The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham 2013: Part 1
If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter you may have clocked that I (Catherine) went to the International Festival of Quilts last week. I was pleased to be offered a press pass and felt a duty to share my excitement about my annual pilgrimage to the NEC in a somewhat running commentary. Nonetheless, I have saved many photos for here (I took around 200 total!) to accompany a more thoughtful reflection on the experience.
This annual event fuels my thinking and my creativity–and it sounds a bit silly–but the other people there inspire me. This year, I spent some considerable time (an hour or more!) in conversation with lovely people from Northern Ireland, Australia, and Wales via Kuala Lampur, Kuwait, Peru and Copenhagen.
In the space of our conversations, I learned of bouts with cancer, brain tumours, small business experiences, children, grandchildren, sisters and mothers, home renovations, and real life experience of the Troubles. I also learned exactly how much it costs to make an omelette. (Anne, one of the ladies I met, is a retired Home Ec. teacher.)
I heard about their textile ambitions a bit, but mostly I heard about what inspires them, and how textiles literally improve the “fabric of their lives”.
I also took in the exhibits of quilts, though in my two days there, simply couldn’t ‘absorb’ it all. In fact there was one exhibit and maker I wanted to see, and I kept getting distracted (by wonderfulnesses!) and never found her or her quilts!
This year there were over 3,000 quilts in the ‘official’ exhibition–i.e. NOT including the quilts made by the magazines, sewing machine companies, fabric sellers, textile designers, or punters (many quilted bags and some patchwork skirts and jackets were spotted, as were other styles of making).
The Festival spans three halls of the NEC, and the hundreds of quilters (and Transformers fans attending a separate event!) were staying at the adjoining Hilton. The Festival features many competitions, exhibitions, workshops, talks, taster sessions, and, of course, sellers. I managed to squeeze in two talks (Have you heard about Linzi Upton’s Quilted Yurt?) and the fashion show, but registered too late to get onto the workshops I wanted. As it was, I had two very full days. I haven’t even told you about the stalls yet (again, more soon).
The Quilters’ Guild of Great Britain–with membership of over 12,000 people–along with a specialist event management company make this event happen, and certainly inspire my quilting year.
Catherine is the founder of Significant Seams. She quilts and crochets, and is trying to limit her other textile interests. Recently, Catherine has been awash in a million and one projects for other people’s babies.