Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Festival Thoughts - Festival of Quilts 2017

This year I was asked to write a Blog Review of The Festival of Quilts Exhibition at The NEC Birmingham.  It was an easy decision for me. I go to The Festival every year and love it dearly.

Of course the challenge for me this year was to take in everything  - well, as much as I could in almost two days. And then to write a post to Share my Thoughts with you all.

The Festival of Quilts has recently started it's own Blog and the idea is to link my Blog Post to their Blog. 

Of course if your reading this as one of  my Joyofquilting followers you might like to click on this Festival of Quilts Blog link to take a peek at their new Blog. They have quite a few free patterns to tempt you with, which is always a bonus.
And if you have clicked a link from The Festival of Quilts Blog to visit my Blog, hello and welcome to Joyofquilting.

I couldn't resist taking this picture.  I love her outfit especially her shoes!


Well it's been a few weeks now since the FOQ 2017 ended.
I've waited a while before putting my thoughts to paper. Time to reflect, time to gather my thoughts and time to read everyone else's thoughts.

When I was there I was floating around on a cloud of happiness. And I suppose the only review I can truly give is my own. But I did want to look at the bigger picture and include the general feeling.

I have only missed one Festival since it began. So I have watched it grow and evolve into the truly international extravaganza I witnessed this year.

In the run up to the Festival Facebook and Yahoo Groups began getting excited. Some for the retail therapy and others excited to see all the quilts, and still others looking forward to the workshops, demos and talks.
There really was an on-line buzz in the build up.
The only negative views I read centred around the bashing people got from rucksacks and mobility vehicles. Personally,  I have no issues with mobility vehicles.

I did however get bashed a few times by large rucksacks. I think some people just don't realize that when they turn around in a crowded area they have a great big bag sticking out from their back.

I found the luggage/bag rooms just outside the hall were very useful. I myself brought a rucksack as my overnight bag. But each day I put my rucksack into one of the luggage rooms.
And I found as each baggage area filled another one opened.



No comments this year about lack of seating. There was always a spare seat dotted around. I noticed some very modern looking white benches dotted here and there as well. Every time I needed a quick rest I quite easily located a seat. So well done to the organisers there for listening because I know this has been an issue in previous years.

I noticed there were lots of staff about all happy to help when needed.

The overall vibe in the show was upbeat and happy with a touch of excitement hanging in the air.

Knowing I was going to be writing a review of the show I took loads more pictures than I normally would. Although any review is going to be seen through the personal lens of the reviewer. I wanted to push my boundaries and look at things I would normally pass by to try and give a more rounded view.

What this has done apart from broadening my horizons is made me acutely aware of the styles and techniques I like.
It also changed the way I visited the show.
Normally I would spend large amounts of time looking at the traders and any demos they had.

The quilts. Well I do love to see them but I'm not one to stand and critique them. But that's a personal thing. It comes from my love of exhibition not competition - but I won't go into that now. That's a whole other post.

I usually stay for Two nights which gives me one full day and two half days at the show.
This year I only had one night which meant two half days so I needed a plan of attack.

Firstly I didn't check into my hotel as usual on my arrival.  I went straight to the show and put my overnight bag into one of the bag lockers. This gained me about an hour and a half. Valuable reporting time.

Usually I'd be drawn to the traders.  But my plan this year was to do the quilts first. I took lots of photos trying to include the makers names and cover a large selection of styles and techniques.

I always feel a bit guilty and sad for the quiltmakers who have obviously spent untold hours in planning and making their quilts for many of us to troop past, occasionally stopping to take a picture or closer inspection of their work. Or worse still stop and make a negative comment.

On the plus side there are many times when I was so in awe of a piece of work I would spend quite some time admiring it.


                           Quirky Birds
        A close up of one of the Group Quilts

With over 500 quilts entered into the various categories (and that's without counting the many displays) how can anyone really look at them all with the time they deserve. Imagine an art exhibition with so many entries. It would be mind boggling. And towards the end of the afternoon began to feel all quilted out. I just couldn't look at and appreciate any more quilts. I needed a change of focus.


I didn't actually have time this year to take a workshop. But I was impressed by the amount and variety of little workshops on offer. And they proved very popular with many selling out.
I thought it was lovely to see the workshops in action as I wondered around the show. Maybe next year I'll be able to take one or two.


At times it was so busy you couldn't get near things.
So the Best Times?

First thing in the morning was quieter. There was certain buzz around the Festival then. Everyone was fresh faced and full of energy, raring to go.

But my favourite time was from 3.30 on
The last couple of hours when lots of people had left for home.
That was when there was plenty of room to move about. The atmosphere was calm and relaxed. And the everyone had time to chat, explain things, and help out.

As for the Traders. Well your really spoilt for choice. And it's always good to see things in the flesh and be able to speak to someone in person.
Some of them do demos too.
I could happily spend a full day just with the Traders.



Also this year I did miss being the other side of the exhibition. I'm a Quilters Guild member and usually would spent a few hours as a volunteer of some kind.
                      The Quilters Guild Shop


  The Quilters Guild Contemporary Group Stand
                     The Quilters Guild Area

As a member of The Quilters Guild I also enjoy being part of their Contemporary Group a friendly and inspiring collection of quilters.

I have fully embraced the Quilting presence on Facebook and enjoy The Guild Groups and also the fast growing and very popular  UKQU -UK Quilters United Facebook Group.  There is so much support and help on these and many other groups online. Of course it was wonderful to see all these Groups represented in the flesh at The Festival. Putting faces to names, and appreciating the vast amount of time and effort these volunteers put in to produce such professional results.

So a Thank You to all the people who give their time.
          UKQU Stand with 365 Challenge Quilts

There were also a number social events. But I just didn't have the time to sample them.


I'm so glad I took up the challenge to review the show. I've learnt so much along the way.

And if you have stayed with me this far you deserve a little treat so CLICK HERE to see a selection of pictures I took of the Quilts on display at this year's Festival of Quilts.

Hope this gave you a flavour of The Festival and/or brought back Happy Festival Memories.

  Yours In Stitches and with Lots of Love, Joy

Friday, 25 August 2017

Festival of Quilts pictures

A selection of photos from my visit to
 The Festival of Quilts 2017. 
I tried to include the makers details whenever I could


















Donna Goymer - Free to Roam




















CLICK HERE TO SEE MY THOUGHTS ON THIS YEARS SHOW










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