April 2016 Better late than never
21st August 2016
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I had my first trip to the Festival of Quilts (FoQ) a couple of weeks ago. I booked two days, thank goodness and a couple of workshops. Hubby very kindly took annual leave which meant two blissful, childfree days. (Sorry, I know I shouldn’t sound so happy about it ). I have been to a couple of other quilt shows at Malvern and Harrogate in the past. I thought they were quite big but nothing can prepare you for the vastness of 3 halls of the NEC!! I followed advice from the UK Quilters United Facebook page and prepared lunch, snacks, water, wore comfortable shoes and made a long list of things I wanted to see.

First stop was to visit my quilt. I have oooo’d and ahhhh’d at the other shows, over the amazing quilts that people have entered. I have always wanted to do one, and this year when I was making my mood board, I promised myself I would have a go. When the entry forms came out the Quilter’s Guild challenge theme was ‘On the beach’. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. 2014 saw the 70th anniversary of D Day. My Grandad landed on on beaches. To commemorate the annversary, a series of photographs were released in the press depicting the Normandy beaches then and now. I had been moved by the photographs when they were released and couldn’t wait to get started on making a quilt along the same lines. While searching for the photographs I also came across poems written by D Day veterans and three in particular stood out. ‘This Beach’, ‘I Stand here now’ and ‘A quiet place’ were all written by Tony Chapman. They spoke to me and so my quilt was born.

The quilt is also called ‘This Beach’ and measures 102 x 64cm, not very big in the scheme of things and at the show it looked even smaller. I deliberately kept the soldiers free from lots of detail, rather like the memories they are. As my inspiration came from a photograph, I was keen that it would be presented in the same way. It caused some tricky moments with the magic border as it had to sit the opposite way to normal. I questioned my sanity frequently.


It was such a sense of achievement seeing ‘This Beach’ hung at the show. I had to have a selfie, but it was hung underneath another quilt so not my best attempt.

The winner’s quilts were A-ma-zing!!! These are the three that won the categorie I entered. Beautiful aren’t they? I couldn’t fit the first one all in one photo! It was like a panoramic photo of a bay.

These are some others in the same category. I wasn’t the only one to think of D Day!

Over 700 quilts were entered across the various categories. I have put together some of my favourites. Even with two days, I managed to miss some! The level of detail, variety and techniques was fantastic and I am very proud I achieved my goal.

‘The Photographer’ by Constanze Botel and Britta Beutnagel. I loved this one. The detail was phenomenal. It looked like you could touch it and feel his hand or jumper. Earlier in the day I  had seen a gentleman taking photographs with a similar camera. I had wondered if the maker had seen him last year and taken a photograph of him. I overheard one of the Stewards saying it was from a photograph taken by the maker’s niece, of her father when he was 92. It was enlarged and printed onto fabric, and she then quilted it. As she was working on it, he died, so just above his shoulder in the black area, she quilted an angel’s wing.  Not the first or only time I had to blink back tears while I was at the show.

This was a group quilt by the Alva Diva’s called ‘The Ochills in Autumn’ Each member of the group made a section of the landscape. This is the view from the hall where they meet. It reminded me a little of the Malverns. I liked how each person had bought their own style to the quilt.  Look at the sky, it was all the same fabric but each section has been quilted differently.

There were lots of smaller exhibitions dotted around the halls. They suddenly appeared around corners. I thought the detail on this was amazing, especially having done strips for the sand on my quilt. This was a a whole other level. This was part of a Russian collection by Tatiana Andriyanova called ‘Farewell to Rus’

I was constantly in awe of the amount of work that went into the quilts. The ‘My KNOT Garden’ by Sandra Pirie and  had a 3D element too. I mean, how do you do that?

This quilt ‘Pearl Princess’ by Sandie Lush eventually won the Visitor’s choice after coming second in the traditional quilt category. It was a whole cloth (no patchwork, just quilted) Best guestimate was 6ft square but could well have been bigger. Hand quilted and embellished with colonial knots, it stood out for the neatness and symmetry. It must have taken hours and hours. Just beautiful. This photograph is approxiamately a 20cm square. You can see the whole thing here.

