Festival of Quilts - Setting Up

7 August 2014

It's August, so here in Blighty that means it's FOQ time.

But before getting onto that, let me assure you, dear Reader, that I did manage to tie all those tiny ribbons round all those little wedding favours, deliver them to the caterers (who were very happy) and they went off to the wedding.  Not a wedding I knew - this was a purely commercial venture. Apparently the Bride was very happy too.

Actually, using the flower rag paper must have made them look very pretty indeed, set out on the table in the Marquee - the reception was in the Bride's garden. 

Thinking about it, my first commercial commission as a professional artist!  A new life?

Anyways- back to FoQ!

You may remember that the theme this year for the Contemporary Quilters Gallery was 'Dislocation'.  I blogged about my own piece (which was selected - yay!) in June here.

I had also volunteered to help Christine Seager (a force of Quilting Nature).  Compared to her incredible input, my activity was very small - do the "samples folders" and turn up on Set Up Day to, well, set up!

First of all the sample folders.

It was a privilege to hold all the samples and sew them onto pelmet vilene to bind into a book.

I used invisible thread so that the stitching would not distract from the actual samples.  I think you can see from the example below that this did not distract from the sample too much.

The idea with the folder is that visitors can read the artists statement (on the left) then examine the sample closely, including the back of the little quilts.

Having created a pile of 44 mini quilt samples my next challenge was how to bind them - and golly was that a challenge.  I won;t bore you with everything I considered, but in the end went for 3 (but I should have used 4) ring binders suitably (I hope) decorated in keeping.

Yep - that's good old Gesso and Fresco Finish paints using a hand cut stencil you might have seen before.  On reflection I should also have varnished the folders but by the time I had worked out how to do this, well there wasn't time.

If I do this again, then next time I will make proper 'books' using one of my binding techniques, but this time I did not know quite what the issues were.

The chain?  Well, and can you believe it, but we have to 'attach' them to the tables on the stand so they don't go walkabout!

Any way, Wednesday 6th July dawned, the folders were loaded into the car and off to Birmingham I went.

Set up is a military operation!  First of all just unloading! You are given a time limited pass (which is based on how much you have to unload) and you drive round to the back of the halls and then take a chance with all the white vans which the traders use.  Then, you battle your way through armies of men doing things (still erecting some of the exhibition shells), you try not to trip over any judges with clipboards (the exhibition quilts were hung ready for judging already - that must have been done on the Tuesday) and you find your stand!

Christine and her Worker (husband Nick) were already there when I arrived.  The key to the day is the preparation and Christine had plans of all the walls so that Nick and I just had to knuckle down and hang the batons he had already made.  This involved a lot of use of a spirit level and a lot of measuring and screwing.  To hang this one gallery pretty much took 4 of us, because Ruth who had also helped by arranging the stewarding rota for the stand, was also there.

The final touch are the two tables with table clothes that are much too big so have to be pinned up. These tables hold the sample books.

We hung 44 quilts, but we also had space (the organisers gave Christine a slightly bigger shell than had been booked) to hang the samples of the quilts there were not selected.  That is the 'patchwork' on the left hand side on the back wall.

Quilts are hung on the inside walls and on the outside walls.

Its a lovely space, and if you are going, in Hall 9 near the tea rooms.

Just look at the perfection you can achieve with a spirit level.

One down point, my own quilt, which I had sent to Christine to help her with the planning, had not traveled too well.  The spacer batons I used had made the quilt curl.  You can see it in this picture here.  Not good!

So, not only is the effect rather disappointing, but it hangs too short!

I gave it a good tug and used blu tack to straighten it, but I think I will have to rethink that if I use batons again, but you live and learn.  Though it has to be said, I am more of an embroiderer! It was really noticeable when looking at the other 'quilts'.

I am back at FOQ on Saturday and Sunday.  I will be doing stewarding rota, so if you are there be sure to pop by to say hello.  K14, Hall 9 near the cafes.

Oh, and a bit of a post script!  Spotted Kaffe Fassett there with his partner - he's much taller than I expected - and the whole thing looks much better presented this year.  Hall 9 is being used for some of the exhibition quilts and is much better than last year.  If you are going, enjoy!!


  1. Well done for a great job both in making the sample books and in setting up. You must have been shattered yesterday. I had planned to offer to help set up but it's as well I didn't commit as my mother had other plans for me and broke her wrist! I will be there on Saturday though and can't wait! Your quilt looks fine and may relax as it hangs and I doubt anyone will notice the length difference. See you Saturday or Sunday.

    1. I was, but Christine and Nick probably more so.

      It was fun, and educational. See you Saturday I hope.

  2. I'm always mega critical of my stuff when I see it hanging - so much so that I almost can't bear to look!! Yours looks great. Thanks for your message - I'll be there on Sunday at some point; not sure of trains. Shall I twitter you when I'm there???

    1. Missed you Annabel! Mind you the weather first thing was so inclement that you might not have made it at all! I had to don my wellies - not glamourous but at least I had dry feet!


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