Category Archives: Quilt shows

The 22nd European Patchwork Meeting

Last year I went to the European Patchwork Meeting in the Val D’Argent in Alsace, France, to buy my longarm. I wanted to take at least one more longarm class before agreeing to plop down all my savings on one and this was the nearest show to me (about a five-hour drive). I knew nothing about the quilt show so I travelled with very few expectations. My only experiences of major quilt shows to date had been the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. You guys, I know that Festival is supposed to be a big deal, but it looks like a show at the local rec centre compared to what goes on in Val D’Argent.

In addition to the vendor area, which is large but not massive (I’d say equivalent to Festival), there are close to twenty exhibitions spread out across four villages in the valley. There are about a dozen exhibitions in the main village, Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, and two or three in each of the other three villages, and these exhibitions are nothing less than spectacular. I was already blown away last year, but this year was even better.

I spent a week in the valley and saw nearly all of the exhibitions (there’s a free shuttle bus between the villages), some two or three times. One of my favourite exhibitions was one put on by Handiquilter (shocker!)(I swear I don’t work for them.)(Yet.). Handiquilter’s Director of Marketing collects old quilt tops and as a special project had some of the top longarm educators quilt them with contemporary quilting. The results are incredible. The exhibition had about ten quilts on display, but the full collection has closer to fifty. This was the first time any of the quilts have been exhibited and I’m really intrigued about what I haven’t seen yet.

Irish-Chain-Quilt

I think this is an Irish chain. I love it so much!

white-circle-quilt

I’m sure this pattern has a name but I don’t know what it is.

Every year the show puts on a themed competition and this year’s theme was “Colour.” Y’all, these quilts were amazing. I was (and continue to be) blown away by this quilt by Linda Kemshall. There’s so much going on here and it’s all so good.

Watercolour-palette-quilt-Linda-Kemshall

Is it not just?

The organizers liked this next quilt from the colour competition enough to put it on the poster for next year’s show. It’s by Gabrielle Paquin of France. It’s lovely.

img_8168

There’s a full gallery of this competition here.

The SAQA exhibition also had some absolute winners. This one kept me coming back for more and was conveniently located right next to the Handiquilter classroom. It’s done using a quilt-as-you-go method.

grey-quilt-Annemarie-Kowach

A Zero 4 quilt by Annemarie Kowach of France

This next one is by Erica Waaser, who is Munich-based quilter (I think I read somewhere that she’s an architecht by training). Last year she had a stunning solo exhibition at the show and I was delighted to chat with her this year. She’ll be holding an exhibition in my LQS in Munich next summer and I asked her if she’d come to our guild meeting that month (conveniently held in the LQS gallery) and walk us through her quilts and her process, which she said she would! Yay!

lighting-quilt-orange-pink-erica-waaser

That’s Erica Waaser next to her beautiful quilt

But the true star of the show? Angela Walters. Every year Handiquilter brings one of its educators to give classes at the show and a little bird accidentally spilled the beans last year that Angela Walters would be this year’s teacher. I’d kept my mouth shut about it since it wasn’t meant to be common knowledge, but spent the past year bouncing up and down in anticipation. When the schedule was released she was scheduled to teach three classes, twice each, and I signed up for each and every one of them. The class prices were laughable. I paid 240 euro for what was scheduled to be 18 hours of tuition but ended up being more like 20. I don’t remember what I’m paying for a single, six-hour class at QuiltCon, but it’s easily half that. And you know what? I would have paid twice and three times that had I known what I would be getting. The entire experience was so incredible that I’ve been walking on air since. It’s made me completely zen about some ongoing life irritants and completely optimistic about the future.

I’ll get into more detail about the classes I took and the lessons I learned in the next few posts, but let me leave you with this “Angelism”:

angelism-1

I’ll talk about the classes in detail in the next few posts. Consider signing up for my newsletter if you don’t want to miss out on these posts. To sign up, refresh the post and fill in your email address when the Hello Bar pops up.

blue-white-spider-web-quilt

The Spiderweb Quilt

I ended my last post with a bit of a cliff hanger. You won’t believe what happened next (ok, you probably will believe what happened next).


