast for the eyes. And I love your commentary. It pulled me right in and I felt I was there with you.
    Colette xx

  6. I love the total immersion of a quilt show and look forward to the one we have in Sydney every year. I can identify with the excited journey to the show and the happily exhausted trek back at the end of the day. Thank you for sharing your experience and gorgeous haul with us.

  7. Lovely quilts. I love the hexagon one, they have always fascinated me. Your right they should produce postcards they do at Bath's American Museum why can't they?
    Julie xxxxxxxx

  8. What a fab day out, love the colours of the fabric you bought, sooooo pretty. Thank you for sharing with us. Regards Sharon

  9. I love that quilt with the little houses. And the hexagon one is beautiful too. I've recently finished a crochet hexagon blanket which is quite similar to this design (but without the centre pirce). I think I'd like to try this design using crocheted hexagons. Oh dear, yet another blanket on my list!

  10. What a great Blog: I was unable to go to the FOQ this year as my first grandchild was due that week (she turned up on the 13th in the end!) so I really enjoyed seeing your pictures. I agree with you entirely regarding the quilts - I absolutely LOVE traditional patchwork patterns, vintage style fabrics etc. - and as you said I too appreciate the work that has gone into some of the quilts being exhibited but they are not the style that I would make. I have in the past made Cottonpatch one of my first stops, their stand is always so colourful and I am drawn towards the wonderful quilts they have hanging up. Jo Colwill is a friend of mine and in fact I am off over to Cowslip this afternoon! It is not too far from me and it is the most wonderful place to visit. She is such an inspiration and has taught me so much. Anyway, the bottom line is: thank you for a great Blog! Have a good day!

  11. I'm with you on the quantity of quilts I really like there, cotton reels one of my favourites too. Fight you for the Amy Butler bag!

  12. Didn't go this year. Am a bit quilted out to be honest, and knew if I went I would be tempted to buy fabric I DO NOT NEED!!! But always good to see a few quilts someone else has photographed. The blues one with the red fishes is called Storm at Sea pattern, and the maker has cleverly changed the colours of the fabric in a fish shape - but it is a traditional pattern.
    Having made and exhibited contemporary art quilts -I was part of Anglia Textile Works for a few years - I have come back to hand quilting and hand appliqué (I still piece by machine for strength) and so much more enjoy the 'slow cloth' movement, and more traditional quilts. Wish I lived closer to Cowslip myself!

  13. Love your pastel picks.....I'm all for tiny flowers and dots!

  14. Thank you for the lovely tour. I am a quilt lover, but have only made small ones. I must quilt the top my mother left undone. You always inspire me.

  15. Hen, thank you very much for your excellent reporting from the quilts festival. I suspect that we might share a preference for traditional quilts, and that I might also have not really have been drawn to the abstract-patterned quilts that still tried to have an imagery. Cubism might not work so well for quilting.

    Having said that, I loved the quilt with the fishes. Beautifully conceived, and executed. Japanese quilting appeals to me. Not sure if the fishes might fit that origin, but I do really like it.

    Let's see, what else. Yes, your purchases are right up my fabric street.

    It's going to be fun to see what you eventually do with these additions to your already ample supply of lovely fabrics, old and new.


  16. Love the fox one :) All that fabric is so tempting!! xx

  17. What a lovely festival. I live in the US. I was in England for 10 days. I was supposed to go to the festival on Saturday. Friday was supposed to be a free day for us on our tour. For some reason when we boarded the us for Birmingham, our tour guide announced that we would be going to the festival on Friday. I was not prepared for that. I had on sandals and was not mentally prepared. I still had a wonderful day. I was so exhausted that I could not go back on Saturday. It was well worth the visit. I loved every minute I was there.

  18. I enjoyed being there and bumped into you several times as we must have been heading towards the best stands in my opinion. Looking forward to next year. Maybe there will be more pretty quilts but I loved the hexagon one you have shown and the French Quilt Guild's stand was beautiful.

  19. What a fantastic show of artistic displays. I love all the quilts. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Lovely day. I which I could have been there :)


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