Festival of Quilts – shopping

Space-dyed perle cotton from Winifred Cottage
Space-dyed perle cotton from Winifred Cottage

Having taken personal responsibility for spending our way out of recession, I made a good start at the Festival of Quilts, with the result that I now have no money and a lot more month.  Heigh ho.  But, I stocked up on threads from Winifred Cottage, most definitely my first choice of threads for any hand work.  I use them all the time; for sewing on beads, embroidery, construction, everything.  They seem quite pricey at first, but they last forever and are absolutely gorgeous.  Their website is under reconstruction at the moment, but worth having a look (www.winifredcottage.co.uk).  The people who run it are lovely and very generous with their advice.  I tried using the threads for machine stitching but didn’t have too much success.  I think it might have been an idea to have hooped the fabric, and it certainly wasn’t playing with bamboo wadding, but from the back it gave a lovely deconstructed look:

Experimental machine stitching with perle cotton
Experimental machine stitching with perle cotton

I also bought some glorious Japanese metallic threads which I have yet to use but which have really bright colours and should look good on dark colours.

I always make a bee-line for Winifred Cottage and Anita’s Beads, but this year I didn’t buy any beads.  I think I have been stocking up all year and might need to refresh my palate a bit before going back into the fray.  I marched in a relatively straight line to Art Van Gogh too, but had forgotten to take my list of which Golden Fluid Acrylics I’d already bought and know that’s fatal – you end up buying the same colours again because you like them.  I still think that they are the best paint by miles for painting on quilts.  I bought some very murky colours in plain but shot fabric from Oakshott (www.oakshottfabrics.com/).  Apparently they are ethically sourced and fair traded, which is great, but I love them because they are such wonderful deep-dyed plains.  I bought black, grey, funereal mauve, glorious but murky lime green.  I have a depressing project in mind which I think would be just right for November… Watch this space.  Delightful young woman serving there as well.

The stand where I want absolutely everything, though, is the magnificent Aarti J’s (www.aartij.com/).  They describe themselves as specialists in lace trims, acrylic gems, beads, appliques and embellishments.  I always think that I have died and gone to heaven.  The stand is staffed by ultra polite young women who look somewhere between amused and baffled by all these women of a certain age going mad over sparkly things they would never dream of wearing (well, I would…), and they have the most astounding selection of trimmings which I never see anywhere else.  I couldn’t resist.  Here are some things that will no doubt feature in quilts in the next twelve months:


They foxed me slightly this year by winding their remnants onto cards, which they said they had done to make the whole thing more professional.  It did, but I missed the fun of diving into the remnants bin and pulling stuff out.  Smart women, though, restore your faith.  I used a couple of their motifs in the Laura Ashley mini quilts by the way:

The central pomegranate motif is one of theirs.

I am not entirely sure what I did spend money on, but I seemed to get through it.  I managed not to buy any more books as we live in an outpost of the British Library as it is, at least, I managed not to until the last quarter hour before we all met again for the drive home.  I completely cracked.  It was hopeless.  I was standing at one of the bookstalls, congratulating myself on not having bought anything, when my eye was caught by what another woman was reading.  She was oohing and ahhing over the pictures and humming and haaing about whether or not she could afford it.  On these occasions there is a sort of intimacy with complete strangers which makes you talk to people in a way you wouldn’t normally.  So, I heard myself say what my Grate Friend Mike would say in this situation: ‘Are you seriously telling me that you don’t think you are worth £25?’  This works in any situation (although it does depend a bit on whether you have £25 handy and available).  And I took my own advice and bought a copy of Jan Messent’s sumptuous book Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Embroidery.  It is glorious.  A real treat for the senses and I know that I will get it out as colour therapy if nothing else.  I love everything about it!  (And you can get it much cheaper on Amazon…).  The results of my relationship with this book will no doubt feature on these pages in the coming year.

At the end of the day we met up in the cafe and did a bit of show and tell, although Ceri had insisted we did this at lunchtime as well because that gives you chance to go and track something down if you like what someone else has bought.  This backfired a bit, though, as she produced, after the show had shut, the best bargain of the lot: three lucky bags of Bali Batiks for £8 each.  She thought they would be little tiny scraps for some postcard quilts she is planning, but they turned out to be big bits.  We were all a bit green with envy.  I felt a bit bad opening them out (they were screwed up a bit), because it was like opening someone else’s Chrismas presents, but as ever, the patterns and colours were a kind of tonic.  You feel better just looking at them.  Anyway, the branch of quilting overspendersanonymous met and came up with these justifications:

  • we got cheap tickets (thanks Liz H)
  • we didn’t buy expensive train tickets
  • we pooled resources for driving and parking
  • we bought our own packed lunch with us
  • we didn’t buy programmes we would only throw away later
  • you only see this stuff once a year and it’s hard to source
  • we didn’t pay postage
  • you need to see the colours in the flesh
  • I didn’t buy an £8000 new Bernina sewing machine
  • it’s keeping the economy going
  • we only do it once a year (yeah, right in my case)
  • it’s not fast women and slow horses (thanks, Grandma)

And that was off the tops of our heads…

2 thoughts on “Festival of Quilts – shopping

  1. Thank you for shopping from our stand! I enjoyed the show, but it did seem quiet.

    Is that the medium perle I can see in the stitching? That works best in the bobbin, the fine is the one to use in the needle. Use a topstitch 100 and start with a new needle. Looking forward to seeing what else you do with them!

    (by the way, Jan Messent lives just around the corner, and I agree – it’s a beautiful book……)

    1. Thanks for this. The bobbin tip is a really good one. BTW the post on the Laura Ashley pockets shows your threads – the hand stitching and the tassels. It’s really lovely stuff.

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