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Entering My First Quilt Show

Updated on May 30, 2019
Zoe Davies profile image

Zoe has been quilting for a decade. Owner of online UK fabric store 'Fine City Quilting'. Wife, Mum of two & Professional Fabric Stroker.

Could I really do it...enter a Quilt Show?

Well there was only one way to find out...having joined the UK Quilters Guild I was receiving their quarterly magazine and there it was. An application form. Not just any application form but one for the Festival of Quilts 2018...I mean it was a whole year away, so nothing to worry about.

Now the thing about an application form is how this innocuous piece of paper suddenly becomes terrifyingly huge, weighted by the possibility of WHAT COULD BE!!

So could I do it?

Little old me with approximately 9 years quilting under my belt. Of course I blooming could, at this stage it was just an application form and I had no idea what was in store.

4 months went by and instead of starting the quilt.. I made a wall hanging for International Women's Day

Wall hanging for International Women's Day 2018
Wall hanging for International Women's Day 2018 | Source

This wall hanging was easy to make because it came from my soul...

In 1918 in the UK, women over 30 who owned a house were allowed to vote for the first time. When I was at school I remember learning about the Equal Pay of 1970 and thinking 'well, that's good that was sorted even before I was born'.

HAHAHAHA!

It's funny, but it's really not. The theme for 2018's International Women's Day was 'Push for Progress'..I made this wall hanging with it's background of clocks ticking to remind me to push for progress.

Suddenly it all became clear

I knew what my entry for the 2018 Festival of Quilts was going to be (well not exactly, but I was getting closer):

  1. Feminist
  2. Fierce
  3. Full size self-portrait

Yes, I could've done a log cabin block but for my first entry to a Quilt Show I had decided to create my first art quilt. Featuring myself. As I type I realise I am clearly my own worst enemy sometimes.


So I started to plan my quilt, but by now I had to consider THE RULES

(By plan I mean one sketch - yep, just the one ought to do it after all you can be over prepared right?)

At this point I had other things to consider too, I'd received THE RULES of the competition and had to ensure my quilt was:

1. Not too big and not too small,

2. Of a standard quilt construction (three layers), or two layers at the very least.

3. Have a hanging sleeve on the back

My concept

The concept for my quilt came to me very quickly. Within the year leading up to me signing up to the Festival of Quilts the #metoo movement had gained momentum as women joined together together, the scale of sexual harassment and assault women have put up with for generations was starting to be exposed.

It occurred to me that women all over the world were being able 'push for progress' for the first time in a new way. The internet was creating keyboard warriors. Women who wouldn't necessarily be able to stand up and speak were able to have a voice. Women in Saudi Arabia filmed themselves driving ILLEGALLY and uploaded them to the internet, on the 5th June 2018, the driving ban for women was lifted. Women in Iran filmed themselves without the hijab, women used the hashtag #mystealthyfreedom in a fantastically brave revolt.

The idea of a female keyboard warrior, made anonymous by the internet took shape in my mind. A warrior who's age, religion, race and location would be untraceable but one thing we would know was her gender.

So you supply the Rocky music in your own head...here comes the 'training montage'

Training montage includes,Tracy Emin Quilt for inspiration, first (& only) sketch, angry eyes ready to printed onto fabric, shield English paper piecing, iphone construction
Training montage includes,Tracy Emin Quilt for inspiration, first (& only) sketch, angry eyes ready to printed onto fabric, shield English paper piecing, iphone construction | Source

From concept to delivery

It was not easy, I cannot pretend the washing up was always done or the floor hoovered. The children, husband, cats and tortoise largely fended for themselves.

As art can, this quilt became more than the sum of it's parts. For me it became a symobol of something I had to achieve, having only worked for my husband's company since having my second child creating this quilt and having it hang at the Festival of Quilts became tied up with my identity.

The quilt in it's tube ready to post to the NEC in Birmingham.   Two small boys for scale (writer's own).
The quilt in it's tube ready to post to the NEC in Birmingham. Two small boys for scale (writer's own). | Source

So I did it...

and it felt great! On the 5th August 2018, just back from a road trip to Switzerland we drove to the NEC.

I was terrified. I already knew I had won no prizes so that was no concern but what if it had fallen apart in transit? What if everyone was laughing at it? What if people hated it? None of these things happened in front of me, people talked about it, people sent me messages after the festival saying how they had loved it, I felt proud and I felt brave.

Like a Warrior, in my own way.


Life imitating Art
Life imitating Art | Source
'Warrior Mirror Selfie' Festival of Quilts 2018
'Warrior Mirror Selfie' Festival of Quilts 2018 | Source
Proud as punch
Proud as punch | Source

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