Festival of Quilts 2019

I’m writing this blog-post on a Monday (as usual) and for the last three days I have been at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. I had a great time. This is a very personalised account of the high points for me.

It is such a pleasure to meet friends at the show. This is Sheena Roberts, who I met on a City & Guilds Certificate course in Patchwork and Quilting taught by Barbara Weeks in Great Missenden.  Sheena is currently The Quilters’ Guild Officer for the Festival of Quilts, so much of the smooth running of the show is down to her! We caught up (twice) over a cup of tea, in spite of her busy schedule. We always ‘pick up exactly where we left off’.  Sheena is also full-time quilter and quilt-teacher, so we had lots to chat about. You can find her at Green Man Quilts (http://www.greenmanquilts.co.uk).

1 Sheena.JPG

A great advantage of going to the Festival is the opportunity to hear quilters speak about their work. I went to four lectures, all of them fascinating. The first was by Heather Audin, the curator of the Guild collection, She  took as her theme, the four decades of The Quilters’ Guild (it’s the 40th anniversary this year) and explained how the collection began, early in the life of the Guild and how it has been added to over the years. She showed photos of many pieces from the collection, but this 19th-century quilted petticoat was one of my favourites.


Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star quilt company gave a two-hour long talk and demonstration, which not only included the remarkable story of how her company came into being, but also a full-on tutorial (to a packed auditorium) of how to make 30 different quilts, by varying the blocks – as seen in the photo below.  She also spoke movingly about how quilters change the world when they make quilts to give away to an unknown person in need. She was at different times both hilarious and heart-wringing  and the audience was gripped.

Jenny Doan

Jen Kingswell also told her own story in her lecture of how she moved from being a midwife to being a world-renowned quilt-maker, pattern-writer and fabric designer.

Jen Kingswell.JPG

She showed many of her signature quilts, with their pretty combinations of colours and ‘scrappy’ use of many different fabrics (not just her own).

Jen Kingswell, Bring me flowers
‘Bring me flowers’ by Jen Kingswell

Michael James spoke of a life in quilts – he began quilt-making, rather than painting, immediately following his formal studies in fine art. We saw from the photos the development of his quilts over four decades.

Michael James.JPG

He spoke movingly about trying to make quilts during the last illness of his late wife who suffered from dementia. He explained that during that time he made work about the experience, and virtually all the colour dropped out of his quilts, like this one shown on his stand.

Michael James, Past Tense
‘Past Tense’ by Michael James

He also spoke about – and showed – recent work, which is full colour once again, inspired by a recent trip to India.

Michael James Haveli 3, Varanasi
‘Haveli 3, Varanasi’ by Michael James

I very much enjoyed the work of Sandra Meech which took polar landscape as its theme.

Sandra Meech, How long
‘For How Long?’ by Sandra Meech

This quilt, entitled ‘Venice’ by Janice Gunner was on display, celebrating the fact that Janice has been given a ‘lifetime achievement award’ by The Quilters’ Guild.

Janice Gunner, Venice.JPG

This whole-cloth quilt ‘Ruby’ by Andrea Stracke  was give the special over-arching prize for hand-quilting. what a beauty!

red quilt
‘Ruby’ by Andrea Stracke

Just look at these tiny stitches.

red quilt close-up.JPG

I’d also like to show you the pieces I put in the show:

Four hundred and eighty
Four hundred and eighty

Today, I’ll be driving home and tomorrow back in the studio.

Next week on the blog will be block eight of the series ‘Make a Quilt in 2019’. See you then.

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Were you at the Festival of Quilts? What was your favourite part?

Thank you for reading my blog. Quilt patterns are here, Fabrics are here, Classes are here.

Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am an artist, designer and maker living in Ramsgate, UK

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