Every year that I've been to the Festival of Quilts, I've gone without a plan. This has led me to walk around a little bit aimlessly, not knowing where to look or what to buy because there is so much to see and so much choice. So this year I went with a shopping list and I did manage to get some items from the list, but then I went off piste and bought more floral fabric. In fact, my list said no kits (as I have so many!) and it also said solid fabric and linens. As you'll see, I didn't stick to that either! Before you see what I bought, I just want to say that I had been saving up for the Festival of Quilts for a long time. This is the one occasion each year where I buy quite a lot of things at once. For the rest of the year I will buy very little.
My first stop was one of my favourite shops, Sew and Quilt. I got to meet the very lovely Jessie and Robin and chat to them about the show. I've admired Jessie's work for so long. In fact, I wouldn't have even tried EPP if it wasn't for her. I'd never considered doing EPP even though I'd seen it and admired it. I was put off by the thought of making my own papers because I was short on time and just wanted to do the sewing part. I was also put off by the idea of thread basting. But one day I thought maybe I should try it and I was googling EPP papers and stumbled across her shop and the rest is history and I'm so glad! Through her I discovered glue basting and pre-cut papers, both of which make EPP a breeze. From Sew and Quilt, I bought three Liberty fat quarters and some Aurifil thread for my machine.
Next I went to Olive and Flo Handcraft and bought these beautiful Cotton and Steel fabrics. Olive and Flo Handcraft is such a lovely shop with a fantastic selection of modern fabrics.
I then went on to Pretty Fabrics and Trims and met the lovely Sarah and Penny and bought this beautiful kit which I've been admiring for so long. I had told myself not to buy any more kits but I just had to go against that to buy this and I know I will really enjoy making it.
Next up was Alice Caroline where I allowed myself to buy a few too many Liberty fabrics. They were all so lovely I had a difficult time choosing. I am planning something Christmasy with the red and green squares and I'm really excited about that.
Finally, I bought some more hexiform shapes from Ashmead Designs as I use them quite often and I thought it was a good opportunity to stock up.
There are so many fantastic stalls at the festival, it can be quite overwhelming! But I really enjoyed it and I will hopefully be back next year. If you have never been before, I highly recommend it. My two blog posts about the festival are only a glimpse into what it is like there, there is so much more to see.
Have you been? What did you buy? I'd love to know in the comments below.
On Sunday 4th August I visited The Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. It's about a two and a half hour drive from where I live but luckily my husband's family live in Birmingham, meaning we were able to visit them and have a lovely time seeing everyone and also meaning they were able to look after our little one whilst we visited the festival. We've been at least three times before, maybe even four, I've lost count! We always enjoy seeing the quilts, it's like visiting a huge art gallery, the standard is so impressive and it is always so inspiring.
So when we arrived, our first stop was to see all of the quilts, we always do this before the shopping, it makes sense because then you aren't carrying your purchases around all day. Of course the first category we looked at was the mini quilts. I used my phone to take these pics, they aren't very good as I took them quickly not to get in people's way. Also, I apologise that not all makers are credited, I left my show guide behind by mistake. Here are a few of my favourites.
After the mini quilts we went on to view the larger quilts. The quilt that caught our eye the most was this one below called Endangered. I had to video it to show you because it was so so clever! As you walked past it, you could see three animals appear and disappear, a rhino, a leopard and a zebra. We thought it was so clever in the way it was constructed and how the images appeared like magic, but also this highlighted the quilt's important message about endangered species perfectly. My video isn't the best but hopefully you can see the animals.
As we walked around the rest of the quilts on display, I had a think about which categories I was drawn to the most. Turns out I really like traditional and contemporary quilts. However, I can really appreciate the art quilts and the modern quilting category too. Even though I don't make abstract or really modern designs, I really love seeing all of the different styles on display and I find it so interesting.
