The Festival of Quilts at Birmingham NEC

compass quiltOh. My. WORD.  I’ve just been to Patchwork Heaven!!  And it’s in Birmingham – who knew??

Last weekend me and my lovely craftsy friends took ourselves for a Grand Day Out to the annual Festival of Quilts at the NEC.  The show is organised by The Quilter’s Guild, and it’s the biggest in Europe.  And, people, I can tell you – it was HUGE!!  I mean, just VAST!  We were there pretty much all day and I don’t think we even got round half of it.

Our initial strategy of working forwards from the back of the hall was soon foiled by the Kaffe Fassett Quilt Collection.  As we paused to admire the vintage and modern handiwork on display, who should appear but the man himself!  And THEN, the curator came over to us and said, ‘Kaffe will be giving a guided talk about the quilts in a minute ladies, if you’d like to join us?’.  WOULD WE?!?Kaffe1I must apologise in advance for the quality of photos in this post: not sure if it was me or my ancient, failing camera, but many of them came out very blurry.  BUT – the gorgeousness of the quilts shines through, I think!  This is my fave of Kaffe’s own quilts, with some details of the beautiful machine quilting (though he admitted to us that he doesn’t do much of the actual quilting himself these days!)Kaffe2Kaffequiltdetail1Kaffequiltdetail2Colour-tastic or what?

Next we were drawn to the City & Guilds students’ showcase, and this display really caught my eye.  The giant orange opens up and holds a cook-pot, but it’s quilted into ‘orange segments’ inside as well – wonderful!orangecookbagThe Quilter’s Guild competiton quilts, numbering into the hundreds, formed the main part of the display. There were stunning examples of every technique imaginable, from traditionally pieced blocks and hand-applique to very modern free-form machine quilting.  I  personally love quilts that use a mixture of piecing, applique and hand and machine work.  Here are a few I found particularly inspiring, especially the beautifully worked details:colourpanelscolourpanelsdetailblockquiltblockquiltdetail1blockquiltdetail2AnniversaryQuiltdetail2AnniversaryQuiltdetail1The theme for this year’s Guild Challenge was ‘On the Beach’ and it was great to see all the different interpretations and designs people had come up with, and such a huge variety of quilt styles:165BeachExtravaganza184GoldFootOntheBeach1153PebblesontheBeachNow, let’s talk about COLOUR, shall we??  Here are some eye-poppers for you (the last one is entitled ‘Pretty Hippy’ – it’s my kinda quilt!):83PainttheTownAnyColourMiniquilt259PrettyHippySo of course as with any competition, there has to be a Best in Show.  However, I’m not going to give you the actual quilt that won Best in Show.  Nope.  We decided we’d each choose our own!  So, this one came close second for me.  We all loved the design and the details, especially the really original use of silhouttes as a border.  Sadly after so many quilts, I’ve forgotten the maker/title – sorry!  But here’s me and H. admiring it (sewists note, H. is wearing her fab self-made Washi dress!):Me&HelenBut the hands-down winner for me, was the spectacular Magical Mermaid’s Caslte quilt by Claudia Pfeil.  I absolutely adored this quilt – the design, the colours, the exquisite hand-stitched and painted details.  Apparently she used 30,000 Swarovski crystals in it!  mermaidcastledetailMy pics of this quilt were some of the last taken on the day, and by this time both me and the camera were past our best.  When I uploaded them I was distraught to find all were blurry and out of focus.  But I SO wanted to show it to you, that I emailed Claudia hereself and she very kindly sent me these two lovely photos to share with you – craftsy folk really are the loveliest!  So here it is in its entirety, plus a super sharp detail shot.  My personal Best in Show:Magical Mermaids Castle by Claudia PfeilMagical Mermaids Castle CP detailIt was a very magical day indeed, and there was a lot of picnicking, browsing, fabric shopping, and laughing in there as well!  We saw so much creativity and met such lovely people, and came away with bags of fabric and inspiration.  A HUGE big hug and thanks to my friends A. & H. for making it happen and for sharing it with me.  Can’t wait til next year!Wishing you all a very Magical Mermaidy week! 🙂