“Every quilt top deserves to grow up into a finished quilt!” 

Before I begin, I encourage you to join my mailing list (just wait for that Hello Bar to pop up and enter your email address), because I spent the week of September 12-18, 2016, at the European Patchwork Meeting in Val D’Argent, France, where I got to spend HOURS learning how to longarm quilt from Angela Walters. My next few posts will talk about what I learned (and will be sprinkled with funny “Angelisms” like the quote above)–you won’t want to miss it! 


Three of my quilt guild members belong to another quilting group and in November they’re holding their annual quilt show. At their retreat this year they worked on a group quilt to be auctioned off for charity at the show, and they asked me to quilt it.

The quilt is made of paper-pieced spiderweb blocks, which I believe are based on this tutorial from Sew Mama Sew.

It didn’t take me long to decide what to do with the colour segments of the quilt–they were just begging to be quilted as a spider web, but I did debate a little about what to do with the white space, eventually settling on a small double-paisley filler. I then used a ribbon-candy design for the borders.

spider-web-and-paisly-quilting

Quilting details

Since I needed to have the seams of the coloured segments quilted for the spider web quilting to work, I stitched in the ditch vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. I started out using a ruler, but my ditch stitching with and without the ruler looked about the same, which is to say not particularly straight or entirely in the ditch, so I eventually skipped the ruler. I don’t think this takes away from the quilt though, so I’m not terribly fussed about the straight(ish) lines popping up over the coloured parts here and there. Interestingly, the faster I moved the machine (without the ruler), the straighter the lines came out.

Once I finished the seams, I began quilting the spiderweb pattern across the colour blocks (starting from the centre of each block and gently curving outwards) and then filling in the paisleys as I went along. It took a bit of planning to get to where I wanted to be, but I eventually figured it out.

I’m not sure how long it took to quilt this quilt – maybe three or four hours? I broke thread far more than was strictly necessary and had lots of threads to bury. I was trying to avoid stitching over seams too many times to get from one place to the next, but the truth is that it’s a much more efficient way of quilting, so I’ll be working on improving this next.

This quilt was a fun learning experience and I really enjoyed working on it. I’m looking forward to seeing it hang in the exhibition!

 

I Made A Wee Purchase

Last month I hit the road towards Alsace, France, to attend the European Patchwork Meeting. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it didn’t really matter all that much because I was going there to buy stuff: I was going to pick up a roll of batting I’d ordered from a vendor in the Netherlands, from whom I bought a roll at Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe in mid-2014, and I was going TO BUY A HANDIQUILTER longarm machine. You know, NO BIGGIE.

(More on the show in a separate post. It was mind blowing.)

I fell in love with the Avante when I took a class in Karlsruhe, but nearly fell off my chair when I heard how much it costs. Obviously I wasn’t going to spend nine thousand euro on a sewing machine. That’s CRAZY talk. But I think deep down I knew that I would. Not right away, certainly, but one day. So I started saving my pennies. When I visited Toronto in the fall of 2014 I went to a quilt show with my mom and played with the machine a bit more (I kept circling around and having a go, then running away when the salespeople approached). After I returned home, my parents, who at the best of times don’t have two pennies to rub together, offered me use of their credit line to buy it, which was incredibly generous, but I couldn’t take on that much debt, and certainly not when it’s secured against my parents’ house. (I come from good people, y’all.)

By the beginning of 2015 I’d managed to save about three thousand euro, and then my 40th birthday came around in February with a massive surprise of parents and friends turning up from Canada, the US, and England. My parents hit up the entire family for my longarm fund and suddenly nine thousand euro didn’t seem so nuts—I was more than halfway there! So I embarked on a major austerity program. I started packing my lunch, jacked up my monthly savings to the point where I was just barely managing to put gas in my car, saved all my fivers (do you save your coins? Don’t. Save your fivers. You’re welcome).

The math added up. I would have the cash on hand by the time the European Patchwork Meeting in September rolled around. Except then I found out that the price had gone up by another fifteen hundred euro (except it didn’t. It actually went up by twenty three hundred, as it would transpire when it came time to buy it). I hemmed, I hawed. I considered waiting until the new year because I’d have a few more months to save and my thirteenth salary would come in, but then the Germ said—just buy it. I’ll lend you the money.

