This weekend was the Quilt UK show at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern. After driving through a showcase of weather from all four seasons to get there, the rain thankfully held off long enough to make a quick dash to the main hall.
I go to shows always hoping to see something a little bit different, some unusual fabrics or find a new supplier that does something amazing. I also love getting the chance to see projects and patterns in the flesh as well; it’s much easier to judge whether I want to make something having seen it and you often see loads of great inspiration from some talented crafters.
However, Quilt UK left me feeling a little disappointed. I wish I had paid the advance ticket price (50 % off) as the full adult price (£9) felt a bit excessive for the size of the show. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by having a good local fabric shop, but I wasn’t that enthused by the majority of what was on offer.
There is one type of fabric though that will never fail to turn my head. Batiks. I love batiks to such an insane degree my ‘stash’ is mostly just piles of batiks I have bought because I’ve been so mesmerised by the colours all common sense about only buying for projects flew out the window.
To justify this, I’ve been planning a scrappy batik quilt for a long time. However, I’ve been really fighting on what design to use. I thought I had finally settled on the Yellow Brick Road pattern, possibly adding a bit of sashing between the blocks, but I could never decide on whether to just add some black sashing, try something more adventurous with colourful ribbons, go without, or get much further than making one test block.
Sometimes the problem with the amount of wonderful material on the Internet and sites like Pinterest is that you end up being bombarded with beautiful designs and spending more time looking at things than actually doing them. As I’m not really a quilter, I wanted the comfort of a pattern to follow but also something that I had a good idea was likely to work with the colours and fabrics I wanted to use. Maybe I was suffering with ‘the design you didn’t make is always the better one’, but I wasn’t entirely enthused by original pattern choice.
Kaleidoscope had a seriously impressive bookstore and I spent probably an hour desperately going through the shelves looking for ‘The Pattern’ for the batik collection. Having trawled through about fifty books, I was so irritated with the lack of anything suitable I ended up going through the baby quilts section. Luckily the cutsey prints and insipid pastels soon drove me back to more sensible territory.
Then, I found the answer to my problems, ‘Scrap Quilt Sensation’ by Katherine Guerrier. Horrifically bright colours, check. Way too many batiks, check. Nice doable patterns with clear guides, check!
I’ve decided to go for her Sampler Quilt design (featured on the front cover) which is made up of a variety of traditional quilt blocks, some funky edging for the blocks and sawtooth borders, which give me an excuse to get a thousand more batiks in there as well. It’ll be easy to scale up to the size I want it, which I’m sure I’ll live to regret when it comes to getting the backing on.
Armed with a new design and sense of fabric purpose, it would have been criminal to not leave with a little more for the stash. Hannah’s Room are batik specialists who stock some gorgeous colours and designs and were very generous with their time and advice.
Batiksnbeads were another exhibitor whose sense of style I could get behind. They had some lovely Indian-style bags, embellished with beads and surface stitching that looked absolutely fabulous along with some great fabrics and threads, perfect for crazy patchwork. I may have picked up some more rayon gimp without a purposes as well…
For those of you who love free-motion quilting designs but find the free-motion quilting itself fills you with a sense of terror and dread, there were some nifty gadgets at Cotton Patch. They do some interesting sewing machine feet for free motion quilting. They attach to templates so you just have to move the quilt and can get very regular finishes.
Being a quilting show, there had to be a quilt competition and there were some absolutely fabulous quilts on display, from pieces depicting bits of modern history, to classical art quilts. One or two had even broken the mould of the oblong quilt shape as well!
Some incredibly sub-par catering (particularly if you compare it to Wonderwool) and the overly warm, stuffy environment in the tent meant it wasn’t the best day out ever. There was definitely still some good things to see and if I can finally start bringing these batiks to life, it will have been a day well spent.