Entering the first large sized quilt I ever made into the Festival of Quilts 2019 was an experience. As a newbie quilter, I think if I had realised the grandeur and the prestige of the competition and the enormity of the event, I might have been too intimidated to enter it. Luckily, ignorance is bliss (as they say), and joyful naivety took me happily down this path into the quilting community.

My Sea Glass Quilt (Designer: Michelle Heart Fabrics: Kona Solids)

The Story behind the Quilt

I had stumbled across a free pattern on the Janome Website called the Sea Glass Quilt earlier that year in January. Michelle Heart designed this quilt and I fell head over heels in love with it. It looked so complicated, colourful and exciting! I had never attempted anything other than simple patchwork squares before this and never followed a quilt pattern before at that point, so this was a whole new ball game. Game On!

For the Love of Quilting!

I decided to upgrade my little Juki to the amazing Janome MC 9450 QCP in order to make this quilt (yes that is how much I loved it!). I wanted more machine throat space, more stitch choices, an automatic thread cutter, and I wanted to sew the serpentine stitch that Michelle used on her version. Now, this was not an insignificant purchase money wise, but I saw it as an investment to help me take my quilting to the next level. I was jumping in head first and it was totally exciting.

Fabrics, Threads and ‘Quilty Acronyms’

Once I had my new machine, I got to work on finding the materials. At this stage I was not really familiar with different fabric designers, and fabric companies, so I had never heard of Robert Kaufman Kona Solids or even Aurifil thread, until I embarked on this quilt. Firstly I had to work out what HSTs and QSTs were, but then I just followed the instructions on the pattern to the letter.  Four months later I was elated that I had actually completed it. I even contacted the designer Michelle directly and she gave me some great tips!

My Festival of Quilts Competition Catalogue 2019

The Competition

I stumbled across the Festival of Quilts on the internet, not knowing anything about it. Since I had become interested in quilting my mum was coming along for the ride too, and was interested in visiting. My decision to enter the competition into the novice category was completely spur of the moment, but the instructions on how to enter were so easy and accessible.

Beginning our 3 hour journey from Hampshire to Birmingham

Travelling to the Event

Mum and I travelled to the NEC three hours on the train and we were so excited, like two school girls on a day’s outing. We checked into our hotel and had an evening’s rest so that we could get up nice and early for the opening day. We had marked out on the FoQ map all the different stalls we wanted to visit so we knew exactly what we wanted to do and see before the day.

 

‘Great experiences start here’ 
Lovely walk around the NEC
On our way to the NEC

The FoQ Event

We were so impressed with the organization of the event. Everything was laid out so professionally. The rows of display quilts, the winning quilt area, the shop stalls, the workshops areas. We were absolutely amazed to see so many people who all had the same shared interest and passion for quilting all under one roof.

Mum and I had tickets to Jenny Doan’s two hour Trunk Show and we were pretty starstruck when we saw her on stage. I managed to get a photo with her too! It was a truly inspirational talk.

Jenny Doan beginning her Trunk Show
Me & Jenny Doan 

Seeing my Sea Glass quilt on display with all the other amazing quilts was an unforgettable experience. The judges had even awarded me with High Commendation for my quilt which was the cherry on the top!

A proud quilter – Highly Commended Quilt!

Discovering a Quilting Community

I discovered so many new quilt stores I had never heard about before, learnt about different fabric companies and watched so many live demonstrations and tutorials. Everyone was so friendly and excited to be there.

Here’s some of the things I picked up in 2019.

Before attending this event, I had no idea that this wonderful quilting community existed. I feel lucky that I was able to attend in 2019, as 2020 was a virtual event because of Covid. This year is going to be a bit different again and I won’t be able to come because I want to return with my mum, but hopefully we will be back next year. I love that you can pick up some great discounts and deals there, you won’t come away empty handed.

I want to thank everyone who helps to put this amazing event together each year. Quilting is now such a large part of my life and I can say with complete honesty that a large part of where I am today is down to my amazing experience at the Festival of Quilts 2019.

A happy quilter!

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