Catching the train from Brighton was fun. Rather than it being quiet and empty at 6.30am it was packed full of people who had not gone to bed yet and were still in high spirits from the night before – oh happy days they were! We had a leisurely trip across London and time for a wake up tea at Euston when we realised we had 5 minutes to get the train. A dash across the station resulted in me getting on the train and finding out the sole had almost come off my shoe. Now I have been to the NEC a few times, and know there are no shoe shops there. I didn’t want to waste an hour going into Birmingham to buy some shoes so did a repair job on the train. I had a needle and some perle thread in my bag, and stitched the sole of my black patent bow pumps to the upper. To complete the repair I coloured over the cream thread with black biro. Thankfully it held for the exhibition, otherwise I thought about getting some superglue but then worried about getting stuck to the floor..!
I travelled up with a friend who wanted to look at long arm quilting systems, so that was our first post of call. Having never used them before I am now in love with these machines. They feel so easy to use – when you move them they stitch (using their stitch regulator) and when you stop they stop. If you want to follow a design you can buy stencils, otherwise you can free stitch across your quilt. Our favourite was the http://www.handiquilter.com/ which if you are interested in getting one (and indeed have space to put it) you will need about £9000 in the bank.
The next system down combines a Pfaff (or Viking) Grand Quilter and a frame. This costs about £2000 and works well, the main difference being the stitch regulator.
I was lucky enough to try out the new Janome Horizon at Brighton Sewing Machine Centre last week, and so was not surprised to see them promoting it heavily at the foq. What did surprise me though was that all the other sewing machine companies have their versions of the machine, I do love my Janome though, so if I do upgrade it…
After playing with the toys we spotted the Accuquilt fabric die cutting machines. I have heard of card making die cutting machines, but this is the first one designed for fabric. Using different dies you can cut shapes for piecing, applique, scruffy quilts and even strips. For more information have a peek here…http://www.accuquilt.com/default.aspx I ordered one for the shop today for us to demonstrate how they work and for customers to try out – more details will be posted on the blog when we have it.
It was then onto the main attraction – the quilts! My favourite section was the art quilt gallery. After feeling total awe, then wondering why you should ever bother to make another quilt as there are so many talented people out there, I soon settled into a rhythm of looking at the whole quilt, then the stitching and piecing. I noticed that the quilting I like most is that using bigger stitches and thicker thread, although some of the whole cloth work has to be seen to be believed.
The galleries were very good this year. Susan Denton’s work was very interesting. I also loved the Quilt Art gallery, where the group had each produced a piece of work on the theme “A Slice of Quilt Art”. The gallery was enclosed and as most of the pieced were a similar size it felt calming as well as interesting to go round seeing how each artist had interpreted the theme.
The adult education gallery featured work by City and Guilds students. I can finally share some photographs now I know several of the students whose work was featured. (This copyright thing drives me nuts, if I exhibit work in FoQ, which I have done in previous years, it is par for the course that it may be photographed and shared in places such as blogs, but other people do not agree).
Here we have Liz (sitting) with Dorita’s work (in black and white) in the gallery next to her. They are both students of Janice Gunner’s, getting to the end of their C&G Certificate. Liz has been doing lots of work in faux chenille – see the lovely scarf next to her. Dorita is doing some teaching for Quilty Pleasures this autumn (and at the Quilt Museum) and describes herself as a traditional quilter – you should check out the points on her quilt on the wall!
Sue, who won the Adult Education bursary has just finished the certificate stage of the C&G on my course in Surrey. Her work combines that envious duo of strong technical ability and creative thinking. Check also the quilt on the table – the judges commented it was a shame she had put her folders on such a lovely quilt!
Another Sue from my course showed her work. This Sue started at the same time as me and has just finished the diploma stage. The course takes 4 years (unless you take some time out) so seeing her work on show means a lot to me. Five of us started our c&g and attended for the full four years and in that time we have been through ups and downs together. Three of us decided to extend our finished date for another year, so we won’t finish till next summer, but Sue managed to do all the hours it takes to get the diploma completed. Her work is inspired by the coast where she lives in Worthing. Her quilt is hand dyed and quilted on the machine and by hand. Check her miniature quilt hanging up behind her. Sorry Sue for taking a photo with your eyes shut – I only realised when I uploaded the photo tonight!
My last stop of the day was the V&A stand where they were selling fabrics (the limited edition ones?!) left from the exhibition along with other merchandise. What’s a girl to do who is a Liberty fan, when passing a stand full of fabric they have collaborated with the V&A on, marked down in price. Say hello to the new arrivals to my stash…
I overheard a conversation on the stand, which was not hard as it was rather crowded there, and ended up meeting Lisa from http://www.u-handbag.com/ She has recently moved to Brighton, so it is ironic we meet at the foq!
We ended up getting in at 11.15 last night, but it was well worth it. You come away tired, but buzzing full of energy to get making quilts to be part of this fantastic scene – details for visiting or entering next year will be at http://www.twistedthread.com/
P.S Tip for going up to FoQ from down south…
4 years ago we drove. It wasnt too bad on the Sunday but it can be very tiring doing a long drive, being at the airless NEC all day then driving back. There is a £10 charge for parking.
Last year and the year before I travelled up on the Saturday afternoon. Stayed at the oh so noisy and not that friendly (staff, not people) Hilton. Checked in on the Saturday afternoon, went for a swim and a pre dinner drink then went to one of the Twisted Thread events. Had Sunday at the exhibition, then travelled back Sunday evening. Was like a treat.
This year we travelled there and back in a day. It was not too bad and only cost £44 return. My only advice would be book travel early so you don’t end up having 2 1/2 hours to fill after the exhibition has closed (tip – if this happens to you the airport has some restaurants as well as a fun ride on the monorail!).
Btw – shoes are now in the bin, and no, the shop will not now be doing shoe repairs too as I have a sore finger from getting the needle through that sole!