So I did! I did a class at the show and then went over to the Handiquilter booth and told the man: Sell me a Handiquilter, Nate! (Nate, happens to be Handiquilter’s Director of Global Business Development. You know, NO BIGGIE.)

So he did! I bought one of the machines that was used in the class (brand new except for the classes at the show) for ten thousand euro, and with it comes massive box of thread and two-days’ private tuition by a Handiquilter educator in my house.

It was delivered at the beginning of October and my trainer, Patricia, will be here in mid-November to teach me everything I need to know. I’ve played with it a bit so far and I’m here to tell you that I am absolutely TERRIBLE at it, but not at all deterred.

Also, did I mention I am poor? A poor but delighted bunny.

Tula Pink City Sampler Quilt – FIN.

Reading through my previous posts about the Tula Pink City Sampler I can see that I was just brimming with optimism about the whole process. It’s like I knew right from the start that I would absolutely hate making this quilt. But the thing is, even though I often wanted to stab myself in the eye with an ice pick rather than work on it, this quilt was an incredible learning experience. For starters, I learned–oh, who am I kidding? Like I didn’t already know–that I hate fiddly. These tiny, tiny pieces did not get any less annoying as I made my way through the quilt.

sneak peek 1

But the fiddly aside, I realised through the making of this quilt that I’m a pretty confident quilter and that I’ve seen and read enough about quilting to be willing to take some risks and to rely on my own intuition. I took a lot of chances with this quilt that could have ended badly, but didn’t.

sneak peek 2

The City Sampler book is laid out in sections. The introductory section gives basic instructions regarding how to read the cutting and piecing instructions. The piecing section, which is split into shape-based subsections, is arranged in two-page spreads and shows a photo of the finished block on the left side, and cutting instructions and a piecing illustration on the right side. The final section shows various layouts for the finished quilt.

Here’s how this quilt came together. I made about twenty five blocks in 2013, another twenty or so in mid-2014, and then over fifty blocks in a single weekend this past January (I really just wanted to get it over and done with already). I did not buy any fabric specifically for this quilt, and used mostly my scrap bins and some of my stash. As for the colour scheme, I knew I wanted to make the gridlock layout and that I wanted it in the same rainbow arrangement, so when I made my blocks I loosely kept to the colour scheme of the blocks in the book.

While I was sewing the blocks, I put them up on the design wall in the order they appeared in the book (pardon the iPhone photography, as usual. I tend to sew in the evening and the light in my sewing room is appalling).

From 1 to 100

From 1 to 100. At this point, I was still wholly unimpressed with the whole thing.

When all the blocks were done, I rearranged them in the same order as the gridlock layout in the book, and then I started playing around with them, since the colours and values of my blocks weren’t an exact match to the book, so some of the blocks just didn’t look right. After my first layout attempt, I brought the Germ in to consult.

Bringing in the consultants.

He had thoughts.

Schnitzel said she was no expert, but agreed to take a look.

Schnitzel said she was no expert, but agreed to take a look.

Eventually I settled on a final layout and even remade one block that was really bothering me.

I’m not a particularly skilled free-motion quilter and didn’t want my quilting to detract from the quilt. I was also pretty sure that I didn’t want to piece the entire top and then quilt it, because the quilting I had in mind would require me to turn the quilt around constantly, and I knew it would be too heavy for me to manage that easily. I decided to try the quilt-as-you-go method that Maureen Cracknell demonstrates in this tutorial.

I split the blocks into six segments and added the sashing to each segment. The segments were each five blocks across, with four segments made up of three rows, and the last two made up of four rows. Once the six segments were sashed and basted, I quilted each block, mostly echoing the shape of the pieces in each block.

A quilted segment

A quilted segment. Guest appearance by tracked kitty litter.

Next, I sewed together each pair of segments into three rows across, and quilted the horizontal sashing with straight lines about half an inch apart. After that I sewed together the three segments, and then quilted the vertical sashing with the same half-inch apart lines. At this point the quilt was already fairly large, but still manageable through my large machine.