Above - Trudi Wood
Above - Jo Avery
Above - Cloudtori
Above - Caroline
One of my absolute favourites was Sweet Sunday in Somerset by Helen of henhouse homemade I loved everything about this quilt, the colours, the mix of vintage linen and liberty fabric, the fact it's English Paper Piecing and hand quilted, it's truly spectacular. It's absolutely full of amazing detail and I love it.
There is so much I could share about Festival of Quilts as there is so much to see, I've only really scratched the surface here. If you've never been before I highly recommend it as there really is something for everyone and it is such an exciting place to be. Well this became a rather long blog post, so stay tuned for part 2 in which I will share what I bought. I hope you've enjoyed seeing what I loved about the festival of quilts. Did you go? What were your highlights? Please let me know in the comments.
I'm going to tell you the little story about how and why I entered my mini quilt into a local art gallery competition. If you are like me and have never entered a competition or shown a quilt before, I hope that after reading this you will feel inspired to give it a go too!
There is no doubt in my mind that patchwork is art. You only have to see the incredible quilts on display at the Festival of Quilts to appreciate just how talented quilters are. From choosing colour palettes to complex patterns, accurate cutting, matching seams and points, intricate piecing, quilting designs, the list goes on and on! Despite this I've had a hard time seeing my work as artistic, which is a reflection of my own lack of self-confidence. When my Dad saw my half inch hexie mini quilt, he said it was artistic, and that is a big compliment coming from him! I was eventually talked into entering it into the Lancashire Open Art Exhibition at Chapel Gallery and I was completely surprised when it was accepted!
When it comes to art and art competitions, textiles is underrated and under represented. It is seen by some as less skilled than drawing or using paint and often viewed as more of a homemade crafts/hobby type thing. So I was really pleased that my piece was chosen and I was also glad to see a few other textile pieces in the exhibition. I find it difficult to promote myself and put myself out there in terms of my work, but thinking of it as a way of promoting textiles really helped me push past this. The more of us who show our work in these sorts of events, the better it is for the quilting industry and the more likely it is that quilting, embroidery and textiles in general, will be seen as artistic forms by more people. Maybe some people don't think of quilting as art because they haven't seen the amazing quilts that are out there? I know when I mentioned I was going to the Festival of Quilts to my brother he said, is that about duvets?!
Now I've never entered a quilt into a quilt show, so I can't speak about what that is like, but I can tell you a bit about my experience of entering it into an art gallery and give you some tips for if you are going to do this one day.
Tip 1 - Frame your work. Mine is a mini quilt so this was easy to do. I turned up to submit my piece with it unmounted and was told that it couldn't be accepted like this because it could be taken easily off the wall. (I had put two felt loops on the back with a dowel running through so it could hang off a nail!) It needs to be in a frame or mounted on a board which can be fixed to the wall with mirror plate fixings.
Tip 2 - Don't frame it yourself unless you know what you are doing - unlike me! I bought an inexpensive frame from a shop, put my piece inside and then proceeded to struggle for half an hour to attach the mirror plate fixings to the back of the frame, resulting in splitting the wood. Keep in mind that I was rushing to do this as I knew there was a deadline to submit it. In the end I went to a local framers and explained my frame emergency and they sorted it out for me, and even gave me an 'artist's discount'! I am so glad I got it framed in the end because next to the other pieces of work it looked right. Unmounted would have looked wrong, so this was a good decision.
Tip 3 - When you submit your piece to the gallery and they ask 'What's the title?" they mean what is the piece called, not what is your title (i.e. Mrs or Mr), yes, I made this rookie artist mistake!!
Tip 4 - If you want to sell your piece, you will have to put a price on it. I had no idea what to sell it for so I put it not for sale. I've had some interest in it and somebody I know asked to buy it! But this is a sentimental piece so I'm leaving it not for sale. It's really hard to put a price on your work, especially if you are like me and are just starting out, but whatever you do, be sure not to undervalue your skills.
Tip 5 - Enjoy the process! I felt nervous about the whole thing and now I look back, there was really no need. It's really fun that my piece is hanging in the gallery for the entire summer.
