It’s early August, which means that the Annual Festival of Quilts is now a matter of weeks away. I’ve taken my eye off the big “shows” the last couple of years – I already have more stash than I know what to do with, and have become very disappointed with what’s been on offer.
A few weeks ago I attended the “Sewing for Pleasure” and “Hobbycrafts” event up at the NEC, and only went because I had nothing better to do. There was a time when this show took up two of the larger halls of the NEC, and had little unused space around the edges. This year, it was in one hall, and there was a lot of noticeable empty space. However, the aisles remained narrow, resulting in blockages where people stopped to look or chatter, and the units looked to be the same size as normal. One of the good things about crafting is that it’s very inclusive for people on reduced mobility – the downside is that there are plenty of people with crutches, walking sticks and mobility chairs. which are not a problem *in themselves* but are a problem when the aisles are barely big enough to let two pass each other, never mind allowing people to stop and look at stands. I don’t understand why, when there is plenty of free space, that aisles can’t be a few inches wider?
There has been a noticeable drop in the number and type of exhibitors at these events – is this because they no longer exist or because they’re not getting the return on paying for 3 days at this type of event? Needless to say I didn’t buy anything – I have too much stash, I wasn’t in the mood, and there wasn’t anything that made me go “I have to have this!”.
Back to the Festival Of Quilts – I’ve previously been to this and brought more than enough stash over the years – both fabric and patterns, but have never actually followed through by making any of the stuff. Therefore I have loads of fabric (and pins, needles, patterns, wool etc) that is sitting there doing nothing. Hoarder, much? (I think the picture on the right is some of the stash from my last visit!).
I have done some of the evening events in the past, such as the Gala dinner and talks by Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett, and they have been quite interesting and fun – although I’ve been put off by the venue’s charging of £8 for a single glass of wine! That is, essentially, London prices charged at a bog standard airport hotel with a fairly captive audience. I have been known to slip a bottle into a dinner and share it with my table mates, to circumvent the extortionate prices. They should be able to mark the prices down to a more reasonable £4 for a large glass, which is more standard for the area. I’ve checked recent reviews for the hotel, and they’ve not got any better it seems, with the wine considered overpriced and the shuttle bus to the station still flaky!
I’ve booked time off and will probably make at least one visit. Previously, I have paid little attention to the quilts on show – in no small part because there are always people huddle round many of the winners, making it impossible to get a decent look at them. I might well take more time to look at them, rather than raiding the stalls for stash I don’t need. Going back to flow of customers around the show, I was always taught to respect my elders, but have noticed that the most bad tempered, ill mannered people are in fact, older women at craft shows. Usually those with sticks, who have decided that you’re in the way of where they want to get to and can’t be bothered to say “excuse me please”. I once tried to get out of a cramped stall to pay for an item, only for an older woman to get quite shirty about me coming out first (without realising that me coming out gave her the entire still to look around, and if I’d remained I’d have blocked access to at least half the stock). When I got to the till I just went “if I ever get like that, please kill me” and he just went “they’re all like that, happens all the time”. So it’s not just me!
In terms of stash busting – does anyone have any tips? Where’s the best place to get patterns etc? Do you have any horror stories to share about shows? What is the one thing you’ve learnt from a show that you thought you’d never need to know?