Top Tips for Visiting a Quilt Show
Whether you are just starting out on your patchwork and quilting journey or you've been addicted to it for years, you will have undoubtedly heard about quilt shows. But what exactly are they and how do you survive or plan your time at one?
Throughout the year and around the country (this is a UK based article, other countries are available!) there are a number of quilt and craft shows, from local quilt groups to regional shows and competitions to the largest in Europe - The Festival of Quilts, there is something for everyone to be inspired by. This post is going to focus on FOQ as it's next week, a little later than usual due to the Commonwealth Games, but I am personally very excited! If you can't make it this year, the dates are up for next year already so you can start planning.
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Attending a show like FOQ can be quite costly, it's not just entrance to the show but travel, accommodation, workshops/classes, food and drink and shopping costs you need to consider.
There is a lot of information on the actual website about travelling to the show - especially this year with the planned train strikes, they also have great information on where to stay and how the show will be set out, all of which can be found here.
2. BE PREPARED
Bonus points if you sang that in the voice of Scar from The Lion King!
I'm a planner, I like to know what I am doing and when well in advance so I always recommend booking any tickets and workshops as soon as possible! There is often a discount for booking tickets in advance - however it is worth noting that the 'booking fee' cancels that out as it's actually more than the discount! It does guarantee your spot in the workshops of your choice though, the list is extensive and some of them do sell out very quickly.
Where comfy shoes! You're going to be getting your steps in trust me and there are going to be times when you're standing for long periods either looking at quilts or in ques.
Dress in layers, temperatures at shows can never be predicted so it's better to safe than sorry, you can always take your jumper off if it's hot but you can't put on what you don't have if it's cold.
There may be crowds! Although there are still some Covid safety measures in place it is not mostly down to individuals to 'be sensible' - take that as you will.
Charge your phone and/or camera! With so many wonderful things you're unlikely to remember them all - so take lots of pictures. There are a couple of places you can charge your devices but they are like gold dust so don't rely on them being free when you need them.
Bring a notebook and pencil - I say pencil because naturally people get twitchy if pens are around quilts, so it's easier to make notes and get up close with a pencil.
Make sure you know where the bathrooms are, there's nothing worse than being desperate and not having a clue where to go!
Bring a tote bag. Big, roomy and comfy to carry is what you are after, something to keep snacks in but will also hold all the treasures you buy. FYI rucksacks larger than 55x40x20com are not permitted into the show halls but can be left in the cloakroom.
3. SEE THE QUILTS
You simply have to make time to see the quilts, surely that's a huge part of going to FOQ? It is for me anyway! On average 800 people enter quilts each year into the various categories so there really is something for everyone. The competition quilts are not juried at this show so literally anyone can enter, which makes for some interesting conversation due to the sheer variety of things to look at. It's important to remember that whilst something may not be your cup of tea and it's perfectly fine to have that opinion, someone worked very hard on that piece and others will love it.
Here are a few highlights from last year.
4. MAKE CONNECTIONS
Quilt shows are a great way to meet up with virtual friends, I'll be there all 4 days this year and I'm so looking forward to having a cuppa and a good old chinwag with my Instagram and Facebook friends in real life.
Speak to the artists in the galleries, they are super knowledgeable and often very generous with their time and skills, they are really glad of the interest you share in the work on display and welcome engagement.
5. SUPPORT THE VENDORS
You probably won't be surprised to learn that it costs a huge amount of money to have a stall and exhibit at quilt shows, the bigger the show the bigger the expense - regardless of whether you are 'a big name' or not. Last year there were so many posts about how 'disappointing the show was because the big names weren't there' and this made me quite sad. There are so many wonderful traders at FOQ, selling unique things who are just as worthy of a visit and your support.
Don't worry if you can't spend anything, there are lots of other ways you can show your support:
- sign up to their newsletter
- follow them on social media
- take pictures of their stall (if permitted) and post it on your social media
- like and share their posts
- tell your friends about the wonderful things they sell
- pick up a business card for future use
- say hello and tell them how lovely their stall is
I will be spending most of my time on stall D61 - do come over and ay hello, it'll be so lovely to see you and have a chat. I'll also be wondering around and have a little surprise up my sleeve so if you see me come and say hi!