I named my piece Mabel's Garden. Mabel was my Gran who I sadly lost this year. She was a massive inspiration to me as she took a keen interest in my sewing and was a fantastic embroiderer, knitter and crocheter herself. She regularly used to visit Chapel Gallery to view the art and have a latte in the cafe. I think she would have been so happy to see my work in there. When we were little her garden was lots of different flowerbeds with paths in between so this mini quilt reflects that (the blue hexagons are the paths). My quilt is based on a traditional quilting pattern called Grandmother's Flower Garden so I thought this would be a fitting tribute to my Gran.
Have you ever shown your work in a show, gallery or competition? I'd love to hear your experience in the comments below.
It's no secret that I love Liberty fabrics, as many of you do too. I use them in many of my projects and I love everything about them, from the colours to the prints to the way they feel. Liberty tana lawn is my favourite. It has such a high thread count that you can hardly see the weave and the detail in the prints is excellent quality, so much so that it doesn't really compare with other fabrics. (Although I do absolutely love other fabrics too!)
We all know that Liberty fabrics are not cheap. In fact, the ones I own are by far the most expensive fabrics I've ever bought and ever will buy. But today I am going to share with you some ways to make sewing with Liberty fabric more affordable. These are the things I do, to make using Liberty fabric possible for me. I am on a budget so I cannot afford to buy lots and lots of fabric.
1. Use Liberty quilting cotton. Liberty released a range of quilting cottons a year or so ago and they are beautiful. The prints are as gorgeous as the tana lawn and they feel soft, smooth and drapey to work with. At around £15 per metre, the price is comparable to some quilting cottons, depending on what you buy and where, but it is cheaper than the tana lawn. So if you want to make something from Liberty but you are on a budget, this is an excellent choice. I'm currently making my hexagon quilt from Liberty quilting cottons.
2. Mixing in other fabrics. Making a whole quilt from Liberty would look spectacular, there's no doubt! But I couldn't afford to do this. So mixing Liberty with cheaper fabrics is a great alternative and also gives the Liberty chance to shine! For my hexagon quilt I'm using Makower linen texture fabric and this is one of my favourite solid fabric ranges. You can, however, mix Liberty with any fabric you wish and Moda basics are a really affordable range that I like to use and it comes in a vast amount of colours.
3. Use small pieces in small projects. Just a small piece of Liberty mixed with some linen or other fabrics is sometimes just enough to make a project shine. I've used tiny amounts in my two butterfly pouches and I lined them with cheaper, but still pretty, quilting cottons.
4. Buy small amounts. Whenever I've bought Liberty fabric, I've bought either a jelly roll (2.5 inch wide strips), fat quarters, pre-cut squares or scraps. Once I bought a couple of metres of Liberty cotton, many years ago, with the aim of lining a jacket I was making. Other than that, I only buy really small amounts. You can buy a fat quarter of tana lawn for around £5.50 to £6 and as the fabric is wider than most standard quilting cottons, you get a little more for your money. Jelly rolls are quite expensive at around £38. However the one I bought has lasted me over 3 years and I still have lots of it left (even though I have used it in many projects), because of the way I use it and mix it with other fabrics.
My top, top tip for buying small amounts is the Liberty tana lawn scrap bags from Alice Caroline. I recently bought a scrap ribbon pack (pictured above) for the first time for £4 in their sale and I was over the moon with what I received. I got a huge amount of really long strips, in all kinds of different prints. All of the strips are really long and wide enough for half inch and quarter inch hexies. Some of the strips are even wider and could be used for one inch hexies or possibly bigger. It's a really affordable way to be able to play with many different Liberty prints. Each scrap pack is different so I can't say what you would get if you bought one but I was really pleased with my selection.
5. Shop the sales! Yes, Liberty fabric does go into the sales every now and then. Alice Caroline have great sales where they sell scraps, bolt ends, remnants and just simply discount some prints. You can definitely get a bargain there. Also, I once bought some Liberty quilting cotton for half price in Guthrie and Ghani which was an amazing bargain! So it's worth keeping your eye on your favourite fabric shops because you never know when some beautiful prints might sneak into the sale.
