The road to the Festival of Quilts and August in England

If you have been following me on Instagram you may have noticed that I’m heading to England this August for the Festival of Quilts.

Six of the Sew Grateful for 2021 quilts will be on display, I’ll be delivering several lectures , as well as signing copies of my book in the Sewing Street lounge.


The Festival of Quilts is an amazing show for all sewcialists, quilters, textile artists and clothing makers, and I can’t wait to walk around the textile gallery to get some new inspiration for my next quilts. Taking place at the NEC, in Birmingham from August 18th to the 21st, the Festival offers a four-day celebration of all things quilting. There are 18 gallery exhibitions (including mine) and it’s the best place to stock up on quilting supplies. There are hundreds of workshops and talks (including 5 of mine) , 600 competition quilts on display and some amazing special exhibits. Safety measures are in place, aimed to keep us all healthy and happy.


Today on the blog I thought I’d show you what I’m going to be getting up to. If you can make it to Birmingham, I hope to see you there!


Tuesday 16th August: Arrival and set up

The NEC in Birmingham, England is host to a four-day event called Festival of Quilts. It attracts 25,000 international quilters every year. As you can imagine with over 300 companies showing, plus galleries of quilts to display it takes a considerable amount of time to put together.


The show opens on Thursday for academy classes, but I 'll be landing on Tuesday morning and heading straight to the NEC to install my Sew Grateful for 2021 quilts in their gallery space. Let’s hope my hanging sleeves were the right size and that I was able to sleep on the plane.


Be sure and stop by stand B26 to see the Sew Grateful for 2021 quilt collection. In addition to the original 4 Sew Grateful for 2021 sew along quilts, you’ll enjoy the happy scrappy version from Maxwell Parr and Melissa Marginet’s Kyoto creation. Look closely at Melissa’s walking foot quilting, and there's even some hand quilting for even more added interest - if that's possible, her quilt is pretty interesting already! You can read more about the meaning behind each block and find the free pattern here. Make one of your very own, or lead your group in a block of the month using the handouts provided.

Use CODE sewgrateful22 to save £2 off of your show pass.*


Wednesday 17th August:

Sewing Street with Stuart Hillard

I’m thrilled to be visiting the Sewing Street Television studio with everyone’s favourite host Stuart Hillard. We will have copies of my book Sew Healthy & Happy available to purchase and will be sharing lots of ergonomic sewing tips and stretches for quilters. Be sure to call in with your questions or message us and let me know if you would like an autographed copy.



Thursday 18th August:


10:00 AM - Loving your Longarm

Suite 20, Concourse (1 hr). Code: 501

Time for me to start teaching ! As a professional longarmer, I know how hard it can be to love your longarm sewing machine even when it feels like it doesn’t love you.

Setting up your machine is only one part of what’s going to help you stay in business for years to come. We will look at a variety of ergonomic solutions for the longarm quilter including tips for the type of quilting you will be doing. In addition, I’ll discuss other factors that influence your overall health and wellness in your sewing studio, and of course I’ll show you most important stretches for longarmers.




The rest of my day will be spent learning “Walking Foot Quilting” with Sarah Ashford. Even though I have a lovely Avante longarm, there are times when it's just faster to quilt a pillowtop or smaller baby quilt on my good ole Janome sewing machine.









Friday 19th August:

Friday is a free day for me, so I have booked myself into Jo Avery’s “Pattern Rings: Freehand Foundation Piecing”.

To be honest, I find freehand anything a little scary, but I love foundation paper piecing, so I’m really looking forward to this class!

After the class, I plan to spend some time around the show checking out the quilt competition and some of the other textile galleries. I’m hoping to bump into some fellow Canadian quilters as well; Brandy Maslowski aka the Quilter on Fire will be ending her group's Textile Tour of Wales and England at the Festival of Quilts. Kim Caskey of Celtic Quilt Tours will be leading her Quilt and Textile Tour through Ireland and Scotland and then joining in the fun in Birmingham.


Saturday 20th August:

10:00 AM - The Quilters Ergonomic Tool Box

Suite 20, Concourse (45 mins). Code: 526

Today's quilter has so many helpful tools, gadgets and notions to choose from. Have you ever wondered which ones are worth purchasing?

I’m a fan of "try before you buy", but now you don't have to buy to try, as I’ve done it for you! We will look at the pros and cons of a variety of tools to help make your sewing as ergonomic and pain-free as possible. Some can be found in your local quilt shop, some in the hardware store, and some from the vendors on site at the show. I'm working on an vendor discount code for specific tools, stay tuned.




After the class, I’ll be attending Sarah Humphrey’s “Help! I've lost my Mojo!”, and I’m hoping to have a chance to ask her about a September interview for one of my IG Live Sew Healthy Lunch and Learns. Fingers crossed!


Then at 3:45 pm…

It's the big room for me! Theatre, Hall 6

Sew Smart: Ergonomics of Healthy Quilting (1h) Code: 535

This is one lecture you dont want to miss! I'll need to keep the jokes to a minimum to stay on schedule and allow time for lots of questions!

I’ve been sewing for 40 years, quilting for 30, and personal training for 17. I also live with arthritis so I know how to use ergonomics to minimize pain and maximize sewing time.

Be ready to learn about: the ergonomics of sewing, pressing, cutting, and the best way to handle your handiwork. My stretches are designed for quilters' trouble spots including text neck, tight shoulders, lower backache, carpal tunnel syndrome prevention and more. They can all be done right at your sewing machine, without getting down on the floor. Lets sew smart to sew long!



Sunday 21st August:

I've got 2 lectures back to back! The good news is they're in the same room.


11:30 AM - Quilting is my Therapy: More than Just a Hashtag Suite 20, Concourse (45 mins).

What is about crafting that feeds our soul? Is it the mindfulness of creating ? The cellular connections between our hands and hearts that lowers our blood pressure?

Or maybe it’s all those feel good hormones we are pumping out when we give a quilt to someone? Is it the creating or the giving? Is the connection deeper when we work as a group ? . Join me as I examine the benefits ranging from increased brain productivity, enhanced self-esteem, improved health and more. Sit, relax and enjoy this therapeutic discussion.





Note: Our community mental health organizations have never experienced such a spike in demand which is why 100 percent of my fees from this lecture will go to The Grove Hubs. These are safe spaces where youth are empowered to take the lead in their own mental health & wellness journey.



Last but not least!