Quilting samples (have I got time to do an extra one?); Workshop handouts (mostly written; need to finally proof read and print off);  Antique wholecloth quilts (which ones shall I bring? Maybe not the really heavy ones, as the class is upstairs); Mug rug sample (ooh, must get the backing on that!); pencils and erasers (have I got enough?); Hotel booking (glad I did that months ago); Pre-cut packs of stripy fabric (got the fabric – how long will it take to cut 32 sets….?)…………….

Yes, it’s nearly time for the Festival of quilts again, and as I am teaching seven workshops this year, there is a lot to get ready.

To give you an idea of how much “stuff” I need, this was the back of the car when I did a weekend workshop recently………….

I love teaching – it’s always great to see students’ faces light up when they learn a new tip which will help them overcome something they have always struggled with, or when they share a “wow!” moment with each other. To achieve this in an hour or two with people who have never met me before is quite a challenge – and good preparation goes a long way.

Quick and Easy

This year I am doing two classes in the 1 hour “Quick and Easy” programme, which are suitable for beginners or those looking for a quick introduction to a technique. They also make a good opportunity to rest weary legs (or a stretched wallet!) for an hour.

Swirling Stripes mug rug


English paper piecing (also known as Mosaic piecing) is a traditional technique for doing hand-stitched patchwork using card templates to give exactly the right shape and size pieces. Learn how to plan the cutting and stitching of a striped fabric with precision to create an effective swirling design, and make a small patchwork “mug rug” in this technique.

This one is on twice, and there are still some places available on:

Thursday 9th August 11:45 – 12:45 or Sunday 12th August 10:30 – 11:30. Don’t be put off if you think this looks difficult to achieve – its easier than you might think to get all the stripes in the right place to give this fantastic effect.

Drafting Cable designs for Quilting

Cable designs are a popular choice of quilting design for sashing and borders, whether you stitch by hand or machine. However, purchased stencils are rarely the correct size. In this workshop, you will practice drawing a cable design, using Carolyn’s specially designed grids, and take away instructions so that you can draft cables of any length, width or style for your own project.

Also on twice – this one is nearly full on the Saturday, but there are more spaces on Sunday, which is always quieter:

Saturday 11th August 10:30 – 11:30 or Sunday 12th August 15:30 – 16:30

For these classes, I need to prepare packs of everything the students will need – ready-cut fabrics, templates, etc. all bagged up. The show organisers provide basic equipment such as scissors, needles and thread, but I will need to collect what I need from their supply store just before the class. Add to that all of my samples, materials etc collected from the teachers store and take it (through the crowds) to the classroom area, where I hover gently, hoping the previous teacher is keeping an eye on the time. There is only a 15 minute changeover time between classes, in which to pack up one class, get everything out for the next class, chat nicely to students as they arrive and depart, not forgetting to collect their tickets to prove they have paid.

I like to give out handouts so that students can refer back to what I have said afterwards, and can contact me again if they would like to.

OK, so I could have up to 106 students over all the classes, and each handout is at least four pages long…. therefore have just stocked up on replacement ink cartridges and paper (took four attempts to find anywhere with A3 for the cable drawing as well as A4 for the handouts).

And I am SOOO glad I bought that new printer! Previously, I had a very old laser printer (for which the cartridges were almost unobtainable), which could not cope with whole documents above a certain size. So, I used to have to print off all the page 1, then all the page 2 etc, and manually collate it – my family got heartily sick of the living room floor being covered with stacks of papers, and with being roped in to help.

Quilt Academy

Designing Grid Quilting
A Closer Look at Wholecloth

The Quilt Academy is aimed at quilters with more experience, and has slightly longer classes – I am doing three very different classes here, but the ones on Designing grid quilting and on Antique Wholecloth quilts are already almost sold out, so I’ll just mention another one which runs as a twilight session on Friday 10th August 17:00 – 20:00

If you can’t bear to miss a moment’s shopping time, then maybe this twilight session would be a good choice at the end of your day:

Double Cat

“Double Cat” is a machine stitched patchwork block, which, with the addition of four strategically placed buttons, suddenly turns into two cats peeping at each other. If you have made simple quilts, and are ready to move onto something a bit more interesting, come and make this – a good skill-builder for traditional style machine patchwork. Lots of tips showing you to how to make and use half-square triangle units, and how to get perfect points. The finished block could be made into a cushion for a cat lover – or you could make more blocks at home to extend into a bigger quilt.

Not sure when I am going to snatch a moment on the Friday to eat – but it’s amazing how far adrenaline will get you. If you are coming to the Festival of Quilts, make it a full experience by taking part in a class as well as looking and shopping – and hopefully you will enjoy it as much as those who will be teaching you.