I really hope these little tips will give you some ideas and inspiration for how to affordably use Liberty fabrics in your projects. As with everything on my website, I am not paid or sponsored to say any of this, there aren't any affiliate links, I just provide links for your convenience. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments and if you have any tips please share them too.
I love English Paper Piecing so much, but I love tiny EPP the most! I'm currently working on a half inch hexagon project which will become a wall hanging. I love half inch hexagons and I think they might be my favourite size. I absolutely love combining embroidery and EPP and as I often use hexiform shapes rather than paper (which I buy from Ashmead Designs) embroidering into them is even easier!
I'm really passionate about sewing being an accessible craft/hobby to all people, which is something I will talk about more in depth in another post. But for now I will say that EPP is a great hobby and anyone can do it. It's inexpensive, only requires a few tools (needle, thread, paper, fabric, scissors and maybe a glue pen if you don't want to thread baste) and is so portable.
Recently I started a quarter inch hexagon project and I got lots of questions about it on Instagram. There was a lot of interest surrounding how I make the hexagons and sew them together. So I've made a little video tutorial that shows all of the steps and also how I made them into a little pincushion. I wanted a small pincushion to take around with me as when I'm stitching on the go I always need somewhere to park my needle in between stitches. I admit I was very tempted to make this little pincushion into a bracelet to wear whilst stitching, but maybe I will make another one for that.
The beauty of half inch and quarter inch projects is that they use up the teeny tiniest of scraps which I think is brilliant. I don't have a lot of money to buy fabric so I like to use up what I have and also, this is better for our environment.
I hope you like my video tutorial and that you find it useful, especially if you are a beginner. You can find it on the video tutorials tab under quilting tutorials or click on one of the links in this post. There are, of course, many ways to make things, I am just showing you my way. The two halves of the pincushion could be stitched with a ladder stitch whereas I have used a whip stitch. Please feel free to use my video as inspiration and to make the project your own in any way you like by changing stitches or adding your own twist. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below. Happy sewing!
I'm lucky enough to have been able to sign up to the Sew and Quilt Block of the month subscription box so I thought I would tell you all about it. Sew and Quilt is a lovely online quilting shop based in Cornwall. For the past few years, they have been running a monthly subscription box where you receive all of the materials and paper pieces needed to make part of a quilt (English Paper Piecing) and at the end of the year, you will have a completed quilt! I've wanted to join up for a long time but I've been unsure if I could keep up with it each month as it involves a lot of sewing and I have lots of other projects on the go. This year they released an additional quilt to their subscription boxes called the Row by Row quilt and when I saw it, I knew it was the one for me! Each month you get everything to make a horizontal row of the quilt. The beauty of this quilt design is that every month is different (except the first and last months are the same to make the design symmetrical.) This appealed to me greatly as it wasn't going to get too repetitive and each month would be really exciting as it would be something new each time.
The materials arrive each month in a lovely pink box and you get detailed instructions so you can't go wrong. Each month always includes some Liberty Tana lawn fabric too.
As soon as mine arrived I set myself up to cut the fabrics into the required shapes and I used glue to baste my hexagon shapes. That took me two days to complete. I then did a little each day to stay on track and so far I've managed to keep up with each month's box.
Once all of the shapes have been sewn together, the papers need to be removed and it then needs to be sewn to the backing fabric. Each strip of backing fabric is then sewn together to form the quilt. Here is mine so far.
I love making this quilt so much and I really look forward to receiving the special box each month. It's really fun to sew along with other people and I love the community aspect to this project.
Jessie, who owns Sew and Quilt, designs the block of the month quilts and she always picks the most beautiful fabrics. I love her style which is why I knew I would love this subscription.
This month's box is my favourite so far. The design is Dresden flowers and they are so pretty! I love the fabrics that have been included too.
