Jenni Smith and Liberty at The Festival of Quilts 2021


Our friends at Immediate Live talk to Jenni Smith about her gallery ‘Quilting with Liberty Fabrics‘, at their forthcoming event, The Festival of Quilts 2021.

Hi Jenni, this will be the first exhibition of projects featured in your highly acclaimed book about your passion for Liberty fabrics. Can you tell us more about what visitors to The Festival of Quilts can expect to see?

The Quilting with Liberty Gallery is going to showcase many of the lovely quilts from the book which I have been waiting desperately to share since the photoshoot in the Liberty store almost two years ago!

'Quilting with Liberty' book cover and sleeve, by Jenni Smith.
‘Quilting with Liberty’ by Jenni Smith, available at QShop, linked above.

As an acclaimed maker and artist, what is it about Liberty Prints – and Liberty London’s history – that fascinates you so much?

To begin with, Liberty has an archive of over 50,000 prints and the company was founded back in 1875 by Arthur Liberty so each of the quilts in the book represents a decade in the store’s rich history.  I wanted to tell stories through the medium of quilts and provide inspiring and accessible patterns for makers.

Liberty fabric design sketch with lemons , leaves, branches and berries.
Liberty fabric design sketch.
Liberty quilt by Jenni Smith on a bed in a historic home.
Liberty fabric quilt.

Your Festival of Quilts gallery will feature work by other talented quilters. What can you tell us about that showcase please?

I love the work created by UK makers Florence Knapp and Suzanne Campion with Liberty Fabrics and was delighted when they agreed to be part of this gallery space too. Florence is bringing along some of her new cutout pictures which I am super excited to see and Suzanne is a marvel at fussy-cutting and intricate piecing, so they will add so much value to the experience. We will all be there to chat and meet with Liberty fans and share stories about our love of these special prints.

A quilt made with Liberty fabrics in progress, colourful fussy cut flowers on a dark background.
Liberty fabric quilt in progress.

You’ll also be hosting a lecture about the collection. What would you like visitors to take away from that experience?

The lecture is jam-packed with lots of gorgeous photography from the book, stories behind the making of it and includes some art history and insights into this iconic brand. It is fun, informative and a real celebration of all that Liberty prints mean to us.

Store front of Liberty, London.
Liberty, London.

The COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns have given many of us more time to pursue our favourite crafts. Have you found comfort in making during these challenging times?

My sewing space has been my sanctuary for sure and the creative community online has been a real comfort and inspiration. However, I cannot wait to see people at The Festival of Quilts again – it is always my annual quilting highlight and gives me such energy and enthusiasm for months afterwards. I truly missed it last year and cannot wait to be back.

You are a member of The Quilters’ Guild. What does The Guild mean to you and what do you get out of membership?

The Quilters’ Guild should be celebrated because it adds so much value to our craft and I love visiting them and seeing their quilts at exhibitions like The Festival of Quilts. The Guild is a network of incredible people and they have always been such a support to me in all my creative endeavours.

Jenni Smith is a Yorkshire-based pattern designer, quilter, tutor and author. Her exhibition, Quilting with Liberty Fabrics, is at The Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham from 29th July-1st August 2021. Jenni will be hosting a lecture on the same subject at The Festival of Quilts on Thursday 29th July at 4.30pm.

Jenni’s book ‘Quilting with liberty is available at QShop. If you’d like to be a part of our nationwide quilting community, why not join The Quilters’ Guild today?

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