So I’m back from the Festival of Quilts and what a marvellous festival it was too! This year was extra special because the Quilters’ Guild was celebrating it’s 40thAnniversary, and there were lots of exciting things going on to celebrate.
First, there was a fantastic exhibition called ‘Forty’ showcasing some of the very best quilts in the collection, including the Original Red Manor House quilt and a wonderful modern quilt called Reflections by Sarah Hibbert.
As part of the celebrations the Quilters’ Guild launched their very first BOM (block of the month programme) with a quilt designed by Jenni Smith and Kay Walsh, which is a modern interpretation of the original Red Manor House quilt. It’s going to be a wonderful sew along, paying homage to this beautiful quilt, and also raising Guild funds for their future work. Do visit www.quiltersguildshop.org.uk for more information and to sign up.
I was thrilled to also play a small part in Guild fundraising; I designed a foundation paper pieced party block that the Guild then sold as a pattern, and there was a 7m wall full of party hats! It was truly wonderful to see them all together, and they looked fabulous!
Then of course there was shopping. Lots and lots of shopping! A particular hub for us modern quilters was the Olive + Flo stand, with it’s vast array of bright, fresh quilting cottons. They were so tempting, I could have bought them all!
And the team were there in full force, helping Saira, owner of Olive and Flo serve her many customers. They had smiles on their faces for the whole show, it was such a pleasure to be around such, happy, passionate people.
I also had to pay a visit to another favourite British fabric company of mine, Oakshott fabrics. Their stall was a veritable feast of colour, with their walls filled with mini quilts in every colour; it was an exhibition in itself! And the fabrics themselves are just exquisite; who can resist such beautiful woven shot cottons.
On the Friday afternoon I gave a demonstration on the Bernina stand, and had a chance to play with the brand new Tula Pink 570 sewing machine…oh my goodness, how I want one of those! And while I was there I of course met the lovely Nick Ball of @quiltsfromtheattic, who put me at ease before my Facebook live demonstration. The demo was great, I enjoyed every minute, and I had such a warm, receptive audience. Of course Nick and I had to have a selfie in front of one of his fantastic quilts from his new book Inspiring Improv before I left. Isn’t his quilt in the background just wonderful?
I also managed to catch a glimpse of this incredible quilted jacket made my Lucy Engels of @_lucyengels which just blew me away with it’s chic log cabin design and 80’s retro vibes. Do check out Lucy’s Instagram feed for some hilarious videos of Lucy’s dancing and wearing it with coral pink leg warmers!
A personal highlight for me was the launch of my very own Aurifil thread box; this is a set of twenty 12 weight threads, ideal for hand quilting and embroidery, and designed to go with my debut fabric collection for Dashwood Studio, called Back to Basics.
I had a couple of meet and greet sessions at the Aurifil stand where I met some lovely quilters, many of whom I’ve chatted to often on Instagram. Although the fabric collection won’t be out until January, there were samples on display showcasing the collection made by myself and my wonderful my fellow quilting friends Jo Avery (@mybearpaw) Amy Ball (@coffeeringsstudio) Sonia Spence (@fabricandflowers) and Lisa Naylor (@lisasew). I can’t reveal too much because one of them is going to be a pattern in Quilt Now! So here’s a photo of Sonia with her sample, the Flexi Sewing Kit, and a sneak peek in the background.
For me so much of the Festival was about meeting up with quilting friends and making new ones. I even I bumped into Bethany, along with a host of other lovely quilting friends!
Left to right: Top – Sarah Ashford, Paula Steel, Bethany Armatage, Jo Westfoot, Nicola Dodd, Bottom – Jen Walshaw, Amy Ball
I met up with so many wonderful people it would be impossible to list them all. Suffice to say, catching up with them was simply the best!
And then of course there were the quilts. My goodness, what talent and sooooo much inspiration. It’s hard to know where to start. So I thought I’d narrow it down to my top five, if that’s even possible!! So here goes;
I honestly had the best three days. It was busy, it was frantic, it was exhausting, but it was wonderful, inspiring and such a celebration of every type of quilting. I was so happy and proud to be there. If you’ve not been to The Festival of Quilts before I urge you to go, even for just the day, as you will be swept away by the talents of so many quilters, and come away feeling inspired, fired up and energised to get creative. You may even buy some fabric, and hopefully make a quilty friend or two as well.