Fat Quarterly Retreat = Sew-y people are the best kind of people

One of reasons we took this recent trip is that I was invited to teach at the 2014 Fat Quarterly Retreat in London. I’ve shared a little bit about this briefly, but I wanted to share a little more of the action now that I’ve had time to properly go through my photos. First of all, a big thanks to Brioni, Lynne, and Tacha for inviting me. What a great trio that is. Such fun and funny and talented women.

I taught an English Paper Piecing class (which seems a little ironic since I was one of the few American teachers). This class was all about using diamonds and it was so much fun to prepare.

These are some of the blocks I made in preparation. I like hexagons, but I have to say, diamonds are so much more versatile! I’m excited to keep playing with them. I’ll write a post at some point with some of the tips I’ve learned along the way about paper-piecing in general and working with diamonds specifically. 

Here are some of the lovely ladies in my class. For some of the class members, this was familiar territory. For others it was something totally new and it was a lot of fun to watch them get “hooked” on the awesomeness of english-paper-piecing.

These busy-bees (including but not limited to: JoanneCara, Sue, Maguerite, Elisabeth, Di) were in my Fabulously Fast Tiles quilt class from my book. (This is the reason I made and brought the new Hadley version of this quilt.) 

One of my favorite parts of going to quilt classes is to see the variety of fabrics people use for the same project. Here is cute JoAnne using one of my favorite collections, April Showers.

One of the absolute highlights for me was to get to not only be around Jen Kingwell (here she is with her gorgeous Gypsey Wife quilt) but to get to take a class from her! Wow. It was such an amazing opportunity.

Here is a close up of part of her Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt. At the risk of sounding like a hyper-obsessed fangirl (which I am) Jen has an amazing gift for design, and color, and fabric selection that is so uniquely hers. 

She pulls together combinations that I would never even think of and they just work in a stunning way. Seeing her quilts up close and in person has inspired me to stretch outside my comfort zone and try new colors and combinations.

On top of that, her workmanship is just incredible. Her blocks and quilts are all hand-pieced and hand-quilted. Just stunning. 

So to get to take a class from her in person was just a dream come true. She was so generous and gave us each a copy of her new pattern for Green Tea and Sweet Beans. (you can find the book here.) She then shared her method for hand-piecing and hand applique. Here is my little start – three little hand-pieced blossoms.

Look at all those fun blocks! This quilt is a total bucket list quilt for me, but I’m determined to work on it even if it becomes a long-term project. You know me – I’m all about get a quilt done and move on to the next project using any short-cut or fabulously fast tricks to get there. I’m excited to slow down and have these as my hand-work projects over the next few years. (If you love this too and are looking for fabric help I noticed that Jen’s shop in Australia has Green Tea kits!)

And as if I didn’t need any more inspiration, in the class I was sitting next to the wonderful Mandy who was hand quilting an equally wonderful quilt made with Jen Kingwell’s 2013 Bring Me Flowers block of the month pattern. 

Just stunning. And again, totally inspiring.

 A few more inspiring pieces from the weekend. Here’s Nicky’s quilt at show and tell.

 And this mini by Nicolas was SO cool. Each block is a different vegetable. Can you see them?

Definitely the best part of sewing retreats/conferences/shindigs is the people. And the group at this event was one of the best I’ve ever been a part of. Every single person was just lovely. It’s always so fun to connect with people I’ve interacted with via social media and to match-up a real live person to screen name. Or to reconnect with friends like DeeRoo (from whom I shamelessly stole this photo) who I’ve “talked” with online for years and even met in person once four years ago – and who is just a super friend.

Equally awesome is meeting new friends. Saturday evening I ventured out to Shaukat on a hunt for some Liberty scraps (more on Liberty fabrics in another post) and ran into Cristina and sisters Helene and Gunilla who were on the same hunt. After bonding over scraps of Liberty fabric we went to dinner and had the loveliest time. See? Instant connections with other fabric lovers. 😉

So just a fantastic time with wonderful people. Now I wish I could go every year! A few other fun people to meet in person for the first time included Jenny (who is the whiz behind my favorite magazine Love Patchwork and Quilting) and Karen of Blueberry Park who I have been following on Instagram for a while now.

