Folk Festival Quilt

Folk-Festival-Quilt

Ever since I was a teenager, I have been involved with the world-renowned Winnipeg Folk Festival in some way. I worked as a volunteer as a teenager, I’ve attended many years as a spectator to see my favourite bands or learn of new favourites, and I ran a booth selling my baby clothing Small Potatoes in the Handmade Village (a maker faire of Canadian talent) at the festival for over 10 years. The festival, held at Bird’s Hill Provincial Park, just north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has been an annual event since 1974. It is a 4‑day weekend event, held in July, featuring folk music (and jazz, blues, bluegrass, children’s performers, and everything in between) from around the world. 

Due to the pandemic, the festival has been cancelled for the second year in a row and it breaks my heart. I designed this quilt to reflect my feelings about the spirit of folk music festivals — community, colour, ties to nature, good times, fun people, and of course, live music played by musicians from all over the globe. I designed the blocks in this quilt while thinking of all these elements, and just looking at the finished product makes me so happy. 

Aerial view above the main stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, 2019.
Holly at Folk Fest
Me at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, 1991, which was a particularly muddy year.
Confetti Cottons

I often start a new design by choosing a colour palette first. I selected fabric colours from Riley Blake Designs collection called Confetti Cotton Solids. Click here to see the full range of colours. I chose colours that worked well together in small groups as well as as a whole. That Curry is my absolute favourite, I will definitely be using it again in future projects. For my background, I used Riley White, not shown. If you have never worked with Confetti Cottons, I highly recommend you give them a try, they are dreamy-soft, a delight to sew, and they don’t fray as much as some other solid fabrics I’ve worked with. I’ve labeled the colours I chose to use on the photo.

I designed the blocks based on the idea of circles overlapping, and coming together to make new shapes that play well together – in much the same way that band members work together to create music.

Folk Festival Quilt

The layout is made up of two blocks: one with rounded corners, and one with square corners. The first iteration of my design had only rounded corners and I just wasn’t loving it, it was too much of the same thing. I almost threw the whole thing out and started over but after sleeping on it I kept playing with it and gave the alternating blocks squared corners and I instantly fell in love. The play of the two blocks together gives it more visual interest, movement, and contrast that I think it really needed.

I got busy tracing and cutting out ALL. THOSE. SHAPES, first out of paper and then from the fabric. Here’s a photo of just some of my fabric stacks alongside the paper templates I printed out. 

Folk Festival Quilt
Folk Festival Quilt

Creating these blocks requires a LOT of pinning. I should mention I use a tried and true method to sew Drunkard’s Path blocks without pins, but these funky curves really require the use of pins in able to get a nice smooth seam. It takes time to pin, but it’s oh so worth it.

Folk Festival Quilt
Folk Festival Quilt
Here’s the full block in a sunny corner of my studio.

The photos above show some of the steps required to make the block but if you like to watch high-speed how-to videos (and banjo music), watch my first-ever TikTok video at the right to see how all the pieces come together.

@holdmyseamripper

My new Folk Festival quilt design is so much fun to make. I just wish it was this fast. #folkfestivalquilt #modernquilting #quilting #quiltblocks

♬ The Banjo Beat, Pt. 1 — Ricky Desktop

I love to see my progress as I go so I pinned my blocks up on my massive magnetic white board so I could admire them from my desk. 

Folk Festival Quilt

As I made more progress I decided it was time I should make a proper design wall. The 8′ wide white board is great for tacking up a few rows of blocks but it’s only 4′ tall so it has height limitations. I decided it was time to make a REAL design wall, I mean real in the sense that it’s big enough to display all the blocks of a quilt. I used some of those 3M sticky wall hooks, hung some alligator clips and then attached a great big old piece of batting. It worked like a charm! I was able to place my blocks up on the wall without magnets and pins, the fabric sticks to the batting as if by magic.

Folk Festival Quilt
“And I’ll put the last block right… here.”

The last step was adding the sashing. I rarely use sashing in my designs because I love when blocks intersect and create secondary designs. However, with this quilt I love the added white space because it gives the blocks a little bit of room to breathe. 

Because this is such a special quilt to me, I sent it out to be long arm quilted by the amazing and talented Shelly Moore at Ma Tante Quilting. Shelly and I chose the Good Vibrations pantograph, which gives the design a wonderful sense of movement without distracting from the blocks. Shelly is an absolute artist at her long arming. Her work is so precise, and her turnaround time is amazingly fast, I don’t know how she does it! (Thank you Shelly!!!)

Folk Festival Quilt
Folk Festival Quilt
Folk Festival Quilt

Shelly provided me with the spectacular photos above. Not only is she a long arming wizard but she is a talented quilt photographer. She even teaches a quilt photography course! Seriously, check her out!

For my backing, I used the Blossom print in “Tone-on-Tone White” by Riley Blake Designs. It’s a very subtle blender with teensy little white flowers printed in white on white fabric. It’s hard to capture in photos but you can see see it in the shaded areas of the backing shown below.

Folk Festival Quilt

I took a drive out to Bird’s Hill Provincial Park with my finished quilt to take some photos at the place where my inspiration was born. Unfortunately, the Folk Festival grounds are not accessible year round, so we found some other locations in the vast park and I took some fun photos of my daughter and her friend enjoying the summer sun and playing music.

Folk Festival Quilt
Folk Festival Quilt
Folk Festival Quilt
Bird's Hill Provincial Park
Bird's Hill Provincial Park
Bird's Hill Provincial Park
Bird's Hill Provincial Park
Folk Festival Quilt

Thanks for reading my post about making the Folk Festival Quilt! I am currently writing a pattern for it and I hope to release it this summer. If you would like to sign up to be notified when the pattern is available to purchase, please click the button below to sign up for my newsletter:

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