The Festival of Quilts 2017

Yesterday I went to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birminghan. Here are a few of my favourite quilts from the show.

As in previous years I did wish for more hand quilting. All-over machine quilting in one repeating pattern seems to be very popular, but it doesn’t always go with the patchwork. The quilt below has been hand-quilted.

This quilt plays with log cabin in a very pleasing way.


I love the bright solids and sensitive machine quilting of these quilts.

This quilt is by Victoria Findlay Wolfe who had a gallery at the show. All her quilts were wonderful and you can see more here.


I like the quilted hexagons in this quilt.

Here are some more traditional quilts. The hexagon quilt was amazing. I’ve included my hand in the picture so you can see just how tiny the individual pieces were.

This quilt combines lots of different themes.


And this quilt uses fussy cutting to great effect.


I like the way the striped Kaffe Fassett fabrics have been used here to create secondary patterns.


Finally here’s a tribute to one of the gloved volunteers who will show you back of the quilt when requested.


I also did some shopping, although I like to think I was fairly restrained! Here are some Dutch chintzes that I’ve been wanting to sew with for years. The designs are very traditional and the nice Dutchman who ran the stall said he’d been coming to the festival for forty years.


I also bought some sashiko-themed fabric from EuroJapan Links.


Finally, I decided to buy a special ruler to experiment with more adventurous blocks. I had a nice chat with the proprietor of the Quilt Room who also gave me free book, written by her and her daughter, which contains patterns for quilts which can be made with it.


A Kraftwerk quilt

I recently went to see Kraftwerk perform a spectacular 3D show in Oxford, and it was lovely to be completely swept away for a few hours by the music and the videos.

As we were waiting for the concert to start I realized that the image projected on the red stage curtains would make a good quilt. This is the result.


It was quite difficult to decide what to quilt on the expanse of red fabric. In the end I went for lines and diamonds, intended to evoke the images of sound waves which appeared in some of the videos.


A final typographical interlude

Having set and printed a poem during my letterpress course, I next wanted to try something more challenging. A dictionary entry seemed perfect as it is justified and contains different fonts.

One of the first things I discovered was that there was no bold Caslon, the typeface I was using, so I needed some other way to make the dates, which marked the start of a new quotation, stand out. In the end the instructor found a Gill typeface for me to use. It turns out that bold wasn’t used much before the 19th century and first became popular with dictionary makers for whom space is at a premium.

The entry I chose to typeset doesn’t yet appear in the OED, as I wanted to print something which hadn’t been published before. I also liked the contrast of a 21st-century tweet rendered with the technology of the past.


A second typographical interlude

I’ve nearly come to the end of my letterpress course and have successfully typeset and printed a poem.

Here the type is secured in a frame, called a chase, ready for printing. The pieces of wood are called furniture and the whole thing is tightened with expandable quoins (the first picture shows four quoins, but I discovered that was two too many!).

I felt I’d done a pretty good job of typesetting but the proof revealed several errors!

In terms of typesetting, a poem like this is fairly straightforward. So I next decided to set a dictionary entry, the subject of a future post.

Quilts to showcase fabric

A while ago, on a whim, I bought some flannel fabric with an elephant print. Since then I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate this bold fabric in a quilt. I found this pattern (which has the slightly unfortunate name ‘Baby Bites’) online and I like the way that the large squares show off the print.

The designers, Modern Quilt Relish, have a number of contemporary patterns on their website and I look forward to making more quilts based on their designs.

As is often the case, I needed to buy some more fabric to complete the quilt. So while I was waiting for the blue flannel to arrive, I tried out the pattern using some fabric from my stash.


The solid teal fabric has appeared in a number of other quilts as I bought a vast amount of it many years ago. I’m finally reaching the end of it!

A house full of Liberty

I’ve just spent the day at my friend Bea’s house and I thought I’d share some of the gorgeous things she has made.

I love the way the colours of the Liberty fabrics have been arranged in this wall hanging, with the splashes of yellow bringing it all together.

Here is a Liberty quilt in progress:


This pillow is made using fabric from Bea’s late grandfather’s shirts:


And this quilt is a mixture of Liberty and more shirt fabric:

The large patches of this quilt show off the lovely prints:

Here are some examples of English paper piecing. The wall hanging is made with Kaffe Fassett fabrics:

Here fabric has been placed in embroidery hoops as a wall decoration:


And finally here’s a Liberty baby quilt. As you can imagine it’s been washed many times and is very soft. It already looks like a heirloom:


A typographical interlude

I’ve recently signed up for a letterpress printing course at the Bodleian library, and so I thought I’d depart from quilts in this post and write about a different craft.

So far we’ve been setting the type of the text to be printed, building it up in the composing stick before transferring the lines to a galley. As with a lot of crafts you enter a state of flow during the setting, and the hours sped by. There are exciting moments though, such as italics, or an interesting ligature!

One reason for taking the course was to gain an insight into what happens between the manuscript of a text and the final printed product. By setting the type, you come to realise the deliberate actions and decisions which are made and how errors and variations can arise.


The stands on which the cases rest were made in 1669 for Oxford University Press. In the 19th century, their height was raised as compositors had grown taller over the centuries. I’ve already had dreams about setting type, including anxiety dreams about all the letters falling out of a line. I like to think that compositors from the time of Caxton have had such dreams and that, as with the stands, they form a link between past and present.