Embroidery Exploring Inspiration Quilting Sewing



My creativity is what makes me me, and without a little refuge in yarn or fibre or baking or photography or writing, the things that shouldn’t be a challenge suddenly seem insurmountable; the house feels like it will never be tidy or free of spiders again, there’s always laundry or washing up staring me down if I so much as think about picking up the needles, and I get to the end of the day with the certain knowledge that nothing I have achieved today will stay done tomorrow. It’s enough to drive anyone to ‘rescue’ the emergency Smarties from the door of the fridge.

So I try to carve out a little time as insurance against a fit of the grumpys; a few stitches knit while the girls are finishing breakfast, even if it means that I’ll be washing scrambled egg out of the yarn when I block it, a little writing while Elma sleeps, tunnel vision blocking out the rest of the dining room table and its clutter of baby wipes, empty orange juice bottles, two story books, Kitty’s abandoned pirate hat and half a blue wax crayon, and a little plotting of fabric and pattern across the end of the ironing board, while the shirts sit waiting in a pile beside me.

Creativity cannot exist in isolation, it’s one of the reasons I love blogs so much, and how and why I started blogging in the first place, way back in the days when my clothes were cleaner and my needles more productive. But sometimes you need a little more recharging, more than blogs or magazines or books can provide; a little immersion therapy.

And every summer it lands pretty much on my doorstep in the form of the Festival of Quilts.Quilts Collage9

Even carrying Elma in the sling I took a gazillion photographs (although with some rather extraordinary horizons when my tiny assistant started eating the camera strap). We spent four hours wandering up and down, just drinking it all in; quilts that are gorgeously technical, stunningly beautiful colours, and the ones that had me itching to get home and fire up the sewing machine.

The winning quilts were just amazing


So many hours of work, and such detail that I would have to sit on my head for a week to figure out even where to start.

This was the Group Quilt winner, folded concertina-style and displayed so that you saw one of the two pictures as you came around the corner, and only noticed the existence of the other as you actually went past.

Quilts Collage

And from the ones that got away:

PicMonkey Collage

A whole year’s blog in quilt format; a sweet idea and practical for snuggling under afterwards! To save you squinting it’s 23×16 – that’s 368 squares including “watched Olympics opening ceremony”, “watched Olympics closing ceremony”, “bought pyjamas” and finally “Finished quilt – phew!”

Quilts Collage4

A few phone upgrades in the 15 years I’ve known H mean that I could never accurately produce something like this myself, nor I suspect do I have the drive, and given that the last two texts in my phone are “Ok!” and a message to tell me he tried to call and I missed it, it’s probably for the best. It’s a clever concept though, and impressively executed.

Quilts Collage 6

Ah the flowers; surrounded by a swarm of buzzing quilters every time we walked past, they were just gorgeous.

Quilts Collage5

And this, I have no idea how this didn’t win a prize, except that I think it may have been up against the geese, a wholecloth quilt, handpainted and quilted with every spiral and twirl you could ever want, as well as the words to Flower of Scotland around the side.

I never really think of myself as having a distinct quilting style, but in looking back through my pictures I can easily spot the themes, and make a few predictions of what I might be making in the not so distant future.

Quilts Collage 8

Too much exposure to snowflake quilts is almost certainly going to result in my wanting to make some snowy bunting to put up at Christmas or the New Year (just don’t ask which New Year).

Quilts Collage7

And my unfailing radar for anything Liberty print brought me to these stars, each piece fussy cut to give a kaleidoscope effect and pieced to nest them tightly together. The whole thing was at least double bed sized but each star was only about the size of my palm. I suspect that this could only be done by English Paper Piecing, and it’s definitely hand quilted which makes it all the more impressive.

But if you’re going for impressive, it can only be hexagons


(I so desperately want to make this into a postcard, or maybe wallpaper!)

A rainbow of hexies, a handful of diamonds and the occasional triangle, in a lovely fresh palette. That in itself is worthy of praise but there are two things you should know (and you may need to sit down for this).

Firstly, they’re tiny

Quilt Collage3

I’m not touching the quilt (hence the dodgy focus) but you can see by my shadow that I’m not that far away either. These hexies are the size of my index finger, and the diamonds and triangles are smaller. Just thinking about manipulating fabric cut that small without it fraying or distorting into oblivion brings a knot to my stomach.

Oh and secondly:


It was huge!

Stars, snowflakes, hexagons and Liberty prints; you’ll see it here first – in about¬†five years time of course, although possibly not to quite that scale.

And as for Elma, well judging by the “Ah! bwa! bwa! bwa!” announcing our impending arrival to anyone within earshot, the little hands that stretched out for any passing lens caps that dangled too close, the radiant smiles for everyone who took the time to tickle her toes and ask her if she was going to be a quilter one day, and the contented little sighs as she snuggled into my shoulder for a nap, I think she rather enjoyed it.

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  • mandycharlie 15/08/2013 at 3:53 pm

    Oh thank you. That was lovely. I was so sad that I missed this and you have given me a much needed glimpse of all the lovely quilts. Now, what did you buy? *cheesy grin*

    • Carie 15/08/2013 at 11:58 pm

      Not that much honest! I bought a little fabric to make a quilt for tiny miss that matches her sister’s and came home with just that and a handful of Liberty scraps from Alice Caroline. I was really very restrained!

  • Lauren 17/08/2013 at 1:10 am

    Great photo collection. I would looooove to see a show like this. I’m so impressed by the creativity and artistic quality.
    Very cool.

    • Carie 17/08/2013 at 8:23 am

      It is just amazing – I enjoy the art quilts, and the technical skill in them is incredible, but it’s always the comfy snuggly quilts that I’m most drawn to! It’s no surprise I’m a homebody at heart.

  • Bex @ The Mummy Adventure 18/08/2013 at 1:02 am

    Oh wow, they are amazing! I can barely sew two pieces of material together but I can certainly admire these. The very first picture of the tree is my favourite though. I would definitely find this very inspiiring too x

    • Carie 18/08/2013 at 11:48 am

      It is utterly incredible what some people can do with fabric – the artistic vision behind some of the quilts was amazing and inspiring – although I’m not sure I could produce anything like that tree any time soon!

  • Michelle 19/08/2013 at 4:19 am

    Your intro to this post really touched a nerve for me. I have 2 kids under 19 months old, a Ph.D. dissertation to finish, and a house to manage, but if I don’t find time to do something involving a hook or needle of some sort during the day then I’m a mess by dinner time. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not the only one! I find it can be really hard to explain to people who don’t craft (or worse, who look down on craft) why it’s so necessary, especially when there are ‘important’ things to do. In another life I used to make the trip from London to Birmingham every year for the FOQ – your post made me homesick for London and also homesick for Maine, where I grew up – that folded quilt features the lighthouse that was a few miles from where I lived. I’ve only been reading your blog for about a month and am so enjoying it – thanks for a handful of lovely reminders today!

    • Carie 19/08/2013 at 3:47 pm

      Definitely not the only one – my husband has been known to hand me my knitting with a raised eyebrow and wait for me to do a couple of rows before starting to talk to me if I’ve had a really stressy day!