And I was so excited to finally get my hands on some of Karen’s screen print designs. I need to plot a fun way to use them!

I did a little bit of exploring London while I was there. My family was still in Manchester at the time – I took the train down for the weekend – so I thought it would be good to hit some of the sites that they would not be as interested in (aka shopping and art galleries.)

I hadn’t been to the Tate Gallery in over 20 years. So much beautiful eye-candy and inspiration. (I’m kind of an art-history nerd so I was in heaven. Plus there was some good quilty inspiration as well.

Mostly it was just surreal to be walking through my favorite city. Even though it’s been 21 years since I lived there the layout is so familiar. It’s fun to see changes as well. One of my favorite things was the bike rentals throughout the city. I finally got up my courage to rent one and ride along Embankment on the Thames. I think I was a little giddy and felt 19 again. (That’s the handlebar pic on the upper right. It’s tricky to get an action shot of riding a bike by yourself.)

I brought home a few treats from the retreat to share with one of you including a copy of Love Patchwork and Quilting, a Fat Quarter of London fabric from Robert Kaufman, and mini Moda charm pack and a set of diamond paper-piece templates from Paperpieces.com.


Since we’ve had a lot of giveaway entry-stuff lately, I decided to just pick a random comment-er from the past month.  ThimbleannaAugust 7, 2014 at 6:57 AM  these are yours! If Thimbleanna isn’t interested I’ll pick someone new. Thanks for visiting and reading this blog!

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  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 3:03 am

    It was so lovely to meet you at the retreat, Amy! I totally agree that quilt-y people are the best. I didn't know anyone the first year I came but I never felt out of place or lonely as everyone was so friendly and including. I haven't yet started on my Fabulous Fast Tiles quilt as I want to finish a few wips first. I still had a great time in your class pressing and chatting!

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 3:59 am

    It was the best wasn't it? A fabliss weekend filled with the bestest kind of people. It was lovely to meet you.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 7:01 am

    Oh! SILLY YOU!!! Of course I'm Interested!!!!! And I'm SOOO excited — you're such a sweetheart! I was reading along thinking what a wonderful post — all this fantastic quilty goodness on top of the wonderful family part of your trip — you must be bursting with life-is-wonderful overload!!! Maybe one day I'll be able to go the the FQ retreat with YOU — man, that would be

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 7:47 am

    What a FABULOUS trip!!! Oh! How I wish I could have been there!<br />So glad you were able to go and have such a GREAT time!

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 10:19 am

    I devoured every word of your post and clicked on links and dreamed. 🙂 You looked so cute and happy! Did you pick up the British accent? I noticed your use of the distinctly British &quot;lovely&quot; 🙂

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Looking forward to your English piecing diamond post and also the Liberty fabrics. I do not know if Liberty can be bought in the States.

    • Reply
      August 12, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Yes Jill…you can get Liberty in the US and lots of times it&#39;s less expensive than in the UK! Go figure!!

    • Reply
      amy smart
      August 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Yes Jill. Lots of good Liberty resources in the states. http://www.duckadilly.com/ has a great selection available in a variety of pre-cuts too.<br />

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 11:39 am

    The color combinations on these quilts are beautiful!

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Hi there sweetie…of course you are very welcomed to &quot;steal&quot; my photo. Your readers should see the other two!;)<br />Yes…it was an amazing weekend and can&#39;t believe we meet again across the ocean! xoxo<br /><br />

  • Reply
    Katy Cameron
    August 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Aww, so glad you had such a great time at FQR! BTW, that photo you have labelled as Cara is actually Joanne from Rose Dahlia (http://rosedahlia.blogspot.co.uk/)

    • Reply
      amy smart
      August 13, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      D&#39;oh! My bad. Thanks for pointing it out. All fixed!