Rub my belly mom! The only thing that'll make this quilt better is drops of your blood!

Rub my belly mom! The only thing that’ll make this quilt better is drops of your blood! At this point the sashing was quilted and I was working on the borders.

Last, I added the wider borders and extended the quilting lines from the sashing to the edges of the quilt, and once all the borders were on, I circled the entire quilt with four half-inch apart lines.

And everything fit! I was able to line things up really well (using lots of pins), and the QAYG just worked! It was magical! The next picture shows how the segments were sewn together. I gave it all a good press before I started quilting, though the quilt is a little bumpy in the back where the segments are connected, but please, reader, ask me if I care. Go on, ask!  This picture also shows how I quilted each block. Lots of extra threads that I didn’t trim, but it doesn’t really matter since they’re hidden behind the quilt back.

Merging the segments

Merging the segments

For the back, I made a diagonal rainbow to more or less align with the rainbow on the front, and to attach the back to the front I simply stitched in the ditch along the sashing borders. Again, it was a fair bit of quilt to fit in my machine, but it was such quick and simple stitching that it didn’t seem at all unmanageable.

Echoing the front with a rainbow in the back.

Echoing the front with a rainbow in the back. You can see the bumps where the segments were connected.

The binding was also a rainbow, mostly lining up with the rainbow on the front.

And here it is in all it’s glory. And you know? I love this quilt so much. It was worth all of the annoyance and all of the itty-bitty pieces and all of the risk-taking.

All done! LOVE!

Here are some details of the quilting.

Quilting details 2

Quilting detail

And last but not least, I entered this quilt into a show! I finished it on Thursday and dropped it off the same day, and today it was on display for the day at the Patchwork Messe in Erding.

The woman on the left with the striped bag looked at it, turned to her friend, and said: "Now this is art." I squeed.

The woman on the left with the striped bag looked at it, turned to her friend, and said: “Now this is art.” I squeed.

We’re back, baby!

It’s just about time to clear up the cobwebs around here. I’ve not had much–or anything– stitchy to say since November, the last time my sewing machine(s) and I lived in the same country. Here’s a bit of an update of what I’ve been up to.

Germany. I laughed for DAYS about this.

Germany. I laughed for DAYS about this.

I moved back to Munich in mid-November and started working about a week later. I rented a room from a friend until the end of February, and although she had a sewing machine and I had a bunch of fabric and some of my sewing kit with me, I couldn’t get the hang of her Bernina.

This was where I initially rented. Is this building not a dream?

This was where I initially rented in Munich. Is this building not a dream?

I spent most of December to February stressing out about finding somewhere to live, and finally signed a lease towards the end of February. You guys, this house we’ve rented… is HUGE. We’re on the ground floor, which has three bedrooms, a “hobby” room (a small, awkwardly shaped room), a living room (room is a bit misleading: I’ve had one-bedroom flats smaller than this room), a foyer almost as big,  a dining room, and a huge basement. I moved in at the beginning of March to an empty house. It didn’t even have a kitchen, just a room with pipes sticking out of the wall (Germany, it’s not all shits and giggles)(Wait, maybe it is. Go ahead and google “German toilets;” giggles guaranteed).

The view from our driveway. We live on the edge of a village with 40 residents.

The view from our driveway. We live on the edge of a village with 40 residents. We just about doubled the village’s feline population.

At first I planned to use the hobby room or one of the spare bedrooms as a sewing studio, because I could close the door without the cats making a mess of things, or without having to tidy it up mid-project in case we had company, but then I wouldn’t have the cats around when I was sewing and would have no excuse to clean up when we had company, so I’ve ended up taking over half of the living room. I’ll post about the set up another time, because I’m still trying to figure it out.

Here are some of the stitchy things I’ve been up to in the last few months:

1. Buying fabric. Because why not? I made a few trips back to the UK between November and March and took advantage of the super-cheap fabric in my ghetto store and the fact that the Germ’s company was paying for the movers who would haul it all back to Germany for me. (Five boxes PLUS a huge duffel bag of fabric. And four sewing machines–when did that happen?!)

