myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Bloggers Quilt Festival Spring 2013

Phew I just made it! 
Yes, I have just snuck in to the Blogger’s Quilt Festival Spring 2013 on the last day!
Thanks so much to Amy for hosting one of my favourite events in the quilting year.
Usually I am right there at the front of the queue but this year I was waiting for a quilt to come back from the Long Arm Quilters. I picked it up last night.
This is ‘Frida’, and this is the first time I have ever had a quilt professionally quilted. It is also the first quilt I have ‘made’ that properly fits my bed!
And what a quilt!!
Frida was made as a Round Robin quilt in the Flickr group ‘Around the bend and across the pond’ (an offshoot of The Old Red Barn Co. Quilt Along) and finished last September.

We were a group of 8 tackling medallion quilts and called ‘The Awesome Rawsome Round Robins!’ Or ARRR8 for short.
We each sent a centre to the next person on the list and they added a border and sent it on to the next person who added a border, etc.
Every month we posted photos on Flickr so we could see how it was developing, which was so exciting!

My centre was this amazing Frida Kahlo fabric by Alexander Henry that was given me in a Flickr swap by Marilyn. I had been hoarding it as I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it and couldn’t bear to cut in to it! I asked the group to use the centre as inspiration for their rounds.
And as you can see they all really went for it!
I don’t think I have ever seen another quilt like it . It is huge (85 x 79″ or 216 x 200cm), incredibly bright and loud (with a distinctly rastafari feel!) and with really extraordinary details. You can read more about the evolution of this quilt here.

I knew I wasn’t up to quilting this monster myself, so I turned to Brian and Carole of Beechwood Quilting. I had been recommended to them by a few other UK quilters and they are based not far from where I live.
They spent a long time with me discussing how to tackle the quilt and coming up with great suggestions. In the end I pretty much left it up to them.

And I totally love what they’ve done! Look at those amazing leaves above! Aren’t they incredible? They have added a whole new dimension to the quilt top.

This was always going to be a challenge to quilt and could so easily have been spoiled by an all over pattern. Instead Brian and Carole have picked out areas to quilt heavily, like the black above and left these incredible paper pieced leaves to ‘pop-out’ in relief.

Boy was this quilt hard to photograph! My husband just didn’t have the arm length! And it was too windy this morning to hang it on the line. I used this Anna Maria Horner Field Study print for the backing and pieced it around the siggy block (which was signed by all the makers).
I was lucky enough to have the perfect binding, a stripe from Global Bazaar by Blend, and I stayed up pretty late last night attaching it. I knew I wouldn’t have time to hand stitch from the back so I worked from the back first, turning over at the front and top stitching. It is my easy cheat method and actually looks really smart here.

This photo shows the gorgeous detailing coupled with the amazing quilting. Dolores appliqued and embroidered those beautiful exotic blooms in each corner and Jo added the 3D pinwheels along with the bunting style final border. Brian and Carole stippled so carefully in the black and orange so that the motifs really stand out. I also love the trailing leaves with little berries quilting pattern that cover the Echino jungle print which Dolores kindly provided.

This is such a special quilt, made almost entirely by others. All I have done is piece together the backing and bind it! Thank you so much to all my fellow ARRR8ers and to Brian and Carole for their wonderful quilting . I would thoroughly recommend them to anyone wanting to try a professional quilter. Their website is here.
There are so many amazing quilts in the Bloggers Quilt Festival, make sure you check them all out here. And voting starts tomorrow!


  1. WhooOOohHOOOo! Another ARRR8 finished and a fine one at that!

    This was really hard to part with cause my Echino round made it the perfect size for OUR bed!;)

    Everyone did a fantastic job and your longarmers nailed it!

    THIS QUiLT RoCKs!:)

  2. Marilyn is so generous, isn't she? I've got a bit of Frida fabric, too, and have been thinking for a couple of months on how I want to use it. Seeing all your gorgeous photos has definitely given me a couple of new ideas to add in!

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