Quiltfest 2016 – Not your grandma’s quilts.

Quilting was not something that I ever thought I would get into.  It was something my mom and grandma did.  Literally.  I watched them make a quilt when I was a kid; it looked like a whole lot of fiddly, snippy, stitchie stuff; it looked tedious and boring.  That quilt seemed to take forever!  Sewing didn’t appeal to me, at all. Welding and using power tools in Industrial Arts class were trumped sewing some stupid skirt I would never wear (sorry Home Ec. teachers).

How did I get into quilting, then?  I moved.

That’s pretty much it.  We’ve moved a lot, and each relocation requires effort to build a social network.  You can’t just unpack the boxes, sit in your house, and wait for the neighbours to pop over & invite you out to play.  It takes work.

On our most recent move, I searched for a social connection and found a very active community of quilters.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that this has become the backbone of my social life in our little village. I’m now hooked! It took some digging, but look what I found!20160220_113938-1 quiltfest

20160220_150710 quiltfest


We hopped in the car and went to Llangollen*! Quiltfest 2016, the annual show of The Quilters Guild, which has over 7,000 members across the UK.  There were two shows for the price of one: free!  On a pissy, misty, rainy day, this is an excellent indoor, budget-friendly form of entertainment.

20160220_113438 quiltfest

When I say these aren’t your grandma’s quilts, I mean no offence.  Some of you grandmas truly rock, and your quilts are cool, too.  I’m saying that we didn’t see any of the traditional Flying Geese, Log Cabin, or Nine Block patterns.  The quilts on display were contemporary art quilts. 20160220_112744-1 quiltfest

Members of the Wrexham Quilting Circle, a smaller, regional group, had a separate exhibit at the Llangollen Museum and Art Gallery. Having a good time chatting with the host who showed me around took precedence over pictures.  Good chatter, bad blogger.

20160220_112504 quiltfest Jenny Hewer-1




Jenny Hewer’s free style scrappy piece grew from the off-centre star (left) with just a touch of the classic Flying Geese pattern.



The main event was at the very impressive Pafiliwn Llangollen Pavilion.  Each day, exhibition attendees were provided the opportunity to Meet The Makers.  Judith Barker was warm and friendly, and quick to discuss inspiration, technique, tricks, and tools.  In a brief time, I picked up some advice for embellishing with metallic thread, the importance of squaring up a piece, and the value of the mere suggestion of a storm of swallows or the movement of water. Her work has been shown internationally, including this piece, which was part of a suitcase collection, and travelled to Canada.

20160220_115915-1 quiltfest judith barker

The Nineties Collection featured quilts commissioned from Quilters’ Guild Members during the 1990s.  Several quilters had more recent quilts displayed with their earlier work. Fabrics, composition, piecing, embellishments, and stitching styles have all changed so much.  The differences jumped out, even to this untrained eye.

20160220_120856-1 quiltfest judith barker

Judith Barker, Brighton Blues, The Nineties Collection

20160220_120905-1 quiltfest judith barker

Judith Barker, Blue Jug

Apologies to Judith and the other quilters; all wonkiness of quilts is due to the angle of my camera.  I’m still learning!

These quilts are a perfect example of the changes in quilting, Judith now enjoys the modern heavily quilted look for her art quilts.  This technique doesn’t make for a soft, fluffy bed quilt, but for pieces that hang on walls or lay on tables, it adds dimension and texture.

Another artist whose work caught my eye was Sheena Norquay, of Scotland.  Her award winning quilts have also been shown internationally.  I was stopped in my tracks by her seascapes.

Sheena Norquay, Going Home, The Nineties Collection

Sheena Norquay, Going Home, The Nineties Collection

Sheena Norquay, Seascape With Selkies

Sheena Norquay, Seascape With Selkies

Two beautiful pieces with very different styles.  The water in Seascape With Selkies is much more detailed, with great texture and movement.  The quilting, once again, is tighter and more intricate than her 90s piece.  Waves, clouds, and pebbles are all added to the piece with thread.