2. Buying more fabric. Sometimes it pays to follow fabric designers on Twitter (or non-fabric-designers — give us a follow @quiltingrainbow). I’ll do a separate post about this, but for a ridiculous price (340 GBP, including shipping), I managed to get my hands on about a yard of each fabric in five separate fabric collections from a designer who was cleaning house. That’s about 120 yards. Which even after item 3 below, I still don’t know where to store.

Way cool kid fabric

3. Buying furniture to store my fabric. Also a separate post coming, but will you look at this thing? Is it not a dream?!

Vintage shop cabinet, scored an eBay from a fabric store that had closed.

Vintage shop cabinet, scored an eBay from a fabric store in Bamberg that had closed. Built in Munich sometime in the 1960s.

4. Buying more fabric. Enough, you say? But the Dutch fabric markets do a tour through Germany and their Munich stop happens to be three kilometers from my house! Which, um, didn’t mean I didn’t drive around for over an hour trying to find it. I nearly ran out of gas on the way. If not for the pouring rain, it would have been faster to walk. I have to admit that I was quite controlled at this one. Because I’m saving myself for when I go to Utrecht in the fall to an actual Dutch fabric market that has been in existence for over 400 years.

This weekend I’m off to Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe, a sewing and stitching congress. I’m booked on a three-hour long-arm class that I am pretty stoked about. I don’t imagine I’ll go mad with fabric shopping, mostly because fabric prices here make me want to cry, but I’m sure I won’t come home empty handed, because hi, have you met me yet?

In which I am a creepy stalker

So you know how your mother always tells you not to talk to strangers? I’ve met (and not met) some of the nicest people online, all of whom were, at one point or another, complete strangers. There was the time I went to New York with two people I’d only known online, and we stayed with another online stranger. I was twenty seven then and my mother was horrified. She was sure she’d never see me again.

I used to meet people through forums (I’m not telling you which, it’s too embarrassing)(*cough* Television Without Pity, Hamster Time *cough*)(I’m not giving you links. You want to know? Another thing my mother says, frequently, is “look it up.”), but these days I trawl for strangers on Twitter, where I spend entirely too much time (I have a couple of user names, but for quilting follow me on @quiltingrainbow). One guy I’ve been following for a while makes me laugh almost every day. In his humorous way, he’s also been very forthcoming about the difficulties he and his wife were having with carrying a pregnancy to term, so I was delighted to hear that they were expecting a baby and that the pregnancy was going well. Although he doesn’t follow me, we do interact and I really wanted to make the baby a quilt because I was touched by their (admittedly sparing, 140-character at a time) story.

I recognize that sending a gift to a complete stranger who doesn’t follow you on Twitter is somewhat creepy, so before I started cutting fabric I sent a message to his sister (who does follow me on Twitter) to ask what degree of creepy it constituted. She loved the idea and thought it wasn’t creepy at all! She was about to give me his address, but I suggested that perhaps I could use her as an intermediary, because while she thought it was fine, if her brother didn’t, I’d not only be creepy, I’d be creepy and know where he lived.

I asked her for colour suggestions and she replied “purple” without hesitation, so at the Festival of Quilts, while picking up fabric of all description, I also made sure to get a few purple fat quarters (which you can see in the right-hand pile here.

Festival of Quilts loot

Festival of Quilts loot

The plan was to make a 4” square quilt top. I used my Accuquilt to cut up 4.5” squares and played around with the order on my makeshift design wall.

Fabric on the design wall. yay, nighttime pictures with shoddy lighting!

Fabric on the design wall. yay, nighttime pictures with shoddy lighting!

I threw in some squares from Pat Bravo’s Floral Elements in Sand  so that it wasn’t overwhelmingly purple. Here is the finished quilt top, which shows the dark purple squares better. I love that fabric!

Finished quilt top

Finished quilt top

For the back, I stitched an extra row of squares and placed it between a large piece of the Floral Elements and a larger piece of a Robert Kaufman purple polka dot (which I hadn’t used on the top).

