Woohoo, it’s August and that means Festival of Quilts.

I think I first went to the show in 2015, when I got myself onto a coach trip run by a local(ish) quilt group.  The trips is well organised and goes on Thursday, coming back on the Friday night.  There’s one night in a hotel on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, and it’s not far from the NEC, so we are there on the Thursday not long after opening, and on Friday ready for the show opening.  I don’t think you would get around everything at the show in just one day.  In fact I know there’s some I didn’t see despite being there for 2 days.

Sadly I didn’t book to go on the trip last year, and then I was lucky enough to win some tickets for the show, but it just proved too difficult and expensive to get there, so didn’t manage it.  I was so disappointed that I decided I’d definitely be going on the trip in 2019.

By August this year I was so looking forward to the show, but having moved since I last visited the show I am well aware of my stash, so I didn’t have a shopping list, and aimed to not buy on impulse, but obviously I did make a few purchases!

Although I go with friends on the coach, I like to go around the show on my own.  I have tried going around with a friend, but get too distracted by what they want to look at and it’s easy to miss things.  So my preference is to go it alone, and we arrange to meet up at times throughout the day, for a drink and a catch up on what bargains we’ve seen and where they are.  And there’s often ‘freebies’ to be had around the show.  Another reason for going with friends, but looking around separately – you see things the others don’t, and then pass the details on to each other.

This year I thought the show seemed a lot more spacious than when I’ve been previously.  There was a lot more seating, and a lot more seating areas.  I did not see anyone sat on the floor with their packing up like I’ve seen previously.  I also thought that the aisles seemed wider.  If you’ve not been to the show before you can also leave the show at anytime you want to and get your arm stamped for re-entry.  The show is in 3 halls, they are 7, 8 and 9.  If you leave the halls, there is plenty of seating in the NEC, and more toilets.  There is more often than not queues for the toilets, but in my experience the queues move quickly, everyone wants to get out and back to the shopping.

Once inside the show, I like to mix up my way around the show.  I’ll look at some of the stands selling, and then look at some of the quilts, so i wander around the halls quite a bit.  Maybe this is because if I try to do it systematically I get lost and go down the wrong aisle, and then lose track of where I’ve been.  I also find that looking at all the quilts on display is very much eye candy, but there’s a lot of them and I can only take so much in at one time.

I did not book any workshops or lectures so I can’t tell you about them, but I did see some quilting celebrities around the show.  There was John from Sewing Quarter, Jenny Doan from Missouri Star Quilting, Sarah Payne, Stuart Hillard, Kaffe Fasset, and I watched Nicholas Ball give an Improv demo on the Bernina stand.  There were demonstrations on lots of different things on stands around the halls.  If you’ve not been, and decide to go next year, it’s worth checking on Facebook and various quilting shop sites around the internet before your visit to see what free demos are on and the times.

On the way home from the show I decided I wouldn’t go next year on this two day trip, as it was a long day having to set off really early to get to the coach pick up point, so I was thinking I’ll give the show a miss.  However by Sunday I was already thinking I’ll go for 3 days next year.

I took lots of photographs, sadly I didn’t take photographs of the details next to the display, as I didn’t think my phone would hold enough photographs.  So I’ve just added a few to this post.

Hope to see you at Festival of Quilts in 2020.

Chris Cross

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