Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Festival of Quilts

Today I went to Birmingham to the Festival of Quilts - 'the best quilt show in Europe' as I heard someone describe it! It's certainly a fabulous show, with the quilts (naturally), the shopping (of course) and exhibitions from lots of famous and talented quilters and groups from all around the world. Here are some of my favourite quilts from the show.

This Russian quilt was called something about honey, and had bees and fabulous stitching on it.

This gateway had been made nearly life-sized, to give the impression that you could step right through it. It certainly works for me.
The 'Tree of Life' with abundance surrounding it. Fabulous.
A contemporary quilt called 'Energy'. Amazing.
A French quilt where the workmanship was amazing. Not only was it hand appliqued, but it was heavily hand quilted too, mainly in stippling. A real labour of love.
The winner of the Young Quilter 12-16 age group. The theme was 'Pearls of the Orient' and the onion shaped domes of the Royal Pavilion suggest the opulence of the East. Pearly buttons complete the allusion.

I've just realised that nearly all the quilts I liked were appliqued! Here are two which aren't. This one is a sampler quilt made from patterns to be found here and inspired by a Jennifer Chaverini book 'The Master Quilter'.

There was a super exhibition of Ferret's work, including this wholecloth-on-acid! The black fabric has been heavily machine quilted with black and white thread, to stunning effect.

And as to the shopping, well I couldn't resist! A pack of '10 fat quarters for £10', some neutral fat quarters, a black design from 'Aussie Dreams' to be included in my next quilt as a memory of our play, four reels of thread, two notebooks to be embellished and two books. One is the Quilter's Guild new 'Quilt Studies' essays and the other 'Slice 'Em and Dice 'Em Quilts', showing how to make simple blocks and cut them up to make more complex ones. More of that later! If you would like to see how the group quilt which Ruth and organised fared in the exhibition, lok here, but be warned, it doesn't make for happy reading!

Monday, 17 August 2009


Pink is defintely not my favourite colour for quilt-making, but I've begun to appreciate it while making Becky's Roses. I have made this quilt in double-quick time, as a 'welcome to your new home' present for Becky, and now her home-owning dreams have collapsed! Never mind, I think she'll still love the quilt.
This picture proves that we have had a bit of sun lately, although the wind has been quite fresh too.
I have also finished the little wall hanging for my challenge group. It looks good now it's all quilted and bound, although it's a bit puffy in parts, due to all the bias edges (and me being too impatient to unpick bits which have gone wrong!)
It was fun to make, and will look great on my kitchen wall, but I don't think I'll be making any more!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Quilting problems solved!

How many times have we seen comments on blogs which say, 'Love the top, but how are you going to quilt it?' I've bought a book which has lots of answers to the question. It's called 'Quilting makes the Quilt' by Lee Cleland (and was recommended in 'Quilters' Newsletter magazine') and it's fabulous! Lee chose 12 traditional quilt patterns, such Le Moyne Star, Log cabin, Square in a Square, Irish Chain etc. and made each one FIVE times in identical fabrics! (I would have given up the ghost long before this stage!) Then she quilted each quilt in a different way, and has beautiful photos which show the effect the various patterns have had on the quilt. Amazing! If it were merely a picture book, that would be enough, but there is more. There are patterns for the quilts and the quilting designs, and lots of tips on marking up quilts, how to make patterns fit on borders, dealing with corners, enlarging designs and machine quilting tips too! I can hardly recommend this book enough, and there are copies available on for £11. Bargain.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Stages one and two

I've been sewing the binding on Becky's Roses, and felt the need for something a bit easier to manage. I decided to have a go at the task I need to complete for a challenge group I belong to. This year's theme for the group is 'curves' and we have already made Drunkard's Path, Free-cut curves and New York Beauty. Since I have been so busy with the play, Chris agreed to take the last meeting, and has decided on something quite interesting.

The first stage was to contruct a piece of fabric by making lots of free-cut curves joined together. I could choose any colour combination, and decided to continue to work with pinks and greens, as I felt they were quite summery.

The next stage was to embellish the piece with ribbons, couched threads and machine embroidery in metallic and variegated threads. Lots of fun, especially since Ruth told me how to

stop the metallic thread from continually breaking or splitting by investing in a metallics needle! Pretty obvious, you'd have thought, but it didn't occur to me!

The next stage is ........... (to be continued).

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Now our production of 'Our Country's Good' by Timberlake Wertenbaker is in its final weeks of rehearsal, we have been getting our publicity organised. The photographer from the local paper came to take some pictures and the producer of the show, Dawn, took some photos at the same time.

This photo shows the cast (except Chris, who was having to work late that night) looking sad to be on their way to Australia. We are hiring the uniforms for the officers, so they had to improvise with their costumes. All the convict costumes look in suspiciously good condition for a load of thieves and whores who've just travelled thousands of miles, but we have yet to distress them with mud, tea and dyes to make them look more authentic.

Here is an 'action' photo of the convicts reverting to type! If you would like to find out more about our production, look here.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Quilting, quilting

I've been doing lots of sewing this week, but have nothing new to show for it. I'm machine quilting Becky's Roses and getting a bit fed up with heaving the quilt about under the machine. (Incidentally, Becky's house purchase has fallen through, so she's back to square one. Poor Becky, but at least it takes the pressure off me to finish the quilt in record time!)

I've also been hand quilting Dog Show, and have finally finished it.

I just quilted round the dogs and then I've quilted a few bones in the blank spaces.

I machine quilted the borders, because I like a firm edge, and I've quilted a word of dog-speak in each corner too
(the others are woof and bow wow).

Hooray! I really love it!