Quilt back

Quilt back

Quilting detail--an even better shot of that purple fabric

Quilting detail–an even better shot of that purple fabric

While I normally quilt parallel lines a quarter inch on either side of the ditch when I make baby quilts, I decided to do some tighter diagonal stitching on this quilt, about an inch apart. I had picked up some Aurifil 40wt thread at the festival and wanted to see how it pieces and quilts. The answer is: beautifully. I was horrified by the price of the spool (over £7 for a large spool compared with around £3.50 for the Gutermann thread I use), but holy cow, people, I barely made a dent in the thing. There are 1000m of thread on a large Aurifil spool, which is more than twice as much as the Gutermann, and I think I mentioned that the Gutermann constantly jams my machine, which means that when I chain piece a baby quilt top I need to rethread the top and bobbin threads AT LEAST ten times. Not a single jam from the Aurifil. I’m a convert. Incidentally, I tried the 50wt thread, too, but just couldn’t get it to play nicely with the tension on my machine. I know this is atypical, but that’s just how it goes.

For the binding, I used the Floral Elements again, with a small strip of the lovely dark purple. I wanted to machine bind the entire thing like I had for Oscar’s baby quilt, but this time it was a complete bust. I couldn’t bear the thought of finishing the binding by hand, though, so I did something I kind of hate to do–I top stitched it and left a visible binding line on the back side. I’m not too happy about it, but I kind of wanted to just get it done.

In case you were wondering–It’s a girl!

Festival of Quilts 2013

I’m still winding down from the Festival of Quilts and thought I’d tell you a little about it. I went to the Festival for the first time last year, at which point I had been quilting for less than a year, and it is safe to say that I was completely overwhelmed by what I saw. You can see my pictures of the quilts on display last year over here.

Last year, not knowing what to expect, I decided to spend two days at the show, which in retrospect was one day too many. This year I decided that one day would be more than enough, but I did head to Birmingham the night before to attend the Designer Dinner at the Hilton, headlined by Tula Pink. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have figured out that I LOVE Tula Pink. I adore just about everything she does. She was at the festival last year, but I felt really shy about approaching her so I just got her to sign my book, took a picture with her, and slunk awkwardly away. Well. Her talk this year was hilarious and interesting and I’m really glad I went. I’m less glad I spent money to stay at the Hilton Metropole at the NEC, where the event was held, because it was completely NAFF. The food was gross and the room they stuck me in had this for a view and this for a bathroom. Seriously, I’ve seen more atmospheric prisons. Anyway.

Hilton

The talk was great and there were a few quilts on display that I was completely excited about. Also in attendance and sitting right in front of me was KAFFE FASSETT! So close I could touch him, were it not so utterly creepy to do so!

The quilts Tula had on display for the talk included three versions of the City Sampler: Gridlock, the one I’m working on; Skyline; and Trellis. The Anchors Aweigh quilt was also there, along with a couple of quilts featuring her newest fabric line, Acacia. She encouraged people to come up and touch the quilts after her talk, since she believes that quilts should be used, not just displayed (at one point, talking about someone else’s quilt, she said she wanted to just grab it and stomp on it). This was in contrast to all the Kaffe Fassett quilts on display, which all had “don’t touch” signs on them.

This is Gridlock, the version of the City Sampler that I am currently working on. I can stop talking about how I take crappy iPhone pictures at this point, right? Anyway. It took me some time to figure out how to describe this quilt and it finally dawned on me–it glowed! The colours as they come through in the book are very vibrant, which I love, but in person the quilt was ever so slightly more muted and it just glowed. It took my breath away.

Gridlock

For the Trellis version, Tula limited her palette to just three shades: yellows, blues, and greens. Unlike Gridlock and Skyline, this version has the blocks framed, which I quite like. Not sure how I feel about the colour scheme.

Trellis

Since I’m going through a bit of a grey phase at the moment (well, in my head), I really liked Skyline. What I really liked about this quilt were some of the details in the quilting. The blocks are arranged like a city skyline, with each tower at a different height. The quilting (which I sadly didn’t capture well, though you can see the beginning of what I mean at the top of the third “building” from the left) is used to introduce the features of a typical skyline, like antennas at the top of the buildings, and the wind tunnels that tall skyscrapers create. Skyline 1

But possibly the coolest feature was this: In the skyline, the quilt included an airplane carrying a banner. Check out what makes up the banner!

