Volunteering opportunity at Festival of Quilts

I can’t believe it has been 18 months since I was a first time steward at Festival of Quilts.  I was very much looking forward to doing it again last year but the global pandemic put pay to that ambition.  

Why would I give up my precioius time I hear you ask, well I had the best time, the perks of this job include free entry to the festival but that isn’t the only reason I would recommend being a quilt steward - the opportunity to gaze lovingly at quilts for hours on end has to be my main motivation.

 Quilt for the FofQ stewards

In no particular order here is why you should volunteer to quilt steward at Festival of Quilts 



Gavin did warn me that there would be cake, he is the organiser of the stewards and often lives exclusively on cake for the duration of the festival.  The cakes were donated by fellow stewards and were a mixture of home made and purchased and some healthy folks also brought less calorific snacks.

EPP pushing boundariesWhite gloves 

The power of the white gloves: you will be given a pair of white gloves and a shash to wear while stewarding, that way the public know you are in charge.  In the most polite and helpful way you get to ask visitors to keep their food/bags/hands/pens away from the quilts - do not touch.  The real power of the white gloves is that you can touch the quilts, if a visitor wants to see the reverse of a quilt you can gently lift a corner - oh the thrill! 

Free Ticket

Free entry to FofQ in return for working the required number of hours.  So you save yourself £pounds and also get to wear your pass on a lanyard which looks pretty cool if you like that sort of thing.  When you are not on duty you can spend the rest of the day enjoying the quilts, galleries and shopping!

India Flint Gallery

Time to really look at quilts.

For me this is the real reason I want to steward again this year, when I have visited quilt shows and exhibitions I do try and spend time looking at the exhibits but with the best of intentions some quilts only get a glance.  When you are stewarding you can take advantage of the quieter times to really look at the quilts, to see how they have been constructed.  Is that image printed, pieced or appliqué?  Was it hand quilted or machine quilted?  What fabrics have they used?  How has the quilt been finished?…etc.  over the course of a couple of hours you will really get to know the quilts in your gallery and develop a favourite or two. 

award winning quilt

A sit down  

After a few hours on your feet you will really appreciate a chair - if you are a ‘normal’ visitor at FofQ you will know that finding a seat is a tricky thing and we have all eaten seated on the floor at the NEC at some event or other in the past.  So this perk is a luxury you won’t forget.

Free show guide

Another financial saving.  But with the show guide and quilt index in your hand, you can answer questions on quilts, give directions to visitors and also find out more about the quilts in terms of inspiration and contraction too.  Having all the info at your fingertips is really all the knowledge you need to be a good quilt steward, you don't have to be an expert quilter.

Bojagi Sara Cook

Chat to public and other quilt enthusiasts  

You don’t have to chat to the visitors but if your like me you won’t be able to stop yourself and what is more you will meet plenty of the makers who will pop by to see how there quilt looks in the context of hanging amongst others in the big halls at the NEC - just slightly different to how they looked at home.  It is an honour to be able to meet these makers who have actually got a quilt finished in time for festival which yet again I haven’t managed. 

Secure room to store your bag/coat/shopping. 

In order to coordinate all the quilt stewards the organisers provide a secure room.  Each person stewards for a couple of shifts each day so that the quilts are constantly monitored.  This means you get a room with seating to store your bags and coats and can get set up with white gloves and a sash before hitting the quilt halls.  There is also a little kitchen to make a brew and warm your soup and I think I've already mentioned the cake. 

Stone wall quilt

Meet people who share your interest  

Each shift you will be working with one or two others over seeing quilts in a particular gallery, my first session was on the miniature quilts and I got to chat to a lovely lady who was originally from the Netherlands who was extremely knowledgeable on quilting techniques, it was inspiring to look at the quilts with her, she was great company.  But not everyone who stewards is a dyed in the wool quilter, others like me come to quilts via the texile art so you are bound to find some common ground with your fellow steward no matter which are of texiles is your bag. 

Vitruvian Man Quilt Leonardo Da VinciGet involved:

I am certain after reading my ramblings you want to jump at this wonderful opportunity.   Here is a little message from Gavin who organises the stewards to tell you how to join in.  

If you are interested in Stewarding at this year’s show, please drop me a line -  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..    The show runs from Thursday 29th July through until Sunday 1st August. The opening hours are a bit longer - 9.30 am - 6.00 pm (Sunday TBC)  Usually, the show is held in Halls 7,8, and 9 at the NEC in Birmingham, however, due to the current situation we now have Hall 6 as well.  It is intended to have all the competition quilts in Hall 6, a spacious area and the largest of the 4 halls.  As always, safety is paramount and further information and updates will be made available in due course.  Please EMAIL me if you are interested in Stewarding at this year's show. 

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