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  • Nicola

Festival of Quilts 2018...

Has it really been two weeks since we packed up, reloaded the car and headed home from the Festival of Quilts? Having shared some really poorly lit photos on Instagram, it's been fun to take stock of all of the inspirational exhibits I managed to see. But first, my little corner of the Festival...

To save my lovely customers rootling through baskets of patterns, like they had to last year, I invested in a rotating display stand. All the fun off the fair.

Fiona Smith - my lovely editor at Today's Quilter - returned my recent quilts for the magazine, ‘Auriculas’ and ‘Sprig’, so that I could display them on my stand.

And I took my Spellbound Sampler and brand new Pattern Book with me too, which got lots of attention. In fact I sold out of Owls on several days (as you do...).

And then, of course, there were the exhibits. Stand holders are allowed into the Hall a couple of hours before the Festival opens, giving us time to restock, grab a drink, say hello to fellow stallholders and take a look at the exhibition quilts.

The quilt we were all desperate to see this year was the 1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet, the oldest known dated patchwork in the UK. There's a lovely article about it on the Today's Quilter blog, here. Like many people I spoke to, I found the experience rather moving. As a quilter I appreciated the delicacy of the silk fabric - faded and worn through to its foundation papers in places - and the precision of the hand-stitching. But it was the interpretation, sometimes whimsical, of familiar motifs - hearts, flowers, birds and animals - that connected us so thoroughly with it's maker. She was there in the room with us. It was a privilege to see her work.

There was also a gallery of quilts inspired by the Coverlet to celebrate its tercentenary. Many quilters used Susan Briscoe's excellent book as their starting point and It was amazing to see how fabric selection changed the look of the quilt.

Deb McGuire's quilt (top) included her dog; Maria Thompson's (bottom) used warm, muted colours

There were more quilts inspired by the past...

Pippa Moss's exquisitely stitched Sanderson Star

Jenny Otto and Frances Meredith's aptly named 'Labour of Love'

...stunning interpretations of much loved patterns...

Tracy Aplin's 'Queen Tracy's Cross' (top) and Kathleen Illingworth's 'Fanciful Flowers' (bottom)

Ann Heaton and Kay Bell added an owl and a pussy cat in a beautiful pea-green boat to

'Ann's Stonefield'

Maureen Talbot's captivating 'Circle of Life', my personal favourite this year

....a visiting exhibition of intricately stitched Japanese quilts...

A quilt combining machine piecing, hand applique, trapunto, machine quilting and

dazzling use of solid-coloured fabric by Kumiko Funaki

...interspersed with antiques quilts, like this ravishingly detailed example from the Topsham Museum in Devon on the Quilters Guild Stand: a feast of applique and crazy patchwork, it was made by Emily Seward and dated 1889. Again, Emily's personality shines through.

This was just a small fraction of what was on offer, but these were the pieces that called out to me. As you can see, I'm drawn to traditional quilts, but I really enjoyed the inspiring use of colour in many of the quilts I saw this year.

But, as always, it’s the people who make the Festival of Quilts so special. From my fellow stallholders, those of you who'd seen my work in Today's Quilter or on the Sewing Quarter and came to say hello, to the first-time visitors who stopped for some encouragement and advice. Quilters are a lovely, friendly bunch and I do so love a chat. Particular thanks go to the delightful lady who handed me an enormous bag of Minstrels - which I shared around the aisle - chocolate that doesn't get on your hands, or the quilts: so thoughtful :-)

Nicola xx


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