40th Birthday at The Festival of Quilts!


At The Festival of Quilts this year we have so many exciting Birthday celebrations for you to enjoy!

You’ll have a hard time choosing what to do first with all that we have going on …

  • The Quilters’ Guild 40th Birthday Party
  • Special lecture from Heather Audin, The Guild’s Curator, ‘Exploring Four Decades of The Quilters’ Guild Collection’
  • Birthday Collection exhibition, ‘Four Decades of the Quilters’ Guild Collection’
  • Launch of our new book, Forty: The Evolution of a Collection
  • Launch of The Guild’s first ever Block of the Month Project
  • The ‘Spotlight@40’ exhibition
  • Landmark ‘Specialist Group Challenge’ Bloomfield exhibition

Do you enjoy a party? Well, the Festival Dinner this year (Thursday) will be celebrating The Guild’s 40th Birthday. Come along and enjoy our fantastic key note speaker, Michael James. Tickets are limited.

Michael is an artist and educator from the US. He was a prominent figure in the art quilt movement of the 1970s and his textiles have been recognised and exhibited internationally. Michael has a gallery at the Festival for the first time since 2006.


The lecture by Heather Audin, Curator of The Quilters’ Guild Collection discusses the items in The Collection’s exhibition at the Festival in greater detail. ‘Exploring Four Decades of The Quilters’ Guild Collection‘ (Friday morning at 10.30am) will be perfect for those of you wanting to dive deeper into the history of these pieces and their makers.

We are delighted to launch our new book Forty: The Evolution of a Collection at the Festival this year. Pop along to The Collection stand (TG3) at 2pm on Thursday 1st August to bag a copy signed by the author, Curator of The Quilters’ Guild Museum Collection, Heather Audin, at the special Festival offer price of £10. Alternatively it’s also available at Stand E2 for the Festival price of £10, or online at QShop now at the regular price of £12.

v1 3965 QG Forty book template-1 low res

The excitement continues this Festival as we also launch our first ever Block of the Month Project! This project has been designed by Guild member Jenni Smith and is inspired by our Red Manor House Coverlet. Made in 1840-60, the original coverlet is filled with motifs celebrating Victorian rural life and has over 100 blocks surrounding the central applique panel taking inspiration from flowers, birds, animals, and buildings.

BoM design 2019

The Coverlet features a lot of appliqué which makes it an unusual piece as this is rare in quilts from the period. Our Block of the Month Project will let you explore a whole range of techniques including foundation piecing, traditional piecing as well as appliqué.

Don’t miss our official launch of the Block of the Month with a short talk by the designer Jenni Smith; Curator of The Quilters’ Guild Museum Collection, Heather Audin; and Chris Gatman, Chief Executive of The Guild, at 11:30am on Thursday 1st August at stand E2. We will also have our exclusive limited edition (100 only!) Riley Blake Fabric Packs on sale for the Red Manor House Quilt project, as well as an exclusively curated Aurifil mixed weight thread collection for the whole project.

If you’d like to see this amazing coverlet do come and visit The Quilters’ Guild at The Festival of Quilts where it will be on display in our exhibition ‘Exploring Four Decades of the Quilters’ Guild Collection’ (TG3). The Red Manor House Coverlet has only been on public view once before so don’t miss out on this great chance to see it in 2019.

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Quilters’ Guild we are hosting a special ‘Spotlight@40’ Gallery of contemporary work at The Festival of Quilts in August 2019 on stand TG7 in Hall 8.

Lesley Brankin spotlight at 40 image

‘Spotlight@40’ work in progress, Lesley Brankin.

Experienced quilters in our regions were set the challenge of producing a piece on the theme ’40’. This is an excellent way of celebrating The Guild’s big birthday whilst acquiring new work by contemporary textile artists who are not already represented in The Collection.

Kira Withers-Jones

‘Spotlight@40’ work in progress, Kira Withers-Jones.