There was an incredible diversity of styles and techniques on display.  While I’m drawn to certain subject matter and colour palettes, it’s also the individuality in these contemporary quilts that amazes to me.

Linda Straw, Chaucer's Wedding

Linda Straw, Chaucer’s Wedding


Rowena Reamonn, Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame

Rowena Reamonn, Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame


20160220_114934-1 quiltfest Diana Brockway

Diana Brockway, Tales From the Mahinogion


20160220_114811-1 quiltfest Dilys Fronks

Dilys Fronks, Still Life with Sunflowers


20160220_114721-1 quiltfest Mary Mayne

Mary Mayne, Doodles


If you’ve ever been to a quilt show, you can appreciate that there are far too many entries for me to possibly do all of the artists justice.  If you haven’t been to a show, even if you’ve never thought of trying out this artform/craft, yourself, I really recommend it.  I’m quite certain you’ll be blown away.

*We’re having a great time trying to pronounce the place names in Wales.  A woman at the Llangollen Visitor’s Centre told us Google Translate will provide reasonable facsimiles.  Click on the Google Translate link and push the little speaker button a few times.  See how easy that was?  We’ll be speaking Welsh in no time.  Or not.

Here’s where we went for the day:


27 thoughts on “Quiltfest 2016 – Not your grandma’s quilts.

  1. Oh they are beautiful! I love modern quilt wall hangings like this, and in fact spent most of last year faffing around making a few. Not quite to this standard though, these are truly amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Leah I wait for your entries, keeps people closer to hear from friends far away. Very happy you and Karen are enjoying your retirement. Take care and keep blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Georgie. I don’t have a lot to show, just yet. My Gravatar is a selfie quilt I did this summer. I intend to add information about it sometime. Once I’m home and back in the quilting groove, I’ll be adding more.


  4. Love the quilts, even though, I must confess, I am more of a traditional quilt lover. I love those that are hand quilted. Do you know how they get the designs on the quilts? Are they “just” appliquéd?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have to say that both of my parents are very creative. Building and making things in any medium was always encouraged. I’m lucky.

    So glad you enjoyed it.


  6. There were examples of all sorts of techniques. Applique, paper piecing, foundation piecing, and so on.

    I am hand quilting a single bed quilt during the months I am at home. I call it my forever quilt, because it may take forever to finish.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks for the tour! It’s always great to see what other quilters are making. Those are all exceptional pieces.. Inspirational!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovin those sunflowers! been many years since I was patchworking (I say that over quilting ‘cos the actual quilting never got done, just the patchwork tops!). Some truely clever ladies in that bunch!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, you are in good company, if you pieced the tops, but didn’t get the quilting done!

    My quilting pals call those UFOs (UnFinished Objects). Why not have someone do the quilting for you, so you can enjoy the finished products? No shame in that.

    The sunflowers jumped out at me, too. So bright and cheerful.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I should shouldn’t I… get someone else to do the icky quilting and I know just the person! I wonder what Mummy-dearest is doing this week?? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I actually thought of you when I saw it, Norm. I wondered if you would have all sorts of historic stories swirling in your head while looking at it.


  12. I am “working” on one for my nephew. I have been quilting on it for 6 years now, but only because I can’t seem to find the time to sit down and work on it lately. Probably haven’t touched it in the last 2 years. If you know how to put a picture in the comments, let me know and I’ll send you a picture of it. It is beautiful. Just need to make myself finish it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t know how to add pictures to comments. Maybe a link to it, if it’s in your media library?

    I started a quilt for my niece shortly after she was born. I gave myself plenty of time, planning to have it done in time for her first ‘big girl bed.’ I didn’t finish it until she was in Grade 12. It was far too juvenile for her, so I ended up making a new one, altogether. Oops!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. hahaha That does sound like me! The one for my nephew was supposed to be for Christmas his first year of college. He has since graduated and been married for almost 3 years. I told him and his wife they may get it for their 25th wedding anniversary. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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