Thousands Flock to The Festival of Quilts


03 October 2017

The NEC was struck with a lightning bolt of creativity in August as the annual Festival of Quilts sprung to life in all its colourful glory.

Attracting over 24k visitors, the 15th incarnation of this annual event was a celebration of what can be achieved when imagination and craftsmanship ditch the weekly date night and get serious with each other.

Opened by Great British Sewing Bee’s Stuart Hillard, the 2017 Festival of Quilts featured over 1,000 quilts, including a record-breaking 750 competition quilts submitted under 17 categories.

With galleries packed with everything from traditional quilts to boundary-pushing wearable quilt art, and a staggering £28,700 in prize money to be won, it is easy to see how the festival has blossomed into Europe’s largest patchwork and quilting event.

The breath-taking beauty of the many artfully wrought pieces was matched only by the breadth and variety of stories which inspired them.  Best in Show and overall winner was Philippa Naylor for her intricately produced miniature quilt Measure for Measure, which will be displayed in the Textile Galleries at The Knitting & Stitching Show in London’s Alexandra Palace this October and Harrogate in November.

The 2017 Festival of Quilts featured work by internationally acclaimed artists Diana Harrison, Bonnie Smith, and Frydl Kumiko, and by artistic collectives including Art Quilt Fusion, the European Quilt Association and SAQA.

Ever keen to take a hands-on approach to quilting, and to develop this historically significant art-form, this year’s event boasted 350 textile workshops, talks, lectures and demonstrations from the scene’s top needle-smiths.

Alongside classic ingredients such as the galleries, workshops, hundreds of specialist patchwork and quilting stalls, and the Creative Textiles Studio, interwoven into this year’s show was a rich programme of social events including a Quilting Quiz, Designer Supper with artists Els van Baarle and Cherilyn Martin, a visit to The Royal Shakespeare’s Company production of Julius Caesar, and the show’s grand finale – The Festival of Quilts Dinner hosted by Stuart Hillard.

An ever popular textile triumph, The Festival of Quilts will return to The NEC from the 9th – 12th  August 2018 when it will feature a gallery of work by quilting expert and American national treasure Nancy Crow, plus workshops by creative powerhouse, musician, quilter and co-founder of Ricky Tims.

Words: Sarah Glayzer

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