One of my favourite things was the various little quilted 'do not touch' signs. It made a tedious-but-necessary instruction just a bit less tiresome.
When I booked my ticket to the Festival of Quilts I was, to be honest, mainly thinking about the break from childcare and the window-shopping opportnities (shallow? Me?). Obviously I was aware that I might, you know, see a quilt or two, but for some reason I wasn't really focusing on that bit before I got there.
But oh my gosh. The quilts were amazing. The talent and skill of every entry was incredible. Even in the quilts I didn't completely love I was able to draw some kind of inspiration or admire the piecing and/or quliting skills of their creators.
I only took my iPhone (blame sleep deprived bag packing), so my photos aren't exactly stellar, but I couldn't resist sharing a few of the quilts that particulary caught my eye.
South Street Stitchers (group quilt) entered by Rosalind Gregory ('Where Have all my Shirts Gone'?), made from waste pieces of woollen suiting fabric.
I love the unusual fabrics used in this quilt, and the addition of hand quilting and embroidery. Still a thoroughly useable quilt, as far as I can tell (I remain largely unconvinced by quilts that can't be used as quilts, except in rare circumstances). Such beautiful work with such simple ingredients.
Heirloom Quilt from the UK representative in the Diversity in Europe exhibition, made by Pauline Ineson (and the subject of this book).
I am completely in love with the use of silk in semi-traditional quilts. I saw the book about this quilt a while back and fell in love with the quilt, so it was great to get to see it in the flesh. I love the gentle texture and pattern definition offered by the low-contrast fabrics, as well as the luxe look of the thing.
Yellow Roses, by Margit Nenning, Austria.
This quiltis made from a variety of white-on-white patterned bed linens belonging to the quliter and her family. Again, the low-contrast fabrics makes for an easy-on-the-eye but amazing quilt.
Double Delight, by Pauline Law, South Africa. A wonderful combination of quilting and knitting, and a little bit of crochet.
I am not sure how this quilt wasn't distorted and ruined by its own weight. Magic. And gorgeous colours.
Manhatten, by Bernadette Mayr, Germany.
Last year we saw a lot of house quilts. Will this be the year of the window quilt? I love the spectrum in this quilt, anchored by the windows. This was one of those quilts that was beautiful close up and from a distance, which is reasonably uncommon.
Mid-West Summer Wash, by Rosemary Styles and Puddleducks (longarm). Colour graduation in 9-patch blocks alternately with a plain square.
I stared at this one for a long time before figuring out that it wasn't just the mad prints that made this one such a spectacle, but the 9-patch blocks, which meant that the colour blended in a way that it doesn't with most Trip Around The World type quilts. The colours and prints aren't something I'd go for, but I thought that the combination of a simple construction and clever print choices really made this one stand out.
The Swiss exhibit in the European Quilt Association exhibition. Unfortunately my iPhone picture is so out of focus that I can't make out the name of quilt or quilter.
What struck me most about this quilt was the fact that about 48 hours previously I had been looking at a pineapple quilt in a book and merrily announced that I hate all pineapple quilts. I don't know whether it's the unifying red block or the fact that the 'pineapples' make up the sashing rather than the patterned bit of this quilt, or maybe the addition of that bit of extra white space, but I really enjoyed looking at this quilt.
Square Deal Variation, by Birgitta Debenham.
I do love me a scrappy quilt, and the values concept works really well here with an enormous range of scraps.
Deconstructing Clarice, by Kathryn Chambers. Pieced using a kaleidoscope technique, machine appliqued.
The overall quilt isn't something I'd choose to have or make, but I thought that the fussy cutting in this quilt was just amazing. Sorry my picture is so appalling, but I really wanted to show this quilt. It just shows how there are lessons to learn from even quilts that we wouldn't necessarily want in their entirety.
Rest Soup With Tighten Stripes, by Magnhild Tautra, Norway. Pineapple blocks sewn on paper.
You know how I said I hate pineapple quilts. I take it all back.
I caught sight of this one literally just as I was leaving, having somehow missed it on my first pass earlier. I absolutely love the red detail adding a bit of definition, and the random monochrome stripes at top and bottom. I wonder how many other gems I missed as I dashed from quilt to quilt.
Snow Plum Quilt, by Yukiko Ayres. Hand stitched wedding ring.
I do love me a wedding ring quilt. I liked the shots of liberty print in this one, and the graduated colours.
Anglesit, by Andrea Stracke, Germany. Machine pieced, hand quilted (some quilting without markings)
This quilt really reminded me of traditional British quilts, especially Durham quilts. I have something of a soft spot for Durham quilts, despite the fact that I'm more of a patchwork-obsessive than a quilting-obsessive when it comes to my own quilts. I aspire to own a nice vintage Durham quilt, and have my eye on one or two of my mother's.
Retrospective, by Louisa Lawson. Hand pieced and quilted. Hexagons are 5/8"
I think maybe my favourite quilt in the entire exhibition. I was adamant I would never do anything so predictable as a flower-garden type design when piecing hexagons, but this quilt has completely changed my mind. I love the bright colours and random pattern. Simple, but gorgeous.