Prize winning Young Quilters are also being encouraged to take part. All the quilts shown in the exhibition will be added to The Quilters’ Guild Museum Collection.

On the subject of Young Quilters, the children’s competition theme at the Festival this year is ‘Memories’. Every child who enters The Festival of Quilts competition will be sent a free ticket to the show. The categories are 5-9, 10-13, 14-18 years as well as Primary Schools/Groups and Secondary Schools/Groups.

The Youngish Quilter blog and Instagram, aimed at 14 to 18 year olds, will be updating you throughout the festival with exciting quilts, shops and stands to go see.

Children’s workshops are running twice a day throughout the festival (stand CW). For just £6 children can take part and make fabric monsters, cacti and vegetables. See the Quick and Easy workshops guide for more information. There are exciting birthday celebrations at the children’s workshops to celebrate the Guild’s 40th birthday. Expect cake, balloons and even goodie bags to take home to mark this special year. Children aged 8 or above can attend workshops without their parent accompanying them, so it’s the perfect opportunity for you to gain some quilt related me-time!

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Young Quilter sponsors, Brother, Vlieseline and Lewis and Irene who are very kindly donating products for the children’s workshops and goody bags at the Festival. We are also grateful to Brother who are continuing to lend fantastic sewing machines for the sessions.

In our birthday year, the Specialist Group Challenge exhibition this Festival is open to all specialist group members and is to produce a new interpretation of a classic quilt – The Edwin Mary Bloomfield Coverlet, dated 1849-50. Ordinarily an individual Specialist Group would take on the challenge each year, but this year we will get to see entries representing the whole range of our membership. Don’t forget to call by stand TG2 and take in the array of entries.

Bloomfield Coverlet

The Edwin and Mary Bloomfield Coverlet, dated 1849 – 50.

Of course we would never have made it to our 40th Birthday without the unwavering support of our members and fundraisers. This year at The Festival of Quilts our fundraising tombola is being organised by Region 6 and it will feature collapsible fabric boxes/bowls/containers. These fantastically useful items will store any number of gadgets and trinkets. Make a beeline for Quilting in Action stand 30 to see which lovely box you can win! For any members who would still like to make a box, patterns are available on the Tombola blog, full details on where to send them are included in the Spring 2019 edition of The Quilter.

Tombola boxes

As well as fundraising, as an educational charity The Guild also likes to support individuals in their creative development and exploration. You may be aware that The Guild has a number of Bursaries & Awards available, and for two of these – the BA Bursary Award and the City & Guilds Bursary Award – we hold exhibitions at The Festival of Quilts. This year we have had four BA Bursary Award entries and five City & Guild Award Bursary entries.  There will also be two returning winners (one from each Bursary) for their final display.  Do visit stand TG1 as these are sure to inspire and stretch the imagination.

We will be bringing our QShop retail stand at E2 which features items inspired by The Quilters’ Guild Museum Collection and will be situated next to The Collection stand at TG3. We also have a second retail outlet selling all things quilt-related, including Mettler threads. Our Notions Stand at D47 will once again have demos from Jill Repp from June Tailor, demo-ing their range of ‘Quilt As You Go’ products and Rulers, and Karen Shibata from Sewline who will be showcasing all their marking tools and scissors.


Finally, we’d like to invite you to have your say by voting for your favourite quilt. In addition to the exhibition categories awarded and judged at the event, there is also a Visitor’s Choice award which is chosen entirely by your votes. The maker of the winning entry to the Visitor’s Choice will be awarded £500, but they aren’t the only one to be in line for a prize! All voters will be entered into a prize draw to win one of five fantastic awards; the first is a Red Manor House Coverlet Gift Collection, the second and third are The Quilters’ Guild new Block of the Month pattern, and the fourth and fifth prize are copies of Forty: The Evolution of a Collection.

If you’d like to keep up to date on all the latest news as well as take part in regular giveaways and competitions, sign up to the bi-monthly Quilters’ Guild email newsletter.

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