The other winning entries are all available to look at here.

The current (just finished) City and Guilds Patchwork and Quilting had a seperate exhibition. I am signing up to start mine later this year. I know! I must be mad, so I made sure to have a nosey at what I will be doing. Initially I was totally freaked out but I chatted to some of the students. They were all lovely and gave me hints and tips. (Keep stuff by the bed for the design work and make myself do 15mins each night). I will be doing mine by distance learning so will need to really disciplined, gulp!! The  biggest point I took away from their exhibition was how different each student’s work was from each other. Despite all doing the same course each display was completely unique. It has set my mind wandering about my inspirations. Where do you start?

I booked on a couple of workshops to try out some new techniques with my City and Guilds in mind. I spent a very happy afternoon ‘Nipping and Tucking’with Jennie Raiment and playing with threads and sari silks in Silken Strata with Mary Halbert. I deliberately booked the classes to take me out of my comfort zone. I have a folded patchwork pattern I bought at a previous show and still haven’t plucked up the courage to try. After making a whole cushion cover top in an hour there is really no excuse now. I need to finish off a few more tucks and folds but not bad I thought. I loved the silken strata class. Sari silks and pretty threads in different textures, what more could a girl want? Simple but effective. I can feel a few more coming on for Christmas pressies. It is only 18 weeks away now you know. (If you are reading this and are lucky enough to receive a small offering from me this year that resembles one of these, please disregard the previous coment, they are really hard to make!!!)

I was incredibly restrained on day one with regard to purchases. Being on a budget meant giving careful thought to what I wanted. I had a list of needs/wants with me which I added to as I saw things. I couldn’t resist these two little crochet patchwork hexies though. At £1 each it would have been rude not to. A small bag of vintage lace might have snuck in too, oh and a brooch. Maybe not so restrained, oops.

Day 2 and I was ready! I missed out on the freebie wadding from the Warm Company the day before (won’t make that mistake again) So joined the queue for today’s straight away. While patiently waiting I got chatting to a pair of lovely ladies who are also members of UK Quilters United ,  a fabulous Facebook group I joined a little while ago. We recognised each other from our badges! (Red, white and blue ribbons).

Mine was so big I was asked if I had a won a best in show prize, hopefully the lady in question realised we were at FoQ rather than Crufts, gulp. As I was at the show on my own it was great having a natter. A free bag of insul-shine wadding and a very handy 2.5″ template from the rather lovely Andy and Jo at Crafty-UK later and it was back to the quilts and shopping. This is my haul. I ended up with different things than were on my original list and went slightly over budget but I could been soooooo much worse!!! The little packets are tiny templates for tiny hexagons and tiny clamshells. They were my only impulse buy and one I considered very carefully (not that much of an impulse then). They were from a hungarian stall, Foltvilag. I love English Paper Piecing and am a member of the Quilter’s Guild miniature section. These templates were amazing. The lovely lady demonstrated them beautifully, I am sure she made it look much easier than it will be when I have a go but her makes were gorgeous. I bought the liberty fabric to use with the templates as it is finer. Wish me luck 🙂 x

I am definitely going again next year. I had best start saving now!!!

When I got my quilt back on the Sunday. It had an envelope pinned to the back. Inside were the judges comments.

I was so happy to see them. When the quilts are hung, the winners are either moved to a seperate winners gallery or have a sign next to them saying that they have come 1st, 2nd of 3rd in whichever category. There are also some highly commended quilts and there are judges choices. Each judge chooses their favourite and gives reasons. The vast majority of quilts are just hung and have no comments. I was a bit disappointed by this. Everyone needs a bit of feedback. I just assumed it was too much to have comments for every quilt when there are so many and didn’t give it another thought. When I opened the envelope and saw these it all made sense. I am so chuffed. Nice comments, they got what I was trying to say and I had no ‘needs attention’ ticks. Phew!! I now have a benchmark and an idea of what the judges are looking for. I wonder what next year’s theme will be……………?








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