I can't find the details for this quilt, sorry!
This quilt is so not my kind of quilt, but I just couldn't get over the amount of sheer work involved! Not only the initial design (I assume done on a computer? I can't imagine how you'd do it otherwise). The hexagons were all black and white, no grey, and each measured something in the region of 1/2" across.
I loved the rock 'n' roll fabrics too.
Again, I completely failed to get details on this one. If anyone can provide credits for my anonymous quilts, I'd be so grateful!
This was another quilt that wasn't necessarily entirely my cup of tea, but was rather inspiring from the point of view of colour use and sheer hard work. I think I basically have a hexagon soft spot, regardless of the prints and colours used.
Regatta, by Bernadette Mayr and Jrmgard Staengl, Germany.
Ooh, I love this one! Such a simple block (although the boats actually aren't all identical), and some slight variations in fabric tone, and you've got a marvellous quilt. I really liked the quilting too, although it's not my usual kind of thing.
I have a huge yellow bias and a huge boat bias, which helps.
Anonymous quilt again. Sorry.
I just thought this was clever in its use of squares and circles. Geometric shapes taking on a new light.
Living Adventurously, by Judith Caroline Lynch. Strippy and commemorative quilt of Judtih's son Nick's gap year travels, with text taken from emails.
What a great idea! I'd love to recreate this with a passage from a favourite book or something. Although I would probably want to kill myself by about the third word. I am not a skilled quilter. The quilt itself was reasonably simply pieced (red and white strips, with a bit more detail in the centre), but the story just made it so special. I'm not normaly one for commemorative quilts, but I think this is genius.
Dear Jane, it's the 21st Century, by Valerie Mullally, Ireland.
Not so much my favourite because of the construction (although that's also pretty fab), but the brilliant name! Nice to see a modern take on traditional sampler quilts.
Comparethequilt.com, (group quilt) entered by Marion Barlow. Combination of chalk painting onto fabric, painted bondawed and creative stitch. Various hand and machine techniques.
I couldn't finish without showing you this one, even though my photos of it are appalling. What a great meeting of traditional skills, pop culture awareness and wit. there are some better pictures at Drinking Fabric. Unsurprisingly, it won the group quilts category - it was streets ahead of all the other (amazing) group quilts.
After being completely overwhelmed by the quilts (and feeling an awful lot less skilled than I did two hours previously), I took a bit of a wander through the shopping aisles. I was rather proud of my restraint (even if it was purely because I took some cash and refused to allow myself to use my card).
That's it! I'm not sure whether I'm more pleased with the gorgeous Liberty prints (at a great price) or the enormous can of 505 (who am I kidding? But I am pretty pleased with my 505 spray nonetheless). The Liberty prints will probably pop up as bias binding and/or buttons in the shop soon.
And the thread, of course. I know Aurifil is popping up everywhere in the blogosphere just now, so you probably don't need an introduction. I started using Aurifil a while back for hand piecing, but only recently tried it in my machine. It is brilliant - seams are noticeably flatter and there are definitely fewer tangles and snags when piecing small blocks like the Farmers Wife ones. I've also been using it to sew bias binding for my shop - the super-fine-but-super-strong thread is perfect for cotton lawn, as it doesn't add bulk at the seams, even when double stitched for extra strength, as I do on all my bias binding. I keep meaning to try some of the other weight threads, but I've yet to run into a challenge that the 50wt can't cope with - it's so disproportionately strong that I haven't run into problems with it yet, despite its fineness. I suppose the next test of it will be garment sewing. And my garments get seriously worn. Or should I go up (down?) to the 40wt, which is a bit thicker? Decisions, decisions.
Incidentally, there are loads of gorgeous Aurifil thread sets. I had so much trouble resisting them. the rainbows of thread look so pretty all together in a box! Oh, and if you're looking for a UK online stockist, my LQS has them. And, incidentally, a brilliant new website!
The quilt marker is a water soluble one. I find I sometimes struggle to keep up with my disappearing one, especially when hand quilting the sunshine quilt. I just can't seem to settle on the best method of quilt marking (and pattern marking, for what it's worth), and I'm sure it's one of the (many) reasons I'm not as keen on hand quilting as I thought I would be, given my love of hand piecing. What do you use? Any tips or advice for me?
Oh, and one more thing. I had a lovely chat with the Fat Quarterly peeps. Brioni and Katy coped admirably with me reading basically the whole of all of the back issues of Fat Quarterly, as well as letting me join in on the critique (well, criticism, really) of the sewing cabinets across the aisle (you can read more about Katy's thoughts on them here). Anyway, my point (which I am getting to, I promise), is that I was enormously impressed with the quality and quantity of content in Fat Quartlerly. I've been too stingy to buy it before now (especially since I just barely fall into the category of modern quilter, with my hand piecing obsession and alarm at anything 'wonky'), but the combination of good patterns, interesting interviews and, crucially, witty, clear and accurate writing has totally swayed me. I hate sloppy writing - I was a journalist and editor in my pre-children life and it drives me bonkers. Of course, I'm now opening myself up to criticism about my own writing. Never mind. Now go and subscribe to Fat Quarterly.