Have you ever signed up to a block of the month subscription? If so, which one? I think they are so much fun, I'm already thinking about which one I might do next year!
When I bought this cute bunny in a little bed, I knew she needed a sweet little quilt to keep her warm. This is going to be a gift for my little niece, so I set to work creating this EPP quilt. I used pretty scraps left over from other projects and instead of paper hexagon templates, I used hexiform ones from a company called Ashmead Designs. The great thing about their hexiform shapes is that for small projects like this, you don't need any wadding/batting.
I used 1/2 inch hexagons which is the smallest shape I've ever worked with. I absolutely loved making something so miniature and I'm sure there will be more in my future! Something I love to do is combine different types of sewing, and with the hexagons being made of hexiform, it was easy to embroider tiny details on some of the hexagons.
I kept adding hexagons here and there, without worrying too much about where to put them. Once it was the size I needed, I attached a border in coordinating blue fabric and bound it with liberty bias binding.
I hope this will be a treasured gift for many years to come!
If you have got the English Paper Piecing bug but would like a quick project rather than a quilt then this is the project for you. The layered hexagon flower cushion is fun and quick to make. Here's how...
You will need:
*Seven hexagon paper templates in each of the following sizes; half inch, three quarter inch, one inch, one and a quarter inch and one and a half inch.
*Scraps of fabric.
*Two 28cm squared pieces of background fabric. I repurposed an old pillowcase for this, which makes this project more sustainable.
*A needle and thread.
Note- I didn't include any fastenings in my cushion. If you want to be able to remove the cushion cover then you'll need to include a zip or buttons and you'll need to add some length to the back piece of fabric to allow for this. You'll need about an extra inch to add a zip.
Begin by wrapping your hexagons in fabric and joining the hexagons to make five separate flowers. For an in depth tutorial on how to do this, check out my English paper piecing video.
Once you have sewn the hexagons together to make flowers, you need to remove the paper templates. Usually, in English Paper Piecing, we do not remove templates until all sides of the shape are joined to another shape and this is because you can distort the shape. For this project, the templates need to be removed even though some edges of the shapes are not joined to any others. To minimise the chances of distorting the edges of the hexagons, I made sure I ironed all of the flowers first to ensure nice, crisps folds along the edges. Next, I removed the papers carefully, pulling from the centre of the hexagon out towards the edge (see photo below). I then used the iron to quickly press any edges under that had become unfolded and this technique worked well.
Once all papers are removed and you have pressed your flowers with the iron, place the half inch hexagon flower on top of the three quarter inch hexagon flower. Centralise the smaller flower within the larger one, making sure there is an even border all the way round. Line up the seam lines of both flowers so they match and when you are happy with the position, pin in place.
Use a blind applique stitch to attach the small flower to the larger one, sewing all the way round the edge. When you have finished, repeat the process by placing this flower on top of the next flower up in size. Line up the seams and stitch in place. To speed this up, you could easily use a sewing machine and either a zigzag stitch or other decorative stitch to applique them in place. When you have layered all of the flowers, position the motif in the middle of your backing fabric, pin in place and stitch it all the way round the edge as you did before.
You can now choose to finish your cushion however you'd like. I chose to make a piped edging and I really like the way this looks.
I hope you have fun making this cushion. If you would like detailed instructions for making piping or for finishing the cushion then leave a comment below and I will make a tutorial for that.
Of course you don't have to applique this flower onto a cushion at all! You could put it onto a bag or you could make it into a wall hanging, or if you did want a larger project, you could use it in a quilt design. It's up to you! Whatever you make, I'd love to see it so if you post it on Instagram, remember to use the #rosepetalpatterns.
