The Festival of Quilts

I haven’t visited The Festival of Quilts for a few years so when I saw a Twitter competition from Madeira Threads I thought I would enter. It was great to win two tickets so I could take my friend Leigh along with me for her first Festival of Quilts experience.

The NEC is such a great venue with so much more space than the International Halls in Harrogate where The Knitting & Stitching Show is held each November. This gives Twisted Thread the chance to have much larger galleries to display some amazing quilts alongside retailers specialising in textile equipment and fabrics galore.

This year there were 14 different competition categories on display:

Fine Art Quilt Masters

The Quilters’ Guild Challenge

My First Quilt

Art Quilts

Traditional Quilts

Modern Quilts

Group Quilts

Two Person Quilts

Pictorial Quilts

Miniature Quilts

Quilt Creations

Young Quilter/Embroiderer

Schools & Groups of Young Quilters​

There is so much to see and the detail in the quilts is magnificent, I loved the mix of traditional and modern techniques on display this year. Here are a few of my favourite images from the competition quilts.

Two Man Cell - HMP Bullingdon Boys - Group Quilts
Two Man Cell – HMP Bullingdon Boys – Group Quilts

I first saw this piece in the much missed Quilt Museum in York as part of an exhibition by Fine Cell Work. They do some amazing work with prisoners across the UK.

Fine Cell Work is a social enterprise that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework undertaken in the long hours spent in their cells to foster hope, discipline and self-esteem.

This group quilt is the size of a two person cell at HMP Bullingdon which is shocking to see as it only took up a display area the size of two single bed quilts.

The Abingdon Workhouse Quilt started with the hexagonal plan of the building and grew organically as it was created by Abingdon Quilting Group. I was drawn to the workshop plans which reference projects like 365 Leeds Stories.

The Abingdon Workhouse Quilt - Abingdon Qulting Group - Group Quilts
The Abingdon Workhouse Quilt – Abingdon Qulting Group – Group Quilts

I loved the use of traditional techniques in this piece by Eleanor Birchall Hughes, it reminds me of my vintage fabric drawer in the studio.

Remembering Edies Eiderdown - Eleanor Birchall Hughes - Traditional Quilts
Remembering Edies Eiderdown – Eleanor Birchall Hughes – Traditional Quilts

My photograph does not do justice to the amazing colours and textures in this embroidered quilt by Catherine Jack Coupland. The vibrant colours and patterns are inspired by Sonia Delaunay.

Referencing Sonia - Catherine Jack Coupland - Contemporary Quilts
Referencing Sonia – Catherine Jack Coupland – Contemporary Quilts

As we came to the end of the Competition Quilts we spotted this fun piece by Sarah Ashford which caught our eye.

Hello Kitty - Sarah Ashford - Modern Quilts
Hello Kitty – Sarah Ashford – Modern Quilts

Alongside the Competition Quilts galleries there are some amazing exhibitions by well known artists. It was wonderful to see new works and some familiar pieces in these galleries.

I became aware of the work of Diana Harrison during Cloth & Memory {2} at Salts Mill in 2013, her beautiful installation of handkerchiefs has been re-imagined for this years festival.

Traces in Cloth - Diana Harrison
Traces in Cloth – Diana Harrison

The gallery ‘Traces in Cloth’, is showing fabric, patchwork and quilt produced by the marks left behind after layers of process have been applied. The stitching, dyeing, shrinking, bleaching, and printing combine to create pieces that reflect my individual ideas and aesthetic.

In these textiles I have recently used and manipulated found items, by unstitching previously sealed pillowcases or overdyeing and bleaching into handkerchiefs, I am working with the original measurements and cloth qualities, boundaries are given and this defines the outcome. The format and history is still evident but transformed.

It was great to see some of the reference material and samples from Diana’s collection, I know that people love to see my work in progress through Instagram and when I give talks.

Material References & Sampling - Diana Harrison
Material References & Sampling – Diana Harrison

The last piece I wanted to share with you is something I found really powerful, The Women’s Quilt 2017.

Detail of The Womens Quilt 2017
Detail of The Women’s Quilt 2017
Detail of The Women's Quilt 2017
Detail of The Women’s Quilt 2017

598 women were killed by a result of domestic violence between 2009 and 2015, approximately two women a week.

The Women’s Quilt is made up of 598 patches, one patch for each woman who tragically died. The Women’s quilt is an emotive and evocative quilt that commemorates the lives of these women and acts as a poignant reminder that domestic abuse is unfortunately still the norm for too many women.

The idea of the quilt came about because it is a traditionally feminine skill and one that is accessible to everyone, we have had women draw on their patch with pens, paint, stick, appliqué and embroider their patches. It is also one where people can work on their patches wherever they want and then they can be brought together. There was also inspiration taken from the AIDS quilt and the visual impact of that amazing piece of work.

If you are thinking of visiting The Festival of Quilts in 2018 it’s definitely worth the trip down to the NEC but make sure you wear comfortable shoes!

Advertisements