Last week I headed down to Birmingham for a two-day visit to Festival of Quilts. I had come away from last year’s Festival of Quilts feeling unenthused and was considering giving it a miss this year. When my first choice workshops were sold out prior to general release, I was all set not to go, but then I won a couple of tickets in a giveaway from Vive Books. So, I looked again at the workshops and there was still availability on a couple of the one hour workshops that were of interest and soon I had my trip planned.
My first workshop was at 10.30 which meant joining the back of a long (and growing) queue to wait for the doors to open at 10. Once the doors were open, the queue moved quickly and I was in the halls with 15 minutes to spare and just time to buy a few pieces of Liberty.
The workshop was for a Mini Mosaic Wedding Rose 7” block and I was a bit surprised to see no sewing machines in the room when the description mentioned machine piecing and it turned out that there was no sewing involved at all. The tutor had put in a lot of work preparing pre-sewn kits for us, but the only practical element to the class was cutting squares and fusing freezer paper and interfacing.
It was an interesting technique to learn and I bought some supplies from the tutor so I can try it at home, but I do wonder if this could just as easily have been taught as a demo and not workshop.
After the workshop, I made my way to the Kaffe Fassett gallery where some of his antique quilts were on display. The Festival of Quilts website had advertised that Kaffe Fassett would be presenting short tours of his quilts, but when I (and others) turned up at the advertised times, there was no sign of any tours going ahead (not surprising, given that we could see him doing book signings on a nearby stand).
The rest of my first day was spent wandering around the stands trying to stick to my fairly short shopping list. I had hoped to get some Aurifil 80wt thread as I had seen this was available in America, but there was none to be found and unfortunately it is not due in Europe until later this year. I did manage to get the other items on my shopping list: in addition to my earlier Liberty purchases, I bought some paper pieces for the Ballet quilt from the second Millefiori book, a few Kaffe Fassett scrap rolls, a dozen lace zips and some linen-look FQs (all at just £1 each) for a baby Bionic Gear Bag, and some FQs to fussy cut for a pieced hexagonweekly sew-along (though this is more a catch-up-along as I am several weeks behind).
My workshop on the second day wasn’t until lunchtime which meant I had time to meet up with @gillcrafty and to look at some quilts whilst trying to avoid any impulse purchases. I wasn’t entirely successful at this, though my purchases were limited to just some Tulip needles and a bit more Kaffe Fassett fabric. The Tulip needles were recommended to me by Gill and we were both delighted to discover that her needle of choice for EPP was now available in a large eye option.
Sewing looked more likely in my second workshop as there were sewing machines on the tables. This workshop was for foundation piecing, but without paper – instead a pre-printed fabric foundation was used.
Again the tutor had put together comprehensive kits for us and there were Husqvarna helpers on hand for those not familiar with the machines. I didn’t quite have time to finish my block in the workshop, but I made good progress and only have the four final triangles to add.
Although I hadn’t intended it, both workshops were for ways of producing accurately pieced small blocks. However, when I saw some of the miniature quilts in the show, my workshop blocks were gigantic in comparison. This is the only quilt I took photos of and I was stunned by such sharp points on such a small scale.
For a post about a quilt show, I seem to have omitted to mention the quilts. As ever, there were many quilts on display which had been pieced and quilted using a variety of techniques, but as before I found many of the quilts to challenge my idea of what is a “quilt” and to be so beyond my skill set that I could not be motivated by them. However, this year there was a new category of “Modern Quilts” and it was in this section that I found the quilts that gave me most inspiration. Perhaps the reason this was that according to rules, it is for “quilts that are functional ...”.
Having to specify “functional” in the rules does make me wonder "When is a quilt not a quilt?" and perhaps I would be less niggled by the show if it were called “Festival of Quilted Wall Hangings and Shopping Opportunities”.