  • Reply
    Flying Blind...
    August 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    How time is flying by – such a brilliant weekend xxx

  • Reply
    Wendy @ Wendysquiltsandmore
    August 12, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    What a great post with so many lovely photos. It certainly sounds like you had a great time. Thank you for the close up photos of Jen Kingwell&#39;s quilts. I&#39;ve heard a lot about her quilts, but never seen such clear photos. And all those London photos are lovely too. I certainly hope to get there one day, but it&#39;s a long way from New Zealand.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Wow, looks like you had a fab time, maybe next year you will make it to The Festival Of Quilts (it was last weekend at the NEC in Birmingham) certainly worth a trip. :o)

  • Reply
    Sigi G
    August 13, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventure and pictures with us. Yes, you are right – there is this instant connection with other Fabric/Quilting people. Congratulations to Thimbleanna on her win! Lucky Girl! Would love to find the pattern for the &#39;You&#39;ve Got Mail&#39; Quilt. Love those Blocks!

    • Reply
      amy smart
      August 13, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Isn&#39;t that a cute pattern? It&#39;s in issue 7 of Love Patchwork and Quilting. Sometimes you can find past issues online. Such a fun magazine!

  • Reply
    August 13, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Thank you for sharing your amazing trip and inspiring photos ( both quilts and other beautiful things!) Keep posting more!

  • Reply
    August 13, 2014 at 8:02 am

    I just returned from a trip myself and I almost skipped your post, trying to play catch-up with my email. Thank goodness I didn&#39;t, this was so interesting! Your trip to Londen sounds fascinating! I am working on 1&quot; hexagons right now, &quot;someday&quot; I will be making a beautiful hexagon flower quilt. Your diamonds sound so interesting, can&#39;t wait for your diamonds post!

  • Reply
    August 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Truly wonderful post! Thanks for taking the time to share your adventures with us.

  • Reply
    Pink Stitches
    August 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Hi Amy! Just want to say thank you again for your two fabulous classes that I was able to attend at the Fat Quarterly retreat. It was so nice to meet you in person and thanks for being a sport with photos and book signing!! I hope to finish the quilt soon 🙂 Love all your photos – looks like you had a wonderful time in the UK!!<br />Take care, Cara x

  • Reply
    Sarah @ FairyFace Designs
    August 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    It seems like ages ago now. Sadly I wasn&#39;t in one of your classes but it was lovely to chat to you (very briefly) at quilt market that evening and it looks like you had a fab holiday. London is one of my favourite places in the world too, I&#39;ve been there lots and it keeps drawing me back and is better every time.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Isn&#39;t John Singer Sargent&#39;s &quot;Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose&quot; amazing. I saw it in DC at the National Gallery almost 20 years ago. I felt that if the light were turned out that lanterns would glow in the dark. Love the veggie quilt.

    • Reply
      amy smart
      August 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      One of my favorite paintings!! I think I first saw it at that same exhibit in DC! Such a gorgeous piece.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    What a lovely group of people. Their darling faces made me smile! What a wonderful opportunity, thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Love reading your posts! Such great inspiration! It was so wonderful to see photos of London and know all is well in that beautiful city! I share your love of the Tate. Once we had a 12 hr layover at Heathrow (India to USA) and I left to go to the Tate. My parents were convinced I&#39;d miss the plane. It was truly a close call but I made it…and my soul satisfied! MBBaker in USA

  • Reply
    August 21, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    What a trip!! No &quot;Pemberley&quot;?? 🙂

  • Reply
    Jen O
    July 7, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    It’s been a loooong time since I last visited your beautiful blog, so I’m scanning through doing a little catch up. I love your England photos. Fall of 2016 will mark 20 years since I was there for BYU study abroad. And how great you got to serve your mission in that beautiful part of the world. I loved the Tate too. I purchased a print of Carnation Lily, Lily Rose and it’s framed and hanging in my daughter’s room now. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      July 8, 2015 at 9:53 am

      So you know the magic of 27 Palace Court! And Carnation Lily, Lily Rose! 🙂 Thanks for your sweet comment.

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