"Crystal Mer", Sheila Frampton Cooper

Italiano (Italian)

I’ve been living in France for five years now, and this is the first time I went to the Festival of Quilts, in Birmingham.  Every year I have something going on at the same time, but this year I decided to enter two pieces, and go to the show. 

 It completely exceeded any expectations I might have had, and was much larger than I had imagined. 

 This is the only big show, that I know of, that does not jury the quilts that are entered. Everything is accepted and displayed. I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, but I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of quilts on display in the judged portion of the show.  While several things were not entered in the appropriate category, and there was not a lot of space between the smaller quilts, the quality was high. 

My friend Claudia Pfeil asked me to go to the award ceremony and accept her award because she was not able to attend.  She won first place in the category of contemporary quilts. 

Claudia Pfeil, “Fractal”

Another favorite artist of mine, Betty Busby, won first place in Art Quilts. 

And I saw some of my favorite people in the audience!

Best in Show

This piece actually won several awards. It’s one of those that you really need to see in person to appreciate. 

Mary Palmer e Anne Kiely, “Who Will Tell the Bees”

Mary Palmer e Anne Kiely, “Who Will Tell the Bees” Detail

There’s another thing that stood out as unique and something I feel other shows should consider doing. There were a lot of categories for Young Quilters, in various age groups.  The winner in each category was invited to come on stage with everyone else, and I feel this is very important for encouraging young people, and really including them. 

Beatrice Varley, “Rainbow Fairy Memories, Rainbow Fairy Memories”

Naroa y Nahia Sevilla, “Hermanas por elmundo“

Another thing that stood out, which I really appreciated, was that all of the individual artist exhibitions were on white walls, and you felt that you were walking into a gallery.  And there were numerous exhibitions, too many for me to share with you here. 

India Flint

Johanna Haner, “Social Media – the invisible Networks”

Margarethe Janssen, “EQA30 Up!”

Mazieh Akbani, “Dorraton Earrings”

Maryam Pishvaie, “Caspian Summer”

Fatimeh Safdari, “A Woman’s Work is Never Done”

Russian Quilt Gallery


GalinaKrasnikova, “I Am Painting the Summer”

GalinaKrasnikova, “ByzantineMosaic”

SAQA: Dusk to Dawn

Kristin La Flamme, “Half Light Medallion”

con Carolyn Ducey, come Curatore


Autore sconosciuto, Probabilmente prodotto in Baltimore, Maryland circa 1845-1855


The Quilters’ Guild, Spotlight@40

It is the Quilters’ Guild that puts on this show, and that’s why I feel the emphasis at this is show is the quilts.

…with Linda Seward, who is the curator for their collection, and the author of several books on quilt art and techniques. I’ve actually known Linda since 2012, when she invited me to be in one of her books, but this was our first time meeting in person. It was like meeting an old friend…

I was particularly touched by my conversation with this artist, whose work is part of the permanent collection. I admire those who are brave enough to be open about their mental suffering, and in such a public way.

Kira Withers-Jones, “40 Years to Become Me”

“The theme of this quilt is the maker’s journey to the age of 40. It was her birthday shortly before she was asked to take part in this Challenge, and her development over the years was very much on her mind. She has suffered from depression and confusion over her identity throughout her life, which is reflected in this artwork. The background has been painted, printed, torn, and re-assembled, then stitched with barely legible text about her illness. The shadowy figures express the different aspects of herself over the years and the tree represents how she has grown out of her depression.”

There was an area featuring various surface design artists doing demonstrations.

And very conveniently, located just across from them, was a vendor selling all of the supplies! 


Here is a glimpse of some of the quilts in the Judged Show that caught my eye. There were so many, and I know I missed a lot.

This was probably my favorite work! I loved the palette and the design!

Valerie Mullally, “It’s a New, New Day”

I loved the use of sheers showing the seam allowance in this piece…

Niki Chandler, “Le Ciel Electrique”

Nicholas Ball, “Triangle Color Study III”

TatyanaDuffie, “Bauble II”

Winner of the Viseline Fine Art Award, and very deserving!

Embroideries designed digitized and stitched out on Barundan Embroidery Machine. Embroidered sections pieced, quilted and enhanced with Intense pencils and textile paints. Pieced and quilted on a domestic sewing machine.

“I have early childhood memories of large family gatherings where my Grandmother presented meals on her Willow Pattern Dinner sett and Meat Platters. I was enchanted by the legend that was attributed to the design. This quilt was inspired by the delicate designs of the English Spode China. This quilt reminds me of my Grandmother, Jean Ross.”

Debbie Carrington, “The Legend of the Willow Pattern”

I love how this design was created to give you the feeling you are looking at it from an angle

Montserrat Forcadell, “Nàmaste”

I am a big fan of Janneke’s work! I’ve seen many of her beautiful creations at the big show in Houston, TX.

Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga, “Harvest Home”

I’m not sure if this is actually a quilt, but I loved it.

Marie Bergstedt, “Shade”

It is always a pleasure to meet people I’ve only known on Facebook.

Alexandra Kingwell, “Giving and Receiving”

Carol Harrison, “The Orphan’s got the Blues”

My experience at this show was a very good one! I’m always happy to show my work and meet new people.

“Crystal Mer”,  Sheila Frampton Cooper

Now, I would like to share of few photos of my experience in Birmingham. I chose not to stay near the airport/NEC, where the show was held, but instead took an AirBNB near the center of the city. Saturday I did not attend the show, and made plans to explore! What a great day that was.

I found the people of Birmingham to be very open and friendly. Everyone I stopped to ask for directions took their time with me. It’s a very diverse city, culturally and there is a lot to see.

I started the day at a hip bakery and met my guide Rachael. She took me on a tour of vintage clothing shops, and she was absolutely lovely! We talked the whole time! Normally, she has groups up to 10 people but on this day, I was the only one.

We went to great shops and met fun people…

After my tour with Rachael, I ventured out on my own.

There was a Jamaican Festival happening, so I popped in to check it out, and met two lovely ladies!

Of course, as a quilter, I see patterns in everything…

It is always a pleasure to check out the architecture. It’s a beautiful city, and quite lively.

On my last night there, I decided to have a really nice dinner and take a walk along the canals

And I heard some good music and followed it to this Pub. There was a Rolling Stones tribute band playing, and there were really awesome! I stayed there for the rest of the night, dancing as best I could with my backpack and a paper bag between my legs with my quilts from the show… The crowd was energized. What a great way to end my experience in Birmingham.

If you have never been to this show, and are thinking about it, I encourage you to take time and explore the city. Every day, I took the train and it was only 8 minutes to arrive at the Convention Center. Because of Birmingham’s central location, it is easy to hop on a train and visit other cities. I will do this next time for sure.

Love and Hugs to you All!



  1. What a fabulous article, Sheila! It was a highlight of this year’s Festival to finally meet you in person. Just a correction–I was co-curator of the Spotlight@40 exhibition (along with Jan Allston), not the Guild’s Curator who is the wonderful Heather Audin. Thanks for a really great in-depth look at the Festival from fresh eyes. I always love it but it’s great to know others do too. Looking forward to our next meeting!

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