Monday, 8 April 2013

The Spring Quilt Festival - Exeter



I'm just back from a wonderfully busy weekend at the Spring Quilt Festival in Exeter demonstrating the Big Shot and quilting dies with the Cotton Patch.


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This was the first time I'd met the Cotton Patch staff and it was such fun, they were all a real joy to work with and a great bunch of people.

From left to right -
Nikki (having to duck down because she's so tall!), Liz (the boss lady) and Denise (who has been at the Cotton Patch for about 18 years - although she doesn't look nearly old enough to have worked there for so long!) Denise's husband, Alan, was also at the show. He's the engineer for the sewing machines - what he doesn't know about sewing machines isn't worth knowing!

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The show at Exeter is only a small one, and I wasn't sure it would be very busy, but I was pleasantly surprised - lots and lots of interest in the Big Shot and lots of new customers, many of which already had Big Shots from card making or scrap booking and were excited to see the patchwork dies. My favourite thing about demonstrating is showing just how easy it is to cut a huge pile of pieces for a quilt in no time at all.  I think an awful lot of people think you can just cut a layer of fabric at a time, when in reality multiple layers work much better - I usually layer my fabrics up to between 6 and 8 layers. The look of genuine surprise on peoples' faces is wonderful, usually accompanied by a gasp and 'it actually cuts 32 hexagons at once? Wow!'

I also tried cutting felt for the first time which was really lovely - beautiful clean cuts and perfect shapes for applique and crafts. I'm going to have to get myself some thick wool felt and have a play with some felt appliques. 

Cotton Patch is the largest patchwork and quilting shop in the UK, and has built up a huge customer base for mail order and internet sales over the past 20 years. They are so knowledgable about the products they sell, and clearly all have a real passion for what they do. Almost every person that I spoke to was a member of their mailing list or a repeat customer, and every one of those people had great things to say about the shop, which is wonderful.

Cotton Patch are also stockists for gracie frames, handiquilter, and the sweet sixteen. Here's Liz playing with the sweet sixteen (and Nikki peeking in from behind!)

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You can just see on the right of the picture here one of the quilts the Cotton Patch made up using the strip die - I love the modern chevron look of that quilt, and it's a lovely simple pattern that looks much trickier than it actually is. 

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I can safely say the huge hits of the weekend were the hexagon dies, and the applique owl, neither of which surprised me at all. Cutting hexagons by hand is never fun, and everyone loves an owl! Quite a few ladies sighed 'if only I'd had that when I made a hexagon quilt 30 years ago!' 

I've now got a lot of hexagons cut and ready to baste thanks to my weekend in Exeter. This picture shows just about half of what I cut over the weekend! I'd better get to it - those hexagons won't sew themselves, will they? (Now, when will Sizzix bring out a die for that, I wonder?!!!)

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