Skyline 2

All of these were quilted by Angela Walters. On a funny tangent, read how Angela Walters came to quilt for Tula Pink.

The following morning I headed over to the hall quite early, armed with a list of things I wanted to get from the vendors. I skipped the quilt displays and headed straight for the shops, which were not very busy first thing in the morning, so I managed to do a quick recce before I started in again more slowly. I picked up a STUPID amount of fabric throughout the day, along with a few tools (that’s not all of it).

On my list of things to do was trying out some sewing machines. If I’m going to be serious about this quilting palaver, I really need a more advanced machine, since the one I have is about as basic as it gets, but then I saw a stand featuring the Handi Quilter, which is a movable platform on which you place your sewing machine to convert it into a long-arm sewing machine. Including a much more advanced Janome machine, the total price was around £1,800. Not chump change, but I was thinking of spending a few hundred pounds on a sewing machine only, so if I could combine that with a long-arm machine (they go for thousands), well HELLO! (Have I mentioned that my least favourite part of quilting is, well… quilting?). So I played with it for a bit and walked away, and then came back later for another go, and it was so much fun! I absolutely suck at it, but it was still fun! Obviously I wasn’t plonking down that kind of money right then and there (since I don’t actually have any to speak of), but the wheels were definitely churning. And then I found another stall that sells a similar platform, sans sewing machine, for as little as £355. Of course the size I’m after costs twice that, but still, I could use it with my own machine for a while while I save up to upgrade the machine. So that’s going to happen at some point soon, I think. This company is located in Wales and we’re headed down there in October, so I’ll see if I can get to properly test drive it while we’re there and will then hopefully buy it before we move back to Germany in the new year.

Guess who was sitting in the Pfaff booth, playing with the sewing machines just as I happened to be going by? ANN FROM GREAT BRITISH SEWING BEE! I KNOW! Stuart from the show was at the dinner the previous evening and I also saw him walking around the halls that morning, though I didn’t approach him because he was putting out an “I’m really super important” kind of vibe, but as soon as I saw Ann I just had to walk over and say hello. She was delightful! We talked for about five minutes, about sewing and quilting and the show, and she was just the loveliest person you could possibly imagine.

by early afternoon it started getting really busy in the vendors’ area, so I went over to look at the quilts. I took far fewer pictures this year and thinking about it, it’s probably because a lot of the quilts that were a complete mystery to me a year ago seemed quite straightforward this time around. Not because I’ve made something similar or plan to, but because I’ve managed to parse down the process and “get” how a lot of those quilts were pieced. I’m not much of an art quilter (read, not at all). I have neither the vision nor the inclination towards it, but I was completely awed and inspired by what I saw last year. I have a sense that there wasn’t quite as much of the arty stuff on display this year–it was a lot more patchwork–but there were some really astonishing pieces. You can see my pictures from this year’s festival here, but here are a few I was particularly taken with.

Last year I was absolutely in awe of this quilt. The same quilter had a small gallery on display and I was especially taken with this quilt. The image on the right is a zoom in on the details of the face. How amazing is that? And I was so focused on the facial features that I only later noticed (when I was looking at my pictures, actually) the birds quilted onto the white background.

Face

The London Underground was some sort of theme and there were a few quilts that featured it, but I really liked this one. I think it captured perfectly how the tube can open up the city for you.

Mind the Gap

My hands-down favourite quilt of the entire festival was this one (detail on the right). The detail in the image and the intricacy of the applique and the stitching are absolutely mind boggling.

Violin

By 4pm I was pretty much done (mentally and physically). My train back home was at 7:20pm so I headed into Birmingham and grabbed an early dinner at Jamie’s Italian. I treated myself to a really delicious elderflower cocktail to congratulate myself on a day well played, and then headed back home. I really enjoyed the show again this year. Since I won’t be living in the UK at this time next year, I’ll have to decide whether to fly in next year, but my inclination is that I will.

Which was your favourite quilt in the show?