I've created a video tutorial showing you the basics of EPP, you can view it here. The video shows you what you need to get started and demonstrates the basics of using hexagons to create flower shapes. I'm currently making as many of these as I can as my aim is to join them together to make a large quilt, hopefully kingsize! If you don't want to make a large quilt, you could make a cushion cover or you could applique each flower to a fabric square, then join the squares together to make a quilt as this would be much quicker. I'm planning on making lots of hexagons in an off white fabric and I will use them between the flowers I've made to make them pop. Of course, I will share pics when I get to that stage, but that's a while off yet! Remember, the paper pieces need to be removed before you quilt your layers together or turn the flowers into a cushion cover or whatever you choose. Anyway, I hope my little video is useful and helps you to get started with this very addictive craft!
I've been sewing in one way or another for nearly my whole life but I only discovered quilting as an adult as this wasn't something that my Mum or Gran did. The internet opened up the world of quilting to me and I taught myself by following Craftsy classes and also by learning from books. When I discovered English paper piecing, I loved the intricate designs and the variety of shapes that are used. I also loved the hand stitched look and feel of English paper pieced quilts but I was convinced this wasn't going to be the craft for me. It seemed fiddly and time consuming. I kept away from it as long as I could but when I eventually gave in and gave it a try, I was immediately hooked and now I can't put it down!
So what exactly is English paper piecing and how is it different from ordinary quilting? Well, a standard quilt is made from three layers, like a sandwich! A quilt top, which is usually some form of patchwork, wadding or batting in the middle which makes your quilt soft and warm, and a backing fabric. You sew through all three layers to attach them to each other and this is called quilting. In a standard quilt, you typically create your patchwork quilt top by joining shapes together using a sewing machine and you use shapes that join easily such as triangles, squares and rectangles. For English paper piecing, you use still use shapes that tessellate but they are more complex and have numerous sides or curved edges. This means you would struggle to use a sewing machine to create the seams as the corners and angles can be tight and if your seams are inaccurate your results will be disappointing.
The English paper piecing technique uses shapes made from paper or thin card. You wrap your fabric around the paper shape and hand tack/baste it in place. Then you sew multiple shapes together. Once your quilt top is complete, the paper shapes and tacking stitches are removed and you can create your quilt sandwich with wadding and backing fabric and then choose to either hand or machine quilt your layers.
There's no escaping the fact that English paper pieced quilts are a lot of work. However, once I discovered a few shortcuts, I felt like I could tackle EPP projects so here are my top tips for anybody who is new to EPP.
1. Use hexagons. Hexagons are my favourite shape for EPP at the moment. They look like flowers when joined together and are simple to create. I think they are the perfect EPP shape for beginners.
2. Don't use tiny shapes. The smaller the shape, the longer your project will take and if you are new, you might feel like you want a completed project that doesn't take years to do. The quilt I am currently working on uses one and a half inch hexagons and this feels like a manageable size.
3. Try making a cushion cover before attempting an entire quilt. You could even use your shapes to create just the front of the cushion and back it with coordinating fabric.
4. Buy pre-cut paper shapes rather than cutting them out yourself. This is a more expensive option but will save you lots of time which means more time for sewing! I love the paper shapes you can buy from Sew and Quilt. They are affordable, good quality and come in many shapes and sizes. Sew and Quilt is also a fantastic quilting shop so make sure you check it out!
5. Skip the hand basting/tacking stage and use fabric glue instead. This was a game changer for me. This cuts down so much time meaning your quilt will grow faster. The absolute best glue for this is the sewline glue pen.
6. Last but not least is mentality. When you embark on an EPP project, it helps to have the mindset that this will be a lengthy journey, so enjoy it! We spend so much of our lives rushing about that it's nice to relax and spend time doing something that will evolve slowly. Once you get into the rhythm of a slow project like this, you will enjoy it for what it is and when it finally is completed, you will feel a huge sense of satisfaction.
I hope this has inspired you to give EPP a try. If you aren't sure where to begin, keep a look out on the website this week as I will be posting a video tutorial to help you get started.
About the Author
My name is Emma and I love all things sewing. My little blog is the place where I document what I'm making. I hope you enjoy reading what I'm up to. Thanks for stopping by. All opinions are my own and there is no sponsored content or affiliate links on my site.