Psychedelephant Quilt, part one

quiltpatternOoh, look: here’s that elephant quilt pattern I fell in love with about FIVE years ago.  Yes, I remember – I was saving it until I had gathered all the fabric to make it…

Ooh, look: my recent Sewing Space sort-out reveals I have enough fat quarters and remnants with which to quilt the entire planet…stashsortSo it’s ABOUT TIME I got quilting, huh??getquilting2What’s that you say?  Include some SOLID colours in the mix? Hahahaha…!dimsolidsHmm, these elephants are a little tricky to assemble…ElephantAssemblyThis looks like a job for the Elephant Placement Device™!placementdeviceElephants on parade!OnParadeNow to try out Cosmic Lulu‘s satin stitch.  All right! – Dancing with Elephants or what??OnParade2Hands up who wants to see an elephant’s backside…backsideOoh, look: it’s coming together!comingtogetherHurray, just the border to do!  Now, shall I be sensible and use some easy-on-the-eye, plain fabrics to frame this crazy mad thing?  Or will I use more of the same outrageous ones that I’ve done the elephants with?  I think we know the answer…

Ready…??quiltoutside1Whoo-Hoo! I LOVE IT!!quiltoutside2In fact, I love it SO much that although it’s not yet A Quilt, I’ve already hung it up in the space it’s intended for.  I have a rather huge, rather grottily-sealed-up, draughty fireplace in my living room, which despite its shortcomings has a beautiful old lintel above it, so I wanted something that would cover the fireplace itself but still allow me to make a ‘feature’ of the lintel.  I’m going to sew a hanger-sleeve into the quilt backing so that I can put it across, but for now I’ve just tucked it under the big blanket that’s currently hanging there.  quilttopfinished

No-one could say it’s not eye-catching!!

SO… Can Cosmic Lulu deliver the goods when it comes to quilting these psychedelic beasties??  Tune in for the next installment!  But first, I feel another Lady Skater dress or two coming on…

Wishing you all a very psychedelic Sunday 🙂

 

Funky festive round up with gifts galore!

Well hello!  I hope everyone is enjoying the festive season and looking forward to the New Year!

It all got a bit busy for me the week before Winter Solstice and Christmas, what with making gifts to parcel up and send off in the post, and parties and gatherings to attend.  headwarmeronpurple2 First up are these funky chunky headwarmers, made for my best friend’s two daughters in chunky WOOL: yes, I have found a brand of sheep wool I’m not allergic to!!  I wanted to make these very thick, super-warm and snuggly, so I decided to try Drops Eskimo.headwarmeronpurple I’m VERY pleased with the way they turned out, the wool was lovely to work with and although ever so slightly itchy on my hands, no sign of a rash – hurray!  I made these from my own pattern so if I can remember it (!) I’ll put a tutorial up in the New Year sometime.

Next up is this little critter, made from a fab pattern by Little Muggles: shelley profileHow cute is he??!  Now, I have to confess that he was made with the intention of being given away as a gift, but you know how it is, when it came to it I just couldn’t bear to part with him…shelleyfrontAfter all that crochet I fancied a bit of a change, so out came my fabric stash, cutting mat, and good old Auntie Janis (that’s my old Singer sewing machine!).  What better excuse for rummaging through all your favourite buttons, ribbon and embroidery bits than making a special gift for a lovely friend?   This was my second go at making one of these journal covers, using the excellent tutorial posted on BySmallMeans.  You can have a look at my first attempt over on my Flickr page, which was a bit on the tight-fitting side!  The tutorial is for a paper-cover spiral notebook, but mine was for a hard-cover bound book.  This time round I found it works out fine if you add 1/4″ to your measurements to allow for the thickness of the cover.purple journal2All in all a very creative Christmas, but just to prove that I do get outdoors sometimes, this is what I did on the Solstice:Solstice Tree plantingMe and my friend Annie in 10 layers of clothing, planting the very first tree of her new woodlands on her land!  Only another 3,000 or so to go…

Happy New Year, everyone!