Sunday, 11 August 2013

Festival of Quilts 2013, NEC, Birmingham

Not much sewing done this week but a LOT of quilt-gazing and oohing and aahing at the expertise of the clever folk who showed quilts at The Festival Of Quilts.

This the 11th Festival of Quilts (FOQ from now on in this post!) and I have visited every one of them. 
For the fist 9 years I was a Quilt Angel, unpacking, hanging them and then taking down and repacking for return to the owners.  Hard work but I enjoyed it.  However, over the past two years my health has not allowed me to continue to do this sort of physical work so I am now a Festival visitor.

It is a huge Show, consisting of several hundred competition quilts, galleries of themed quilts (particular quilt makers such as Lynne Edwards), Countries such as Russia and India, and many many stalls selling all kinds of quilting essentials: needles, buttons, sewing and quilting machines, fabrics galore, notions, rulers and cutting boards, fabric paints etc etc!

I went twice this year as there really is far too much to see in one day.  On Thursday I went with my sister and we had a wonderful time together looking at quilts and bumping into quilting friends - one all the way from New Zealand!  I had no idea Beverley would be there and it was marvellous to see her.  She was on a 21 day Quilting Holiday and had been in Ireland visiting a Quilt Show before the trip brought them to the NEC.

Yesterday I visited the FOQ again, looking at all the galleries and stalls I hadn't had time for on Thursday.  That was a lot!  Then I walked through all the competition quilts again and took nearly 60 photos of my favourites.

When I am looking at quilts I am naturally drawn to the more traditional ones.  However, personally I am not so keen on Baltimore-style quilts but I can appreciate and marvel at the wonderful needlework needed to make them.
One that really caught my eye was a Two Person quilt made by Alexandra Rankin & Janette Chilver, entitled The Wild Flower Garden. 

The detail was amazing. Here's one small patch of strawberries: 

Then there are quilts that I admire and marvel at, knowing that I would never be clever enough to make them and they wouldn't be my style of quilt anyway.
There were several that sang out to me in this category and I have picked my two favourites.
Firstly, a portrait of David Tennant, all made from snippets of fabric. AMAZING!

I would not know where to start to make such a work of art.
Then there was a quilt which I had walked past on Thursday, just thinking it was a collection of green and blue squares.  The catalogue blurb said it was made from 864 pieced 2.5" squares and half squares of fabric. The title James Dean puzzled me.
However, as I walked past it again yesterday there was a huddle of people all looking at the quilt through their camera lenses.  Viewed like that, suddenly, as if by magic, there appeared James Dean!
I don't possess a fancy up-to-the-minute camera and this photo doesn't do it justice, but perhaps enough to show the cleverness of this quiltmaker, Michael Caputo.
Another quilt which I thought was amazing was Little Stars by Jean Ball.  Traditional hand-sewn American ( ie not over papers) stars.  The quilt was hand quilted and had tiny Prairie points edging.

And a more detailed close up of some of the stars.

Now a few photos from the Galleries:
From The Russian Quilt Gallery, a quirky one, like a child's drawing:

From Crossroads- A Middle Eastern Festival:
 and, finally,

From the Gallery called Godharis: Quilts from India:

All of these Indian quilts were made of scraps of all kinds of recycled fabric; old saris, feed sacks and polyester, all hand sewn into quilts and featuring quite large top stitching which added to the decoration but also strengthened and stabilised the recycled materials.

And from Beneath the Southern Skies, a close-up of a section from the Pohutukawa quilt:

And finally from the Galleries, a quilt which was based on a photograph of the quiltmaker's grandfather. It was made from a scrim-style fabric, teased out to form the features and clothing of the old gentleman. It was quite wonderful.
And in closer detail:

And finally, one of my favourite Competition quilts made by Marianne Mohandes,
called Full Circle:
Marianne said she made the quilt as a gift to herself after reaching the 5 year point following Breast cancer.  The circles symbolise the shape of the breast.  The colours and the reason for making the quilt resonate with me.  A winner in my book!
Of course I couldn't walk past all of those stalls without buying something.  A few basics for my stash, Kona-style plains in a dusky pink and sky blue, two Moda spots in yellow and pink and four fat quarters. Oh, and a packet of darning needles!
Today, a quieter day, no walking as I am stiff from being on my feet so much this week.  But so worth it!




  1. Quilt shows are so wonderful : )

  2. Yes and all so different. I've been to three this year: Malvern, a medium sized Show, a local one in Stratford-upon-Avon celebrating 20th anniversary of a local quilting group, and now the largest Show in Europe, The Festival of Quilts. All interesting and thought provoking in their own way.