This is a long overdue blog of a visit made in April 2016 to a quilting and embroidery show, just across the border from where I live, in Uttoxeter in Staffordshire.
This show is called Quilt and Stitch Village and is held at Uttoxeter Racecourse annually and is one I have entered in the past and have decided to enter this year too with possibly my second favourite design in my theme book but at this point I am undecided whether it would be a bag or a quilt!
Going back to the show in 2016 my fiance and I did not have more than a couple of hours so it was a little bit of a whistle-stop tour but the exhibits were of a very high standard and well worth seeing. One of the nice things about this show is that it attracts beginners to professionals – it is a relatively small but professionally run weekend.
I do not have many details of the quilts and embroideries so have decided to include my personal favourites with the reasons I liked them whether it is down to the quilting, the detail or just purely the colour choices. Unfortunately I did not manage to keep a note of the exhibiting numbers and therefore all of the names of the makers so my apologies to the quilters and embroiderers who I have not been able to credit correctly.
The colours on this quilt really appealed to me as they are very understated and elegant. The embroidered blocks are set off perfectly by simply incredible machine quilting which not only enhances the fabrics and motifs but also creates additional depth and interest. The embroidery itself is to use a non-technical term ‘mindboggling’ as I initially had thought it was fabric appliqued!
I found myself very much drawn to sampler quilts this year with the variety of different blocks and different combination of colours and this one appealed to the very geometric nature and the simplicity of the quilting. The sharp points the maker has achieved on the triangular shapes are never easy to do as I am desperately aware – these can be achieved through either foundation piecing of the blocks or through piecing the shapes with 1/4 inch seam allowance.
I really loved the fabrics used with a combination of tone on tone and patterned fabrics which perfectly complemented each other.
This quilt by Stephanie Preece was striking in both its use of colours and deceptive simplicity in portraying the flames of the fire – a simple but effective combination of squares and half-square triangles. The quilt almost has a cubism or abstract feel about it but retains the impression of flames – as I said striking in its simplicity and a clearly thought out design.
Personally I find the addition of figures works really well in adding a real sense of emotion as the people of London fought the flames. Unfortunately this is one I have been unable to attribute to its maker.
Ms Middleton has interpreted the scene in an imaginative and creative manner with the border in rich yellows and golds adding a picture-frame quality to the quilt. Apparently the inspiration was a woodcut and decoration on a monument and she used a combination of cotton, silk, satin and viscose fabrics which create texture and interest as well as defining each area or building.
One particular genre of quilts I always enjoy seeing are the ones based on landscapes or seascapes with this one particularly appealing due to having grown up partially near the sea. I believe the maker is Nicky Ilsley and the quilt name is Oyster Catchers in Caithness and was based on a day at a deserted beach as she tried to photograph the birds running in and out of the shallow water. For me personally this perfectly captures the scene and the calming emotions it evokes.
This is another I have been unable to credit the maker sadly because I really like the colours used and how they are used – the shapes are simple with gentle but distinct blending or depiction of shadows and form. I like the linear and yet painterly quality of the whole composition which immediately draws you into the serene image.
I love the fact the unknown maker has used different sized blocks which creates a random style when combined with the large variety of techniques used – there is clam shell patchwork ,(presuming English paper pieced which is common for this particular patchwork), applique, either Cathedral window or orange peel patchwork, pieced blocks in differing patterns, curved blocks and also an appliqued border. The maker has chosen a co-ordinating although extensive colour palette which, despite the random and delightfully chaotic look of the quilt, creates harmony – the colours are mainly muted mid-tone colours with a cream or light beige background.
The maker has used a muted selection of scrappy fabrics for her/his quilt and created something that is fun and makes you smile to look at it.
Although this has a fun element there is no disguising the skill required to make the quilt and the quilt is exquisitely executed and finished with machine quilting.
This is just a small selection of my personal favourites in the quilting categories and there was a wonderful variety in interpretation of themes and designs throughout as an increasing genre of three-dimensional works which unfortunately I was unable to photograph due to my camera battery dying (reminder for next year is to charge my camera before the show!!).
The maker of this embroidery has used a wide variety of stitches to create this river/waterfall scene. I particularly love the impression of the floral overhanging branches and also the way she/he has used the threads and stitches to create the impression of the water as it flows over the rocks.
Although there were a good number of embroidered pictures of different genres the works I really loved was the three-dimensional category – luckily I went to this part of the show first so was able to take the photographs I wanted.
This clock or timepiece by Julie Rowe was inspired by the work of A.W.N Pugin and his gothic architecture and was of immediate interesting having studied his work in the art history module I have been doing alongside this course. Ms Rowe used materials which included pelmet Vilene and painted bondaweb and also included machine as well as hand embroidery and beads. I feel this piece is reminiscent of the carved details seen in Pugin’s churches or buildings as well as the stone work and I wonder whether Ms Rowe has visited St Mary’s Church in Derby which is known as Pugin’s masterpiece.
I freely admit to being amazed at the perfectly circular nature of the circles – I know that sounds a little silly but I have tried numerous times stitching circles and know how difficult they can be despite accurately drawing them! This jacket retains a delicacy due to the materials used and as Ms Barnes herself says in her statement in the accompanying show programme, it would look fantastic over a black dress or top.
I also really liked this book which was made up of a variety of images based on masonary, sculpture, water, glass, plants, wooden objects or pathways. Linda Schofield had taken a variety of photographs and set herself a challenge to re-create these objects in stitch – I only wish I could have had a better look at the book because that is very similar to much of the work of parts of this course.
I am starting to find I am being drawn to the stitched books I have seen – not just the book covers but the books that are almost sketchbook style but specifically recording a particular theme in stitch only. I am aware of various ways of making note or sketchbooks and wonder how I could possibly transfer this to making fabric books in the future of a similar style to Linda Schofield’s work.
One of the frustrating aspects of the show was the reflections caused by the light on the framed works – this was irregardless of whether you wanted to take a photograph or just look at the pieces. I felt this was more due to the building in which the embroidery section was in than the electric lighting and these reflections could be a little distracting.
However I was still able to get a good look at this little pig who was machine embroidered on a Habotai silk background – I am in awe at the standard of the machine embroidery and can only presume that a stabilizer of some nature must have been used and possibly a hoop too to keep the silk as flat at it is … personal experience has taught me to use both. Chris Clowes has captured the personality of this pig delightfully and it has personal appeal for me due to my younger son working at a pig farm.
As well as the competition entries there were also embroiderers and quilters exhibiting at the show or doing workshops including Jennie Rayment who is known for her work with fabric manipulation and surface texture in quilting. It was a personal pleasure to meet Jennie and she was lovely lady who was happy to answer any questions anyone had or just talk generally about her work as well as enquire about the work you were doing.
Overall the show was well worth going to although our visit was so quick – this year we are allowing a full day so that I can take notes of names or look more closely at any quilts or embroideries noting techniques or colours used for inspiration. As said I am considering entering with one of the designs from my theme book and now have just a week to decide in which form the entry will take!
British Quilt & Stitch Village 2016. Show Programme [booklet]. Welland, UK Traplet Publications.