Each year my Quilt Group (Durham Quilters), travels together down to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England to attend the Festival of Quilts. We generally spend three days at the Festival, which lasts for four days in total. However, this year some of us set off at 7am on the Thursday, arriving soon after 11, so we gained an additional day.
For the first time, I entered some quilts into the Festival, so I was keen to see that they really were all there! Of course, they were. I haven’t cropped the photos, so you can get a sense of how the quilts were hanging in the space (several of the halls at the NEC are taken over during the Festival of Quilts). I have also included, in quotation marks, the catalogue entry written for each one.
The Quilters’ Guild Challenge for 2016 was ‘On the Beach’. I made a single-bed sized quilt with fabrics I have designed. (To see the fabrics, click here). Here’s the quilt, entitled ‘Happy Holidays’. “This is a celebration of holidays at the British seaside, remembering buckets and spades, sandcastles and beach balls, plus the frequently necessary windbreak. Treats such as ice cream in cornets are included, plus my particular favourite, candy floss.”
In ‘Contemporary’, a single-bed sized quilt was made from up-cycled embroidered fabrics and it was entered in that particular class because of the unusual use of materials. “Non-traditional fabrics used here are embroidered pieces from the 1940s-1960s: tablecloths, tray-cloths and towels. Though the unknown embroiderers have used standard patterns and motifs, it is lovely to see how they have revelled in the colours available to them. This re-purposing of their beautiful work is a way of celebrating them.” Here’s the quilt:
In ‘Traditional’, I went for the very traditional hexagon motif and used the English Paper Piecing method to make the quilt, so all the hexagons were stitched together by hand. It was also hand quilted and even hand-stitched around the edge. There was a story behind the design and making of this quilt (called ‘The Missed Exhibition’): “Arriving in York, I found both the Kaffe Fassett exhibition and the Quilt Museum closed. Mortified, my consolation was the online purchase of 40 Kaffe Fassett five-inch squares (the centres of the rosettes) surrounded by fabrics from my collection. In between the rows, Kaffe Fassett fabric bought on a later, happier visit to York.” Here’s the quilt:
‘Modern’ was a new category this year and I made a cot-sized piece called ‘Dawn’. I thoroughly enjoyed working in an improvisational way, picking colours as I would select paints when I am painting. “A Willem de Kooning painting entitled ‘Rosy fingered dawn at Louse Point’ was a strong influence on the making of this quilt. The size is suitable for a cot or first bed, the colours appropriate for the dawning of a young life.”
In the Pictorial section, I submitted ‘The Bride’, which included a number of techniques, including, patchwork, applique, printing, painting and quilting. The antique lace around the edge was a gift from my husband’s aunt and the modern lace was a scrap left from my daughter’s wedding dress. Click here to find out how I made the dress. Here’s the quilt:
The last quilt, which went into the ‘Two Person Quilts’ category, was made with my friend Alison Moore. We devised a plan to challenge each other with fabric choices. “We are friends living in two villages close to each other in County Durham. We each made 10 light and 10 dark blocks of four squares, then swopped them to add borders. No new fabrics and no repeats allowed. We got together to agree the lay-out and do the quilting. It was scary, but fun.”
The judges’ remarks and feedback on the quilts (with just one small exception) was encouraging and will spur me on to work on my skills: I know what I need to improve on. It was a great experience exhibiting this year, so when I am asked that difficult question ‘What do you do?’, I can at the very least say ‘I am a quilter’!