Monday, 22 February 2016

Things I realised this week: about quilting

On Friday last week, my mother-in-law suggested that I spend the afternoon at the Spring Quilt Festival being held on the outskirts of Edinburgh. She went in the morning with the ladies from her sewing group, and came over afterwards to look after little bean while I skipped off for the afternoon. 

I had never been to a quilt show before. I've read a lot about QuiltCon and those mind-blowing American quilt shows with millions of breathtaking quilts and booths and yeah, and I've seen all the lovely pictures of the Quilt Show at Malvern and places. But, it was nothing like any of that, and it was not at all what I expected. 

There were lots of forbidding signs saying that you Must Not Take Photographs, and Dont Touch the Quilts. And then the exhibition itself was slightly underwhelming. There were some small pieces displayed downstairs, and some full-size quilts upstairs. Some of it was very lovely and impressive, but there just wasn't very much of it. 

Above all, the festival seemed to be about the stalls. Crammed with fat quarters and quilters gadgets and bolts of fabric in every colour under the sun. Fat quarters were this price on one table and that price on another, and there were Frozen fabrics and Star Wars fabrics and Japanese fabrics and batik and flannel and prints and solids and cottons and tweeds. There was some very lovely stuff. I'd show you some photographs, but all those forbidding signs put me off. 

I was rather overwhelmed. I looked at the quilts. There were lots I didn't really care for. There were some I admired (wow, you  collected 205 colours of silk, and appliqued them with invisible thread; you quilted that amazing design with a regular sewing machine: respect) but none that really made me want to study the colours and techniques and patterns and then rip it off the wall to take it home. 

As I wandered round and round looking at this and that, I had a few thoughts. 

1. It seems vaguely completely ridiculous to me to spend many many ££ on fabric to make a quilt, when I have oodles of fabric scraps and old clothes which could be repurposed into equally beautiful quilt tops. And, it seems completely ridiculous to spend many ££ on fabric to make quilts when there is so much textile waste in our society. 

2. I love the bright and modern and clean looks of modern quilts. I like quilts with space. I don't like the traditional flowery and busy designs involving lots of piecing. I also like improv quilting and quilts which are given meaning because of the fabrics included in them: uniforms from soldiers lost in conflict; clothes from people we love - the things children wore when they were small; a life time of scraps from a grandparents house. 

3. I have one quilt top in progress (and not finished yet), so what do I know?

Of course, I didn't let the opportunity pass me by, and came home with a few fat quarters in my bag. I managed to resist the sparkly Frozen fabrics, and the cool Star Wars prints, but bought a few Christmas sorts of things to make something festive. There's nothing like long-range project planning is there?

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