Quick Guide to the Best Finds at This Year’s Festival of Quilts
It has been just over two weeks since this year’s Festival of Quilts 2016 at Birmingham NEC, but I am only just getting around to look at some of my purchases.
You can get some fabulous treasures from the Quilt Show and other big exhibition events, if you know where to look. Yes, there are many stalls selling fat quarters and lengths of fabric that you can easily buy online and are easily translatable through a photograph. But the real pieces you are looking for, that can inspire you to work in different ways, have beautiful imperfections you need to experience first-hand – to see the nuances of the colour in the fabric so difficult to capture in an image, to feel the texture of the cloth, and to experience the initial emotional response you have upon handling it for the first time.
This year my favourite stall, and the place where I spent most of my cash (and frankly could’ve spent a lot more) was Sallie Ead, a beautiful collection of antique and costume textiles dating back to the 17th century. For under £30 I managed to find a wealth of beautiful antique fabrics, especially kimono silks (a personal favourite of mine), as well as 19th century cotton pieces and a beautiful length of vintage black velvet ribbon. My only regret is that my budget did not extend to some of the exquisite indigo dyed pieces they had – maybe next year, if I start saving. Definitely a stall to look out for at future events, or if you are in the Bristol area, they have a stand (196) at Shepton Mallet flea market. Well worth a look.
If you are looking for something for a specific project, then my other favourite stall to visit for fabric is The Silk Route. A vast array of silk fabrics and threads are on display here which can also be purchased by mail order and via their website: www.thesilkroute.co.uk. I had nothing specific in mind for this year, I was really on the hunt for antique kimono silk, which had already been sated at Sallie Ead, but I was taken by this beautiful piece of Sari Silk in muted purple and black with a tiny repeated stitch motif in tones orange, green, and yellow.
I must admit, I was quite restrained and stuck quite faithfully to the list of things I was looking for this year, but there is always a bargain that takes your eye and is too good to resist. This year that was on the Cool Crafting stand, which had a great deal on fat quarters. Luckily, the prints they had available were just to my taste and the colours, tones of grey, purple, and navy, all worked together. Then, of course, I had to go for the bee fabric (I have a not so secret entomology obsession and I am hoping to start a project related to bees soon).
All in all, I am very pleased with my haul from this year’s show – which also included some tiny hexagons templates (again, bee related project in the works) and Alice Fox’s book Natural Processes in Textile Art (link for that is here http://alicefox.bigcartel.com/product/natural-processes-in-textile-art), which I cannot wait to try some techniques from. Look out for these beautiful pieces of cloth being used in upcoming work. And let me know if there was anything I missed, or stands to look out for in the future.